Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

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3M Half Marathon – when the stars align

Life has been whirlwhind-ly hectic this week/month/year, and I feel like I used a lot of words on social media to talk during the days around the race, but I still always like to put together these reports for posterity. So, let’s do this!

This is the first year I haven’t had any high hopes for this race.  3M has fooled me enough times already.  I’ll sign up really early in the year, purporting that THIS IS MY YEAR TO PR and then when winter comes around I’ll train halfheartedly or start training really late after a triathlon offseason, or maybe even train seriously and be dedicated to a plan and then I perform somewhere between OKAY and TERRIBLY –  like last year.  I always want to love this race, but it’s never loved me back.  I decided I wouldn’t get fooled again (no no), and I was running this one purely for funsies.

Saturday went fairly normally, but not *quite* to pre-race spec.  I had a giant club and soup for lunch instead of a turkey sub on wheat and had turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes, veggies, salad, and some tater tots vs my normal grilled chicken potatoes and salad.  Similar but not the same.  Instead of swimming, I rode the trainer for 20 minutes.  Packet pickup saw my legs and back and neck start to ache.  We were rear ended while driving home Friday, and apparently, it was not one hundred percent without bodily consequences.  

I wore stars all week as I could because stars have just felt right lately, so I kept that clothing trend going. Perhaps in the attempt to influence them to align the next day?

The headspace is always different staring down a starting line so early in the season. There were the nerves and doubts stemming from the utter lack of preparedness. On one hand, my thoughts rang with self deprecation – the eff am I doing out there on a literal handful of runs in the last three months? But… there was also some budding excitement after the killer twelve I ran the weekend previous. I was an unknown quantity and there’s a lightness that correlates with the lack of expectations.  That was neat after driving myself batty this fall under the weight of them.

I planned to run this one pretty much solely on perceived effort. I watched Dune that afternoon, and they constantly quoted, “fear is the mind killer”. I aimed to go out there the next day unafraid to put my hand in the pain box and then let the chips fall where they may, no judgies. Ok, maybe very little judgies, I’m not really good at rationalizing not being good, but I honestly was just so happy about the run the weekend before, even if I choked at the race, I had showed promise.  That was good enough for me to feel optimistic about the season to come.

I did my best to spend the rest of the day relaxing, actually sleeping rather decently.  All the thoughts rattling around in my head didn’t perturb me as they had earlier in the week, probably due to the fact that I mentally reserved the two hours of the race to ponder and let my thoughts distract me from the effort. Oddly enough, I didn’t need distractions the next day, I was happy to be present and inside the effort, but it was a nice balm to put me to sleep the night before.

I woke up race morning at 2am with my glutes and lower back seizing up. More fender bender after effects. I fell back asleep on an ice pack and woke up two hours later and it felt kinda touchy but OKAY. I would start.

I hopped on the trainer for 15 minutes to spin up my legs.  I ate a mini bagel with bacon and cream cheese and two caffeine beans.  I drank my earl grey tea, hot.  I was up early enough to use the bathroom about 3 times before we drove to the race start, but of course I STILL needed to hit the porta potties, which continued my tradition heading out on the course almost at the back of the field (about 11 minutes after the race started), but let’s just say it was worth it.

At the outset of the race I was freezing (the feels like was in the 20s) but less than a mile on the course and I was like, ” why the eff do I have all these things on my body” and while I fixed that by ditching my Goodwill sweatshirt and wrapping my buff around my wrist and pushing up my sleeves, I dropped my phone and took about twenty seconds on the side of the road situating myself.

That’s the last of my complaints. My stride felt awesome, better even than last week’s magical run, and the mid 30s temperature that irked me so much before felt absolutely perfect. Derezzed came on and I pretended I was a Tron light cycle avoiding all the slower runners. Blah blah blah came on and I dedicated that to the haters in my head saying I was going too fast while I continued to tick off consistent splits right around 9:20/mile.

