Sub-1:40 Half Marathon: I. DID. IT.

For over a year now, I’ve had this goal. This scary yet attainable goal that I KNEW I could reach and surpass for the half marathon. A sub-1:40. I’d take 1:39:59. A 7:30ish pace for 13.1 miles. I KNEW I had it in me. I didn’t take my eyes off of this goal. for OVER A YEAR. For hundreds and hundreds of days, six days out of the week, EVERY. WEEK. I have stayed focused.

FOR HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF DAYS! I woke up at 4:30 am, even 3:30 am! Whatever I had to do. I went to bed early, ate well, ran through 110 degree Texas summers, drank copious amounts of water to recover, did my cross training, stretched when I didn’t want to, overcame an injury with tedious exercises that seemed useless at times – I literally came back to running ONE minute at a time!… I. Stuck. With it. One day off. Every week. Running a consistent 40-50 miles per week. Every. Week.

I knew it was paying off! Just last week, I ran a 5K PR – 21:08 (6:44 min/mile average)!

I never considered myself a “fast” runner. Yes, I ran the 400 meters in High School in 60 seconds and change. Even then, I never thought I was fast. Lucky, maybe? I don’t know. I REALLY never thought – at least if you were to ask me 5 years ago – that I would run THIRTEEN MILES holding a pace in the 7’s. No way. No way!!

And here I am. I am still daydreaming about yesterday’s race… the Dallas Running Club Half Marathon on the morning of Sunday, November 4th, 2018…

At 6:00 am I get off of a school bus that shuttled runners to the Start line. It was still dark. Excitement was in the air. It was a chilly morning. Cold, really. I will admit – I got there (extra) early and may have huddled in a porta-potty for a silly amount of time to be in a pota-potty just for warmth. I was saved by the fact that I remembered my mittens! (Lucky mittens, of course).

It was getting close to Start time (finally!) and I do my usual dynamic warm-up while trying not to run into anyone. Everyone huddles towards the Start.

I see that there are Pacers holding up their little signs with how fast they’re going so I look for my group – 1:40. It was almost at the very front of the Start line! I felt like some sort of celebrity starting that close to the front, surrounded by all these lean men with brightly colored shoes who look like really strong athletes.

POP! The gun goes off!

I was in the front of the pack… staying stride in stride with these incredibly strong (and bouncy!) guys… each and every stride in sync for a whole 10+ miles, running shoulder to shoulder. I felt strong. Part of the pack! I felt unstoppable. I was focused. Relaxed. I felt weightless…

Then… Around mile 11 my mental “calm” broke with about the last hill I thought I could handle (it was a hilly course). “Last hill!” our amazing pacer assured us. “Stay relaxed going up. Looking strong! Stay left to follow the tangent!” He says. I was relaxed and right ahead of the pacer (ALMOST!) the entire 13.1 miles. It was mile 11… that last hill that got me. It broke my focus. I was, at this point, surprised and relieved hat I made it that far before it happened! I just told myself the hard part is here, so it can’t get worse. THIS is the part that counts.

Suddenly my legs were tired and all I could think about was stopping. Thankfully, I knew my friends would be cheering around mile 11 so I just focused on staying in the game until then. If they take pictures, I should at least look as strong as I did the first 11 miles, right? You’re strong. Keep going… Shut up, legs!!

I took it one. mile. at. a. time. Keeping my pace group in sight, I just kept a strong stride and tried really hard to tell myself that I felt good. My mind just wasn’t the same those last few miles. I had to dig deep (I truly learned what “dig deep” meant during training). I thought I blew it until I look down at my watch to see that I was still holding a pace in the 7’s (how?? I didn’t argue with the Garmin!!). With just one mile to go, there was no going back. No giving up. And I’m so glad I stuck it out… I can’t explain the feeling when I saw 1:39:42 on that watch.

This was truly a morning and experience that I will never forget. In the end it’s not about the numbers, it’s about that feeling. That unexplainable feeling…

Mile splits:

  • Mile one: 7:28
  • Mile two: 7:22
  • Mile three: 7:20
  • Mile four: 7:25
  • Mile five: 7:33
  • Mile six: 7:31
  • Mile seven: 7:36
  • Mile eight: 7:26
  • Mile nine: 7:44
  • Mile ten: 7:40
  • Mile eleven: 7:49
  • Mile twelve: 7:59
  • Mile thirteen: 8:00
  • Mile point one: 6:59

13.12 miles @ 7:36 [1:39:42]

Personal Record

Second in Age Group

Tenth overall Female

THANK YOU, thank you, THANK YOU, Lifelong Endurance for sticking with me through it all and for making this magical day possible. Thank YOU, as well, for your encouragement and support.

