Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#12 - The Dallas Marathon

A revisit with a nemesis of mine.

The Dallas Marathon, previously known as the White Rock Marathon.

The last time I ran this race (in 2012), I had an epic meltdown of a day.  I was on pace to finish around 4:20 (which would have been a huge PR for me) and ended up finishing over an hour slower than that due to humid conditions and a rockin' case of dehydration and the pukes.

So I signed up to run this again last year, got iced out, and because they offered those of us who were cancelled on last year a too good to be true entry fee and our medal from last year, I figured why not.

Back tracking to a couple months ago...

My MRTT frunners Faith and Nicole told me if I agreed to run with them at a little bit of a slower pace, they'd both do their first full marathon.  Of course I said YES!  I love seeing friends complete huge 'mile'stones and wanted to live vicariously through them, reliving my early marathon days (which really weren't *that* long ago).

Unfortunately Nicole got injured, but lucky for me, Faith was still game!

Packet pickup the day before the race was a breeze!  Considering new rules were put in place where each runner had to pick up their packet/bib in person (security reasons), the expo was a lot less crowded that I thought it would be.  Although several big names ran this race...Meb, Deana (both of whom handed out medals at the end!), the Halls, none of them were at the expo.

Race Day

Early that morning I met a group of MRTT frunners to ride together on the train to the start.

We had planned on all meeting up for a picture, but crowds prevented that from happening.  So we took lots of group pictures!  Just smaller.

I met up with Faith and a couple other friends and we loaded into an extremely crowded corral.  Despite have 20k runners, the Dallas Marathon only has 3 corrals. We were both surprised when we saw a familiar face in the sea of people.

Hi Lisa!!

We went over our game plan and before we knew it we were off.

Sticking with a new tradition, I made Faith take a picture at mile marker 1, marking her first marathon.

I told her at each marathon after this (she was kidding me that I was already planning more when we hadn't even finished the first one) she'd have to take a photo by the corresponding mile marker.  We had our despised first mile out of the way!

#12 for me!

The marathon took on a whole new route this year which took us through downtown first, then over to Highland Park, Swiss Avenue, the M streets and the dreaded Dolly Partons (use your imagination here).  In past years, the Dolly's came late in the race, around mile 20, when legs are tired and spunk is dwindling.  I think we were both happy to get them out of the way.  They didn't even seem that bad!

On our way there frunners Nicole (who got injured), Kelly & Monica came out on a dreary, drizzly morning to cheer us on.

We saw them at mile 9 & it gave us a much needed push.  They gave us the power we needed to forge on to the half way mark.

As we neared White Rock Lake, the mist turned into drizzle, which kind of felt good at the time...but, we had no idea what was about to come.

no rain...yet

Up until about the halfway point Faith and I were rocking the 2:1 intervals; run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute.  Faith's walk was more of a jog for me (I thought I walked fast!) and we maintained around a 12:30min/mile past the halfway point.  Out towards the lake we saw Faith's husband and kids.  Her kiddos were SO excited to see her!!  Definitely a high point in the day for her I'm sure!  Since the route doubled back at the lake, we saw them twice.

Then....the rain came.  We hit mile 16 and it pretty much started pouring.  After the lake, the route shot us out on the Sante Fe trail which was amazing and serene, but we were just soaked.  The rain hurt my face, our shoes where making sucking noises on the pavement and I'm pretty sure we both wanted to cry and/or quit at some point, but just didn't say it.  We kept telling each other "at least it isn't cold" to somehow make the pouring rain seem better?  Someone had the brilliant idea to hang speakers ALL along this trail and honestly, it kind of kept me pumped up.  Neither of us listened to music the entire day, so it was a nice distraction.

We settled into 1:1 intervals at this point, which was working.  Several times I looked at Faith (who was probably bonkers from my jibber jabber) and she kept saying "I'm trying".  Her determination was shining through.  I had no doubt she would finish this well within the time she thought she would.