I passed 10k, with my fastest time running THAT distance in almost 10 years and I still felt freaking amazing. I kept waiting for the darkness to descend, as it has every year moving down Shoal Creek, yet somehow this time I kept outrunning it with those consistent splits far outpacing my current personal record from years and years ago.

Around mile 9 it was no longer playtime, the hills began to appear, but I was ready for some pain.  Four more miles like this, I said.  Starboy came on (stars!), which is a terrible song if you listen to the lyrics but for some reason makes me MOVE and I found another gear to power up the hills that usually defeat me.  Then mile 10 was roooooough with another longer hill, but my random playlist struck back with Devil Went Down to Georgia (metal cover), and while that was my worst split of the day at 9:37/mile, it was still highly below PR pace.  As I did the math all I had to do was just hang the eff on.  I was so close I could taste it.  I hurt, but not insurmountably, and I was not going to let this slip through my fingers, not this time, no way in hell.

2:08 is my personal best. As I made the last turn and saw the finishing arch in the distance, I was on track to hit 2:04. I decided that I wanted 2:03 because this is how we do. I found a little something left in my belly and put everything I had into the last few minutes and crossed the line at 2:03:48. I almost both cried and horked at the finish (seriously, y’all, I gagged RIGHT NEXT TO A BUNCH OF SPECTATORS) but I held it together in both regards.

I can’t tell you how much this one means to me. More than finishing Ironman, more than qualifying for Nationals, this was not months but something I’ve been trying to crack for over EIGHT YEARS. From no hopes to almost a FIVE MINUTE PR in a matter of days after dozens of cracks at it over the years.  What a banner start to 2019!  I’m over the moon about this one.  It was awesome to go out with confidence even though I’m not a proven entity right now, and I had the courage to believe in myself, that I had the capability to push through when it started to get dark, and persevere right through the finish line.

I will note that this was probably one of the roughest recoveries for a half marathon yet.  I did have brief thoughts mid-race about really going for it and descending my pace another 10-15 second/mile and trying for a sub-2 hour half, but I decided that I didn’t want to jeopardize my PR and played it a *little* cautious so I didn’t fall down on the side of the road at mile 11.  It was a good decision.  My bodily conditions post-race told me that I had absolutely drained the tank.  I could barely walk the next day, staring down curbs like they were mountains to climb.  I took a few days off simply because I was tiiiiiired, yo.  I had some serious meetings on Monday and they. took. everything.  Today is the first day I’ve felt like a normal human.  I’ve felt better after a half ironman, maybe even some of my marathons.

And now, I have the opportunity in few more days to toe the line once more.  I’ll be racing the Indoor Tri on Sunday, and since I’ve done this one on multiple years, it’s a good offseason benchmark.  Hoping to PR all my legs, which would be 19.5 lengths in the pool in 10 minutes (I swam 21 today at a lesser effort so here’s hoping!), 10.4 miles on the bike in 30 minutes, and 2.33 miles in 20 minutes on the run (this one will be the toughest, I haven’t run this fast in FOREVER but with what I did last weekend… anything is possible).  Also excited to finish this little racing block and then move into for reals #preseason training with a plan and heightened attention to nutrition and a little more seriousness.  If this is playtime, I can’t wait to see what a little hunkering down will bring…

Check check one two….

Hi everyone!

For various reasons, life is doing a me a crazy right now, but it looks like it will all resolve itself by the end of January, one way or another.  For now, I’m going to make this a quickie check in post and save the more involved topics for later.

I’m doing my best to take care of my health in ways that I haven’t been motivated to do in months, marking the transition from #offseason to #preseason.  I’ve cut back on booze.  I’ve been tracking my food and eating more veggies.  I’ve tried to rest, however, between allergies, things weighing on my mind both heavy and exciting, and also my body just not used to being rested (either fatigued from workouts or being an idiot), I’ve been having difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep.