This was a huge mental breakthrough for me.

And you know what? After ALL THIS. You may wonder, what now? You may think that I’d wonder that, too. Not a bit. It truly is the journey, not the destination. I LOVE every minute of it. I am more determined than ever and won’t stop now.

Great things to come!

Thank you.

Race Recap: Tulsa Run Double

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Tulsa Federal Credit Union Tulsa Run as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

The Tulsa Federal Credit Union Tulsa Run in Tulsa, Oklahoma started as a small race with around 1,000 runners in 1978. Now, the Tulsa Run has become a historic and iconic Oklahoma race with over 10,000 runners. For those that have run it, it seems to quickly become a favorite and a tradition. This is exactly the case with my dad and me.

Dad & me running the Tulsa Run for the first time last year

My dad and I first ran the Tulsa Run last year, in 2017. Immediately after the race, we decided the weekend would be an annual tradition.

The drive from Dallas (my hometown) to Tulsa is around 4 hours, so not too bad. The best part is that we stay at a hotel downtown RIGHT in front of the Start and Finish line, so the whole weekend is just on foot an super convenient. There is even a (REALLY) delicious Italian restaurant that we order to-go and eat in the room – right next door to the hotel. It is the PERFECT setup.

The best spaghetti I’ve ever had! Not a bite left over!

So, we arrive on Friday afternoon and head straight to the Cox Business Center for the Expo. The Tulsa Run expo isn’t huge, but large enough to spend a little time browsing and shopping. Picking up packets is a breeze (they always do the BEST hoodies!) and there’s a little area with T-shirts, jackets, and other items that you can pick your “run Tulsa” logo and get decorated. There was even a man who would play you in Checkers… win and get a $25 gift card!

The expo at Cox Business Center

Win checkers for a $25 running store gift card!

I was registered for the “double” – the 5K and 15K. My dad registered for the 15K. The plan: I’d race the 5K, then fun run the 15K with dad.

Ready to run! Hopefully I don’t pin my bib on like that 😉

We eat our pasta and head to bed! It’s time!

It’s time!

Race morning, I wake up and go down for the 5K. Since the hotel is right by the Start line, I actually get to sleep in until about 6:00am (woohoo!) and head down about 7:20 for a 7:45 start time! Pretty sweet.

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About to head to the Start!

It was a chilly morning – perfect running weather. There were happy people all over the nice, graffiti-ed downtown. I love that feeling. Everyone is just a tad too cold but everyone is out there ready to give it their all. There was a nice space in the street for a warm up, so I do my high-knees and dynamic stretches keeping my eye on the time.

The 5k

Time to start! I try to wiggle my way up to the front of the start line hoping to aim for a 7:00 min/mile pace without much time to spare wiggling in and out of people. I get to a decent spot and it’s time! Here we go!!! I start off feeling good. Light on my feet. I still had a little weaving to do – in and out of people – I look down at my watch to see an 8:xx min/mile pace. Oh no… can I do this?? I kick it up a notch. I thought I was probably just barely running in the 7’s but, to my surprise, soon enough I hear my headphones say “beep! Lap One. Six Twenty-Eight.” OH! I CAN DO THIS! I FEEL GOOD! So, I just tell myself to keep doing what I’m doing. Just do that, two more times! No problem. Right?

Well, it was no problem the second mile. There were rolling hills, so I made sure to take advantage and ROLL on the down-hill. I kept my legs going. Mile two felt just as good as mile one. “beep! Lap Two. Six Twenty-Three.” Yes!, I thought. Better than expected! So, once again, I just tell myself to keep doing what I’m doing. Just do THAT one more time. Easy peasy. Right? WRONG. That last mile was TOUGH. ALL. UP. HILL. Literally. I passed a speedster that looked like she was probably in my age group. She nearly caught up with me as I struggled up hill. We were neck-in-neck for a while until she couldn’t hang on any longer. The hills slowed me down, but I was NOT going to let her pass me. Rather than focusing on time, THAT was my goal. Thou shall not pass…

Even though she didn’t catch me, I really thought I blew it the last mile. Gravity was not on my side and I thought I threw a PR away. MAN. But those first two miles felt so good… Oh well… Then I heard it… beep! Lap Three. Seven Nineteen.” Wait a minute… I didn’t do the math because I was more focused on surviving the last tenth of a mile, but I was pretty sure that could still be enough to beat my previous PR of 21:59. I paused my watch after 3.1 miles to see a 6:44 average pace! 21:07. I can not even express the BURST of joy, relief, excitement, disbelief… I was overwhelmed with emotion. Not that running is all about how “fast” you go… but DAMN IT FEELS GOOD to prove something to yourself after countless 4:00 am alarms, extra loads of laundry, new shoes every few months, 8:00 pm bed times… It. feels. good.

