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running.

March 28, 2011

Since I talk about running here and there, I thought I would give you guys a little bit of insight into this part of my life. Yes, I love food &  I love to cook. Yes, I’m a wife to the most wonderful man & I’m thankful for him. Yes, I’m a follower of Christ and try my best each day to live how he wants me to live (but I fail at this quite often, still learning a lot). Yes, I can be brave at some things but super weenie about others (I’ll taste bone marrow but I won’t eat a bell pepper raw. Yeah. I know.)

Well, another thing to add to this is yes, I am a runner.

I suppose I’ve always been somewhat athletic, though I never really did much team sports (just B team volleyball in 7th grade, does that count?). I started getting into running my freshman year in college, when I would run with friends. They were runners, having cross country experience in high school. I did not. But I tagged along, huffing and puffing, almost throwing up after each run but thankfully never did. I transferred out of that school after 1 year and moved onto another university, where I met some friends at the Baptist Student Ministry and joined them on their runs. This time, I was the only girl, slowly trailing along behind the guys but never giving up. Yes, I would continue to huff and puff and try my best to keep up. I entered a few 5ks and was fast at some and slow at others. I did a 10k leading up to my first half marathon. The Heels and Hills Inaugural Half in Las Colinas was in the spring of 2007, and I trained by myself, using the Galloway method – running for 4 minutes and walking for 1 minute, alternately, back and forth. This was a hard race, I suppose “emotionally-speaking”, because I ran it by myself. Plus, I undertrained and injured my right knee, which to this day, I have to watch carefully when I run. I hobbled in pain beginning at mile 8 and slowly crossed the finish line, thankful to be done, into the loving arms of my husband and parents.

(half #1 clock time – 2:49:12 – smiling but in a lot of pain!)

Fast forward to last year, spring 2010 and I tackled my second half marathon (the Big D Half in Dallas), training with a friend (the race was her first one). We both did the Galloway method, doing intervals of 5 min running, 1 min walking. I finished the first two half races at the same time: 2 hours and 45 minutes (chip time). I was proud of those times, because I was a self-professed slow pseudo-runner. And I was determined to cross that finish line, even if I had to crawl across it. Thankfully, I didn’t have to crawl but it was a slow, agonizing jog. I think I almost cried, asking myself “WHY DID I PAY TO DO THIS?!” Overall, though, it was a good race, and it was really fun to run with a friend and support her in her 1st big race.

(half #2 chip time – 2:45:33 – with my friends Alicia and Brendan)

After that, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let several years pass by before running again. Plus, I wanted to run without walking (unless necessary), without the Galloway method. So, giving myself about a month of rest after the second half marathon, I began running consistently, 2-3 times a week, from about June til October, taking that month off for our big house move. Then, I joined a running class through my city’s parks and recreation department – a half marathon class, which ended in February, and culminated in my 3rd half marathon (running in place of a teammate who got injured at the Cowtown Half in Fort Worth). Because of the training in this class and through our great coach’s help, I was able to do a PR of 2:25:39! I was also able to run almost the entire thing. Unfortunately, that was not under my name officially, but I considered it a training run for the race I originally signed up for the following month. But let me tell you – the Cowtown is a brutal course. I mean, brutal with gigantic hills that never seemed to end (which, of course, I walked – some of it, at least). Plus, on race day (in FEBRUARY), it was about 70-75 degrees with like, 80% humidity so it was awful. Sweltering heat! But, knowing I was there with my running class buddies (even though we were at different paces) made all the difference. It was great to celebrate with them afterwards, as many of them had never done a half-marathon before and most of them had never run (much or consistently) before the class started in November! I was proud to be a part of this group.

(half #3 chip time – 2:25:39 – with only the most awesome running group EVER!)