I’m seeing wild variances in my weight on days where I sleep and don’t sleep well, so hopefully once things calm down and my training normalizes, I’ll start seeing some progress.  I am familiar with the process, my weight is a general collective summary of what I’ve done in the past month or so, and I still have weeks of holiday eating to temper with Snap Kitchen and a reasonable deficit.  My weight is settling in around 167-173 (post long run vs morning after eating a larger late dinner), so I’m not too far gone from where I was when I last raced.  All in all, I’m about 2-3 lbs up from Waco weight in 2 months, which is still on average about 18 lbs down from this time last year.

On a day by day basis sometime I feel like this puppers, but overall, it’s peace and I know progress will start soon if I am patient and persistent.  I need to keep tracking my goals and I’ll get there.

Also, I haven’t started the year this light since perhaps 2010, so that’s had some interesting effects on my training.  I’ve run less times since October 28th than I can count on both hands, but I’ve settled into a nice place where 10:30/mile, give or take, is my happy easy pace.  I did 10 miles there the first weekend of January and it felt like a warm hug, at least a warm hug with some muscle soreness.  My legs are lacking the strength and base to sustain a lot of miles right now.  I’m currently pursuing a crash course to meet the minimum goal of finishing a half marathon, but for each run I undertake, I seem to be as good as I once was.

On Saturday, I did all sorts of stupid shit.  First of all, the week before the race, I ran my longest training run, clocking 12 miles.  My Clifton 1s arrived a few days before, so I took on those miles in brand new shoes, which is a HUGE faux pas.  Nevertheless, with a new playlist, mind addled with WAY too many things on it, and squeaky kicks, I started to pound the pavement and found that my turnover and cadence felt AMAZING and the paces on my watch agreed.

At first, I started to pull back when I saw myself running 9 minute miles, but then I decided to have some effing confidence and stick with it.  While I won’t try to fool myself and say the entire run was easy peasy lemon squeezy, it certainly wasn’t race effort and I ran the 12 miles approximately at my half marathon PR pace, y’know, the one I’ve been trying desperately to crack since November 2010.  I spent the first half in my head working through all the various things rattling around up there, and then the last half, I let the effort surpass those mental machinations.  By the time it got hard I was so close to the end, I just stuck with it and even negative split that mother.  It was one of those magical runs that gives you the tingles when you think about it.

I’m excited to toe the line this weekend and see if there’s a second effort in there in that same zip code.  Instead of the hot and humid we had last year, the pendulum has swung the opposite direction and it should be one of the coldest mornings on record (in the 20s, possibly feels-like-teens with windchill).  I know that when I’m running, I’ll be fine, I just have to prepare properly for pre- and post-race layers.  I have no expectations on the time on the clock when I finish but I do have a little more optimism than I did a few weeks ago about heading into a race so undertrained. 

There have been swims, there have been weights (once a week each), and I did conquer a FTP (functional threshold power) last week.  My previous measurement right in the thick of training mid-summer last year was 179 watts.  Considering that test was probably the last speedwork I have done as I was ramping up for a half ironman, I absolutely knew it had faded a bit.  I decided to aim for 160 watts, and I ended up with an FTP of exactly 160 watts, knowing I could have pushed harder.  I’m pretty chill with a loss of 19 watts considering it’s pre-season.  I’m hoping that next month, my watts will be above my weight because their trajectories should be bisecting each other soon.

I’ve spent the majority of the rest of my free time focused on some nerdy shit.  I’m finished off a fantastic Sci Fi book series – Space Team – at least until more are written, which inspired me over the break to write a choose your own adventure (they’re a bit out of order but the text is there) in the same style and possibly explore penning something longer form as well.  I’m marathoning a fantastic show called Critical Role, where voice actors play Dungeons&Dragons, and I’m hooked.  I’m currently reading some books in the Lit RPG classification (books where tabletop role playing game players end up IN the game), previously Creatures&Caverns and my current books are Spells, Swords, & Stealth

I’m also leaning into the ridiculousness of my Bard character in OUR tabletop game.  I’ve started writing session recaps in my character’s voice (which is fantastic writing practice and just plain fun to do), getting really into the story’s investigations like woah, and just coming up with clever and crazy shit.  It’s amusing me to no end, and anything that makes me smile this much is something worth doing in my book.

