Sunday, March 27, 2016

Illuminations Half Race Recap

When I found out that the Illuminations Half was going to be doing a race in the Austin, TX area, I got really excited and signed up right away!  It’s a night time race and I thought that would be a lot of fun.  Until the Music Run a couple weeks before, I had never done a night time race.  I didn’t know what to expect.  Even though the Illuminations Half has been going on in San Antonio for a couple years now (not sure of the exact duration, but at least 2 years), I hadn’t participated.  The Austin area race was set to take place at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Bastrop, TX.  I knew where the resort was, but I had never been there.  Packet pickup was the afternoon of the race, on site at the resort in one of the ballrooms. 

I arrived and parking was beyond ridiculous.  They had a bunch of parking spaces roped off for no reason I could determine and I ended up parked on the grass, hoping they didn’t take offense to me parking there and tow my car.  I went in and got my packet.  My friend Rob was also running but he was running late (I found out a little later that he had rear ended someone coming into the resort…oops) and I was afraid he wouldn’t make it before they closed down packet pickup so I asked if it was possible for me to get his packet for him.  NO PROBLEM!  They gave me his stuff and I went back out to my car to rest my legs until the start and wait for Rob to arrive.
very nice reusable bag!
i absolutely LOVE custom bibs!!!
a very attractive participant shirt!  and it's tech!
Rob arrived and I gave him his packet and we then made our way to the start area.  While we were talking we discovered that we’re both running the Triple at the San Felipe Shootout the following Saturday!  We also figured out that it had been about 11 months since we’d last seen each other at the Austin 10/20 last year!  I went off to the side and did my warm ups and then high 5’ed Rob and it was time to start.  Instead of playing a recording of the national anthem being sung by a professional or having a guest singer sing it, they had all of us runners sing it!  I loved that! 
at the start with Rob
We were off!  As we made our way around the side of the resort we were greeted by a pen that had a horse, 2 ponies and a longhorn cattle in it!  All creatures were excited and running around the pen as we ran by.  I stopped and snapped a pic because how often do I see this while running?
We then ran in front of the resort (the start line was behind the main building) and made our way down the road where we entered the golf course.  We weaved our way back and forth across the golf course along the paved cart path.  As we were coming back toward the back area of the resort, they were directing the 5k runners to take a right and head toward the finish line and the 10k runners and half marathoners kept going.  We ran past the back of the resort and then headed down the road on the other side.  We ran past an aide station that was at an intersection, up the road to a police road block and made a u-turn, came back down the hill and turned down the road at the aide station.  That’s where this race turned into an off-road race.  This side road was soft gravel.  By this point the sun was fully down and the majority of people had their headlamps on.  About ¾ mile down this road the front runners were coming back at us.  I always love getting to see the front runners!

We continued down the soft gravel road and made a loop to the left and then went to the right and here is where we were on a grass and some rocks trail.  As we ran, we passed the finish line to our right and up the hill and continued on for about a half mile and then turned around.  As we passed the finish line, the 10k runners went ahead and hit the finish line and us half marathoners kept on trucking.  We went back out the soft gravel road to the regular road and then I found out why they had parking spaces roped off because we made a right turn when we got back to the parking lot and ran in the parking spaces that were roped off, and then did an out and back around the parking lot, back behind the resort and then made our way back to the paved golf cart path and to the finish!

They took your photo as you crossed the finish line and a cute little kid handed you your medal.  I then made my way to the bathroom because I’d had to go since mile 1 and, well, there were NO port-a-potties anywhere along the course.  Then I went to cash in my food and drink tickets.  The food that was offered was tiny pulled chicken tacos on soft corn tortillas (tiny ones) and then a fruit boat with some chocolate.  The drink that you go with the drink ticket?  A small sweet tea.  Really?  REALLY?  I’m not really a drinker, but a free beer after a hard run race is something nice. 

My friend Rob won 1st in his age group but no one seemed to know anything about age group awards, so he left.  I swear after I finished that the guy on the PA system said something about age group awards, but this was over an hour and a half after Rob had finished his run since he ran the 5k. 

