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Yesterday morning, I ran the Allstate Dallas 13.1 Marathon.  (And yes, it kind of bugs me that they call it the “13.1 Marathon” when it’s actually a half marathon … there’s no full marathon even offered!  But if that’s my only complaint about the race, I’d call it a success!) Dallas 13.1 2013 043

This was actually my first “A” race of the season … when I set up my racing calendar each year, I choose one or two “A” races that I really want to try my best in, and as many other “B” races as I can (safely) fit into my calendar.  I think this allows me to run a lot of races – since I love the racing experience – but it also helps me be realistic with my expectations (remember tip #1 of my post on Improving Your Running Speed?).  So what does this really mean?  Basically just that I set up a 12-week training plan to lead up to this race, that I paid extra attention to doing my special 7 Things To Do Before A Race, and that I went into the race focus and excited!

So how did the race go?  It was awesome!  Well, if you had asked me at mile 12, I might have said it was painful, but in general I had a great time, enjoyed the course, and felt grateful for and energized by the race experience.  I ended up surprising myself with a 5-second Personal Record, too – stumbling in at 1:39:37 (7:36 pace)!

Here are 7 thoughts from my race … I hope they can be tips to help you out in future races, too!

  1. Believe in yourself.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I could PR this race.  I’ve had a rough few months with some work struggles, and have been getting far too little sleep lately.  I followed the training plan that I set up for myself fairly well, but I was failing to hit a lot of the speedwork paces and just generally not feeling as well-trained as I’d like going into a race.  I even said in a recent post that I wasn’t going to PR this season and needed another 6 months.  I told Kevin yesterday that I was going for a 1:41-1:42.  But, Friday evening, I made a point to throw all of those thoughts aside and believe in myself 100%.  I got to that starting line thinking that I could do it, and I made myself believe it.  It really is amazing how far believing in yourself can take you! believe in yourself - blog 10.27.13(picture source)
  2. Stick with familiar food before the race. I love my pre-race meal (sweet potato + ketchup, chicken or some kind of lean protein, and broccoli).  It’s plain and simple, and most importantly, it works for me.  For some reason, though, I just wasn’t feeling it Friday night – I wasn’t that hungry and it didn’t sound great.  I knew I needed stomach-safe fuel, though, so I ate it, and I’m so glad I did.  It’s a trusty combo, and I had absolutely zero stomach issues during the race, which is a huge success for me! dinner
  3. Run a familiar course.  I think this one varies by person and that some people prefer the thrill of the unfamiliar, but I know that, for me, courses that I’m familiar with tend to be the ones I do best on.  This course has some uphills and downhills (well, at least “hills” for Texas), but it goes just a few blocks from my childhood home, and literally runs next to my current home, so I have covered every inch of the course MANY times.  I could even run the 1.3 miles down to the start as a warm up (and hobble the 1.3 miles back as a cool down!).  I know what to expect on this course, and it’s kind of second nature to run there.  This course was also my PR last year, just 5 seconds apart – at least I’m consistent!  Even though I’m not doing a formal race review, it’s worth mentioning that the Dallas 13.1 is incredibly well-organized, with plenty of water stops, port-o-potties, and post-race food.  I’ve also done 13.1 Ft. Lauderdale and 13.1 Chicago (twice), and they’ve all been great, so I think the company knows what they’re doing!course map(picture source)
  4. Don’t beat yourself up over rest.  I posted on Facebook earlier this week that I made it my goal to get 5+ hours of sleep every night last week, even if that meant skipping a workout.  Due to my crazy work schedule this week, it did mean that I had to skip Tuesday’s planned run.  I admit that this bugged me – there’s something about Race Week that just feels like you should be doing everything “right” and your brain tricks you into thinking it’s a terrible time to skip a workout.  But the truth is – by the time you get to Race Week, all the important training is in the books, and there’s VERY little you can do to improve your performance.  Rest is the right answer, and it’s far better to go into the race with an extra hour of sleep than an extra mile or two in the last week.
  5. Tolerate a little pain.  I mentioned this in the post on getting faster, but I think it’s important to know that a good race experience doesn’t always feel like rainbows and unicorns.  I was really feeling the not-quiiiite-prepared state of my training, and was uncomfortable to say the least, especially in the last several miles!  But my race experience really helps here – I know that being uncomfortable is OK, and I know how to coach myself to push through the pain.  (As I mentioned before, there’s a BIG difference between “injury pain” and “running hard pain,” and I never think you should push through the former). Dallas 13.1 2013 013
  6. Finish strong.  My pacing in this race was a little bit all over the place.  I started with the 1:40 pace group, who did the first mile 25 seconds too fast – a pace I KNEW I couldn’t keep up.  My first 4 miles were fast, then I slowed down a bit on some uphill miles, and by the time I got to mile 10 and was in pain, I couldn’t really do the math to know whether or not I was on pace towards my goal.  I incorrectly assumed that it would be impossible to beat my old time, but I still kept pushing as hard as I could through the very end.  Good thing I did – those 5 seconds really mattered!!
  7. I have the best supporter in the world.  I haven’t mentioned it yet, because I know he hates thinking about it, but Kevin (who got me started with running, and who has always been my #1 source of running inspiration) has a torn meniscus and has not been able to run for several weeks.  He’ll have surgery in two weeks, and we’re hoping for a quick recovery, but I know how much it kills him to not be running and racing (I know you relate, being a running spouse, too, Sara!).  It would have been easy for Kevin to stay in bed and feel sorry for himself, but he boosted me up emotionally the whole day before the race, came out in the dark, chilly morning to see me FOUR times throughout the run, took pictures, and yelled encouraging words my way.  In so many of my races, I have no one on the course supporting me, since Kevin is usually running with me, and we’ve mostly lived in different cities from our families (my Mom has seen several of the races I’ve done in Dallas, though!).  Yesterday, though, knowing Kevin was there supporting me made such a difference.  He is amazing and I am so grateful for everything he does! Dallas 13.1 2013 060