I’m 100% eyes wide open that this is an escape into fantasy land because real life feels kind of heavy right now.  I wrestled with it for a while, but I’ve got no shame following this path because it feels like something I should do.  In the last few months, I’ve become more engaged in my writing, enjoying “costuming” myself, and I’ve picked up music again.  I feel like some of the ludicrous things I do and plan to do during these sessions are also great exercises in confidence, taking risks, and practice in asking forgiveness not permission, which will be key in some other things I need to conquer this year.   

Actually, screw forgiveness as well.  I don’t need to be sorry for the things that I am.  I just need to forge ahead and let things fall in my wake as they may as long as my conscience is sound. 2019 is about telling the haters in my head, those negative evil voices that say that I’m taking up too much space in the world, telling all that noise and nonsense to kindly take a long walk off a short pier.

3M Half Marathon

For some reason, we end up doing 3M Half Marathon every other year.  So, since I haven’t raced this one since 2014, I haven’t raced a half marathon since April 2014, and we had friends registered meant that we were in for 3M Half Marathon – downhill to downtown.


I think if the race would have been last weekend, I might have been in better shape.  During the week of the race, I had some major low energy moments to deal with, like I had some low-level sickness going on.  I slept a lot.  I couldn’t hold half marathon pace for more than a quarter mile without dying.  I ran everyday as per the streak, but my long run for the week was 3.5 miles and most were 1-2.

My hip was way out of alignment all week (I thought I had just strained my hip flexor somehow) and after cracking it, my chiropractor asked me to take a few days off running. She almost never does that, so I must have been pretty off.

Also, I’ve run inside for the last 3 weeks due to allergies.  Maybe I’d forgotten how to run outside?

I decided to say fuck all that and at least try for a PR.  My goal was to go out at pace and try to hang the fuck on.  Or as I said in this post, hurt a little, hurt more, hurt a lot.

The befores:

I slept DECENTLY the night before.  I probably got about 6.5-7 hours (good when the alarm is at 5am – 9pm is not really a bedtime to me right now) but I was definitely tossing and turning a bit.

Food: I woke up and ate two caff chews (so, about 1/3rd of a gel).  That was actually pretty awesome, it woke me up quickly and shook the grog out of me.  For pre-race breakfast, I might have have done myself wrong.  I’ve been eating yogurt, cereal, and fruit for breakfast lately and it’s been good, so I did that.  But the only cereal I had at home was some really old stale tasting granola.  Between all that stuff, by the time I arrived at the race, I was kind of nauseous.  No bueno.

I did get on the treadmill at home for a warmup, 3 mins walking, half mile run, 3 mins walking.  My hip flexor was not feeling great but I filed that away in things I’d deal with later and got going.  Speaking of going… perfect way to poop at home before getting on the road!


Yay poop?

We ended up arriving to the race pretty late, and because it was 36 degrees, that was ok with me.  Given that we only had a few minutes before the gun, I decided to skip the throwaway thermal shirt I had packed (good decision), keep the throwaway gloves on (good decision, my hands might have fallen off), and skip bag check because we thought it might not even still be happening (bad decision – it was COLD after and I would have loved a jacket).

Jumped in the porta potty lines and I took my first caffeinated gel (as per the plan) while the national anthem played, the gun went off, and there we still were, quite a few people ahead of us waiting to potty.  Oh well.  They wouldn’t dismantle the start line while people were still here, right?

Race things:

We ran across the start line about 9 minutes back – Logan (who announces all the triathlons) chided us for being late but we weren’t the last ones (that’s happened to me TWICE before) so all was good.  Zliten and I started together and I noticed I was in the 10s but I always take a bit to get going, so I didn’t freak out.  Once we got down the first street, I was working my way down to pace and it felt… decent.  Would have liked for it to feel a little easier but it was what I was working with that day.  Someday I’m going to wake up on race day feeling awesome but this was not that day.  I’ll always take decent over awful, though.

