My big event this weekend was my half marathon, of course, but before that there was GrapeFest!

GrapeFest is an annual wine tasting/showcase event in Grapevine, Texas.  I’ve always wanted to go, but never worked it out in my schedule until this year!  Even so, the timing of my visit wasn’t optimal for my race schedule.  I knew that I was taking a risk going to GrapeFest the afternoon before my race, but I figured I would simply rest my legs and drink LOTS of water while relaxing in my hotel room afterwards. Unfortunately, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and by hell, I mean racing after attending a wine festival.


Our first stop was at the Argentinean tent, where $14 got you tastes of 6 Argentinean wines not available in the US, along with a lovely souvenir wine glass.  While we were in line to get our punch card and our glass, a woman tripped on a curb and hit her head.  It was quite the dramatic way to begin the event and a good reminder not to drink too much!  Thankfully, she was OK and we headed into the tent to wait in line for what seemed like hours to get our first taste of wine.  To pass the time, I decided to snap a pic of us….except I kept having technical difficulties.  Dara offered to take over and she had technical difficulties.  Thank goodness Erica was there, or we would never have gotten a proper picture!

What would we do without Erica's selfie skills??
What would we do without Erica’s selfie skills??

Honestly, I prefer a nice sweet wine, but apparently they don’t like sweet wine in Argentina.  I ended up with a dry white something or other that was actually better than I expected.

I wanted to try to catch up my friends from Homestead Winery, so after the forever wait in the Argentina tent we went in search of the tent they were in….with a few pit stops on the way.  One VERY worthy stop was at Dr. Sue’s Chocolate, where I fell in love with Midnight Mocha.  Chocolate and coffee…merged together.  It is divine!

I may have made inappropriate noises when I tried this in the shop.
I may have made inappropriate noises when I tried this in the shop.

We never did make it to Homestead, but it’s just as well because I have their wine all the time!

After our second stop at the Argentinean wine tent, we scurried across the street to the sparkling wine area.  I do love sparkling wine and ended up with another commemorative glass!

I thought the bubbles would show up better in the pic.  This was hands down my favorite area!
I thought the bubbles would show up better in the pic. This was hands down my favorite area!

Festival Food

After all the wine, we decided we should get something to eat.  Only, there wasn’t ANYTHING that was pre-race approved.  Erica, aka Stomach of Steel, had a hankering for chili pie.  I couldn’t even imagine eating a chili pie.  And Dara, bless her heart, because she is from “up North”, has apparently never even eaten a chili pie.  Before I even ordered, Erica knew that I would be getting fried pickles because “it is the Texan thing to do”.  I ate about half my bowl of pickles then made the sign of the cross and prayed that all this didn’t affect me during the race!  Of course, I was still planning to drink tons of water.  Good intentions, right??

Fried pickles.  Totally worth all the race stomach issues.
Fried pickles. Totally worth all the race stomach issues.

Runner friends protect clumsy runner friends

After the woman tripping on curb and hitting her head event, Erica took it upon herself to be my personal protector for the remainder of the day.  I think she felt a little guilty about leaving me unattended for a few days (which is when I ended up doing the stupid single leg dead lifts).  She also knows how clumsy I am and that I don’t always watch where I’m going.  I’m probably not much different than the kids she teaches in preschool.  #sadbuttrue  Every time we approached a curb or anything else that I could trip over or run into, Erica pointed it out to me.  If only she had been around to point out the folly in my choice to do those dead lifts… hamstrings are still angry!

It was a wonderful time with wonderful friends, though, so the race day stomach issues and dehydration was totally worth it!

Happy Tuesday!





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!