The Seabrook Lucky Trails Half Marathon - March 17, 2013

***NOTE:  I wrote this post last year and never published, so I am publishing almost a year late.  Oops.***

This was my first year to run The Seabrook Lucky Trails Half Marathon and I was really excited about it because I had heard such good things about it in previous years.  This trail race takes place on both Saturday and Sunday of St. Patrick's Day weekend and offers a Relay, Half Marathon and Marathon option.  I opted for the Sunday Half Marathon because I had planned to do a 5K with my Dad on Saturday.

The race location is over an hour from my home so I got up extra early on race day to drive out to Seabrook and pick up my packet and get ready to run.  When I arrived there were very helpful parking attendants pointing racers in the right direction and there was ample close parking for the race.  It was still complete darkness when I arrived to get my race packet but there was a party atmosphere in the pavilion at Rex Meador park.  There was lots of music and laughter as everyone got ready to run.

The swag was great for this race.  The gender-specific tech tee is going to be one of my favorites.  It is green, of course, and features Robby the pelican that is the race mascot.  Everyone also received a tech hat, a gym bag with the race logo and a pair of green and black running socks that match the tech tee perfectly.  The race bibs were also very festive and were different depending on which race you were participating in.

For the half marathon the course was two loops of the trails and the full marathoners did four loops of the same.  Most of the course was narrow trails with two-way runner traffic.  I had to stay on my toes to keep from running into other runners and to watch out for the snakes and alligators that signs along the trails warned of.  It was a blast!  Part of the course ran along the ocean and there is nothing better than running along the water in the morning.  It was a very beautiful way to spend a morning.

The aide stations were fantastic and plentiful.  The volunteers were all super friendly and helpful.  Not only did they have the typical hydration and snacking fare, they also offered one of my race favorites--ice-cold disposable wet towels!  Ah, it's like heaven to receive one of these when you are overheated.

Finishers received a very cool rainbow and shamrock race medal and those who participated in both the Saturday and Sunday races could join their medals together to complete the rainbow.  Everyone also received a commemorative coin for the 10th anniversary of the race.

The post-race party had great food and music.  There was every kind of sweets you could think of, hot dogs, fruit, icecream and (a St. Patrick's Day must) GREEN BEER!  This was a fantastic experience and I will definitely do it again next year.

Lookin' Good Shamrock Strut 5K - March 16, 2013

This is my second year to participate in the Lookin' Good Shamrock Strut in Houston, Texas, but this year I had the honor of running it with my dad for his first 5K race.  We were also celebrating his St. Patrick's Day birthday the following day so it was an extra special occasion.

There should really be more green at the start line!

I puchaed us new green running shirts and a couple of shamrock accessories to wear to the race so that we would be in the St. Patrick's Day spirit.  Some people really go all out for this race and I love it!  We arrived pretty early to pick up our packets since I wasn't able to do so during the week.  It was a cool, breezy morning--perfect running weather.  I was really pleased because my dad usually runs on a treadmill so I was worried about the possibility of a muggy, warm run on his first race.

Great job Dad!

We had a great run and I had a good time teaching my dad about race/road ettiquete.  Dad was a trooper throughout the race and ran most of the course.  We decided if he quit smoking it would definitely improve his pace and endurance though!  Regardless, he did fantastic for his first 5K, the day before his 62nd birthday.  He always tells me how proud he is of me for running and now I get to return the sentiment.  He has already signed up for his second race next month and I can't wait to see how he does.

The post-race festivites were similiar to last year's and were nice.  The food and drinks were perfect and just what I needed.  I had a cream cheese kolache and fruit from The Kolache Factory.  There was also popcorn and assorted other drinks and snacks.  Bounce houses and games were set up for the kids again and Luke's Locker was there to take a complimentary race photo.  There was also a raffle but we didn't stick around for that.  I'll definitely consider doing the Lookin' Good Shamrock Strut next year unless I am too tempted by the Seabrook Lucky Trails Half Marathon that was my other St. Patrick's Day weekend race this year.

Bayou City Classic 10K - March 9, 2013

Team Zissou at the Bayou City Classic 10k 2013, Houston, Texas

The Bayou City Classic 10k kicked off in downtown Houston at Tranquility Park.  The race benefits city parks and trails so it the perfect race for every Houston runner to support. 