In the first 5 or so miles, Zliten and I ping ponged back and forth.  We’d find a hill and he’d get ahead.  He’d have to stop and tie a shoe and I’d get ahead.  Unfortunately, somewhere in the middle of the race, as my nausea built, he just got too far ahead and I couldn’t catch up.  I was focused on that fucking neon yellow hat he had on, and I could see him most of the race, but I couldn’t put on enough gas to catch him without feeling like I was going to redline myself and fizzle boom.

Here’s where this becomes a positive race report instead of another failure – I didn’t give up.  Even though I felt queasy I took my gels when I was supposed to and SURPRISE, it didn’t kill me.  My stomach actually felt BETTER the second half of the race.  Since I couldn’t catch Zliten, I just started fishing for closer people – the girl in the purple shirt.  The guy in the green shirt.  At one point, I thought I might actually get to my husband because he was mayyyybe 30 seconds ahead and I was gaining on him.  .

Then, probably two things that were related – we started going uphill, and the back of my legs started to cramp.  I tried put my visor down low, concentrate on the ground, and work through it as much as possible, but my cadence definitely tanked and I slowed.  Around this time I fought with my brain.

“You need a gel”

“No I don’t”

“You’ll finish stronger with one”

“But it will be a waste”

I’ve now taught myself that when my strongest argument against a gel is that I’ll waste it… I can spare the 1-2$ if I crack it and don’t finish it.  I did just that – I didn’t finish it but I got some of it down and magically around Mile 12 I started speeding up again.


My last mile wasn’t my fastest, but it was back in the 9s and I ran up the awful last hill and through the finish and my watch had just ticked over to 2:11.  My official time was 2:11:02.

My husband rocked it with a time right around 2:07:30.  If I could have kept up with him, I would have notched a PR.  I’m a little disappointed I didn’t have that in me, but the truth is… I didn’t.  And that’s ok with me right now.

One day, I’d like to wake up and feel awesome the day of a race and not be dealing with something like a cranky hip or that time of the month or complete and utter burnout.  However, I have been in the thick of training for 2 marathons since October (minus 2 weeks off after #1), not to mention running every day without a break since Monday, December 28th, so my body has been through a lot.

The thing I most proud of was my mind.  I didn’t freak out when I wasn’t feeling 100% right at the start.  I stuck with my fueling plan even through my brain making all the excuses.  I wouldn’t say I stayed positive the whole way, but I found my way out of it.  I fought through a real low at the middle and instead of giving up I just kept problem solving until things got better.  If I can’t have a magical unicorn rainbow day, all I can ask myself is to keep my head in the game and run solidly, and that’s what I did.

Sure, I didn’t quite hit the PR from 5 years and 25 lbs ago.  But even though I didn’t hit the center of the bullseye, I definitely hit the target area.  This is my fourth best time at 12 standalone half marathons and within 3 minutes of my best time.  Considering all the factors about where I’m at right now with training, and life itself, I’m content with how I raced. 13+ miles under 10 mins/mile?  I’ll take it.

After effects: I was POOPED.  I’ve raced for ~8 hours before and been tweaked out and unable to sleep after.  I had 2 1/3 caffeinated gels that morning to fuel 2 measly hours, and I still fell asleep around 2:30pm and took a TWO AND A HALF HOUR NAP AND still slept over 8 hours Sunday night – I’d say the effort was legit.  There’s wasn’t much more left to give.  I may have slept for a week if I ran my PR.

I kind of wish I wasn’t running a marathon in 6 weeks so I could sharpen the stick a little more and go out and give a couple more tries to a 13.1, but I’m also kind of nerv-cited to give the marathon one more try this winter and see if I can find a 4(xx:xx) somewhere in the woods of the Woodlands.  So, we’ll go chase that one down and save more 13.1s for later.

