Dallas Marathon Training Plan

Marathon Logo

I’m going to attempt to run another marathon! It’s been almost two years since I last took on 26.2, when I ran the New York City Marathon in November 2015. It’s taken awhile, but I decided recently that I am in the right frame of mind to once again embark on a long training cycle and tackle a big goal. The Dallas Marathon on December 10 will be my 9th marathon.

This will be my training plan, beginning Monday:

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Weekends are going to be hectic. I volunteer at a local animal shelter on Saturdays, usually all day, so most of my long runs will take place on Sundays. The exceptions are weeks that I am doing a race as part of my long run, when the race falls on a Saturday. I predict a lot of early bedtimes on Friday and Saturday nights during these few months.

There are about 4-5 local races I am planning to do during this training cycle, a couple of 10Ks, a 15K, a half marathon, and a Thanksgiving run. I’m excited for the fall!

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Weekly Recap: Heat Wave

Sometimes I really hate summer. This past week was one of those times. It seemed like we were under a heat advisory almost every day. It would be 7 p.m. and the temperature would still be 90+ degrees with a heat index of over 100. Blah! I made a goal before this week to run 20 miles total, and because of the heat it took more runs than originally planned, but I did it.

Monday, Ran 4 miles, 9:50 pace

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Wednesday, Ran 4 miles, 10:23 pace

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I wanted to run 5 miles, but this was one of the worst heat advisory days and it was brutal, even though I started around 6 p.m. I decided to cut it a little short and try again the next day. This was my first run with my new Garmin Forerunner 230. I love it!

Thursday, Ran 3 miles, 10:03 pace

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Again I set out with the intention to run 5 miles, and not only was it still horribly hot, but I felt extremely fatigued and my legs were heavy. It was a struggle just to get to 3 miles 😦

Saturday, Ran 2 miles, 8:58 pace

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On Saturday I spent all day volunteering at the animal shelter, but I wanted to get 2 miles in quickly so that I would hit my 20-mile goal after my longer run on Sunday.  So after I got home around 5, I quickly changed and went out to do 2 “fast” miles (for me right now) around the neighborhood. Worked up a good sweat, then spent the rest of the evening resting.

Sunday, Ran 7 miles, 10:12 pace

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To check the weather this morning and see 73 degrees at 8 a.m. was like heaven. The heat index was only a little over 80, and there was a slight breeze.

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For this run, I decided to try Tailwind in my water. The mandarin orange flavor tasted great, it dissolved well in my water, and as I drank it throughout my run, I felt myself gaining energy.

My first mile was very sluggish at 10:50 pace, and I was surprised at how slow I was running at first, because it didn’t *feel* that slow. But the longer I ran, and I guess the more the Tailwind kicked in, I got up the confidence to push harder and my last mile was 9:17!

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A recap of this week’s workouts

I have been pretty consistent with running and bicycling the past two weeks. (I know, I deserve a round of applause, right?) I wanted to recap what I’ve done because I think and hope as I continue forward, I will be able to see a documentation of how I started running longer and faster.

Monday, Ran 5 miles/10:14 pace

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This was a post-work run done around 6:30 PM or so, and I was surprised that I could even maintain the 10:14 pace considering I haven’t run 5 miles in months and months. It was hot, but not as bad as other days this week. I took a water break in the middle and tried out a drink mix sample I got in a previous StrideBox – Bumbleroot, Lemongrass flavor. It was pretty good!

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Wednesday, Ran 3.5 miles/10:10 pace

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This run felt so much harder than Monday’s! The heat index was like 108 degrees or something terrible like that, and I think the humidity was worse too. I just had trouble breathing and felt super sluggish. Maybe it being the middle of the week contributed too, IDK. I was bathed in sweat after this one, as pictured.

Saturday, Bicycle ride/3 miles

My bike
Isn’t she lovely?