Overall, I really liked this race.  I hope that if they do it again next year that they put some port-a-potties out on the road area near that aide station at the very least.  

The course was 1/4 mile short, so I unfortunately cannot count this finish time as a new PR.

I checked my results and saw that I was 24th in my age group, 62nd overall female and 115th overall half marathon finisher.  There must have been a LOT of ladies in my age group!
i'm at the top of the screen, your results just go to the top when you search, i didn't place
One big perk about this race?  Free race photos.  There weren’t many, but all I need is one!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Weekly Recap

Saturday: ran the Shamrockin’ 5K with my friend Heather.  This is her 2nd 5K this year and I’m very proud of her!  She’s doing awesome!  It was chilly and the super windiness didn’t help with that.  I was wearing a cowboy style St Patrick’s themed hat and I had to keep my head down for about half the race to keep the wind from blowing it off the top of my head!  I had it tied around my chin so it wasn’t going to fly completely off, but yea.  I figured I’d run really fast because it was cold, but noooo, I just ran an average, almost slow 5K race pace for me.  Booo.  Finished in 30:58 with a 9:38 average pace.  Meh.  I have more 5K’s scheduled for this year, I WILL get a new PR!

Sunday: there were plans made and none of them happened.  Excuses and laziness happened.  Other than the 5K on Saturday, at this point, I have not worked out or ran since last Tuesday.  Geez.  That is unacceptable!  But what is done (or should I say what is not done) is done and I must move on.

Monday: I had full intentions of running 13.1 and earning one of my virtual race medals, however I did not want to get out of bed.  I finally pried myself out of bed a little after 8am, had my coffee, ran a couple errands and still had time to knock out 8 well paced miles.  Better than nothing, even if it wasn’t what I was originally gunning for.  It’s also more than I ran ALL WEEK last week, so that’s a win!

Tuesday: worked overtime Monday night, so no run or workout done this day.

Wednesday: since I epically failed with logging much more than a 10K in total miles last week, I wanted to make sure I got 3 runs in this week and I didn’t want to do a run the day before a 5K I’m hoping to race and make a PR attempt at on top of that, so that rules out running on Friday morning.  And, since I’m working overtime on the night shift on this day, that rules Thursday morning out for a run as well.  I was planning to do a 13.1 mile run and earn a virtual race medal, but didn’t want to get up early enough to make that happen, so I just did 10 miles.  HA!  “just” 10!  The run went pretty well, but I did struggle a little bit the last couple miles.  Overall average pace of 10:36, so I’m happy with it.  When I was done with my run, I noticed that FitBit had awarded me a new badge!  1600 lifetime miles!  (now, this “lifetime” refers to how many miles I’ve run and walked since owning a FitBit…I’ve run over 2600 miles in the 3+ years I’ve been running)

Thursday: went to the gym and just did my 65 minutes on the elliptical.
Friday: I just did my 65 minutes on the elliptical again.  I was going to do some practicing of the exercises I’ll be doing during my combat fitness test on Monday, but for various reasons, decided not to.  But, I have a feeling that the exercises I will be doing for that test will find their way into my free weights strength training workout.  So…my #22for22 wrapped up on Sunday, but I’ve continued doing my 22 BOSU pushups each day.  On this day, I doubled that up and started a new #22for22 challenge.  I’m now doing 22 BOSU pushups *AND* 22 BOSU squats each day!


While my eating this week was still far from perfect, it was a HUGE improvement over how I ate last week.  I felt more satisfied with my planned foods each day and that was a definite factor in me only having small cheats.  I’m hoping next week to cut out those small cheats completely.  My work clothes felt maybe a little looser, but definitely not tighter, so I thought that I had either maintained my weight from last week or, and I hoped, maybe lost a pound.  Nope. 

