Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Woodlands Half Marathon 2017 Recap & Tips

The Woodlands Half Marathon took place on March 4, 2017. I was given a free entry on March 1 so I signed up that day and started planning for race day - when to take gels and how I'd taper until race day with a couple of easy 3 mile runs. 

Since I ran the Rocky Raccoon 50K trail race three weeks ago, I wasn't sure how I'd feel running so soon. I felt great, though! I finished in 2:10 and I was 35th of 122 females in the 50-54 age group. It was a great race day!

The Expo

Expo/Packet Pick-up: The expo took place on the day before the race. I arrived at 10:10 (it started at 10) and waited in line for 20 minutes. Then I spent 20 minutes walking around the small to medium sized expo. I parked across the street from the expo - easy parking!

Getting to the Race: I live near the race course and I've run the marathon in The Woodlands twice and the half marathon twice before so I felt safe leaving home at 5:35. I was parked at 6:00 in the blue lot, leaving me plenty of time to be in my corral at the required time of 6:40 for the 7 AM race. 

I Crossed the Finish Line! (I'm not pictured, but the green finish sign is there.)

Race day parking: Just go straight to the colored lots. Remember where you parked because there aren't a lot of landmarks and it's easy to lose your car. I've seen runners with lost cars more than once!

Weather: The predicted weather was 55-65 for the morning and I think that was what we had. It was overcast and never felt too warm.

I finished, called my husband and picked up my checked gear bag.

Course: There are mild hills and shade trees.

Fuel Pre-race: Rocket Fuel cookbook 
Chocolate banana pancakes, coffee; GU gel at the start

Filled my gear bag with food for the walk back to my car!

Fuel During the Race: Gatorade Endurance drink and 3 GU gels (miles 3, 7, and 10). Carry an extra gel or be flexible about when they hand out the gel and you'll be a happy camper.

Fuel Post-race: chocolate milk (hits the spot!), Chick-fil-a chicken biscuits, fruit (oranges, apples, bananas), muffins, cookies, fruit juice, protein bars

Picked up my finisher's race shirt - I like it!

The Finish: The spectators did a great job of cheering for us at the end!

Gear: I wore new shoes today: Asics gel noosa tri shoes. Comfortable!

Parting shot of the lake on my way to my car. A fun day at the race!

I'm glad that I listened to music during the race. Some parts of the course seemed really quiet when all of the runners were quietly pushing forward with only the road ahead and the trees on the side of the road. My music was a nice distraction. Oh, plus there was that runner who kept singing out loud with his music!

One great thing about running a half marathon rather than a longer race is that it's over sooner. I had time to race, clean up and write this blog post all before lunch time today!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Rocky Raccoon 50K Race Report

1st Place Age Group Award Winner!

The Rocky Raccoon 50K Trail Race took place on February 11 at Huntsville State Park in Texas. After crossing the finish line with a time of 7:41, I was told that I had won my age group. I couldn't believe it. 

That's because a couple of times I felt so sick that I didn't know if I'd finish or ever be able to wear my new finisher's shirt. I think the heat was getting to me. At least that's what I told people who asked if I was okay when at mile 21 a wave of stomach queasiness hit and my head felt funny. I had to sit down on a tree stump. 

If there had been an aid station nearby, I probably would have just quit there. Instead, after a few minutes I had to get up and walk again because so many runners paused to ask me if I was okay. I felt guilty for slowing them down so I started walking. Within a mile, I was running again! That was my longest time in the pain cave, but I felt badly and needed to walk a few more times after that. 

And that's why I couldn't believe I won anything. They didn't have a presentation, but a volunteer handed me the butterfly after I finished. I was slower than I had wanted to be, but it felt great not only to finish, but to get an award, too.

My biggest fears before the race and what really happened:
  • Not the alligators who live at the park! (Didn't see any, but I saw a snake.) 
  • Getting lost like I did in a 50K at the same park in a different race. (Didn't happen!)
  • The predicted warm weather. (The temperature during this race was 70-84.)
  • Tripping on tree roots and getting my only DNF. (I stubbed my toes, but never fell. Plus, no leaning to the left like I do in long races sometimes!)

Getting There: The park is an hour's drive from my home near Houston.  I left home at 4AM because the race started at 5:45.

Course: The park has root-filled trails, hills, and is mostly shaded, plenty of race markings.

Fuel Pre-race: oatmeal with raisins and molasses, coffee; 
1 GU gel 15 min. before the start

Fuel During the Race:
They offered Tailwind Nutrition drink and VFuel gels (I like berry), which was great since I've trained with both of those so that's how I fueled. When toe cramps came, I loaded up on the offered potato chips and felt better.

Fuel Post-race: At the aid station at the finish, there were PBJ sammies, Oreos, pretzels, mashed taters, but my favorite was actually the plain old bananas. 

Note to Self: Didn't need belt, phone fits in skirt pocket.