Progress, not perfection.  I’ll take it.  The game plan is to rest up and recover the beginning of this week, and then I’ll start the final push to be marathon ready again on March 5th.  6 more weeks.  Let’s do it.

2014-2015 Season Recap

Usually I have this big deal about wrapping up my seasons and setting goals for the next, but five weeks ago I just sort of went quietly into #offseason and didn’t really think much.

I think the main reason for that is… it was a pretty great year.  Sure, I can definitely think of some things I want to improve upon, but a PR for every single distance I raced (and every RACE I raced, minus 1 hilly marathon) is not anything to sneeze at.

But, I like to look back at this stuff, so let’s navel gaze, shall we?

2014-09-28 15.56.48-1

Things I did right:

1. Consistent training. 

I had no weeks where I was completely knocked out by injury.  I had a few niggles here and there, but I was completely doctor approved to run through them and nothing hung around too long.  My body showed up all year and I was able to swim, bike, and run each week from July 28th 2014 to June 21st, 2015 at my discretion.

One of the best things I did for myself was that 5 week run streak in January.  It taught me that I could run in any conditions, that running didn’t have to be a special event.  It taught me how to really do a recovery run.  It made me harden the fuck up and get the miles done because it I couldn’t put it off until a better day.  I also think it’s one reason I was able to run the whole marathon in February.

2. Taking enough time off during season to stave off major burnout.

I had at least one week off after each major race, and one ramp up week after that. I also followed each major race with vacations – in some cases that helped my stress levels and in some cases it didn’t.

  • October – 70.3 recovery – one week OFF, one week low volume (5 hours).
  • December – Marathon #1 recovery – one week OFF, one week low volume (5 hours).
  • March – Marathon #2 recovery – one week OFF, two weeks low volume (3-5 hours).

After that, I took about 1 recovery week for every 3 weeks of solid tri training.  This helped me stay mentally with it pretty much through the end of my season instead of being OVER IT a few months before like 2014.

3. My head game

While I lost it a little bit at times, I felt like 2014-15 was a breakthrough season in many ways because of how much better I got mentally at racing, not just physically.

I did sessions to really focus on keeping my head straight and simulate racing more often, and I think this helped me… y’know, race well.  I was executing by rote instead of constantly problem solving new things I didn’t expect.

I went into just about every race feeling excited, rested, fueled, prepared, and motivated.  It might help that I wasn’t racing any new distances, but I also pursued some lofty goals for each one.

I attacked every race.  I never let myself do the “well, it’s not your race, let’s just jog this one in and forget the time” thing.  If I was missing my A goal, I was doing strategerie calculating how to accomplish my B goal.  This season was the one where I hung the fuck on every race, even if the day wasn’t going 100% my way.

I can’t lie – the marathon results frustrated me.  I still can’t believe I can’t boast a sub-5 PR after everything I did last year.  But I bounced back pretty quickly from both races and was thrilled with what I DID achieve; especially once I started in on the shorter stuff and started obliterating PR after PR.

I also was able to salvage my season even though I lost my training partner for a few months due to injury.  I also think because I stayed motivated and training, he was more motivated to get back into the swing of things quickly.

4. Training Specifically

As a 70.3er and marathoner, it’s really easy to overtrain the easy distance volume.  It seems reasonable if you’re going to do a few long events throughout the year, you should always be ready to race the distance, right?  Multi-mile swims, 3-4 hour bike rides, double digit runs should be done no matter what you’re racing, right?

Sure – if you want to stay the same speed and get burnt out.  Taking a few months to work on shorter distances without so much endurance fatigue made me speedier.  We’ll see how this plays out now that I’m having to ramp up the mileage rather quickly… but it helped me be mentally and physically ready to race each race knowing I specifically prepared for it.  When I’ve been doing 70.3 volume, I’ll show up to sprint triathlons thinking “what the fuck am I doing here, this is a waste of time”.  Not this year.  It was fun!


Things to improve:

1. Losing a bit of focus during the winter.

I may have consistently gotten out there, but most of my marathon training was literally running however many miles however I felt like running them.  To take my racing a little further, I think I need to put a little more intention into my run training.