Finally around mile 20 it stopped raining.  Amen!!  We forged back down Swiss Avenue (a beautfil part of the course, btw)getting closer and closer to downtown and our finish line.  Nicole stayed the duration and met us around mile 23 with her smile and some super powered cupcakes (she is my cupcake pusher & and an *amazing* friend).  She gave us some encouraging words and we kept trucking.

we needed to get here

I know those last few miles were hard for Faith.  They are hard no matter if you've run one marathon or twelve or twenty.  Heavy legs, dwindling energy supply and mental exhausting are not a great combo, yet your eye has to stay on the prize.  Faith's determination kept me from dwelling on my own discomfort.  I kept promising her she wouldn't die.  She kept telling me she was still trying.  We picked up the pace and ran one of our faster miles during the second half onto the finish.

Faith's husband and kids were at the finish and they were SO proud!  I was so proud!  I felt like I was running my first marathon again.

despite the crazy look on my face, a photog *finally* captured an epic finish!

We crossed the finish in 5:48:02 and collected our medals.

Since I was iced out last year and had completed the Dallas Rock and Roll half marathon earlier in the year, I came home with a haul!  All in a days work!

Prior to this race, I told myself and a few others I'd probably never do this race again, yet with the changes in the course and the improvement in support, I may think twice about saying never again next year.

Since I was able to run this race at an easier pace, my recovery has been minimal.  Great for someone who is running double marathons, double 5ks in 2 weeks (yikes!).

Paying it forward proved to be an incredible experience for me.  I was suffering from the running sads for several weeks after the NYC marathon due to a huge build up and a less than desired finish there.  I am now ready to hit my next goal and I'm pretty sure Faith is ready to sign up for another marathon!

the smile says it all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's a BOY!!


Not a baby.

A kitty!!

Even though this blog is mostly about fitness and running, it's also about fun things.  Because we "needed" more pets (we already have 2 dogs and a "special" cat), we felt the need to rescue another kitten...mostly as a playmate for the kitty we already have.

a small gang of pets

So without further adieu, meet Tyrian Lannister (because Game of Thrones).

He is about three months old and couldn't be more adorable.  So far, he likes to sleep, steal food and get into trouble.

good thing I'm super cute!

He is super brave with his older and much bigger canine companions (pretty sure Roscoe looks like a dinosaur to him).  Khleo hasn't quite warmed up to him the way we thought, but she also has some personal issues (aka "crazy" cat).

He falls asleep while sitting up.

It's adorable.

 exhibit a

exhibit b

Khleo is not amused and demands the last word.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Friday Five - Favorite Running Mantras

Thanks to Courtney @Eat, Pray, Run DC, Mar @ Mar on the Run and Cynthia @You Signed Up For What? for the Friday Five Link-Up!

Running mantras have seen me through some tough spots in races, regardless of what distance I'm running.  Some people wear them on their shirts (I LOVE that), some write them on their hands, others just repeat them over and over when they feel the need.  Some of the best mantras are from advice given to me by frunners, signs I see along the way and the bible.

Here are some of my favorites (always in no particular order).


This has been one of my mantras from the get go.  I feel like as long as I am making forward progress, I will cross the finish line.  Whether it be a race or just life in general, this is my go to.


For reals.  Oddly enough.  This crosses my mind A LOT sometimes!


Seen on a number of race signs lately, I LOVE this one.


My new favorite....

"Run confidently in the direction of you dreams.  Clarity is power."
-a bestest frunner Luisa before my NYC Marathon
(btw...Luisa followed her dreams all the way to qualifying for the Boston Marathon - she is legit!)


I see a lot of runners in races who wear this on their shirts.  It always seems like I see those people when I need it the most.  

What are some of your favorite running/life mantras?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Staten Island.



The Bronx.


My favorite race ever.

My third NYC marathon, yet it felt like my first (just in a MUCH better way).

While this race did not go as planned because of some pesky 20-35mph winds, it was an incredible day.

Simply incredible.

Despite the winds and the cold, this race remains my favorite.  The crowds, the support, the course.

After an amazing few days spent in NYC with Mr. Southern Fried Soul and my son, the weekend culminated with the race.

When I found out that I got in (a statistical anomaly in itself) earlier this spring, I couldn't WAIT to tell Louis,

As I stated in an earlier post, he has been begging to go to NYC for over a year.  Upset that I haven't taken him in the past (he was just too little), he was *ecstatic* when he heard the news.  We've been on a countdown for months!

Anyway, here's how the race went down...

All week I was a little worried about the weather.  I was happy that I brought as many throw away clothes (all given to charity) for the start.  It wasn't just cold.  It was freezing.  Top that off with some incredibly gusty winds?  A little chilly for this Texas girl.

can you see that flag blowing?