All I can say is: REALLY?!?!?!  If you’ve been on a weight loss journey or are currently on one, then you know just how annoyed I am at this moment.  Granted I was a little…shall we say…stopped up yesterday movement-wise, so that maybe have played into what the scale said this morning.  Also, how I’ve added variety into my food this week was by buying a bunch of prepackaged foods (aka-diet TV dinners and Greek yogurts).  So, that means my sodium intake went up by a lot.  So, that most likely also played into what the scale said this morning.  So, I’m just going to be annoyed and move on.  I’m also going to just treat this like this was a maintenance week.  If I were in the maintenance phase of my journey (I’m not), then a +/- of a pound or less within your goal weight is considered successful maintenance.  So, I had a maintenance week…whatever.  I’m doing the prepackaged foods again next week.  So, maybe my body will adjust to the higher sodium a little more and I won’t retain excess water (my fingers were quite poofy all day today, now that I think of it).

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Weekly Recap

Saturday: this was the day of my very first trail race!  I opted to do all events offered.  So I ran a 5K (that was actually 3.6 miles), a 10K (since it was the 5K loop twice, it was 7.2 miles) and a half marathon (that was actually fairly accurate at 13.2 miles).  The promised total distance was 22.4 miles.  According to my Garmin AND my FitBit (which piggybacks off the GPS on my phone), I ran 23.78 miles.  For the most part, I had an amazing time and look forward to doing more trail races in the future, with less mud and flood preferably, though.  (stay tuned for my race recap in the next couple weeks)
Sunday: everything hurts.  Haha.  I was going to go to the gym and do my machines workout and the elliptical, however I am so sore that I decided against that workout.  After I got up and got moving around, I discovered I was more stiff than I was sore so the more I moved, the better I felt.  I took a 2.5 mile walk around my apartment complex in the evening and made sure I got my 10K steps!
Monday: still recovering from Saturday, so continuing to keep it light.  Went to the gym and did my time on the elliptical. 

Tuesday: since I was still in recovery mode on Monday, I did my PI day run on 3.15 instead of 3.14.  They’re doing construction down the street from my apartments and had BOTH sidewalks closed off, so I had to get on MapMyRun and figure something out in the opposite direction.
Wednesday: worked overtime Tuesday night so no run or workout.

Thursday: worked overtime again on Wednesday night so no run or workout again.

Friday: I slept in due to poor sleep over the previous couple days and then just didn’t go to the gym to even do the elliptical.  Days like this is where having my own elliptical in my apartment would be great because then it doesn’t matter if I have the time to drive to and from the gym so long as I have the hour for the time I like to put in on the elliptical.  I’ll be revisiting the whole buying my own elliptical after my trip to Oregon next month.


I’ve got to do something different.  I’ve been desperately trying to regain what I achieved last fall where intermittent fasting clicked completely and I felt fantastic and I wasn’t missing any workouts and everything was just great.  I’ve come to the sad and disappointing realization this week that I’m not going to regain that…not with how I’ve been going about it, anyway.  I’m beyond bored with the food I’ve been eating and therefore I’ll lose 2-5 pounds one week just to gain it all back and sometimes more the following week to 2 weeks.  So, I’ve really got to do something different because, while I love being told I’m insane I don’t want to do things that are the Albert Einstein definition of insane (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results).  However, that’s the time warp I’m stuck in right now.  Soooo…to take a little stress off of me, I’m going to go with prepackaged foods next week.  Yea, I know, I’m not exactly happy about it either, but I need to do SOMETHING different.  I’m probably also going to go back to cereal for breakfast for next week and the week after at least.  I just want to remove the stress of food prep for a couple weeks and rethink things in that time.  Also, with prepackaged foods, the nutrition info isn’t part guesswork.

I'm still going strong with my #22for22 challenge, however I'm not sure what day I'm on anymore.  Haha.  But the plan was to just keep going with it after the challenge was over anyway.  

With that said, I’m back where I was 2 weeks ago.  Just like last week didn’t happen at all.  Ugh.
How do I feel about this?  Frustrated.  Disappointed.  Annoyed.  Done.  Like I need a change.  So let’s change things up, shall we?