For those of you who sent messages of support by Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – thank you SO much!  I had no idea that starting a blog and jumping into social media would bring me so much happiness and so many virtual friendships, but I appreciate every single “like” or comment that you leave!

So tell me in the comments … Is there one race you’ve repeated multiple times that you really love?  What have you done so far this weekend?

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22 Comments

  1. Angela Nadler on October 27, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Love the race recap! Go Megan! 🙂

    • Megan Lyons on October 27, 2013 at 9:19 am

      Thanks, Angela! Excited to see Enoch’s recap from next weekend – I’ll be there, too, so I hope to bump into you!!

  2. Karen on October 27, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Congrats Megan ! I love to see you accomplish your goal and be happy!
    Pretty amazing result with your recent workload. I will def be there for Kevin’s surgery and hoping and praying for a perfect and quick recovery.

    • Megan Lyons on October 27, 2013 at 10:03 am

      Thank you, Mom! Yes, you know accomplishing my goals does make me happy :). Thanks for the support with Kevin!

  3. Amy @ The Little Honey Bee on October 27, 2013 at 9:46 am

    I am so proud and happy of you! I love how you turned this from being a race recap to helping others… it shows the amazing person you are. You are honestly my running inspiration (and Cori too!) and I hope we can run a “13.1 marathon” hehe together one day. Enjoy the post-race high!!! Ah still so happy 🙂
    Amy @ The Little Honey Bee recently posted…Weekly Meal & Workout Plan: Oct 27-Nov 2My Profile

    • Megan Lyons on October 27, 2013 at 10:04 am

      Thank you so much, Amy! This means a ton to me, as you know. I’m honored to be your inspiration, and I know you’re an amazing runner! A 1:50 (right?!) for your first half is just beyond belief! Let’s make it happen to run a race together some day!

  4. Robert on October 27, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I love reading your recaps because you’re so frank and honest with yourself. You’ll never know how much it helps to know that those in aspire to be like struggle sometimes too. Then to top it all off, you find the positive even in your struggles, and >that< is a lesson that is absolutely invaluable to me. I work on that every single day.

    You may think you're the one getting the support from us (well, me anyway) but it's so much the reverse. My running has improved so much since I've e-known you. Thank you!
    Robert recently posted…5K FinallyMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on October 28, 2013 at 11:33 pm

      Robert – Thank you so much for these kind words. When I read them yesterday, I nearly cried because they made me so happy! I think that finding the positive in all of our struggles is the best thing we can do for ourselves. I am SO glad your running has improved, and love that you’ve been using it as an outlet for some of life’s ups and downs. Thanks again, Robert!