PR moment! 21:07 – 1st in AG, 5th OVERALL female!

The 15K

Now, the 15K. The 15K didn’t start until 9:00am so I had plenty of time to walk around, forget where I was due to excitement, take some photos, walk up to the hotel, get my dad and try to express my excitement in words that made sense – all in time to head to the 15K Start line.

My dad, the most amazing human ever, of course says I can go off and try to race the 15K rather than run “easy” with him, but I love the time together. I run a race once a year with my dad. I’m running WITH him. Especially with my 5K PR I wanted nothing more than to have a fun run with Dad. Nothing could turn this day bad after a PR under my belt and Dad by my side.

The weather was perfect. There was so much energy all around. It was one of those days that you just know is a “good day.” I was so happy to be part of this amazing race with my favorite person. The run was scenic and enjoyable.

Hi, Dad!

The air was cool yet the sun was warm. My dad and I talk about random things, point out cute dogs (and even a few chickens!), and high five a few spectators. Not a care in the world. It was perfect. We ran our hearts out then got our post-race banana and sandwiches (yes! free sandwiches after this race!) and just relaxed and talked about our run afterwards.

I could not have asked for a better weekend! A PR, time spent with Dad, perfect weather, spectacular spaghetti and meatballs, a unique and lovable city, and great organized race!

Thank you, Tulsa Run, for the amazing experience. Thank you to Lifelong Endurance for coaching me to become the runner I am today and the runner I will be in the future! See you in 2019, Tulsa!

As soon as they’re ready, I’ll post my Athlinks results here! Remember to claim your results on Athlinks and keep all your races and PR’s in one spot!!! So helpful!

Find me on Athlinks here: https://www.athlinks.com/athletes/319145186

Race Recap: Statesman Capitol 10K

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Statesman Capitol 10K race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check outBibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Austin, Texas! I love the place. I live in Dallas, about 3 hours away.

A friend of mine told me I had to do this race in Austin. That it was worth the weekend trip. She was right!

As you know, I am still on the mend form a piriformis/glute issue but was confident that I could run a 10K for fun (not pushing the pace). So, I headed down to Austin on Saturday to hit the expo before race day, Sunday.

After the car ride I was worried. The only other thing that makes “it” hurt (I’ll be referring to my pain as “it”) is sitting for long period of time (thank goodness for my standing desk at work!). So, after the car ride I was just worried that it would be a repeat of RnR NOLA and every step would hurt.

But it didn’t!

I am so thankful for Lifelong Endurance for coaching me through this speed bump the smart way. I told Coach how I felt after the car ride and he told me some stretches to do and told me to take a hot bath. I woke up in the morning feeling like I would be OK. And at this point that was huge. It’s a bummer to travel somewhere and not even enjoy the run!

So, it was race morning! I love race morning. An early alarm, extra coffee, fine-tuning my race outfit. I wasn’t sure what to wear with the weather – 40 degrees. I have that delimma of “I know I’ll warm up” but also know “I’ll be miserably cold for a solid hour before that happens.” I’ve tried actually not getting to the race TOO early (I used to be about an hour early, now I aim for about 20 minutes) to help remedy this.

I still wore my “throw away” jacket that I got for like $3 at Good Will but have yet to actually toss during a race because it’s fuzzy and warm and, well, I like it! (Thrifted clothing always ends up being my favorite).

Anyway, I was “good” and did some lunges, high knees, butt kickers, and some stretches before the race start! I’m usually that person that just stands awkwardly until the start. I have been religious about warm ups lately because Coach actually *LOADS* this into my workout. So, I read it and have to check it off my list. Plus, how could I say “it hurt” then answer “no…” when I’m asked if I warmed up and stretched?

So the run starts and I don’t push it. I start at about a 10 minute mile and then realize “I feel OK!” My goal was just to run and enjoy it. Not be in pain. Not push myself. And I did just that. It is frustrating that “it” still hurts just a tad because I FELT GREAT. I WANTED to go fast. I COULD have gone fast. But I knew I’d hurt myself even more. I’m on the “up and up” and need to continue to go “up.”

