Baring It All – Plano Balloon HM Race Goals

I may as well be standing naked before you right now, because that’s the way it feels to me when I write these types of posts!  But I’m running Plano Balloon Half Marathon this weekend and the race goals must be published!

If you really know me, you know that I don’t like hanging my hopes and dreams out for everyone to see.    Publishing and acknowledging my race goals (or any goal, for that matter) is difficult for me.  However, since I started blogging last year before Dallas Marathon, I have been working to be more transparent and open with these types of things (that was one of my main goals for starting the blog in the first place).  And if you knew me or read my race goals and recap during that time period, you know that I threw my race goals out there and fell miserably short on a couple of them.  I am happy to report that I have succeeded in making myself extremely uncomfortable, though, which means that I am at least meeting the goals I set for blogging.

I find myself at this stomach-churning crossroads once again as I face another race this Sunday.  I still find it painfully difficult to announce my goals, even if only 5 people read my blog.  I mean, coming off an injury should relieve some of the pressure, right?? Wrong.  The real struggle, for me, is admitting to the masses my pace goals for the race.  No runner has ever made me feel like less of a runner for not being fast, yet I allow myself to feel less because I’m not that fast.  Heck, I even feel like an idiot for ending up with a big ITB injury AND stress fracture within one year’s time frame.  <insert uncomfortable silence here>

<BIG GULP>  Here goes nothing.

The “Shoulds”

should want to run a feel-good race.

I should want to enjoy the course and take in the sights.

should want to run a race that won’t risk further injury.

should be happy that I am able to run this race at all, because two months ago I was almost certain it would NOT happen.

But I’ve never been very good with should.  

In reality…

I would really like the temps to be cloudy and in the 60s. (Go ahead and laugh.)

I would really like to kick this race course in the arse.

I would really like to attack the hills (You’re right, I probably will attack the hills anyway 🙂

I would really like to match my HM PR of 2:14 for this race.  I am faster than when I ran that 2:14 but….stress fracture.

I should probably add that I would like to start off slow, but I’m still me, so why waste my energy?  And we know how I am with should. 

In the end, though, I am genuninely excited to be racing again!  Even before the injury plague, I had been looking forward to this race.  Hopefully, I’ll be writing a glowing race recap on Sunday afternoon!

Until next time ~


Out with the injuries, in with my healthiest running ever!

Disclaimer: This is a kind of 2014 recap/2015 goals post all in one.

In debating the format for this post, I decided to go with “the list”, because goals are a version of a list after all.  And, instead of rehashing all the stupid things Jen has done in 2014 in the name of the run, I won’t be detailing my mistakes here…..only lessons learned.  This is, in part, to avoid sounding like a broken record while simultaneously beating a dead horse.  But, for the most part, this is an attempt to spare the 4 people who read my blog the agony of reading, yet again, about my “lapses in judgement”, as I affectionately refer to them.  Let’s just hope that reading my blog is one of your 2015 goals. 🙂

2014 Accomplishments

  • Suffered my first running-related injury and lived through it!  (It was quite the drama at the time.)  Seriously, it was great experience, looking back.  It only served to make me a more seasoned runner.  And now that I’m going through injury for a second time, I feel I’m growing wiser! (And, boy, could I use some wisdom from the gods of running!)

    No caption needed really, but I've covered the stupid part, now on to the wise!
    No caption needed really, but I’ve COMPLETELY covered the stupid part, now on to the wise!
  • PR’d by over 5 min at Cowtown Half in February, in grueling (for me, anyway) conditions of sticky humid and 60s.  I thank my lucky stars that the sun didn’t come out until mile 10.  I would have melted.

    My (former) running partner and I running through the Ft Worth Stockyards.  LOVE Cowtown route!
    My (former) running partner and I running through the Ft Worth Stockyards. LOVE Cowtown route! We were discussing strategy for THAT hill! 🙂
  • After recovering from my injury, felt stronger as a runner than I ever have!  Seriously, my best running to date.  I love that healthy, strong feeling.  I will run strong again soon.
  • Ran with Taylor, one of Taylor’s former club coaches at Plano Balloon HM (confused yet?).  It was his first HM and he didn’t train the way I told him to, but he finished!  So honored that he asked me to do it with him. (May I just say that advising him on training made me realize how stubborn and frustrating I must have been to my friends that helped me through my injury?!? #twopeasinapod #hardheaded #stubborn #wedontlisten)

    So proud of this guy!  He wasn't as excited about the hills as I was. ;)
    So proud of this guy! But I was sad that he wasn’t as excited about the hills as I was. 😉
  • Finished my first marathon, for which I trained twice! (Humor of Mother Nature is all that can explain that!)  Initially I was disappointed with the result, but a little perspective has made this day one of the sweetest of the year!