I was too tired after work Thursday and Friday to do anything, though I did think about running Friday night. I laid in my bed and decided, “Nah.” Saturday I volunteered at the cat rescue shelter from 9-4:30, so all I had the energy for was a short bike ride around the neighborhood. I got all my running stuff together with plans to go on a “long” run Sunday morning before church.

Sunday, Ran 6 miles/10:32 pace

This is the longest I’ve run since New Year’s Eve, so I can’t be too disappointed with my time. My left IT band was tightening up in the last 3 miles, so I need to watch that and try to stretch more and foam roll. I hope to only get faster as I run more and the temperature eventually starts to drop some.

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It is my mission to keep using samples I’ve gotten from StrideBox during my runs, in hopes of saving money and maybe discovering some new products I might love. For this run, I took a Montana Huckleberry Hammer Gel before I left the house, and it was fine. I prefer thinner gels like PowerBar, but I think this might be a little thinner than Gu.

I also mixed this LiquidIV drink mix, Lemon Lime flavor, with 20 ounces of water. Even though it said to mix with just 16 ounces of water, I still found it to be very strong tasting, and I did not like it at all. I believe I have some other samples of this same brand, with different flavors, so I will give it another chance later.

TOTAL: 14.5 miles ran, 3 miles biked

This coming week, my goal is to run 20 miles.

Donut Dash 5K

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There were two 5Ks in town this weekend to choose from, and after about five seconds of internal debate, I chose the much smaller one that offered doughnuts at the end.  That was kind of easy.

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This race started and ended at a brewery in downtown Shreveport, with doughnuts at each water stop as well as at the end. For beer drinkers, a free pint of beer was also offered at the brewery for each runner post-race.

My goal for this race was to beat my Firecracker 5K time of 29:07. It was much hotter for this race than the 4th of July!

Hunter and I started off together, but he hasn’t really been running lately, so I kind of left him in my dust in the third mile 😉 There were several rolling hills on this course, which made it quite the challenge. I also regretted wearing a shirt that was 50% cotton. That was a rookie mistake!

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My chip time was 28:30, 37 seconds faster than Firecracker. I was 2nd in my age group, and the 1st place person in my age group was only 11 seconds faster than me. There were 120 participants, and I finished 41st.

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Hunter finished in 29:09, so I took a picture of him (in the red) approaching the finish line. He told me he totally could have passed me, but he would have then collapsed and died. :p

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After the race, everyone was able to go into the brewery for some A/C and refreshments. Hunter took this hilarious/gross photo of me eating a doughnut:

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After the race, I ran home and showered, had some coffee and a green smoothie, then headed to the cat rescue I volunteer at every weekend. I was there until about 4:30 and was extremely exhausted by the time the day was done. Sleep came easy last night!

I have some races in August and the fall on my radar, but all are 10Ks or longer, so I might be done with 5Ks for the foreseeable future. We’ll see.

Lessons Learned From My First 50K

I found this post in my drafts, from way back in May 2015, shortly after I ran the Brazos Bend 50K. I don’t know why I never published it, but I decided to go ahead and do so now!

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1) Put Vaseline everywhere…. OK, so I could and maybe should have learned this lesson already, but after getting drenched with rain during the 50K, I chafed in a lot of new places, specifically my back from the hem of my sports bra. Also my lower back from the waistband of my shorts, although that has happened before. I have started coating my toes in Vaseline before putting on my socks, but I now realize I need to do this in other places where my clothes are a little tighter and would be rubbing my skin more closely. Even if it doesn’t rain, sweating a lot will create the same results.

2) My Garmin doesn’t last long enough for an ultramarathon – The battery life of the Garmin Forerunner 10 is 5 hours, and mine actually lasted 5 hours and 57 minutes before dying for good. By the time this happened, it was actually OK with me, because I really didn’t care about my pace or time anymore, and since the course was a loop, I already pretty much knew about how much longer I had to go. But in the future, if I ever want to do a 50-miler or 100K – and maybe I would consider doing one next winter/spring – I might want to get a more expensive model with a much longer battery life.