I decided to not even look at my watch and just go. Just look at everything and bounce along. Have fun! And I am so thankful for this run. It DID feel great and I DID have fun. I really soaked it all in and looked at every little thing and was happy and free.

I finished in under an hour (56:37) although I could have finished in any amount of time and been happy to run without pain and run happy! Austin is a beautiful, unique city and I truly had fun exploring and running. It was just what I needed!

For a full review on the race itself – organization, expo details, swag, etc – check out my Race Review on BibRave.com here: https://www.bibrave.com/races/statesman-cap10k/9614#.Wst-q4gbNaQ

For my Athlinks results go here: https://www.athlinks.com/athletes/319145186

Fun Fact:
The Cap10K mascot, Dash the Dillo, has been the race mascot since he was created by Pulitzer prize-winning editorial cartoonist Ben Sargent in 1978. The dillo has changed several times over the years.

St. Patty’s Day Dash Down Greenville 5K!

I RAN! I RAN!!! Rewind… why are you so happy about this? I am dealing with some Piriformis/Gluteus muscular issues. Basically my butt is resisting the running movement and I need to stretch, strengthen, rest, warm-up and pay attention to some things I’ve neglected.

It had been two whole weeks since I ran until this past Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day. Naturally, I was signed up for the Dash Down Greenville, a major run here in Dallas on the day where EVERYONE (and their dog) is Irish. Per my coach and physical therapist, it was OK to try to run. SLOW. Like AS SLOW AS POSSIBLE.

Yes that’s a dinosaur. Yes, St. Patty’s Day is a BIG DEAL here.

So I did just that. I wasn’t sure what to expect considering how painful my last run was, so I didn’t expect much. I honestly figured I’d be walking the whole thing. But to my surprise, I started putting a little bounce in my step and next thing you know… I’M RUNNING! And it didn’t hurt!

I had so much fun with my Oiselle ladies!

I ran my record slowest 5K. Ever. And I am DAMN PROUD.

I did it!

Running pain-free is truly a gift that I will never take for granted again. Just running without a care in the world… THAT is what I love about running. Not that I’m cured or anything, but conversations with Coach have made me feel optimistic that I just need to focus on listening to my body, *actually* warming up, *actually* stretching, and *actually* doing my strength exercises.

I will be running again tomorrow and I am happy about that.

One day at a time.

THANK YOU to Lifelong Endurance for coaching me through it all. With running comes ups, downs, and lots of sideways. It’s about the journey, not the destination!

Race Recap: RnR NOLA Remix Challenge

I almost didn’t make it. I was in so. much. pain. Every step was a struggle. I walked. A lot. I did what I had to do to finish without hurting myself even more. I don’t know what’s wrong. My left hip and leg hurt and my legs are just resisting. I learned something today. This is not an EXCUSE. I ran 13.1 FREAKING MILES. No “butts” about it. Speed is just a minor detail and this race taught me that! But. This is how I felt. It HURT. It was frustrating. Live and learn…

Not every race will be a PR. Since I’m a “new” runner, every half marathon I’d done until now brought a shiny new PR. Not today. Nope. I had a “bad” race. But I freaking did it. I’m just as proud of finishing in 2:15 as I am finishing in 1:42. It was just… different. I struggled every single yep of the way, mentally and physically. I cried.

Mile 1: I ran a bit and walked a bit. I knew something was wrong. I was mad, angry, frustrated, wanted to quit. I hate everyone around me! How dare they run so effortlessly! They suck!

Miles 2-5: Told myself to go slow. Walk if I need to. Will I finish? Should I pull out? How do I even do that? I don’t think I can run.

Miles 6-10: Just get to 10 miles. Just get to 10 miles. 10 is basically 13. Right? I walked a lot. I realized I could do anything. Right? Pain is mental. (Right?!)

Miles 11-13.1: FELT LIKE FOR EFFING EVER. I might die. I might fall over and die. I basically almost just tripped over a pebble. NOPE. I’ve come this far. I’m finishing. I’m going to finish with a 7 minute mile. Ok a 10 minute mile that feels like a 7 minute mile will do.

*Mile 9: lady yells “go Jenna! Looking strong, girl!”

I cried.

And there you have it. I will never ever forget Rock N Roll NOLA.