This year I got together a team to run in centipede competition for the race.  To compete as a centipede you need a team of six or more attached, costumed runners.  We had a team of seven awesome ladies and we ran as Team Zissou from the Wes Anderson film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.  We made our costumes out of nurse's scrubs and I made a foam board submarine for us to run with.

Don't worry.  I am only packing cardboard weaponry.

We had a great time and a lot of people really loved our costumes.  Granted, some people did think we were nurses driving a school bus, but the cooler Houstonians we encountered loved out tribute to Team Zissou and we received tons of compliments.

To top off a really fun run we won the centipede competition for Best Movie Centipede (not of The Human Centipede variety--ick)!

I love being a winner!

The post-race party was nice and featured free Saint Arnold's beer.  What more could you want out of a run?  There were lots of snacks to be had as well, but all I really need after a good run is a beer!  The 10k race shirts were very nice gender specific tech shirts.  I will definitely be doing this race again next year and hopefully we will be kicking centipede-ass again!

Team Zissou pre-race at the Bayou City Classic 10k

Team Zissou pose!

Every member of Team Zissou receives a glock.  The interns all share one.

ConocoPhllips Rodeo Run 10K - February 23, 2013

The ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run course is downtown and precedes the Houston Rodeo Parade so there is always a huge crowd and lots of excitement.

I was really paranoid about getting downtown and finding parking with all of the additional road closures and rodeo fans downtown for the parade so I left super early got a prime parking spot and took a freezing cold little snooze in my car until my race buddies showed up.

I had a fantastic run and got a 10K PR of 1:07:44.  I know that's not fast, but it's great for me and I am very proud of it!  I have had a great time both times I participated in this race and I am going to try to make it a tradition for myself.

End of the World Half Marathon - December 21, 2012

The End of the World Marathon and Half Marathon took place in Humble, Texas and was mostly a trail race.  There was also a Day After the End of the World Marathon on the following day, but I only participated in the End of the World race.

I loved everything about this race.  It's only once in a life-time you get to run a Half Marathon on the  day the Mayans predicted the world would end.  The course was varied terrain and almost completely trail.  It was a little rough at times and I did fall once or twice but it was honestly fantastic and everyone was having a great time.

This is by far the largest, heaviest and most unique race medal I have ever earned!  It is 6 inch Mayan medal that weighs over a pound.  Participants also received an embroidered duffle bag, tech hat, a Mayan squeezie and one of the coolest race tech shirts I have ever seen.

Monster Mash 10K - October 27, 2012

The Monster Mash 10K and Kids K took place on the Saturday before Halloween at Sam Houston Raceway Park.  It was my first race in months and I was a bit rusty after a lazy, relaxing summer.  As soon as I heard about this race I had to sign up because the lure of a glow-in-the-dark zombie race medal was something I'd never be able to resist!

Halloween is my favorite time of year so Harper and I got costumes special for the race.  I went as a taco and Harper chose to run as Darth Vader.  There was a costume contest, but we didn't enter; we just enjoyed the race.  

The weather was beautiful.  It was a cold, sunny day and the winds made it nearly impossible to keep my sombrero on my head.  I felt really good and had a great time but since I hadn't been running with much regularity I clocked my worst 10K time.

Harper killed her Kid's K!  I was so proud of her because she ran every step without a single complaint.  She was focused on getting the awesome medal she was due.

I will definitely do this race again.  The race medal and tech shirt were awesome and are my current favorites.  The logos on both feature a glow-in-the-dark zombie! 

Rock N Roll Dallas Half Marathon - March 25, 2012

I had heard a lot of good things about the Rock N Roll Marathon series so when I saw a coupon code for the Rock N Roll Dallas Half Marathon I jumped on it.  I arrived into Dallas on Saturday afternoon and headed straight to the convention center for the expo to pick up my race packet.  The expo was awesome and there was tons of amazing and tempting merch.  I couldn't help myself and picked up a really nice 13.1 shirt.  There was a lot more that I wanted but I retrained myself.