    Taylor snapped this beauty of a pic through a fence.  Be jealous of her skills.
    Taylor snapped this beauty of a pic through a fence. Be jealous of her skills.

2014 Lessons Learned

  • Rest days are good and necessary.  In fact, I learned that I am able to go on the no-running/no-workout/anything but walking 2-week DL AND still remember how to run/am still able to run when I’m reactivated.  And those first runs after the forced break were ahhhhhhh-mazing!!
  • Cross train, cross train, cross train.  I added cross training/strength training and biking in after my injury, but life and marathon training took over in the fall and I gradually did less and less.  Paid the price for it, too, during my marathon.  But I promised not to go there, so…..  Suffice to say that I believe this is the part of the puzzle that helped me run so well early on in the Fall.
  • I CAN run by myself.  I have become a better, stronger, faster, more confident, mentally stronger runner on my own.  This isn’t a negative reflection on my former partner, rather, running alone required me to develop those skills in order to be successful.  However, I didn’t spend as much time injured when I had a partner…..coincidence??
  • Just because I have “that feeling” in my gut does not mean that I need to run my long run as fast as I possibly can, or run when I should be resting, or do any other stupid thing just because “the feeling in my gut said so”.  (For me, this leads to injury.  EVERY. TIME.)
  • Just because I CAN run a 1,000 mile year doesn’t mean I SHOULD.  (I joined a 1,000 mile challenge early on in 2014.  Injury caused me to miss the goal by 55 miles.  However, I was so focused on that, at times, that I failed to focus properly on my rehab.  For me, this is a distraction that encourages me to run junk miles.)

2015 Goals

  • STAY HEALTHY!!! I am working on making my ITB as happy, happy, happy as it can be and once I achieve that, I want it to stay that way!!
  • I will not focus on mileage in 2015.  I will, instead, focus on quality runs.  My runs will be intentional and planned.
  • Cross train, cross train, cross train.  Enough said.  I will ensure that I get my cross training in, even if it means I have to skip a run.  (Those of you holding me accountable might want to bookmark this one.)  I would rather skip one or two runs than sit out for a few weeks to rehab a preventable injury.
  • Sub-2 Half Marathon.  I KNOW this is achievable, since I ran a 2:04 HM during a marathon training run.  (Let’s not discuss the stupidity in that…the PB during a training run.  Reference 4th bullet under Lessons Learned.)
  • Cowtown Marathon 2016.  Of course I want to run another marathon!  If my body had been ready, I would have run another the very next weekend.  I felt like running the full at Dallas next year might be too soon for me (because I want to build my base back slowly), and I’ve already mentioned how I LOVE that Cowtown course, so this seems like the perfect next-marathon for me!  I list this in my 2015 goals because I will begin formal training for it before 2015 comes to a close.  I am REALLY excited about this one!!!

I hope your 2014 was at least half as amazing as mine was!  I was blessed in so many ways during the year.

Here’s to an even better 2015!

OF COURSE my wine glass has Texas on it!!  What kind of Texan do you think I am?
OF COURSE my wine glass has Texas on it!! What kind of Texan do you think I am?

Thanks for reading!

Race Goals: Dallas Edition

To be honest, I am hesitant to put these goals out there for the world to see, because everyone will know if I fail.  (I have a difficult enough time dealing with failure when only I know about it!  Yes, I KNOW it’s my first marathon and I KNOW I should only want to finish, but that just isn’t me.)  I figured I would muster the courage to post, inspired my friend @RunningLonely, who has been very open and candid about his 24 hour race goals.  Plus, it’s an ongoing exercise to get myself out of my comfort zone and doing this certainly causes me discomfort.  Finally, since the race is now 3 days away and I can’t think of anything BUT the race, it would be a futile effort to attempt blogging a different subject.  Here goes nothing:

