The adventures of an unlikely pair. Follow us if you dare....

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The One About Girl's Weekend (this one has nothing to do with running!)

*Just letting you know sisters and Taylor - this post has absolutely nothing to do with running!
Apparently my sisters and cousin say that I write about running too much on my blog. That really confused me because I thought they could read... I mean my blog is titled, "The Unlikely RUNNERS" so naturally I would expect there to be a lot of things about running.... (I love you guys, I'm just giving you a hard time, but seriously, this one has nothing to do with running!)

This past weekend Nanna took my sisters, my cousin Taylor and I on a little weekend getaway to Fort Worth for some good old fashioned family time! Our "girl's weekends" have become a tradition for us and it's something that we look forward to almost every year. We try to do something each Memorial Day because our great-grandmother's birthday is on the 28th of May and usually always falls somewhere during that weekend. Mama (pronounced Mo-Mo) passed away a little over a year ago and we miss her greatly but we still love to celebrate her and her life and carry on the tradition of spending time together as a family.

Nanna, having had boys herself was very excited when she got her grand daughters all in a row and so close together! We are so blessed to have such a wonderful grandmother who spends so much time and energy on us and who provides fun weekends for us. Taylor and Sara both live far away and so they flew in on Friday evening and we all spent the night at Nanna's on Friday night. We got up on Saturday to a yummy breakfast and then loaded the car and hit the road to Ft. Worth. The nice thing about going to Ft. Worth is that it's not too far but we are still in a place that isn't our normal stomping grounds and there was plenty for us to do. We stayed at a nice little bed and breakfast that on first glance seemed a bit on the sketchy side but then wound up being a nice little place that we all really enjoyed. We spend a lot of time finding nice resturants and I'm pretty sure I gained about 10lbs over the weekend enjoying the food. We did some shopping, saw and movie and were just able to spend time relaxing together and enjoying each other's company.
So here is our weekend in pictures:
                      The yummy breakfast at Nanna's house




Lunch at Joe T. Garcia's




Our Bed and Breakfast suite





Dinner at Riscky's BBQ



Giving Nanna her first jello shot :)





Lunch at Cattlemen's




Mexican food dinner or as Nanna called it: "your last supper"



Friday, May 25, 2012

The One Where I Talk About Shoes


Let’s go back many moons ago, shall we?  Well many moons ago when I thought I had wanted to do this running thing I went to RunOn and had a shoe fitting and they gave me some shoes that, when looking at them now make me wonder how I ever was able to pick up my feet in those things. This was pre-minimalist running shoe movement (yes, I did just refer to it as a movement!) and when things were all, protect your feet, support, support, support! They were huge, bulky, unattractive and just awful. I may actually still have them though…. Anyways, so when I actually decided it was time to do this running thing for real, those were the shoes that I did all my Turkey Trot training in. They didn’t seem to give me any problems and I went through the 6-week class and ran the turkey trot in them just fine. 


 Well shortly after the turkey trot I started experiencing some pain on the inside of my right knee. It would hurt a lot, and constantly. It didn’t actually hurt to run, but it would hurt afterwards and all throughout the day.

This was in early December and my family and I were heading to Lubbock to celebrate my sister’s graduation, and it just so happens that my uncle is a foot and ankle surgeon in Lubbock and has a shoe store out there that is similar to RunOn. I had told him my issues and he suggest we go up to the store and have his people evaluate my walk and fit me for some new shoes. The guy there that helped me told me that I pronate on my right foot and therefore by doing so it’s straining my knee. 

So that’s when I was introduced to Brooks. He set me up with the Brooks Ghost 3s and also gave me an insert.

I immediately fell in love with these shoes! They felt so much lighter than my other shoes, even with the inserts and they seemed to fit better and I mean they were new shoes! What girl doesn’t love new shoes? My Ghost 3’s became my best friend. I have not had a single problem after that. I got another pair when those started wearing out.

Then the Ghost 4’s came out and I had my uncle bring me those when he came for thanksgiving. When I got my Ghost 4’s I decided that I would forgo the shoe insert and see if I really needed it anymore or not. And honestly, I didn’t miss the insert one bit. It made me wonder if I had ever needed it to begin with. But it doesn’t matter; I have loved my Ghost 4’s probably even more than I love the 3’s – if that makes any sense.