From the start I was impressed with how organized the race was.  The runners were separated into about 15 different corrals by pace.  Each corral started off a minute or two apart and the staggered start was perfect because crowding was never really an issue.

As promised there was a local band performing approximately every mile.  There were also lots of local pep squads, cheerleaders and other school organizations to cheer the runners on and add to the atmosphere.  There were plenty of aide stations and volunteers.

I felt good and finished the race strong with a nice PR.  The race volunteers at the finish were amazing and I received a new favorite finisher perk; the volunteers were handing out cold, wet towels to the finishers which was a nice way to cool down after a hot run.  The medal and participant tech shirt were very well designed and are current favorites of mine.

I will definitely be participating in another Rock N Roll Marathon race and recommending them to friends.

Lookin' Good Shamrock Strut 10K - March 17, 2012

The Lookin' Good Shamrock Strut 5K, 10K and Kids K takes place around St. Patrick's Day every year and is organized by the Houston Eye Associates Foundation.  Kate and I participated in the 10K and Harper ran the Kids 1K, despite a few small issues this was a great event that I would definitely participate in again.

I love a themed race and any excuse for costumes, so we happily dressed the part!  Most of the runners and walkers were dressed up or at least wearing green.  The course was flat and easy, though the temperatures on Saturday were a bit warmer than we had gotten used to during the winter months.  Everyone was in really good spirits and that goes a long way for me during a race.

The problem with this event was the race timing.  An issue with the timing company resulted in no finisher results for several days after the completion of the race.  For someone shooting for and close to a PR this was kind of a pain in the butt and inconvenience.  It was truly bad for those who would win or place because they were unable to recieve official results and therefore unable to give out awards to those winners.

Harper, running her heart out.

Still this was a great, family-friendly race.  There were games and bounce houses and tons of other fun things for the kids to do.  I will definitely participate in the Shamrock Strut again!

First year with my new love.

This time last year I had never run a step and was getting zero exercise.  I was reading through different training plans online to prepare for my first 5K and was doing my best to not be intimidated by the distance.  I started off with a run/walk training program.  I remember those first runs--hot and sweaty, winded after running a mere two minutes at a time.  It felt good though, and I was determined to be successful in my goal of finishing.

First year of race bibs.

I didn't really count on becoming addicted to the endorphins, the "runner's high" as it is often called, but before long all I could think about was running and racing and meeting more goals.  A year later and I have logged some where in the neighborhood of 600 miles.  I participated in races ranging from 5K to full marathon.  I'm a healthier, more fit and happy person thanks to running.

First year of finisher medals.

I look forward to many more miles and maybe some new distances in the years to come.  Run on!

Proud of Mommy. <3

ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run 5K - February 2012

The ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run 5K and 10K was an amazing race experience even though I was severely hungover from a crazy night. I participated in the 5K run. My only disappointment was that the 10K was chip-timed and the 5K was not. I'm sure that information was on the registration but I completely overlooked it--not a huge deal.

5K participants at the Start

The weather was fantastic, a chilly clear day. I thought the late start time strange when I registered but it was welcomed considering how I spent the previous night. The race had a record 15,000 participants for the event which included 10K and 5K runners and 5K walkers.

The race organizers did a good job of letting the crowd know that the walkers should hold back until all the runners had started, but of course there are always people who are oblivious a don't listen to instructions. This means there was a lot of dodging and weaving in and out of people who were on a leisurely stroll with their families. Again, not a huge deal and something to be expected when signing up for a race with that many participants, some of which are walkers. It was tons of fun regardless.

The course went through downtown Houston starting at Bayou Place and ending at Minute Maid Park's parking lot. The race organizers did an amazing job at putting together a high energy, fun race course. There were lots of great bands playing, rodeo clowns and cowboys on stilts lining the streets. I even heard a female vocalist playing "You Never Even Called Me By My Name" in front of Minute Maid and you know that means I was loudly singing my way to the finish.

The after party was well organized and had lots to offer. Loved this race so much and will definitely participate in it again, though hopefully next time I won't be nursing a hangover. Awesome race, with awesome people!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Location:Houston, TX

Rhythm and Blues Half Marathon - February 19, 2012

The Rhythm and Blues Half Marathon and 5K was an inaugural race, so I am going to cut them some slack for some disorganization and poor communication.