  1. Finish.  Call me Captain Obvious, but, seriously, who wants to enter a race and not finish?  The race shirt we (my then running partner and I) had made last year had the phrase “Death before DNF”, and I meant it.  I expect this goal will be almost completely determined by how well my ITB behaves on race day.  As long as that sucker will allow me to bend my leg, if only a little, I’ll suck up the pain and charge on (hence my mantra; my slogan, “Suck it up, Buttercup”).   Side note: Last year ALL I wanted was the finisher shirt.  And just the other day I noticed on the Dallas Marathon website listed under Runner Benefits, “Unique Finisher Item”. <insert angry face here>
  2. Run the race without issues.  OK….I realize this is a pie in the sky goal.  I mean, WHO runs their first marathon (or any distance race, really) without any issues?  More specifically, I want to run the race without ITB issues.  But also without GI distress, an abnormal amount of chafing, blisters or muscle cramps.
  3. Hold back my pace in the first half. If I can do this, then hopefully, I’ll have energy to finish reasonably strong.  Another goal brought to you by Captain Obvious.  (I realize this should be a race strategy, not a goal.  Those who know me will completely understand it being a goal.)
  4. Time goal: 4:30.  THAT was hard to put out there, because this little dream train could be derailed so easily and quickly come race day.  Last year our goal was anything under 5:00, but secretly I yearned for a 4:30 finish.  There was a point in training this year when I began to realize this could actually happen, and I started to get VERY excited.  Of course (broken record alert), this ALL depends on….you guessed it, my ITB.
  5. Kick ass on the Dolly Pardon hills.  Let’s HOPE that I can accomplish this.  Marathoners get to experience these hills going at mile 13 and coming back at mile 18.  I’ve been practicing my mantra, “maintain effort”, to hopefully keep me from using ALL my energy on them.  I typically attack hills and I pray that this won’t be my “downfall”.
  6. Have fun!  After all, I run because I LOVE RUNNING!  Otherwise, how in the world could I be SO EXCITED about running 26.2 miles!

I have yet to pick the race day outfit.  I don’t understand why some people obsess over this so much.  Weather, by the way, is predicted to be rain and scattered thunderstorms.  This changes at least twice per day, but right now looks like the bulk of the rain may hold off until later in the race.  Until the rains begin, I’ll have to deal with some muggy heat, as the low is a projected 58 and high in 60s.  But, I’ll take that over ice any day!

Pete Delkus is my FAVORITE weather guy of all time.  He is AWESOME and is posting weather updates at least twice per day until race day!
Pete Delkus is my FAVORITE weather guy of all time. He is AWESOME and is posting weather updates at least twice per day until race day!

I am still debating what to carry.  Originally I planned to carry 2 bottles chia water and 2 bottles regular water on my belt.  Honestly, it weighs a ton, and that drags me down, quite literally.  On the other hand, 4 extra pounds on my hips would help me keep my pace down at the start.  Plus, if the rain holds off, I’ll need the water!  On the third hand, I considered ditching the chia water and just carrying gels in a Flip Belt, but didn’t train that way so that really isn’t an option, for all intents and purposes.  It’s probably a good thing that I don’t have a third hand.

Since my last run was AMAZING and I had no issues whatsoever, I am hopeful about my ITB.  Having said that, I think my biggest challenge will be not blowing my wad during the first half.  (Sorry to be so crude, but sometimes the Texas comes out.)  Anyone who knows me even a little understands that I have no self-control where this is concerned. (Refer to Goal #3)  I can almost guarantee that I will get caught up in racing people.  I considered blinders, but do they come in human size?  Maybe a pair sized for miniature horses would work?

I was also considering cutting out the music and my app feedback to eliminate me obsessing over distance and pace.  Thankfully, I have a seasoned marathoner friend who is willing to listen to my constant whining and cautioned me against this, if only to keep my eye (or ear, in this case) on my pace.  I think it best to just leave things “as is” and quit considering changing my norms.  I’m jittery and nervous ALL THE TIME, which is causing me to be more indecisive than usual.  (I had NO idea it was  possible for me to be MORE indecisive.)

I started packing my race day bag last night.  I packed an assortment of bottoms, tops and socks as well as my shoes.  I was genuinely concerned about forgetting the Vaseline, but rest easy because it is in there.  I even packed my visor for the rain.  The visor/rain situation will cause some issues with my sunglasses and that is stressing me out, because I don’t like to run without sunglasses (mainly because the race pics turn out terrible).  Mine are photochromic, which is why I can wear them when it is cloudy or at dawn/dusk.  (See? I knew you were asking that question in your head.)

I was pretty excited when I came home last night and Bobby had this waiting for me….

Just what I needed to help calm my nerves.
Just what I needed to help calm my nerves.

And then, after dinner, I opened the box of Maple Syrup Candies that @50StateCanuck gave me.  They were delicious!!  Reminded me of brown sugar, and I think we all know how much I love brown sugar! (If you can’t remember,here is the caramel crack story)

Incredibly cute AND tasty! The Canadians love their Maple leaf ALMOST as much as Texans love the Texas flag.
Incredibly cute AND tasty! And I think it is awesome that Canadians love their Maple leaf ALMOST as much as Texans love the Texas flag.

Happy Thursday, all!!