Just the Facts (race results link):
  • Time: 7:41
  • 11:54 average min/mile pace
  • 1st of 8 in the 50-59 year old women (after they awarded the first 3 masters women, so technically I was 4th... kind of confusing)
  • 35th out of 77 women
  • 190 runners finished
Post race: dirty shoes and legs except for right leg where I wore race chip.
Fun Facts
  • I chatted with Liza Howard, winner of 100 mile trail races! She asked how I felt, I said good and then told her I was lying. She said that I was a very convincing liar. Hmm, probably not really a good thing.
  • A GottaRunNow reader said "Hi!" at the start, which helped keep the nervous butterflies away. He felt badly, too, but he finished ahead of me. Way to go, Greg!
  • The other runners, volunteers and spectators were so encouraging. I wish I could gather all of them up and give them a big group hug!
My day went from nervous butterflies before the start (which always go away as soon as I start running) to a butterfly award at the end. And in between, there were butterflies on the trail!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Being Mindful of My Time

I woke up at 4AM without an alarm today. That only happened because I went to sleep at 7:30! It felt great to finally get a good night's rest and to have time to do all that I wanted to do before my 8 mile run: pray, read my Bible (I use this Bible reading app), eat (muffins, today) and to do hip/leg exercises.

Yesterday, we found a buyer for our piano that we're selling. I'm posting a picture of it to remember two things: our piano and how I had high hopes of playing it often, which I didn't stick with.

Exactly three years ago today, I wrote on my blog, "I practiced on the piano 5 days this week. Too bad taking a child to piano lessons for years does not make you a great pianist!" Playing the piano on a regular basis for the last three years would have been great, but other fun hobbies beat out the piano. 

So I'm taking a moment to remind myself to think about how I spend my time and to choose wisely.

Exercises (1/29/17-2/4/17):
  • Sunday - rest
  • Monday - 6 mile run, back/upper body exercises and then major cleaning of our RV, which made my back ache later! 
  • Tuesday - 5 mile run  
  • Wednesday - 13 mile run (I'm tapering for the Feb. 11 Rocky 50K trail race); 15 min. arm exercises
  • Thursday - rest
  • Friday - 8 mile run with  a few hills in the woods, 20 min. hip exercises: ideas from REI's Cross-training for Backpacking   
  • Saturday (planning to do) - 6 mile run to finish up my 38 mile week of running

Saturday, January 28, 2017

2017 Goals Revised

January is nearly over and I already need to revise my 2017 goals! My husband and I are prepping for a year or two of full-time RV life and hope to begin this new adventure in 2017. Life is going to be busier. 

Reading two books a week and running high mileage when we're traveling may be impossible some weeks. I just want to take a little unnecessary pressure off of myself. Besides, these goals still look great to me - with just the right amount of challenge. 

My Mostly Revised 2017 Goals 

1. Run 1700 Miles in 2017. I've averaged 50 miles a week so far, but now my goal will be 33 miles a week (instead of 39/week for 2,017 miles). You can find me on Strava.
2. Finish 52 books. My new goal is to read or listen to 1 book a week. I finished 9 books so far this year. 
3. Take a picture a day. I've posted a photo a day on Instagram so far and I think I can keep this up.
4. Sell nearly everything and move into an RV. This is a new goal - lots of planning and time needed for this one, but it'll be worth it!  

Here's how I exercised this week.
  • Sunday - 6 mile run
  • Monday - 9 mile run, strength-training 
  • Tuesday - 6 mile run  
  • Wednesday - biked, strength-training 
  • Thursday - 18 mile run - I'm training for the Feb. 11 Rocky 50K trail race! This run went better than my recent long runs and took 3 hours 5 minutes.
  • Friday - 11 mile run wraps up my 50 mile week, strength-training 
  • Saturday - biked

With four weeks into the year, have you found that you have set your goals too low or too high? Or maybe you want to keep trying to achieve your goals even though January didn't go as planned. February 1 would be a great day to begin again!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Coming Up: RV Living and a 50K


There are big changes coming up for me - if all goes as I hope it will! After our 4 month RV adventure last year, my husband and I would like to become full-time RV'ers! 

We hope to buy a bigger RV and to sell nearly everything we own - here's a link to our sale page. Have any tips for finding new homes for your belongings? That's one of the hardest parts of this adventure. So far, I've sold items online and donated to Goodwill. 

My training continues for the Rocky 50K that's on February 11. I ran 48 miles this week and continued my strength training, but I took a break from riding my bike because one of my hip flexors was uncomfortable and if I have to skip something - biking goes first

I wanted to run 10 miles the day after my long run of 16 miles, but because of stormy weather I switched the days. Tailwind (naked flavor is a nice change from sweet drinks) and Clif Blok shots kept me going on my long run. I've noticed my long runs of the last three weeks have gotten slower. I tell myself, "Come on body, only 3 weeks until the race and then you can rest!"

Zoe, our Weimaraner, is always ready for a walk at the park when I finish running. She was my running buddy when she was younger, but now we're walking buds. Here's how I exercised this week.

  • Sunday - 7 mile run
  • Monday - 9 mile run, strength-training 
  • Tuesday - 6 mile run  
  • Wednesday - strength-training 
  • Thursday - 10 mile run 
  • Friday - 16 mile run, strength-training 
  • Saturday - rest

Have a great week!

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