By train, ferry and bus, runners arrived at the start.

SIF ride with Canada Cory - he's waited for 4 years to do this race!

I think she's waving her partially frozen hand at me,  Good morning lady liberty!

Our timing was perfect...some runners had been out on Staten Island since early (5-6am!) that morning, but I arrived with enough time to walk to the starting corral and then on to the start.  I wasn't even ready to start.  I had so many layers, it took me awhile to get down to my race gear!

tons (and I'm not even exageratting) of "throwaway" clothes are collected for the 
needy just in one day

The first two miles consist of the Verazzano-Narrows bridge....and are usually two amazing miles.  Helicopters hovering and amazing views of Manhattan make it a start like no other.

These were the two miles I'd most like to forget.  The winds were RIDICULOUS.  I can't even explain how ridiculous.  I could barely maintain a 11 minute mile in a place where I'd normally run a 9-9:30min/mile.  The wind was blowing everything and everybody around.  My favorite headband blew right off my head (luckily someone else had lost theirs too - I didn't even care who's head it had been on at this point).  I couldn't WAIT to get off of that bridge!

apparently so!

The next several miles veer through the heart of Brooklyn...basically an 11 mile long block party. *Amazing *crowds.

one of my *favorite* neighborhoods in Brooklyn

the city where every stranger on the side of the road cheers for you in that moment

a Brooklyn landmark indicating you are *almost* halfway there

I made up a little time here, but not much.  I feel like I held back WAY to much, which may have boded well for me in the end, but looking back I think I could have made up a little time.

I stopped at mile 11 to take a picture to commemorate my 11th marathon and my 1,001st mile for the year (thanks for the idea Cory!).

The half way point (on the Pulaski bridge) had me feeling over the wind and just winded in general.  I have never run in winds like this.  Never.  Not even at the Rock and Roll half in Dallas in 2013 were the winds that bad (and that was windy! I even PR'd that day).  Feeling down and negative, my times reflected it.

Onto the Queensboro bridge.  Spectators are not allowed on the bridge, so it's pretty much you, your breathing and footsteps.  It's a place to take a scan note of how you feel and know that some of the best miles are to come.  The bridge is long and can be unforgiving on the legs, one mile up, one mile down, but it rewards you in so many way.  Spectacular views of midtown Manhattan the entire way.

that's a good afternoon view!

The spill from the bridge onto 1st Avenue is like being a celebrity for a day (just in case you already don't feel like one).  The roars are loud, the crowds boisterous.

1st Avenue party!

I knew Louis and Ryan would be coming up at mile 18 and I picked it up a little after the bridge because the sooner I got to them, the better.

I was thrilled to see them and Louis even ran some of the NYC Marathon with me!  My best moment the entire race by far.  This definitely lifted my spirits and gave me the extra kick I needed to pull myself out of the mid race slump.

This race flew by SO quickly.  I can't even explain it; it almost like I dreamed my way through it.  Even the last few miles.  With just a blip through the Bronx and Queens, before I knew it, only the 5th Avenue and the park remained (some of my favorite parts).

another fave - sun bathed Central Parl

I continued to pick up the pace into Manhattan, stopping only for the hydration, trying to make up some time knowing I had nothing to lose.  Unfortunately, Ryan and Louis didn't make it into the park for the finish because of daunting security and insane subway wait times, but it didn't make it any less spectacular.  The crowds here are some of the thickest, with way too many people yelling "you're almost there" (IMO, you're "almost there" at mile 26.1).

happy to be in this moment - mile 25

The rolling hills are hard on the legs, but the downhills forgiving.  I flew around Central Park South, Columbus Circle and into the finish, for the first time high fiving kids, cops, spectators...whoever I could find a boost from AND I was smiling.  A first for me.  I finished strong and for that I am thankful.

The long death march began to the finishing area to collect my high fashion poncho (for reals, super nice!) and my snacks.

By the time I got to Louis and Ryan I was exhausted and FREEZING.

I was finished and a little sad to be done.  Like I said, it wasn't my goal (4:30), but it was a 43 minute improvement on 2010 and 23 on 2011.

But my real goal?

It was this.