The starting line at Sam Houston Park

The event started off with confusion because the race website encouraged you to dress up as your favorite R&B artist for a pre-race costume contest. We dressed up and arrived at the park an hour before the race but there was never any announcement about the costume contest or anything for that matter. The race started late and there was never an update given on when we could expect to start. Suddenly eight minutes after the start time someone blew a horn and everyone looked around confused. Are we supposed to run now??

'Cause this is Thriller, Thriller night.

The weather was beautiful and it was a great day for a long run. The course was a three loop run down Allen Parkway, starting at Sam Houston Park. Overall, a nice course even though you have to repeatedly hit the hills of Allen Parkway; not my favorite. The race highlight per their advertising and website was that bands would line the course to pump you up. The bands were great, but there weren't near as many as I expected. I think everyone was expecting a high energy, party-type atmosphere and it was really pretty quiet on the long stretches in between entertainment.

There also seemed to be a lack of available medical aide. I witnessed a runner injured and in tears being told by the water station "that [they] were just volunteers and couldn't help". Volunteers at aide stations should definitely be told who to call and what to do if someone is hurt and in need of aide. They are volunteering at an aide station after all.

Love the medal!

I struggled through most of the race and I feel like maybe I have just done too much marathon-wise in the last month. I am resigned to give myself a little break to refuel and rest. I definitely don't want to burn myself out or get hurt from trying to do too much. Despite a difficult run I actually managed to get a PR (2:36:02). It wasn't as well as I wanted to do but I am still very pleased. Progress makes me happy! Another bonus, the race medal was pretty damn cool. I'll give you another shot next year R&B Half!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Galveston Mardi Gras Marathon - February 5, 2012

Three weeks after my first attempt at a marathon I decided to take-on 26.2 miles again with the hopes of a possible PR.  Since my first marathon experience I felt like I had a better grasp on what I was capable of and perhaps how to better pace myself for a strong finish.  So when the chance to sign up for another full marathon came up I was eager to prove something to myself once again, even if it was a little soon.  Of course, I had no way of knowing when I registered that mother-nature had some very specific plans for race day.

Going into race day weekend I started to realize that the weather was not going to cooperate with my PR plans. The forecast was predicting temperatures in the lower 50s combined with rain and a strong northerly wind, basically the complete opposite of the weather I was blessed with for the Chevron Houston Marathon.  I prepared by doing a little online shopping for a running jacket that could hold-up to the rain and I am so glad that I did!

We arrived in Galveston to the dreary weather we were expecting but still made the most of it with a little site-seeing, playing on the beach in Harper's new rain boots and a nice dinner of pasta for me to carb-load before race morning.

The evening before the race it literally poured cold rain.  We woke up around 5:30 in the morning to start getting ready and when we looked outside it was kind of scary.  The wind was really pounding on the trees and you could really see the force of it.  Thomas looked concerned, "Are you sure you want to do this?"  Of course I did!

We headed out to the starting line and as soon as I walked outside I realized as cold as it was I needed another layer and did some quick wardrobe changes.  So many of my fellow racers were sporting trash-bag ponchos, but with the hood and sleeves of my new running jacket I was in pretty good shape to keep the wind and rain at bay as much as possible.  Harper did her part to get me ready by going through our stretching routine together.  She is always my best helper.

The race course started on the strand and then went out to run along the seawall for the bulk of a two loop course.  The half-marathoners did one loop and the full-marathoners did the same loop twice.  It really was a beautiful course despite the sharp stinging of the rain at times and the pretty much constant cold winds in the range of 25 mph.

Mile 18! 

Running with water pooling and sloshing in your shoes is no picnic, but stopping never crossed my mind.  I think the wind would have had to literally blow me off the side of the sea wall to make me stop.  Any time it starts to get difficult I just visualize the finish again and again until the moment passes and I am able to enjoy what I am doing again.

21 miles!
The race volunteers, organizers, police officers and spectators were amazing despite the less than ideal weather conditions.  Volunteers were smiling and upbeat every time I came to an aide station and that is no easy feat with weather like that when you won't be receiving a finisher's medal for just being an awesome and helpful person.  My next goal is definitely to be a race volunteer because events of this magnitude definitely can not occur without people willing to help.