So it’s about time for some new shoes and I absolutely love my Ghost shoes and thought about getting another pair, keep it simple, you know. But I admit, while I’m not totally on board with this minimalist movement, I am intrigued by it. I have no desire for a pair of Vibrams but I do like the idea of what a minimalist shoe does for you.

Let me see if I can sum it up in my uneducated way… From the reading I have done the idea behind “minimal/barefoot running” is that when you run barefoot, you can land more comfortably and naturally on your foot and therefore decrease chances of injury.  Running shoes while they provide added support and cushioning often times cause runners to “heel strike” which is not natural and will therefore lead to the possibility of injury and other problems. There is also research being done that has come along with Crossfit that tell you that the less support you have in a shoe, the better of a workout you will get because your body is actually encouraged to strengthen your natural stabilizing muscles in your feet and throughout your legs.

Keep in mind that each person is different and there is not a “perfect” shoe out there. But I tend to agree with some of the studies being done in that the less you have to influence the movement of your feet and the more you allow for natural movements the stronger you will be. Shoes are a modern invention, especially running shoes.
If you look at running shoes over the years they actually started out in a pretty minimalistic style and over time have added things like arch support, heal support and extra cushioning all in an attempt to protect your feet. But have we really been hurting our feet in the processes?  There is a really good article here about this!





So all that being said, I started doing my own research and like I said, I wasn’t all caught up in the “five finger shoes” but I did want to explore my options. I knew that I absolutely loved my Brooks shoes and want to be loyal to them as a brand and keep them as my running shoe. So I started looking at the PureProject line that Brooks just recently introduced. You can read about the science here, but the 2 key selling points for me here are the Anatomical Shape and the Ideal Heel. I have a huge problem with heel striking and so I’m very curious to see how this will affect me.

I did a side-by-side comparison of the current shoes that I wear and the ones that I want to see just how similar and different they were. 

I also called and talked to the guy that works at my uncle’s store and asked him some questions and his opinion on switching shoes. I didn’t want to do anything that could potentially cause injuries and I’ve been cautious since I’ve had knee problems. But this guy said that this would be a great move and he thinks I will really like the shoes! I’m really excited!  My sister just happens to be coming in town from Lubbock today since we are having a Girl’s Weekend with my grandmother and cousin this weekend so I have arranged for her to pick them up for me and deliver them into my hands tonight when I pick her up from the airport!


I was told that I need to break them in slowly and not start off doing all my long runs in these shoes, but I am excited to hopefully get in a 3 mile running tomorrow with my new shoes!

I’m interested to know what you think of minimalist shoes and if you have tried them or plan to try any. Leave me a comment and let me know!

I hope you all have a fun and relaxing Memorial Day weekend! I’ll be spending time with my favorite girls!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The One Where I’m Looking For The Next Exit


 Alternate Title: The One Where I Proceed To Whine....
    
Have you ever been caught up in a so called “vicious cycle”? You know the ones where you entertain one bad habit, which then leads to another bad habit, and then yet another bad habit all resulting in the demise of your existence? (Dramatic much?)  I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about – you decide to skip one workout for the comforts of your couch and then you wake up 2 months later having consumed a year’s worth of sugar, missed who knows how many workouts and are cranky, fat, lethargic and just plain depressed. This really never happens to you? Ok, so maybe you don’t wake up 2 months later like that but that’s certainly the boat I’ve found myself in lately.  

Warning: Excuses ahead…..
After my [attempted] marathon (yes I still haven’t written about that yet because I’m refusing to…) I was seriously burnt out and quiet honestly had the wind knocked out of me. I had trained hard for six months for something I was so passionate about; something that I had built up in my head as “closing a bad chapter in my life with this sucker punch I was throwing at my rough days by completing this marathon” all to have it thrown back in my face with a laugh. I went to D.C. having trained and I came home disappointed. I came home tired of running and wallowing in my loss of my first marathon. It wasn’t what I had hoped and wanted it to be. So I gave myself the excuse to take a break. And take a break I have!