The very first time I read about the NYCM I knew that if you finished fast enough your name would be printed in the New Yorl Times the next day.  I knew this was my goal from that first year.  After a disappointing showing in 2010, a better one in 2011 but just not quite good enough, it had *finally* happened.  I may or may not have had a tear in my eye when I opened it to that page.

I have been so fortunate to have been able to run this race three times.  I would have felt lucky to have run it once.  I told myself that this would be the last time I'd run this one for awhile, but post-race, my feelings are much different.  We'll see how I feel come January.

Sitting on my couch last year, reminiscing about 2010 and 2011 definitely spurred my interest in getting in this year.  If there is any downside to this race, it's this: it completely ruins you for any other race you do.  I've run some great races that have almost compared to this one (the Twin Cities Marathon & Chicago...even Houston is right up there!), but like one of my favorite book's title, this truly is a race like no other.  Despite this being my 3rd in just 4 years, it just doesn't lose it's charm or emotional quotient for me.

Til we meet again NYC!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

NYC Marathon - Part 2

Just in case you missed Part 1.

For the most part, our second and third days in NYC were equal parts sightseeing and relaxing.  I made the mistake of spending WAY too much time on my feet here pre-marathon in the past and didn't want go down that road again.

Friday was Halloween!  I was pretty excited to see how this was going to go down.  I had scoped out some safe neighborhoods for Louis to trick or treat in.  There was also a giant parade in the city, but it looked a little risque (and crowded) for an 8 year old...

Anyway, we started the day with lunch at Sylvia's, a Harlem jewel.  Many presidents and well known dignitaries have dined here.  Louis was again pretty awestruck that President Obama had dined here not terribly long ago (right after our last visit there in fact).  Lots of neat pictures and some amazing soul food!

We started trick or treating in this neighborhood as we knew it pretty well, having stayed there in 2011.  Then we loaded up Commander Fox on the subway and headed into the city.

The neighborhood we chose to trick or treat in was simply amazing.  The decorations were a sight to be seen in themselves.  We showed up a bit early and took advantage of some required photo ops.

The candy started at 6pm sharp & we had a little time to kill so we walked over to Central Park and let Louis climb rocks and run a muck! 

 A little perspective on things.

We stumbled on one of the marathon festivities while we were there - the Parade of Nations, a part of the opening ceremony.  Similar to the Olympics, each of the nations represented in the marathon had a flag bearer and all of that countries athletes followed suit.  There was a lot of energy in that parade.  We didn't stay to watch the entire thing, but it was pretty cool to see.

Onto the gathering of candy!

In typical Louis fashion, after about 8 stops, Louis was ready to call it.  The last time we took this boy trick or treating, half way around the neighborhood he looked at us and said he had enough candy.  I'm always confused by this.  

After the Halloween festivities commenced, we trekked down to Rockefeller Center for ice skating!  This is always one of my favorite parts of the trip.  I've ice skated there during every trip I've made to NYC, so it's pretty much a tradition now.  Maybe not the smartest idea to ice skate less than 48 hours before a marathon, but I never fall (on ice)!  

 photo credit: Louis Else (artsy for an 8 year old, huh?)

Louis took a little while to get warmed up, but he caught on quick! He loved this as much as I did. My heart was happy.

Then it was to the top of the rock!

60 some floors up we took in all the views of the city at night.  Always breathtaking.  This view never gets old.

And a little history that Louis could appreciate...

Ryan found some awesome food from a nearby food truck and we were headed home. 

Day 3

I'll sum this one up real quick!

It was a rainy and cold day.  The perfect day for a museum!

I had wanted to take Louis to the Museum of Natural History, unrealistically expecting a "Night at the Museum" type experience. 

Instead, imagine this.  A museum like Ikea, with  no short cut, packed with people and what Ryan called a "stroller convention".  Of course we saw a lot of interesting things, but not without nightmarish crowds.  We were all pretty exhausted after just a few hours there.

Finally, my traditional marathon eve dinner at Tony's!

Awesome food and great conversation with old and new friends from Canada, California and New York!

Since Tony's was in Time Square, we killed two birds with one stone AND we *got* to go into a giant Toys 'r' Us with Louis.  Think 4 stories of plastic, complete with a ferris wheel that you could ride.  Basically Vegas for kids.

After a most overstimulating day.  We headed back to Harlem so we could get everything in order for the big dig day!!

Look for Part 3 later this week!!  It'll be worth the wait...I promise!