  5. Lydia on October 27, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Great job, Megan, your time is amazing!! I love the blog and really admire your ability to keep up a training/racing regimen despite your crazy work schedule (which unfortunately I know all too well). You’re an inspiration, keep it up! 🙂

    • Megan Lyons on October 28, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      Thank you, Lydia! Means a lot – especially coming from the speed demon herself, you! I know that you relate to my work/ life struggles … it’s so tough sometimes, but worth it. This reminds me that we’ve never gotten a chance to catch up when we tried to last time – let’s try to do that sometime soon!

  6. Dave Bartlett on October 27, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I also hit a PR on this race (only 5k for me). I was coming off from summer where I ran less due to the heat and a not ideal health week. As a result, I wasn’t feeling too motivated to run as I was also convinced I would get a bad time. I am not sure I ever believed I would do as well as I did, but I can tell you that if I did not show up there is no way I would’ve gotten the time I did!

    • Megan Lyons on October 31, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      Sorry for the late reply (crazy week, just like you’ve had!), but congrats again on your PR! I know I’ve said it so many times, but your transition into an awesome runner over the past year+ has really amazed me! YES on just showing up as the first step towards reaching your goals!

  7. Arman @ thebigmansworld on October 27, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Congrats again on killing it- those are some great tips out there! I’m in shock that your goal was 5 hours of sleep a night- you are superwoman!

    I’ve done several fun runs but never really trained for them (the longest being an 8k)- during the week I just cut back on the weights and the day before just relaxed! Enjoy your weekend buddy- you deserve it!
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted…International Blogger Spotlight- Sam from Better With SprinklesMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on October 31, 2013 at 11:05 pm

      Sorry for the late reply, Arman, but thanks for the congrats! An 8K is nothing to laugh about – that’s some serious running! Any interest in trying more races?!?

  8. Making Yourself Happy | The Lyons' Share Wellness on October 28, 2013 at 5:10 am

    […] week and what is currently motivating me.  My mind is still on running from my race this weekend (here’s the recap if you missed it!), but I think you’ve had enough of running talk […]

  9. Davida @ The Healthy Maven on October 28, 2013 at 5:56 am

    Ah you’re actually amazing and I love how you keep it real! No running is not rainbows and unicorns and it will be painful at times but that’s part of the game. But also it’s important not to push it too far and like you said, sometimes you gotta give yourself some rest! Even if that means saying no to training time. Megan-I hope you are so incredibly proud of yourself. You are such an inspiration to all so many people with your level of commitment but also your sense of balance.
    Davida @ The Healthy Maven recently posted…{MIMM} Weekend Recap 10/25-10/27My Profile

    • Megan Lyons on October 31, 2013 at 11:08 pm

      Davida, I’m so sorry for such a late reply, but thank you SO much for the continuous support. You have no idea how much your words of encouragement mean to me! My dad always used to teach me that “balance” was one of the most important words in life, so I’m ALWAYS striving to maintain it … easier said than done, for sure, but it’s a great goal to work towards!

  10. Jen on October 28, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Ahh congrats girl on the great race! Sub 1:40 is my goal post-baby!
    Jen recently posted…Pregnancy update: week 15My Profile

    • Megan Lyons on October 31, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      I KNOW you will reach your goal post-baby, Jen! You are such an inspiration in terms of being an amazing runner who truly listens to her body and is in tune with its signals. I love following along with your running (and life!) journey.

  11. […] to the busy Saturday that I told you about yesterday, I also ran another half marathon yesterday!  As I’ve mentioned, I select my “A” races carefully and give them my all, but yesterday’s Dallas […]

  12. […] a “fun race” for me (I talk about my “A” races and “B” races in this post), but I’m still going to try hard and give it my best shot!  So … for Sunday’s […]

  13. […] you to listen to your own body.  It’s something I pride myself in doing: I believe that my constantly improving half marathon time is an example of the fact that I’m learning just how far I can be pushed before I crash, for […]

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