3) If you can run a marathon, you can pretty much run a 50K – Yes, reaching 26 miles and still having to do 5 more is no joke and can take awhile, depending on the state of your body. But if you can make it to the finish of a marathon and not be pretty much dying, you can do five more miles and finish a 50K. Even if you have to walk the rest of the way, it is completely doable and just requires a lot of mental fortitude.

4) My stomach can handle some things out of the norm – I drank ginger ale and Coke and ate pickles during this race, which all were different things I hadn’t tried in races or during runs before. Good thing they worked out fine! I still wasn’t brave enough to try many of the other food items at the aid stations, like PB&J sandwiches or candy or chips, but I was definitely glad I was able to take in something other than gels.

Firecracker 5K race recap

I had no right to put any real ambition on this race, considering 1) my “training” has been pretty minimal and 2) the number of people who participate in this race make the course pretty congested for the first mile, which always slows down my times. But even so, I had a goal: to beat 29:59, which was my time in my most recent 5K in May. I had just sneaked in under 30 minutes in that one, and I wanted to do even better in this typically hotter, hillier, more crowded race.

I was fortunate to have Monday off of work, so I lounged around in the morning, drinking coffee and watching TV. I finally got out and went to the running store to pick up our race packets. I love this shade of blue:

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Then I went to Target and couldn’t resist getting this really cute little number from the Champion section:

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I like to buy things I don’t need!

After all that, I went “running” on the river path, and I actually ran for the most part, even used my Garmin for the first time in a long time! I ran most of 3 miles and then walked another mile for four miles total. I didn’t want to tire my legs too much the day before the 5K.

I saw this leaf on my run; I don’t know why I sometimes notice random things like this, but I wondered why the leaf had so many holes – eaten by a caterpillar? (“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle came to mind!)

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The race began today at 8 a.m., so we headed out at 7:20. Although I like to get going super early (too early), my husband is not the same at all, so this was the best I could do! We’ve never had issues getting there or parking in the past (it starts at a mall, so definitely not a problem), so I wasn’t too worried.

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The race is not chip-timed and the starting area is kind of a free-for-all, a mix of runners and walkers. If you don’t get in the very front, you’re kind of screwed. I started my Garmin when we got to the starting line about a minute after the fireworks went off to signal the beginning of the race, and I immediately expected to abandon my goal because of how many walkers I had to weave around for the first mile. Once we were finally able to really run, I found myself going too fast in an attempt to make up for lost time.

The weather was great for this race, very overcast and in the low ’80s. It was very humid, though, so I did sweat a lot. The spectators for this race always provide sprinklers for the runners to go through, and some were even squirting us with waterguns. Some little kids were throwing tiny water balloons at people, too. So I was quite drenched by the end!

At mile 2 I saw I just needed to get done in under 10 minutes and I’d make my goal, so I really sped it up. I got a terrible side stitch for the last half-mile, but I crossed the finish line well before my goal time. I also beat my husband 🙂

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After the race, we staggered through the finish area, got some water and watermelon and a popsicle.

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It was way too crowded and I was craving breakfast food, so we left and headed to a nearby restaurant for some eggs and bacon!

I was really happy to do so much better than my goal despite the very slow start. The weather really contributed to that being possible as well. I hope to improve again in the next 5K I do on July 15, but we will have to see how hot it is!

Halfway through 2017

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ON WALKING

Back when I was in high school, I was, like most teenage girls, pretty self-conscious about my appearance. I decided I wanted to get in better shape and lose some weight, so I started walking. I would put one of my favorite CDs into my Discman, wear a pair of those non-earbud headphones with the foam covers, and just walk around my neighborhood, thinking about school and church and whatever else was going on in my life at the time. While running has encompassed the bulk of my physical activity over the past seven years, it all started for me more than 15 years ago with the simple act of walking.