There is definitely a time and a place for workouts that involve just running whatever, but once a week I should have a structured shorter workout, and I should ALWAYS have a focus for my long run (even if it is just run 20 miles easy – that should be a choice, not default).

I definitely had some low points during the winter where I wasn’t able to get myself out for my long runs and I just hated everything, but I was able to pull myself together in time.

2. Letting myself gain weight during season

At Kerrville last year, I was pretty lean (for me).  I gained about 10 lbs between October and May.  I’ve got about 5 lbs of that off, but it took a LOT of work.  For most of season, I didn’t track my calories, I didn’t take pre-and post- workout recovery seriously, I ate until I was stuffed, and while I ate a lot of healthy food, I also ate a lot of junk.

Obviously I need to eat a lot to fuel training, but I also need to keep it in check.  I also found at the end of the season that proper fueling before, during, and right after intense sessions helped me to eat less calories the rest of the day.

3. Peaking for my last race about 2 weeks too early.

I’m still not quite sure what happened here or why, but two weeks out of Pflugerville I was so ready to kick it’s ass.  Once the race got there, I was kinda meh and didn’t have 100% mental oomph that day.  The only thing I can think of is that I ramped my volume wayyyy down and dialed the intensity way up too early.  I also started to reduce my calories a bit there, which always fucks with my motivations.

4. Dropping the strength work

Looking back, I did 24 strength sessions last season.  That’s approximately one every two weeks.  That’s not so great.  I should be doing maintenance work 2x week, and I know this.  This is also one reason why I was only able to eek out 9 pushups before failure when I started the pushup challenge.  Let’s not do this again, yeah?

It’s hard to fit in when I’m trying to swim/bike/run as many miles as I can but it’s worth it.


This year will be a little shorter in terms of focused season but I still have the same big 3 races to tackle.  Next post/soon, I’ll summarize the general goals I have through March.

Fairview Half Marathon – Chasing the Orange Socks

As with Woodlands, I really wasn’t like super jazzed for this one.  I had been coming off some pretty solid run training in March with a pretty healthy body, so there was that, but this course is pretty hilly and April weather can be variable (so either 30 and rainy, or 75 and humid), so I had no idea what I’d be working with.  Add to that it’s a ~4-ish hour drive from Austin to Allen and we’d be doing it straight after work, after the week from hell, and I had zero expectations.

The plan was just this: show up, and run (and eat In-N-Out).  Nothing more.


If you asked me to predict my time, I’d say 2:10 on a great day, 2:15 on a decent day, and 2:20+ if shit went bad, due to all those factors above.

We got up there without much incident (a little traffic, but that’s to be expected on a Friday night).  This time, we brought sandwiches with instead of waiting to get there, which meant we ate earlier instead of trying to stuff dinner in our bellies late.  We got a little snack (I had a salad) right before bed, took a shower, relaxed in the room, and got off to sleep around 10:30pm.

Lucky us, our hotel was right across the street from the race, so we slept in until about 6am, did our normal pre-race stuff: poop, purple stuff, half a cliff bar, and then we walked across the street to get our shirts and bibs… and it was further than we thought.  So we hightailed it back to the hotel (warmup run), dropped our shirt, grabbed the rest of our gear, and actually took the car over since we were running super late.


Pictures care of me being silly…

We parked, and then realized the race was starting without us, so we picked it up to a jog, and then heard “are there any more half marathoners?” to which we screamed “yes” and broke into a sprint and were two of the last people across the line.  Not the finest start to a race ever, and very reminiscent of my first half marathon ever.  At least I got to see Libby and say hi as I booked it past the arch.

I looked down at my garmin, and 8’s were not what I wanted to be running, so I settled down, and soon Zliten did too.  We were in the back, so we spent the first half mile dodging walkers and slower runners (not that we’re fast, but slower than us).  We passed the 3 hour pacer, then the 2:50…

…and then my garmin died.  Yep, I have been talking all big lately about trying a race without mine, and joking that I didn’t care if my garmin was dead for the race, but when it actually happened without me planning for it, it bummed me out a little bit, being that I didn’t have a pacer to latch onto, or really, ANY IDEA of what pace I was running.