MORE IMPORTANTLY…

this trip holds a special place in my heart because I went with my AMAZING dad and my fur baby, and got to spend the weekend with my cousin and her fur baby who live in New Orleans. My dad and I ran a fun 5K the morning before the half marathon/10K race (he ran the 10K while I ran the Half), walked around Audubon Park and to the Mississippi River, rode the trolley, ate some delicious food, and had a great time together. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect and it was just truly a great and unforgettable weekend.

Link to my full race review on BibRave.com: https://www.bibrave.com/races/rock-n-roll-new-orleans/9414#.Wp2e8egbNaQ

Link to Athlinks results: https://www.athlinks.com/athletes/319145186

Race Recap: Tulsa Run Challenge!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Tulsa Federal Credit Union Tulsa Run race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Check out my detailed review of the Tulsa Run (organization, swag, etc) on BibRave.com!

Ok, before we go in to the dirty deets about how race day went, here’s a little bit about the Tulsa Run!

The Tulsa Run has a 15k, 5k, and 2k distance as well as a 5K and 15K “Challenge” (which is what I did), so there is a race for every runner. The race takes place in downtown Tulsa and passes through iconic parts of Tulsa including Cherry Street, Woodward Park, Veterans Park, the Arkansas River, the Red Fork District, the old Route 66, and finishes in the historic Art Deco District! The Tulsa Run is the host of USA Track and Field 15k Masters Championships and is known for EPIC swag and post-race goodies!


So, this race sounded like a great tradition that I wanted to be a part of. It’s about 4 hours away from Dallas, so the drive wouldn’t be bad and I could just stay a night an experience a new place! I had never been to Tulsa before! I even recruited my dad to drive up with me and make a little mini-vacation of it.

So, we packed our bags and drove up on Friday afternoon, made it to Tulsa around 5:00 pm, and headed straight to the Cox Business Center for the expo. My first impression of Tulsa was that it was really unique! The expo was in a big, beautiful building, too. The city is so colorful and vibrant.

The expo was great – pretty big but not overwhelmingly huge. There were plenty of vendors to keep us occupied for a bout an hour. The local Fleet Feet had lots of cute “Run Tulsa” gear available for purchase as well (I wanted it all!). My dad decided to run the 15K (woohoo!!!) and was able to register at the expo. We picked up our packets which consisted of our bibs, a long sleeve tee for the 5K for me, and hoodies for both of us for the 15K. Hoodies?! The tee and hoodie are seriously  THE best and I’ve actually already worn them both! Bonus swag: FREE race photos after the run!!! That plus awesome hoodies… yeah, they have the “swag” part down pat!!!



We then made our way to the local Fleet Feet once I realized I forgot to pack a SPORTS BRA! What?! That’s just slightly important. I think it was a blessing in disguise, though, because I’d never actually been fitted for a sports bra (I know, I know…) so the gals at Fleet Feet Tulsa got me all set up and fitted into a nice Brooks sports bra. There was a little cycle shop next door that occupied my dad at this time (he’s an avid cyclist).


The hotel was just a few blocks away (Courtyard Marriott), so we parked and headed up to check out the room. It was pretty sweet! AND we could see volunteers setting up the Finish Line RIGHT outside the front door of the hotel. Yep, the location was PERFECT. We literally did not drive for the rest of our stay! We walked to the Italian place next door (first things first: FOOD!) – yes, literally next door, then walked to the start line in the morning!


That morning, race day, I woke up extra early (I slept AMAZING, by the way, better even than at home!) and looked at the weather – 33 degrees! That temperature does not even compute with this Texan. I asked my dad what to wear (he’s from Illinois so this weather is no biggie) and he suggested so many clothes! I was thinking I’d get hot in all that. I had to go outside and feel this temperature for myself.

I didn’t make it out the door. Nope, nope, nope! The sliding door of the hotel opened, I felt the cold wind, and ran back up to the room and put ALL my clothes on. A tank top, arm warmers, a long sleeve tee, a jacket, and a hoodie on top, tights on bottom, mittens AND gloves, an ear warmer, and long socks. Yep. All my clothes.


So, it was about 30 minutes before the 5K race start (7:50 am). My Dad was getting ready just to walk me down (we don’t start the 15K until 9:00 am) and I was putting on any finishing touches. The hotel was so close to the start line that I didn’t even head out the door until 7:35 am and had plenty of time (seriously!).

I’m glad my dad went down with me, because once I got outside, moving, and seeing what all the other runners were wearing, I realized I was way overdressed. I took off the hoodie and a layer of gloves for him to take back to the room. I wasn’t brave enough to strip anything else off, even though there were runners there in everything ranging from tights & hoodies to tank top & shorts.