A week off eventually led to two weeks off, which led to a month off and now two whole months (really it’s 10 weeks but who’s counting??). I got back from D.C. with the intention of taking it easy. I knew I needed rest. I knew I needed to process what had happened. My body was sore, really sore! The soreness that I experience after D.C. was none like I’ve ever experience before. I actually think I was sore as a result of stress more than I was from stress on my muscles.
A week after coming home from D.C., I ran Rock ‘N Roll Dallas, it was my birthday and I had signed up a while back on a whim with one of my friends, however, this friend and I had since parted ways and we didn’t talk anymore. I was still sore but determined to have a good birthday run, but I was also running alone. As much as I actually enjoyed the course that was a hard race for me, which only added to the damaging feelings I was having that maybe running just wasn’t my thing. I was so sore after that race too. I remember the end of March just being sore all the time (I figured out why later and will tell you that in another post) and it was discouraging!

Then April came and that meant wedding month – not mine, my sister and my best friend were both getting married. 







I had purposely left most of April open and I had only signed up for a couple of races. I tried starting back into a weight lifting routine, I had missed that and wanted to get back into the gym but not really run. But my mojo just wasn’t there. I would go a couple of days and then not go for like a week.

Then May came. Ok, May will be a new month I said. I will move past my laziness and get going and working out again. Then the mini marathon happened and yet again I felt like I was just so bummed. And here’s where that cycle just gets worse. I miss a few days and by missing a few days my energy level drops. When my energy level drops I don’t want to go workout (duh!). But I know if I actually get moving then I would have energy and feel infinitely better. Consequently, when I’m not working out I have no motivation to eat right. I don’t eat as well as I should and I drink way more Dr. Pepper’s than I should! When I eat a bunch of crap and drink too much sugar I don’t feel like working out because I feel all crappy. When really, if I got over the fact that I ate a bag of chips and drank 2 Dr. Pepper’s and just got to the gym, it wouldn’t be that bad. But 2 Dr. Pepper’s really makes me just want 2 more, because I mean, if I’ve already ruined the day then I might as well enjoy the rest of it. And if I’ve ruined this day and inevitably the week, then who cares!

The mind is a sick thing I tell you. Sometimes it is scary how we can let certain things affect us in certain ways. That so called “vicious cycle”, it’s real! I like to equate it to being stuck on the wrong road, you make a bad turn, you miss your exit and you are stuck there just looking for the next exit so you can turn around and get on the right path. Unfortunately for me, there’s been a lot of mileage racked up between my bad turn and the next exit. I need to reset the gauge, start from scratch and just move forward.

So what did I do? I ordered some new shoes!!! 

Yep, I have these bad boys on their way to me this weekend. My sister is bringing them to me when she comes in town for our Girl’s Weekend! I’m actually really excited about these shoes and can’t wait to try them out. I have been doing some research on them and I have a post that I want to put up tomorrow about them.


So there you have it – I’m stuck in a downward cycle of self pitying and wallowing and I can’t get out of it. But I’m determined to make it change, sooner rather than later since I really need to start training for El Scorcho….. Heaven help me and my stupidity! Forward motion starts now! (or as soon as I get my new shoes….!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The One About That Not So Mini Marathon


First of all, why do they call it a “mini marathon”? I mean why can it not just simply be a HALF MARATHON? In my mind mini marathon is something different from a half marathon; it’s just a smaller version of a marathon, where as a half marathon is in fact, half of a marathon.  And to add to that, they don’t even offer a Marathon portion of this particular race, it is strictly a half marathon. None of it makes sense to me!

Secondly, this thing they call the “Mini Marathon” is really not so mini at all, unless of course they are talking about the width of the streets the course is run on in relation to the amount of people running this race, then mini might be fitting, but they don’t. As stated in this post, this race is currently the largest half marathon in the United States and therefore the word “Mini” seems ironic to me.

Now that I have my rant out of the way let’s get into details and specifics…

Expo:
The race is held on a Saturday (always love the Saturday races!) and so the expo is held on Thursday and Friday at the Indiana Convention Center. Alex and I drove straight into downtown on Friday afternoon to get our packets at the expo – it was not hard to get to but you did have to pay to park (I absolutely hate that! I’ve already paid to race, don’t make me pay to pick up my bib and t-shirt!).  Seeing as this was the largest half marathon in the US, I had some high hopes and expectation for this race expo but I was really very disappointed. The packet pick-up itself was smooth, quick and easy. We were able to walk right up and get both our numbers and shirts with no issues and no lines.