However, I know how to run a half marathon, it’s a distance I’m comfortable with, and I know the pacing strategy – hurt a little at first, hurt a little more in the middle miles, then hurt a lot in the last few miles.  I told Zliten about my garmin and ended up sticking with him because that’s what “hurt a little” felt like.  He tried to tell me splits a few times but I shushed him.  If I was going to sans-garmin this thing, I wanted to totally try “run by feels”.


The first half of this course was rolling hills, but generally downhill.  Not good for the last half, which meant rolling hills, mostly UPHILL, but I tried to keep myself in the moment.  We passed 2:45, and the next one I noticed was 2:30, then 2:25, then 2:20.  Nice.  Around mile 5, I finally got curious and asked Zliten if we were under 10s, and he nodded his head.  Solid.  I think that motivated me to push the flats in the middle hard to try and gain some time, and apparently, I dragged Zliten a lot through here and we were running in the low 9s.  We passed the 2:15 pacer around mile 6.5.  Cool.

Around 7-8, he pulled in beside me and said “how good do you feel?” and I said “pretty good”. He asked if I wanted to shoot for a PR, I asked mine or his (2:08 vs 2:11) and he said mine. I asked if we were close to on pace, he said yup, and I said, let’s give it a try. However, I knew the last 4 miles had some pretty decent hills, so I told him he’d probably have to drag me and I’d try and keep up.


I did my best, but he pulled away around mile 9-10, because he has this superhuman ability that hills don’t faze him (he actually prefers hills to flats or downhills – that JERK) and my glutes started cramping after really hammering up one hill, so I backed off ever so slightly on the inclines and with each one, he got further away. Once it flattened out, I tried to push it to catch up, but those friggin orange compression socks kept going further away because there was too much UP and not enough FLAT to gain ground.

I made a turn, and saw the road flatten out, and thought we had about half a mile left and was going to turn it on and kick, but then there was the mile 13 marker and the finish.

Official time: 2:08:50. Zliten’s official time: 2:07:02.  Yep, he now owns the official house record for the half marathon (besting my 2:08:07).  He totally earned it though, he ran a GREAT race.


I am pretty dang happy with mine too.  This is 43 seconds slower than my PR from 4 years ago.  This is on a much harder course than the pancake flat RnR San Antonio where that happened.  I’m 15 lbs heavier now.  I didn’t taper.  I had no garmin.  I also placed in the top 1/3rd of my new age group and top 1/3rd of my gender.  Can’t sneeze at that.

I actually loved running without the garmin – I think the faster paces I was pushing in the middle of the race would have scared me, and I don’t think I would have been able to fight the slowing on the hills even by being more conservative.  That’s just how I run. I know how to run a race effort, and I think it may pay dividends to run how I’m feeling right then at a certain effort, rather than trying to hit a pace.

I do think it might have made *some* difference in the later miles knowing how close I was to PR, but maybe it wouldn’t have.  Maybe I would have been disheartened about being so close but not making it I would have let off the gas and been more like 2:10-2:12.  Who knows?

I race this weekend (Austin 10/20) and that’s the one I really want to hammer, so bring it on! This pace will PR me easily, and the run is shorter (10 miles) and significantly flatter, though the weather is looking to be hotter.  I am a little sludgy in the legs right now, but the order of the week is recovery work, so hopefully I’ll have another great tale of awesomeness to tell next week!


Big shoutout to Libby, aka The Active Joe, who puts on amazing races where I always have a good day.  She does this one, Showdown (which I did 1.5 years ago), and The New Years Double.  If you ever get a chance to participate in one of her races, you ABSOLUTELY should. I mean, look at that sweet medal – the windmill spins (I verified that by spinning it about eleventy billion times that day)!  Good times.

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