And we’re off!!! The 5K started and I felt good! It was so cold I couldn’t really feel much, so it was nice to move. I felt energized by the cool, crisp air. Quite a change from recent Texas running. The start of the race was pretty bottle-necked as it was a large race, so I had no choice but to start off at about a 12:00 min/mile pace. I zigged and zagged until I could get to about 8:30 minutes a mile, then finally made it to where I could go my goal pace of lower 7:00’s. In order to PR I knew I needed to hold a 7:00 or sub-7:00 minute/mile pace, which I soon realized wasn’t happening due to a slow start and HILLS! Holy hills. I decided not to let this bother me and just ENJOY the race. I did the best with what I had and finished in 24:09. Definitely not my best but good enough to snag second in my age group! Woohoo! Now I was excited to have a fun run with my Dad.


How often does your Dad go to Tulsa with you and sign up for a 15K with you? I made the official decision that I would run the 15K easy with Dad. Forget about time, PR’s, numbers – just have fun! I knew it would be an experience I would never forget. He is an avid cyclist but hadn’t run in YEARS, so committing the 15K was a huge deal! I didn’t care how fast we went, I just wanted to spend time with my favorite person! I was beyond excited for the 15K with Dad.


We had plenty of time to meet up after the 5K, even go back up to the hotel and relax and eat a banana before the 15K started at 9:00 am. We even shedded a couple layers and the temperature was truly PERFECT running weather, which was nice because we were slightly worried it’d be miserably cold.

We ran the 15K and chatted it up, took photos, laughed, stopped for a potty break, and just enjoyed every. single. moment. It was fun hanging out with the back of the pack, too – people were dressed up in Halloween costumes, and it was just a cool crowd overall! Everyone was having fun. Don’t get me wrong – going for a PR and racing hard is fun in it’s own way, but the “front of the pack” vs. the “back of the pack” definitely has a different vibe and I’m glad that I know it can be fun to experience both! I am SO, so, so proud of my dad for running almost 10 miles having not run in probably 10 years!!! I knew he could do it, because he is in AMAZING shape, and never gives up, but I am seriously impressed. He’s only a “little” sore today 😉


My dad and I had a freakin’ blast running together and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We grabbed our HUGE finisher’s medals (nailing the swag again, Tulsa Run!), grabbed our boxed lunches and other post-race goodies, looked around for a bit then headed up to the room to eat, talk about how much fun we had, and call mom and tell her all about it. We’d already decided in the elevator back to the room that the Tulsa Run would be a new father-daughter tradition!


So! I snagged 2nd in my AG in the 5K and had a BLAST running with Dad on the 15K. Needless to say, it was an amazing time! We are looking forward to being back in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2018!

Race Recap: Portland Marathon Half!

Hello, Portland!

This was my first time to Portland. In fact, my first time ever to the Pacific North West area, which was one of the reasons I chose this race. Ever since I started really getting into running about two years ago, I’ve decided that my favorite thing ever (ever, ever!) is to run in new places.

So, I loved Portland. I’ll just start with that. The sense of community is amazing, and this definitely showed during the race as well. Friendly faces, kind volunteers, just an overall “nice” vibe. Even my Uber driver on race day was so nice and chatty that we took a wrong turn (I didn’t mind the extra time in the warm car)!

Which brings me to race day. I could blab on about the entire trip – biking around Waterfront Loop, eating about a million delicious food items, my awesome thrift shop find (boots!), the ease of public transportation… BUT! Let’s stick to it… 🙂

 

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So, I woke up at 4:00 am on race day. I know that, to a normal person, this sounds far from an enjoyable hobby, but I love early mornings (once I have my coffee!). So I have my coffee, scroll Instagram, slowly get ready (I like giving myself plenty of time to dilly-dally, which is my actual profession). I had already “scheduled” an Uber driver to pick me up at 5:30 so that I could get downtown before the recommended arrival time, 6:00 am. The Uber driver was extremely friendly and had the car nice and warm. It was 40-50 degrees at this point, which is FREEZING for this Texan.

Pre-race, in my ill-fitting “throw-away” jacket! All smiles!

I brought a “throw-away” jacket to wear and toss when I warmed up, and I’m glad I did. I had lots of spare time and wasn’t miserable. I even hung out in an AWESOME running shop (called “Foot Traffic”) that was so incredibly kind enough to open extra early for people like me who like warmth, an actual restroom, and browsing running gear.