Exactly 28 days later, I completed my 4th half marathon today at the Dallas Rock and Roll Half, with a new PR (under my name, haha) of 2:13:13! I thought this race would be hard, because I didn’t have my running class with me. Thankfully, I was able to meet up with a classmate from high school and we ran together for the first few miles. I also saw and talked to several old friends before the race, so that was a treat. Anyways, I suppose you could call this a race recap (I’m quite amazed at how others can give a mile-by-mile account of their thoughts, aches and pains – pretty awesome, I think. I could barely remember details about my run, except I was tired, blah blah blah). My goal was to just get through each mile in 10 minutes respectively and without any injuries. I’m not one of those that can think during a run. Others say running is great for them because they can hash out problems, think about lists and goals, etc. Me? My mind is a blank slate, and I just zone out. It takes a lot of concentration for me to actually think about things during a run.

After leaving my parents’ house at 6 am (they live closer to the race than we do, so we spent the night at their house), we battled traffic near the race course for about 45 minutes. I started getting a little worried we wouldn’t make it in time for me to hop on a shuttle bus to get to the start line. We finally got to the parking lot, I said goodbye to my husband as he prepared to take a nap in the car, saw two old college friends, ran to the first port-a-potty line I could find, did my thing, then hopped on a shuttle bus. That’s when I saw one of my former co-workers and his wife and on our walk to the corrals, we chatted for a few minutes about our nerves and about our excitement for running. I found my corral (#9, with an estimated finish time of 2 hours and 30 minutes), found my high school friend Melissa, and we waited and shivered in the cold and wind for our corral to move up to the starting line. I remember putting on my headphones, turned up the volume, felt the excitement and adrenaline emanating from all the runners around me and took off running after hearing the horn sound off. I stepped over the chip timing mat, started my Garmin and began running to find my goal pace of 10 minutes per mile.

In the first two miles, my legs felt so heavy, like they were made of lead. I did not have time to properly warm up and I think the weather affected me more (because at the Cowtown, I didn’t warm up either but I was fine) – so much so that it was painful to run. I went ahead and told Melissa that I was going to slow down some, and also that I was going to find a port-a-potty for a quick restroom break. I figured, early on, the lines wouldn’t be too long and I was right. Did that quickly and went back to running. By mile 3, I could feel the pain and tightness in my calves easing up bit by bit, and by mile 4 I was good to go. I admit, I probably obsessively looked at my Garmin watch too many times, but I really wanted to make sure I was running at least a 10 min/mile and not any slower than that. My goals were to do the 10k (6.2 miles) at about an hour, which I did at 1:00:52 according to my Garmin (1:04:35 according to my timing chip), and to make it to the 12 mile marker in 2 hours, which I did at 2:00:20, Garmin time. Throughout mile 4-9, I pretty much coasted at my goal pace, with most of the time feeling good but sometimes feeling really tired. At mile 10, I began to feel fatigued with my right knee beginning to act up; mentally, I was ready to give up. But I prayed to God for endurance, strength in my joints and bones and air in my lungs, for myself and for my friends running the same race. I also kept telling myself, I only had 3.1 miles to go – a 5k. I took a Clif Shot Blok at mile 4 and another one at mile 9, washed down with a little bit of water (I didn’t want to have to go to the bathroom again). At one point between mile 4-9, I remember walking for about 5-10 seconds. Several times whenever I saw a race photographer, I’d smile and wave, or give them a thumb’s up. I was having fun, even though I was tired! It helped that there were live bands nearly at every mile and great crowd support, from residents of the neighborhoods we ran through to high school cheerleaders doing their best to encourage us.

I kept chugging along towards mile 11 (with the pain in my right knee more pronounced than before – same knee injury from my 1st half marathon) and began to feel a dull pressure on my lower back and my legs getting more and more sluggish. I got to mile 12 with no problem but I ended up walking again, for about 5-10 seconds, to catch my breath. At this point, I didn’t have much energy left so I wasn’t able to sprint to the finish but I kept going and finished as strong as I could. Before I crossed the finish line, I caught sight of another race photographer so I threw my hands in the in triumph and gave him a big smile. I hope that picture turns out! After finishing, I grabbed a water bottle (needed help opening the darn top,  I was so beat) and my medal, made my way to the secure zone to grab food (small bagel, pretzels, pineapple snack cup and a Cytomax drink) and hobbled past the lines of runners who were getting their pictures taken in front of the official Dallas Rock & Roll Half background. I plopped myself down on the ground in the family reunion area, by the letter H (for my last name), called my husband so we could meet up and ate my snacks. Within a few minutes, I found my darling husband and we trudged back to our car, ready to leave the throng of people and cars and Dallas traffic.