Monday, March 14, 2016

San Felipe Shootout Recap

I’ve been wanting to do a trail race for some time now.  On my trip to Oregon last year, I went for a 10 mile trail run and I’ve been on only 1 or 2 since then.  Not for lack of wanting to go, but for lack of trails.  Austin isn’t exactly a hotbed of trails that are runnable that aren’t choked full of mountain bikers and day hikers.  Sometime in the latter part of last year, I started following a company called Trail Racing Over Texas (TROT) and they put up posts about their upcoming races.  Finally, in January, I found one I wanted to do.  But, really, it was more than just 1 race…it was 3.  I mean, I could do just 1, but why do just 1 when I can do 3 and earn an extra medal, right?  I got the day before the race off from work and registered for the San Felipe Shootout, the Triple.  I then proceeded to get excited about my first trail race.  TROT would occasionally post pictures of the trails in the Stephen F Austin State Park and what we had to look forward to.  The trails were all very nice and wide.

They had packet pickup for the 2 days prior to the race, however it was in Houston, which is about a 3 hour drive each way for me.  Thankfully, they were also having packet pickup the morning of the races.  I woke up at 3am and got ready and then made the 2-ish hour drive and arrived right at 6am.  Another lady that parked 2 vehicles down from me was going to do the same as me: walk to pick up her packet, walk back to her car and chill for about 30 minutes and then walk back to the race start area.

TROT offers different options for your race swag.  One option, the one I chose, was an official race shirt.
Another option, which the lady I hung out with pre-race (her name is Michelle) chose, was a TROT water bottle and a TROT buff.  The third option I know had sunglasses, but I don’t know what else.  I love my race shirts and have no use for another bottle.  However, the buff would have been nice to have.  But, I think if I really, really want one, I can buy it off their website.

The start was a little unconventional in that we started IN FRONT of the timing mat.  I wasn’t aware of the reason until we were finishing up the 5K and going through the start/finish arch.  But first…the 5K loop.  We started off by crossing the parking area and heading off into a grassy area to a trail.  There wasn’t mud or water right away.  But within a couple tenths of a mile we hit our first bit of mud.  I didn’t run through it, just walked.  After all, we had an hour to complete the 5K before it was time for the 10K to start and I’ve walked a 5K in less than 50 minutes before.  There were more patches of mud and portions of the trail were flooded.  I’m not sure of the mileage, but at about 30 minutes in, we came to the water hazard.  And by water hazard I mean the fording of a small river.  The first portion came up to my waist.  Then, you go back up on land and you think it’s over, only to turn the corner and have to do it again.  Except this time it was up to my chest.  Egads!  After that, we slipped and slid our way out of the water hazard and slogged thru lots and lots of mud.  I know the mile for this was 26:35.  Between the water hazards and all the mud, I’m surprised it was that “fast.”  The 5K loop was a little long at 3.6 miles.  It ended with us going up muddy stairs to go through the start/finish arch, which is why we started in front of it.  There was nowhere to stand behind it.  When I crossed the timing mat, the lady handed me my single race medal and told me I had 4 minutes until the 10K started.  FOUR MINUTES?!?!?!  I looked at my Garmin and sure enough, it read 56 and some seconds.  Damn.  Went to the porta real quick and changed my socks and got lined up just in time.

The 10K started.  I knew what to expect this time.  The 10K was 2 of the 5K loops.  I had 2 hours from the start of the 10K before the half started, and I wanted a few minutes to sit down between races.  I figured if I could make sure I got both loops done in 56 minutes or less each that I would have at least 8 minutes to chill.  The flooded sections of the trail that I had walked on the 5K loop I ran through during the 10K.  As a result, I had TEN MINUTES to sit down and relax before the half started. Woohoo!

As we lined up for the half, somehow I managed to hit the pause button on my FitBit Blaze a second time, completing the run workout tracking.  Dammit.  Since I did this like 30 seconds before the half started, I didn’t have time to take my phone out of its Ziploc baggie, turn the camera on, take a picture of the Blaze and then put the phone back, I just cleared it and started up a new run tracking session.  Ugh.  Oh well.  The good news in this was that I would know fairly exact stats for the half marathon since I was just pausing my Garmin between races and doing total distance tracking.  Looking back, I wish I had purposely completed my runs between each race on the Blaze and taken a picture of the screen.  Oh well.  Happy turn of events…where the 5K was about ½ a mile over and, therefore, the 10K was a mile over, the half was only one tenth of a mile long.  That’s fairly accurate in my book!