Then we walked around and looked at all the different booths. Alex had never been to an expo before but I could tell he wasn’t too impressed, I certainly wasn’t.  You had your normal offenders – Sports Authority, Nuun, Brooks, New Balance, local races trying to promote, but honestly, nothing too exciting. There were a few Indy race cars on display that Alex enjoyed seeing but other than that we were in and out in under an hour.

Race Morning:

Alex and I had plans to ride down with some good friends of Alex’s who run the race every year and know all about the downtown and race site, I think we were both really thankful neither one of us had to drive! The races started at 7:30 and they told you to be in your corrals by 7 am so we had to be up early and at his friend’s house by 6am. I had a muffin and banana when I woke up and actually intended to eat something else before the race but never did.





We got to the race and didn’t have too much trouble parking; however, I wasn’t driving so I really wasn’t stressed too much! Once we parked it was a short walk to the race site at and we were even able to stop and use the restrooms in the Convention Center! Yay for not having to use the port-o- potties and wait in the huge lines!
Alex and I were supposed to be in corral Q and Mrs. Thomas was supposed to be in corral W (they went all the way to X!!!) but due to a traffic jam of people we somehow ended up in corral M. 




We were going to move but then realized we had actually been locked into our corrals (on a side note: who does that? That doesn’t seem safe to me to lock a herd of people into a corral. I mean we could have jumped over if needed but it seemed a bit excessive to me). So corral M it was. I was a bit nervous about being so far forward and not having been running. Oh and it’s very important that I note right here that it is currently sitting at about 60 degrees and 100% humidity!!! I knew from that morning that any sort of PR or good time was out the window (Alex had really wanted a PR and I was willing to give it a shot until I heard about the weather…)

At this point being in the corral I didn’t seem too overwhelmed by all the people, but I guess there were thousands more behind me that I just didn’t consider at all. We actually started really quickly; it only took about 15 minutes for our corral to get to the starting line, which really impressed me. And then we were off!

Immediately Alex and I both said we really needed to stop and pee (we had been hydrating really well because we knew it would be humid!) and so we took off at a pretty comfortable pace looking for the first port-o-potty we could find. We ran past the Indianapolis Zoo, there were elephants actually watching us all go by and that was kind of cool. We reach the 1 mile mark and we have both settled in pretty well but we still needed to pee and there was a gas station and we knew with all the people on the course even if we found a port-o-potty soon there would be a line, so we made a quick decision to run into the gas station and use their bathrooms. I felt awkward leaving the course at first and felt bad using the gas station but that quickly all went away when we realized there were several others in there as well doing the exact same thing. It was a quick, 3 minute detour in our race and then we were back at it.

So from this point on things just go completely downhill for me; mile 1 hadn’t been too bad but stopping really threw me off my game. Although I felt better having used the bathroom I came back out and couldn’t find my rhythm again. Mile 2 was absolutely the worst for me mainly because I was still trying to hold onto thoughts of running a good time and not wanting to disappoint Alex. But I was having issues with my fitness belt riding around and sliding up and down, that was annoying me. There were so many many many people, so many and it was hot and I was constantly bumping into them and avoiding them, that annoyed me. My heart rate was sky high because I was upset and irritated and hot and just really mentally in a bad place. In mile 2 I knew my race day was already over, and Alex did too.

Right before mile 3 I stopped for like the second time to readjust my fitness belt and told Alex to go on (I told him angrily of course, so that he would read that I wasn’t serious about him leaving me), but being the smart and caring man that he is he said that he was staying with me because we came to do this together and we were just going to do it together.

I don’t really remember much about miles 3-6 other than it wasn’t pretty scenery, I was irritated at the heat and all the people and the sun was coming out, I was walking a lot and I was just mad. Poor Alex had to listen to me gripe and complain the whole time. I was just so disappointed in how the day was turning out and I was having a really hard time processing it.