Seeing as I burned 1315 calories, my husband happily told me I could eat wherever I wanted to, so we headed back to our hometown and chose a local restaurant, Metzler’s BBQ, home of some fantastic down-home cooking and an exhaustive beer and wine collection. We love this place. Boy oh boy, I had a good meal – chicken strips, curly fries, Texas toast and pinto beans, downed with my favorite beer, a Lambec (framboise flavor). I actually wasn’t able to eat all of it, so I took home leftovers. It was nice to sit there and enjoy a good meal with my husband (who ate smoked turkey BBQ, green beans and pinto beans, accompanied by a Harpoon special bitter ale). What a wonderful morning.

Would I recommend the Dallas Rock & Roll Half Marathon to anyone? Yes, if you don’t mind driving to downtown Dallas (and fighting traffic) just to pick up your race packet. It’s a really huge race, with nearly 14,000 participants so that’s a lot of cars and people to deal with at an early hour of the day. It’s somewhat hilly, more like a slow incline but not bad at all – a good course if you want to have a PR (it was touted as being a flat and fast course). It also has great crowd support. I don’t think there was really any stretch of road that didn’t have any spectators. Lots of port-a-potties and water/cytomax stations. Very well organized, with an area just for the runners – no long lines to stand in just to get food and drinks. Overall, a very fun course to run (but can I just warn you, you HAVE to pick up your packet during one of the two days of the Expo, before the race. This means, coming on Friday and dealing with horrendous Dallas traffic but a lighter crowd at the Expo, or coming on Saturday and dealing with a ton of people. I chose coming on Friday, because it worked better with my schedule, but let me tell you – I could not wait to get out of that traffic. Gross and scary.)

Now I’m at home, icing my knee and just resting in general (I’m already in my pajamas and a hooded sweatshirt). I’m still relishing my runner’s high and accomplishment today, thankful that I escaped only with a minor injury (I think). I’m proud of myself for having done this race, but also in keeping up my running – being consistent with it as my main form of exercise. I’m proud of my other runner friends, regardless of their experience or speed (whether they’re a fast runner, jogger or a runner/walker) – they are runners like me, “crazy” enough to put ourselves through pain, knowing that it is worth it in the end.

Getting a tshirt and medal at the end of a race, that is. Hehehe.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephanie permalink
    March 28, 2011 4:02 am

    awesome blog!! kept me engaged the whole time and I even teared up at one point 🙂
    SO proud of you Michelle! and so stoked for your PR!! great great great accomplishment!
    i love how you listen to your body but also push yourself!
    i feel Very motivated to get out and RUN! (had i not just ate a huge bowl of oatmeal, i might just run out the door right now!)
    thanks for sharing your experience! i really miss that “race” day feeling! and having a group to train with like you did before- SO fun! man i miss that!!
    it’s been really hard for Jen and I here are far as running. since we live in the city, it’s just not safe (or fun) to run around here. there is a small park, but it is Small. its like 1/2 the size of a track, or smaller even. so it gets pretty boring quickly. plus you are dodging birds, sprinklers, people, cats . . . all along the way. but we miss running for sure!
    i was even thinking about finding a race or 2 that is going on while i’m in the states! just to give me some motivation to run while i’m there and something fun to look forward to.
    anyhow- thanks for sharing! loved it!!

  2. March 28, 2011 9:17 pm

    awesome job! how cool to drop 10 minutes in less than a month off your half time! we totally should have met up before the race. do you have any other race plans this year?

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