So, the time came to get to our corrals – I was in corral “A” (the first corral, closest to the front). I’m not sure how they assigned corrals and I’m really not sure how I ended up with the speedsters, but I was happy to start towards the front! I warmed up a bit, just skipped around and kind of pretended to know what I was doing compared to the speedsters. I noticed a woman with only a tank and shorts on who was practically hyperventilating she was so cold, so I gave her my throw-away jacket. I felt fine and was just ready to start at this point! Hooray for adrenaline! I put on my tunes, secured my mittens, had a little chat with the fellow next to me, and waited for my time to cross the Start line!

Excited for the race to start!

The race scenery was great and there were lots of people cheering – not the entire way, but a good portion of the Start and Finish and some spots in between. You had the option to personalize your Bib, so everyone was shouting your name and it was awesome!!! It took a few people to shout “Go, Jenna!” before I realized they weren’t all mind readers… oh yeah, my name is on my Bib… 🙂

There were a few unique bands along the way, pirates, and lots to look at. I heard the course changed and, in previous years, you went over an amazing bridge, so I did miss out on that but I truly enjoyed the course. Time flew. I will forever remember every view, friendly face, and pirate I encountered.


I started off thinking I’d aim for an 8:20 minute mile average for the course of the run. So I started with that. But with the cool weather and the adrenaline, I felt great! I didn’t want to burn out, though, so I stayed close to 8:10-8:20 for quite a while. Soon enough, I was about half-way and felt great. It felt easy! Training under the scorching Texas sun is paying off?! So I stepped it up a bit and aimed for 8:00/mile. Then I continued to feel great – just gliding through, each mile passing before I knew it – so I stepped it up to sub-8.


That last mile, I passed many struggling runners who may have started too quickly. So THIS is what negative splits should feel like! This was my first time to really “get” the whole – “start easy, have fuel in the tank for later” thing. I DID have fuel in the tank and really stepped it up at the end. The last tenth of a mile I sprinted past two guys!. It felt AMAZING. This run felt like the definition of finishing strong. I ran MY race. I focused on MY pace and didn’t let anyone effect that. There were times when people around me were going a lot faster than I was, and I just stayed calm. There were also times when people around me slowed down to a pace that was not to my potential, but I did not let that slow me down.


The finish line was great – I grabbed my medal, took a photo, then walked on down to the goodies – a long sleeve tech-tee, and some really sentimental and unique items which I loved including a pendant, commemorative coin, a seedling (so cool!) and a pretty rose! I just loved everything! Including the donuts, bananas, yogurt, and about a million other snacks. 😉

I learned so much during this race. I learned that saving some fuel for the last stretch is AMAZING and totally worth it. I learned to run MY OWN race – focus on myself and focus on enjoying my surroundings. I learned that running in cool temperatures is SPECTACULAR. I learned that I love Portland and I love running.


Finishing this race strong gave me a new confidence. I am more determined than ever to work hard and push towards my goals. I PROVED to MYSELF that I can be the runner that I want to be.

As for statistics and numbers, my official finish time was 1:45:16 which was good for 87th overall, 20th overall Woman, and 6th in my age group! I am happy just to run a strong race, but extremely happy with the numbers (for a pretty large race!) as well.


Thank you, Portland.

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AND!

Thank YOU for all of your support and, of course, Lifelong Endurance for setting me up for success. It’s amazing what can happen when you trust the process and put in the WORK!

Hot Chocolate 15K Dallas Race Recap

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Hot Chocolate 15K Dallas as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!


Who wouldn’t want to run for chocolate?

This run interested me because: 1. Chocolate 2. I’d heard great things and 3. It’s in Dallas

I personally had a lot going on right before this race – recovering from my marathon, surgery (tonsillectomy), life… so my training wasn’t 100% consistent. I knew I could manage, though, because I know I can handle that distance. For reference, 15K is 9.3 miles. I just wasn’t sure I could go all-out, speed wise.

Though I knew I had my tonsillectomy 3 weeks before the race, I followed the training plan as best as I could. Which, by the way – I LOVE that they email you this training plan, then even send you weekly updates with that particular week’s training along with tips and tricks. Here’s a sample of the Hot Chocolate training plan:

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So, race day comes and I feel pretty prepared – though I missed some training due to surgery, I was feeling confident since I had followed the plan up until then.

I go to the Expo, which was in Fair Park, and am pleasantly surprised. There are a nice amount of booths and lots of Hot Chocolate gear available for purchase. There weren’t any lines when I went (I went on the Thursday before the race)… so I just whizzed through the bib-pick up and goodie-bag pick up. The registration came with a Hot Chocolate hoodie, which was pretty awesome. They were super snuggly.