Around mile 6 we start heading into Speedway, Indiana where the Indianapolis 500 race track is. One of the perks of this race is that you run miles 6.5-8.5 on the Indy500 track! Despite the bad day I was having I was looking forward to this, even if it was only because I knew Alex was so excited about it. We had said we wanted to try to run the whole portion of the track so we had been taking it easy, taking walk breaks, drinking at every aid station and so as we headed onto the track we take off at a light jog. But unfortunately the track wasn’t entire open to run on. Most of the time we had to run on the smaller, inside portion of the track and with about 7,000 other people you can just imagine how irritating that was in my already hot and irritated state. So running the track became, let’s walk and enjoy the track shall we? I have to really give Alex a lot of credit because not only was this not my best race, but this was most definitely not a shining moment in my existence at all – I was a hot mess that day and Alex took the worst of it, God bless his soul!



So we enjoyed the track, took in the sights, talked some and took a few pictures. It was a cool experience to say that you ran, er…walked around the Indy500 track, not going to lie, kind of neat even in my horrible state of mind.

When we got off the track we were headed back downtown by way of back roads and not so good neighborhoods. Again, I was less than impressed with the overall course of this race – they really do win you over with running the track because everything else is pretty dang crappy! This is also the point in the race where we start seeing a lot of people being affected by the weather that day. As soon as we were leaving the track we actually were stopped by medical personal and had to stop running so they could drive through with a man on a stretcher having chest pains. A little further down the course we would constantly come upon people getting fluids through IV’s at the aid stations and many people were walking.

I should mention here that as early as Wednesday the race directors had sent out heat and weather advisories letting participants know that it would be uncharacteristically hot. They had also done an outstanding job of putting out extra water stops and volunteers. I don’t think we ever went more than a mile without water. It was incredible and they really did a great job making sure people were taken care of!

Most of the rest of the race I just remember being hot, walking a lot and feeling so defeated by the day. I told Alex at one point that it felt like I was on a death march, there were just so many people trudging along looking hot, tired and dejected; pretty much the same things I felt. We tried to run off and on throughout the last 5 or so miles but about mile 11 I started feeling light-headed and seeing as there were so many people already suffering I knew I had to be smarter than that and just take it easy. It was only a race, I’ve done plenty of races and I will do many more. I have a hard time not feeling like a failure when something doesn’t go as planned. I’m a very mental runner and probably take myself way too seriously. But I try to remind myself that no matter what, I’m actually out there doing it. Some people are still in bed on a Saturday morning and no matter how fast or slow I am I’m the one out there on the course.  It’s hard to tell myself that in the moment and I’m not very good at listening but thankfully I listened that day.

So Alex and I walked it in until we could see the finish line, and then when we were about 100 yards out we ran and quickly as we could. I didn’t have much left in me but I gave it what I had. My finish time was my worst time ever by 5 minutes. I’m bummed but I was quickly reminded of how trivial that was when right in front of me a dad and his young son were crossing the finish line. The boy looked to be about 9 or 10 and he immediately started sobbing and telling his dad “I did it, I did it dad!” and the dad just could not have looked more proud in that moment. I wanted to cry, and may be doing just that as I type this right now. But that’s what’s important, finishing. I finished. I did it. It may be my worst time ever, it may have been a really bad day for me and I may never ever want to do that race ever again, but I did it.

After the race I guzzled some water and grabbed a snack bag as I was leaving the finishers area with my awesome medal. And we then went to find his friends and head home. We didn’t hang around afterwards, I’m not much for after race festivities and I really wanted to get to the car and take my stinky clothes off and just sit down and cool off!

So there you have it, the worst mini (Half??) marathon experience ever. Not going to lie, I probably wouldn’t recommend this race. Maybe if you were uber fast and started in corral B or C if wouldn’t be too bad, but overall there were just way too many people at this race for the way the course is designed. It’s cool to run on the track, sure but honestly, there are other races that offer that. I’m not saying I wish I hadn’t done this race, because I’m very glad I did; I love travelling and running new races; but I wouldn’t do it again. The course support was great, I have to applaud them for the extra care they took at the water stops and for adding in so many extra stops. But I’ve made my mark on that mini marathon and I’m not going back!
Hopefully later this week I can get a post up about the rest of the Indiana trip up! Thanks for reading this all the way through – it was super long!!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The One With A Few Bullet Points


  •  I am not dead, nor have I fallen off the blogger bandwagon again, I'm just really busy at work and have literally done nothing of interest for two weeks
  • I know I need to post about Indiana, I promise I will!! Here are a few pictures to hold you over.




