Happy Sunday! I hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend. Since last Sunday, I’ve actually run two half marathons (#27 and #28) that I want to fill you in on today … thanks for the votes in yesterday’s post‘s comments telling me that this is what you wanted to hear about! So without further ado, here are my 7 Thoughts on the Big D Half Marathon and the ZOOMA Texas Half Marathon!
- Racing is one of the main reasons I love running. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it many more times, I’m sure, but running races makes me so happy. It’s not so much the competition, but just thinking about so many people from such different walks of life getting together to see what they can do to meet their own goals on that particular day. Some might be running their very first race, some may be gunning for a PR, some may be just enjoying the day, some may be running for a charity … but everyone is out there running the same course and doing their best. What’s more, running races gives me such a great sense of achievement – sure, I could go out and run 13 miles any day on my own if I wanted to, but doing it in a race setting makes me feel proud, accomplished, and really gives me that “runner’s high.” For anyone who is just starting to run and not really getting into “the groove,” I always recommend getting to a race – the feeling can’t be beat! (picture source)
- Pre-race preparations. Because these were “B” races for me (meaning that I wanted to try my best, but they weren’t the one race of the season I was really and truly training for), my preparations followed most of my pre-race guidelines, but not quite as strictly.I had my normal pre-race meal of sweet potatoes, chicken, and broccoli both nights (brought to Austin in a cooler), and stuck to plain oatmeal with a smear of peanut butter the morning of the races (I’m avoiding my beloved gluten-free waffles right now due to my intolerances).
Unfortunately, my day-before-the-race activities weren’t ideal. I spent the Saturday before Big D standing for 8 hours at an expo telling people about my Health Coaching services (see my cute booth below?!), and I spent the day before ZOOMA seeing clients in the morning, driving 5.5 hours to Austin (darn Friday afternoon traffic!), and attending the race’s “Mocktail Party” where I may or may not have thought it was a good idea to drink a glass of wine (lucky it didn’t cause stomach issues!).
- Big D race overall. The conditions were great – I think it was around 50 at the start, with some light rain (I like running in the rain!). The course was hilly – considering how flat Dallas is, I think they found every hill possible and ran us over it! I started with the 1:40 pace group just in case I was feeling great, but quickly decided I wasn’t going to make it and hung back to run a steady, consistent race and save something in the tank for ZOOMA.Around Mile 9, I saw Kevin, and soon after started getting that “locked legs” feeling that I hate so much. It’s somewhat of a combination between cramping, stiffness, and heavy legs – and it totally stinks!! Luckily, I changed up my stride and ran through it. I did have to take a quick port-o-potty stop, which I haven’t had to do in my last 15 or so races. I finished strong, giving exactly the effort I had hoped to give – certainly not a walk in the park, but not my hardest, all-out effort either.Unfortunately, I came back to a flat tire, but aside from that, it was an amazing day! Big D has had some issues in the past with course measurement, but I think it was a very well-organized race and a great course.
- The week in between. I wouldn’t say that I really tapered well for either race. I ran fairly regularly until Big D, then did 3 easy miles the day before. I took the day after the race off, ran easy the 3 days in between, and did another short and easy run the day before ZOOMA. Having just 5 days between half marathons isn’t the best for recovery, but given my solid base and experience, I felt ready to take it on!
(this was the day before ZOOMA … lots of prepackaged food, a short run, compression socks and a myMix smoothie for the drive!)
- Holy hills! OK, I said Big D was hilly, but I had NO idea what “hilly” meant until I tackled the ZOOMA race. What a challenge! Here are two quotes from the ZOOMA website itself:
“Hope you’ve been doing some hill training, ladies, as we’re not going to sugarcoat it: This half-marathon is hilly.”
“With an emphasis on ‘hill’, Austin hill country can take your breath away in many respects.”The hills were so steep at times that I felt like I was hardly moving forward at all! I’m not great at running uphill, but I’m fairly good at running downhill, so I took advantage of the “what goes up must come down” rule and really tried to make up some time on the downhills. Still, the dramatic ups and downs in the first half left me feeling more tired than usual in the second half! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find great pictures of the race course … this is the best I could find, but I promise, the hills were steeper than this looks! (picture source)
- ZOOMA race overall. It was about 65 degrees at the start – pleasant, but a little hotter than I would prefer. It was slightly humid, but the heat and humidity really didn’t bother me at all. We all know that I am not great with the real heat!Given the hills and the Big D a few days before, I planned to run around a 1:45. Despite the hills, I’m proud that I kept a fairly consistent pace. I had to stop and stretch once due to that bummer “locked legs” feeling again, but aside from that, I ran a consistent and steady race. There were many, many times I wanted to “throw in the towel” (not to quit, but to significantly slow my pace and settle for a finish rather than a good-for-me time), but I’m glad I stuck with it! I think I had a smile on my face the whole time, though, because people I crossed paths with on the out-and-back were super spirited and kept cheering for me. I cheered right back!The cheering is a good example of how friendly and supportive the race was in general. I was excited to run ZOOMA because I had heard such amazing things about the spirit of the race. It is a mostly women’s race, full of nice perks like a cocktail party the night before, wine after the race (I passed this time, as I hopped right in the car for the drive back to Dallas after a quick shower). I loved meeting the other Ambassadors, including Amy, Farrah, Landi, Lora, Sarah, and Tempie! (potentially my new favorite shirt – love it!)
- Exerting myself to my own limits. I’ve talked about this throughout the post, but I think the overall message of these two races is this: running (and racing) is about exerting yourself to your own limits, no matter where you are and what your goals. Yes, these races are several minutes off my current PR, but that doesn’t mean I don’t consider them each a huge success – I went into the races aiming to run strong, tough races, try my best, and have fun … and I did all of the above. I’m not in PR shape for the half marathon right now, but that certainly doesn’t mean I just brushed these races off (and it also doesn’t mean I’m not hungry to smash that PR in the fall!). Even if you’re not giving your lifetime best, and even if you’re not giving your 110% “I’m going to set a PR” effort in any given race, you can still exert yourself to the limits of that day, and enjoy the feeling of satisfaction afterwards! (picture source)
The #SpringReset giveaway winner is … Brooke! Congratulations!! I’ll be emailing you ASAP … we’ve already started chatting in the Facebook group and the Reset officially begins tomorrow. Time to spend 2 weeks focusing on becoming the healthiest version of yourself possible!
So tell me in the comments … What lessons do YOU learn from exercise? What is your favorite race or exercise memory? Did anyone do anything great in the fitness world this weekend? Go ahead, brag away!