I finished feeling good with my beautiful daughter hot on my heels across the finish line.  I didn't get my goal of a PR but my time was only five minutes behind my previous finish time so I am very proud of that given the conditions I ran in.

Finisher - 5:43:27

Overall I had an amazing race experience and I would definitely participate in this event again.  It was very well organized and fun even under extreme conditions.  My addiction to running continues!

Yeah, a little tired.

Water logged runner's feet!

Galveston Marathon Tomorrow!

Tomorrow I will be tackling my second marathon, the Galveston Mardi Gras Marathon and Half Marathon. I'm not feeling any of the same nervousness and fears that I was facing last time around so I hope my over-confidence doesn't prove to hurt me. Tonight I just feel pure excitement. I'm ready to tackle 26.2 miles again and it looks like this experience will be very different from my first marathon.

Galveston's weather tomorrow won't be the ideal run in the park that I was blessed with in Houston. Tomorrow promises to be cold, wet and super windy. I am excited to prove that I can do this again! Wish me luck!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Avenue L,Galveston,United States

Chevron Houston Marathon - January 15, 2012

When I made the decision to train for a marathon I don't think I realized exactly what I was committing to.  I didn't even comprehend the amount of hours and miles I would be putting in each week.  I am not a morning person and I prefer to spend my weekends without obligation, sleeping as late as possible.  Once training began drinking and going out on Friday nights were a thing of the past.  I found myself crawling into bed at a reasonable hour and setting my alarm for the likes of 4 am on a Saturday to get up and start my long runs before the sun had even thought of coming up yet.  The strange thing is, I loved it all.

I am so grateful to Thomas and Harper for their understanding and support as I took a huge chunk out of our time together for training.  They encouraged me every step of the way and had faith in me even when I would start to doubt myself.

Roughly six months of dedicated marathon training culminated in one of the most accomplished and proud moments of my life.  Really the entire 26.2 miles I was on cloud nine, even with the physical exhaustion, aches and pains.  The adrenaline and endorphins and pure excitement of it all pushed me through to the finish.  Nothing makes me happier than making my family proud and they were all so proud and happy for me on that day.

Harper helping me stretch before the race.

My cheering section.

10k mile marker.

Around 21 miles.

Approaching the finish line.

Official finisher:  5:38:10

Finisher!  Couldn't be happier!

The beginning...

I have always been the kind of person who avoided sports or any kind of exercise at all cost.  I wouldn't say I was a lazy person, but my friends and family would have probably described me that way.  When I was in school even the slightest hint of being forced to run or play a team sport and I would fein illness, injury or simply disappear.  That's why when I announced I was going to train for a 5k obstacle course in the early part of 2011 those closest to me laughed it off.  That's not to say they were unsupportive, because I have some of the best friends and family a girl could want, but they certainly would have never guessed that in year's time I would come so far.

Of course, I never expected to actually love running either.  I just wanted to prove something to myself so I set out with the goal of running 5k in mind.  Pretty much right off I realized I loved everything about running--the way it made me feel, the sense of accomplishment, the healthier and happier me.

My first race I ran by myself, just as I had trained.  The Warrior Dash in Conroe, Texas was so much fun and the first hook into me for racing.  I hadn't built up to being able to run a solid 5k distance yet, but I had a great time and felt amazing when I was able to finish in one piece (though with a slight limp and a slight crimp in my training plans for a few weeks).

Warrior Dash Finisher - March 2011

Once I was able to get back to running I returned to my training schedule and before long was running my first solid 5k.  I found a great running buddy to hit the races with and I started another training plan to build up to a 10k distance.

After successfully running my first 10k and feeling great about it I started toying with the idea of training for a large distance, something that would have never even crossed my mind before.  I looked at a few training schedules for a Half Marathon distance and got my running buddy on board.  Some how a link for the Chevron Houston Marathon and Armaco Half Marathon came across my computer screen.  I started to realize that with the amount of time I had before the race I could conceivably train for the Full Marathon distance.  After a little back and forth debate it was decided and I began my training...