  • Indiana was fun! That thing they call the mini marathon was not!
  • I have been a lazy bum since after my marathon [attempt] in March, and it's really starting to annoy me!
  • I feel like I'm stuck in a rut and I'm really ready to get out of it.
  • Last week Alex and I signed up for a softball league - our first game is this Sunday and I'm terrified!
  • I really miss running and working out, so that is going to change ASAP
  • That is all I have to bore you with for now, I will resume regularly scheduled blogging next week (hopefully! work has been absolutely crazy right now and I see patients on a daily basis and a lot of times I need to be flexible for that - some days I don't get a lunch break!! So please be patient as I deal with being an adult and having one of these "job" things!)
Happy Friday y'all!! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

The One Where I Ran Around Our State Capitol (February Part 3, FINALLY!)


Right after running the Stonebridge Half marathon (with my second best time ever, by the way) Alex and I grabbed some lunch and then I quickly showered and headed out the door. My friend Shelly and I were headed to Austin! I had, on a whim, signed up to run the Livestrong Austin Half Marathon back in November right after my awesome PR in Tulsa. I have no idea why I decided to run this one instead of Cowtown, but register I did. I don’t even really remember when I realized that I would have two half marathons in two days, it just kind of happened that way. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I had never run that many miles in so few days, let alone after running an entire half marathon for the first time.
Many people thought that Stonebridge was a hilly course, and it was but if that is hilly then Austin must be made of mountains! Austin is beautiful, gorgeous, a wonderful city to run in, but by golly there are some dang hard hills! I knew going in that it would be hilly. I had looked at the course map briefly and saw a wonderfully steady incline from miles 3-6, that’s right, 3-6 people!

So here I was, one very successful half marathon down, with 4 hours in the car ahead of me only to wake up and do it all again, but this time on a much harder course! I had so many mixed feelings about this race. For starters, I knew the amount of mileage that I would be putting in over the two days was great to gauge just how ready I was for a marathon that was at this point exactly 4 weeks away. But on the other hand, I had, unintentionally I might add, pushed myself pretty hard once that weekend and knew I would need lot of mental and physical strength for the next one. I also wasn’t sure how my legs would be feeling after one race and then sitting in the car. I was concerned about soreness and fatigue. But then again, I was very excited to see what I would be able to accomplish. If anyone knows me well, they know that I absolutely love a new challenge; they know that I never pass up an opportunity to out-do myself, and they know I like to push myself in sometimes extreme ways (their words, not mine!)
So there I sat, in a hotel bathtub soaking in Epsom salt just praying that I wasn’t making some huge mistake. I may have even been telling myself that it was ok to walk 12 out of those 13 miles the next day if I really needed to. I wanted to know my strength, yes. I wanted to accomplish the mileage, yes. But I most certainly didn’t want an injury or to hurt myself or my training in any way.
After dinner and some foam rolling I was ready to get some sleep! My friend Lucy had picked up my packet for me since I wasn’t able to make it to the expo in time and so I had plans to drive to her hotel the next morning and ride with her to the race site. We both like to get there early and make sure we have parking. I got up around 5, did some stretching and surprisingly felt pretty good. I dressed in my burnt orange UT Longhorn’s tech shirt and headed out the door with breakfast in tow. Once I met Lucy it was a quick trip downtown and we easily found a parking spot and immediately went to find the port-o-potties.