Saturday morning comes, and it’s race day! The recommended arrival time for both the 5K and 15K runners was 6:00am. I got there about 6:20am. Parking was a breeze – a little waiting in line, but we were directed to parking lots and it was easy. I arrived with plenty of time to spare. Since it was FREEZING outside (especially for this wimpy Texan who doesn’t do well in the cold).

I hung out in my car until about 7:00am (start time for the 15K was 8:30am). I didn’t know how long I’d last out in the cold just waiting around. While waiting in my car, I realize all the things I forgot to bring. Gloves, a belt to hold my phone, tissues, my little wrist band to hold my car key, a snack… Yeah, I need to get better at the whole “race day preparation” thing. I usually just worry about getting my body there and I’m good.It was OK, though – I had my sweat shirt to wear before the race started and planned to gear-check it and just wear a long sleeve since I’d warm up while running. I just shoved my car key in my sock and it all worked out!

Turned out there was a huge indoor area to wait in (yay!) where the gear check was. That was a life saver. There were lots of 15K runners in there stretching, eating their snacks (all of which I was majorly eyeing), and hanging with run buddies. I stayed there until 8:00, then headed to my Corral.

The start line and corrals were easy to find and labeled by letter. Apparently when registering I must have entered that my predicted pace was an 11-minute mile… so I ended up not starting with my pace group (I was aiming for a sub 8-minute mile), which somehow usually happens to me. No one to blame here but myself for that one (spaz). It was OK, though, because we started in waves, so I wasn’t bottle-necked in. I was weaving in and out of people the entire race, but again… that usually happens and I wasn’t very bothered by it.

Ok, here we go… I’m at the top of the start line waiting for the horn! I’m ready to get running and warm up! And we’re off…!

The course was nice and open the whole way, so plenty of room. It was mostly on the street. I liked the openness of it, especially since I was maneuvering my way through people. It was hilly! More than I expected. The whole course was a constant up and down-hill, with one extremely vertical incline up and down the Trinity bridge around mile 8 (ouch) that gave us all a run for our money. Despite always training on flat road, I did surprisingly well with the hills. I’m especially great at rolling down hill 🙂 (thanks, long legs!). And I even plowed through that hill at the bridge like a champ. Not to toot my own horn, but I was flying by people at that point and was proud of myself for it.

After that major hill over the bridge, it all seemed down-hill from there (literally and figuratively). Next thing you know, I’m giving it my all and the finish line is in sight! I could see all the people cheering… the announcer says my name which I can just barely hear over my loud music blasting through my headphones. This is it! I wasn’t sure what my finishing time would be. For the last mile, I was just going as fast as I could without burning out, not looking at my watch. I knew that the whole time I had maintained a pace in between 7:30 and 8:30 – mostly somewhere in the 7:50’s, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be an overall average of sub-8:00/mile or not. I knew it would be close because of those few times I was going 8:30 uphill.

I roll through the finish, legs feeling pretty good. I stop my watch and see “DIST.: 9.39 PACE: 7:58.” I’m elated at this point. I feel like an Olympic champion.

I didn’t even know if I would be able to run this race at all considering my surgery was just 3 weeks prior. I was extremely proud and really impressed with myself for the strength and determination that I dug deep for in order to achieve my goal. I would’ve been really happy with any pace/time for this race given the circumstances, but the fact that I felt really strong throughout the run AND hit my goal… this was a huge victory for me.

I walk over to get my medal, and the really nice volunteer enthusiastically congratulated me (I feel even more like an Olympic champion now!) and I make my way to get my Finisher’s Mug. What we’ve all been waiting for… the CHOCOLATE! The mug had hot Cocoa, a pool of dipping chocolate, and lots of things to dip – a banana, pretzels, marshmallows, crackers… I knew I needed to get started on eating my chocolate ASAP. I made my way back to gear-check (indoor area – anything to keep warm) and sat down and enjoyed my treat.

This was a happy moment. Chocolate + Victory. What more could I ask for.

Overall, this was an amazing run – extremely well organized, great people and volunteers, great support, and I proved something to myself. I can do what I set my mind to. No matter what.

For details about the race itself, feel free to read my review on BibRave.com! Remember to help out fellow runners looking for the perfect race by reviewing your races!

BibRave review: http://www.bibrave.com/races/hot-chocolate-dallas/6835