On the first loop of the half marathon, I realized I was “over it.”  I was over the mud.  I was over the flooded trails.  I was over the almost constant slipping and sliding.  I was over the almost swimming I had to do to ford the small river.  A very small part of me pointed out that I could quit if I wanted to.  But the bigger voice in my head said that if I quit then I wouldn’t get my second medal and I’ve already done 2 of the 3 races, so why would I quit now?  It didn’t make sense.  So I just kept trudging along.  But, there was no 4th race for me to hurry up and make a cut off for.  In fact, I had until 5pm to finish up.  I could literally walk the whole half marathon and still have a little time left over.  The half marathon loops were a little different than the 5K/10K loops.  I mean, they were mostly the same, but after the fording water hazards, the half turns right and goes to somewhat higher and less muddy ground. YAY!  This helped my mood oh so much.  The different scenery.  The significant less slogging through the mud and ankle-knee-thigh deep water.  There were a couple downed trees that we had to crawl over, but I’d rather do that than slog through the mud more than I already had to.

On the 5th loop overall, 2nd loop of the half marathon, I made a new friend!  Her name is Dawn and her nickname is Ultra Princess.  Her favorite distance is 50 miles.  We started talking and talking and talking.  We helped each other in and out of the fording water hazards so those areas were easier and not so stressful.  My mood perked right up!  Even though we walked waaaaaay more than we ran (cough*shuffled*cough), those final 2 loops of the half just flew by!

There was a guy running all 3 races, like me and Dawn were doing, named Chris.  He gets 1 free TROT race each year.  Why?  Because he got a 3x3 inch tattoo of the TROT logo tattooed on the back of his left calf.  Yep, he go their logo TATTOOED on him.  I started talking to Dawn about that as we walked/shuffled/slipped/slid around the course and she knows the owners of TROT and the standards for the tattoo for free races deal.  I’m kind of thinking of doing it.  The tattoo will cost about $150-$200 and will pay for itself in just 3 free races (or, in 3 years).  I’m going to run a couple more of their races before I decide.  But, it’s a really attractive logo and, frankly, if I continue running trails, it’s a tattoo that kind of makes sense for me to get anyway.  I think I’d get it on my right shoulder blade. 

There was a guy that was stationed at the beginning of the very first portion of the fording water hazards.  He was a super fun and happy guy and he was using his phone to take pictures of the runners (forders?  swimmers?) as they went by his station.  At one point I had an epic slip and fall and slide down the hill going into the water hazard and I asked if he got it on video.  He didn’t.  But he said that even if he had gotten it, he wouldn’t have posted it and I told him that if he had gotten it that he had better post it!  I would want that video of my epic wipeout!  There were a couple other times where I purposely sat down and slid into the water.  Each time I hoped and hoped that the mud wouldn’t go up my shorts…I’m sure you understand why.  Haha!

I was so very happy when I crossed under the start/finish arch for the 6th and final time.  I was done.  I was toast.  I was ready to go.  This experience was completely awesome and amazing, but it also sucked major ass at the same time.  I will most likely NOT do this particular event in the future.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it.  It was a LOT of fun, don’t get me wrong.  I just happened to figure out what my mud limit was during this event…and it’s about 10.8 miles (the distance I ran between the 5K and the 10K).  Mostly, I just won’t run ANY trail races during the early spring months.  They have another race coming up the first weekend of May…the Wildflower Half…that I am really wanting to do.  It’s at the Bastrop State Park.

Overall, it was really great to get over my inhibitions about getting dirty and muddy and I actually really enjoyed it!  So, there might be mud runs that I do on purpose in my future!  It took me 7:07:43 to complete the entire 3 race challenge (I paused my Garmin between races).  In all honesty, I probably could have done it faster, but I was staying with another lady (my friend for the day, Dawn) and helping distract her because she was struggling. 

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