The weather was perfect that day, kind of cool but not cold and watching the sun come up as I stood in front of the Texas state capitol building was awesome! Before long it was time to start and I knew I wanted to take it slow. Lucy and I started together and both quickly realized in the first mile we had to find another port-o-potty because we both had to pee!! We see one, jump in and out super fast, probably no more than 2 minutes long and then take off again. We are sitting right at about an 11:50ish pace and I’m trying to keep it slow.
I’m actually feeling really good at this point and I’m enjoying the weather and the people. At mile 2 Lucy took off and I finally settled in. I have this really bad habit when I race of setting my standards for myself way too low and telling myself that if I go X amount of miles then I will be ok with walking. So here starts my bargaining – I tell myself if I make it thru 6 miles of this race that is beyond amazing considering the half marathon I had run the day before. Usually this kind of thinking weighs on me and gets me down but for some reason, maybe it was the great race I had had the day before, I wasn’t in a negative mindset at all. I was calm, and felt really good.
The first 2 and a half miles were small rolling hills throughout the downtown area. Nothing major, a few climbs and then a few descents. Then we crossed a bridge out of the downtown area and that’s when I knew the real hills were coming. Right before mile 3 we started going up and we just kept going up and up. I remember feeling pretty winded and a little bit tired, but somewhere deep inside me I pulled out my strength and just kept going. There was an aid station right about mile 3.5 on the incline and I remember thinking I wanted to walk but how annoying it would be to stop on the hill. I also had my new handheld water bottle with me that I had worn the day before and loved having that and loved being able to drink when I wanted.
As we approached mile 5 we turned and were running along the access road of the highway, not all that scenic and it was pretty steep.
*I must note that when I say it was a climb all throughout miles 3-6, I actually mean that most of the time we were running on an incline. At some points it would level out for a bit but not much!
Anyways, at this particular incline there was a wheelchair racer who you could tell was really struggling through these first few portions of the race. She was almost at a dead stop trying to make it up this incline and she had her people surrounding her on bikes and there were many other runners cheering her on as they passed her. If you have never experienced being choked up from emotion while running, let me tell you that it’s hard! I love moments like that out on the race course because it reminds you just how blessed you are and just how strong human will power can be. I also spent most of the race running with a blind runner – totally beyond amazing to me! He had his guide and another runner with them clearing paths along the way. I loved that so much of this race was about people overcoming things in their lives that might otherwise slow them down!
At mile 6 sweet relief awaited at we began the most awesome and glorious descent I have ever experience in a race! From miles 6-9 everything was downhill and we were in a beautiful part of some older neighborhoods in Austin. Now if you remember correctly I had bargained with myself that if I could hold on until mile 6 then I would feel ok about stopping and walking – well at this point I had just run up all of those hill and pushed through on who knows what superhuman strength and I was not about to be walking down any downhill portions of any race! So run I did. I kept on and even realized I was making amazing time! I was sitting at just right over an hour for 6 miles, which was really good for me.
At mile 9 it was a semi-flat area but I knew there would be another few hills at mile 10 and also knew at mile 12 there was a really really big hill to climb. I started to get tired around mile 9 but kept pushing and right as I got to mile 10 I started to get a few cramps in my hamstrings (go figure!) So at mile 10 I finally stopped. I looked down and realized that not only had I run 4 more miles than I was going to allow myself to run, but I also had a faster 10 miles than the day before!!! I took a few moments to stretch and feel proud of myself and then walked for a bit. At this point there were the marathoners splitting off and the half marathoners were heading back in. I walked and ran as much as I could until mile 12.5 and then ran the whole way in.
The finish area, while it was totally awesome, was quite deceiving; there was a long stretch of barricades that made it seem as if you were getting close but you couldn’t actually see the finish line because it was around the other side of the building. Then you turn a corner and it’s still several hundred yards ahead of you; but thankfully it was all downhill with the capital building right behind you.
this is probably one of my favorite running pictures!

I ran hard because at this point I was sitting at the EXACT SAME TIME as my finish from the day before and wanted to make sure I had the same time within a few seconds. I couldn’t believe that I ran 2 of my best races ever in 2 days, back to back and got the EXACT SAME TIME!!!!! Seriously! Who does that! I was so incredibly proud of that – after everything that could have gone wrong – I accomplished consistency.  I think I may have even been more proud of the two races I ran in one weekend that I was of my PR race in Tulsa.
I absolutely loved the finish area because they immediately handed you your medal (love it!) and then handed you a bag that had water, Gatorade, a banana, chips and a cookie in it – it was so nice to have a bag to carry out and not have to worry about dropping all the stuff they give you at the end! I grabbed an extra Gatorade and then quickly headed out to find Lucy at the car. Thankfully we were close to the finish area and she hadn’t finished too far ahead of me.
I was so excited about my race and my time; I just couldn’t wait to call my mom and Alex! I absolutely loved Austin: I loved the hills, I loved the course, I loved the race support along the way. I loved all the people you got to see working hard to overcome hardships. I loved the weather. I loved the medal and finish area. And I absolutely fell in love with the confidence the whole weekend gave me.