In 2010, as I became a runner and started building up my endurance, I admittedly started to look down on the idea of just walking. Because walking isn’t as much of a challenge and walking isn’t as hard. Now, it’s still a blessing to be able to do it and it’s still something I am grateful to do. But it’s really not debatable that walking isn’t as difficult as running. If I had to take a walking break during a run, I felt bad about it. This was a mentality I built up all by myself – walking was “less than,” and I didn’t want to resort to it.

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Many times in my running life, going for a run has felt like a chore, something to get through, something I needed to check off my list in a training plan, something I dreaded and made excuses to get out of. For a long time I felt that if I didn’t run at least 3 miles, it was a waste of time to even go out and do anything. So, I got burned out, numerous times, and over the past year and a half, I’ve really struggled to run consistently.

At some point, I found myself falling back on walking. Because in the times I didn’t want to run, I knew I still needed to do SOMETHING. And I’ve rediscovered there is just something so enjoyable to me about simply walking and listening to music or podcasts, and I always end up running some as well. I was wrong to look down on walking over the past several years.

This is not to say I don’t want to get back to running consistently, running with goals, training for long distances, but I also don’t want to get back to the type of mentality that didn’t allow myself a walking break, didn’t allow myself to relax. Because I think that mentality is what contributed to me getting so burned out on running in the first place.


RACES SO FAR

We’ve done a handful of races this first half of the year, all just for fun. Somehow, I’ve gotten faster in each one even as it’s gotten hotter.

JanuaryRun Like an Animal 5K/32:54

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MarchPie Run 5K/31:38

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MayMudbug Madness 5K/29:59

2016 running

So I went over a year without blogging. That was unexpected.

I didn’t stop running in 2016. But it wasn’t consistent, or inspiring enough to blog about. By May I wasn’t even inspired to post my runs on Daily Mile anymore, which I had been doing faithfully since 2011. It’s weird not to have a final number for miles run in the past year.

So yeah, it was a down year, similar to 2013. I guess it’s bound to happen every now and then. Coincidentally, both 2013 and 2016 were years of big change for me, moving and finding a new job and just not being settled. I hope 2017 will be a more stable and settled year, as much as anyone can plan for that.

I did do several races in 2016 – that is an addiction I will never quite shake! A brief recap, for posterity:

Februrary 2016: Pie Run 10K

This is one of my favorite races, and I’ve done it three times now. Once you cross the finish line, you get a cup of coffee and a piece of the best pie in town.

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March 2016: Pancake Run 5K

So apparently offering food is a surefire way to get me to race. This run was along the river in downtown Shreveport. I didn’t end up getting the pancakes afterward though, I just went straight home. Not sure why, but I am kicking myself for that.

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April 2016: Cypress Half Marathon

I could not get over the irony that I was doing a church-hosted race, and my bib number was 666. I was so self-conscious about this during the race, too! I heard someone that was spectating point it out as I ran by, and I felt embarrassed even though I had no control over what crazy number I got. Yikes!

This was the only half marathon I did during the year. I hope to do at least two in 2017, if not more.

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July 2016: Firecracker 5K

Surprisingly, this was only the second time I’ve done a 4th of July race. I bought this sweet Nike shirt that was being sold in conjunction with the Olympics just to wear during this race. I love it.

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September 2016: Saints 5K

I was excited to be able to go down and do the Saints 5K in New Orleans again. This was the first time we’d done it since its first year in 2012. Things were improved in that there were shirts cut differently for both men and women (my 2012 race shirt is unwearable for me because of the sizing), but since we didn’t pick up our packets until race morning, they were out of my husband’s size. He got a large and it was too big, so he just gave it to my dad. But I got my shirt, so yay! They also gave out medals to finishers, which wasn’t the case in 2012.

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October 2016: Spooky Sprint

This was a very casual. $5 race done by the local running store. It was 2 miles basically from the store through a nearby neighborhood and back. No official timing, no bibs, no fanfare. They did provide water. We also got a T-shirt that looked like this:

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December 2016: Downtown Christmas Run

This was the second year in a row we were able to do this Tuesday night run. It’s through downtown Shreveport, with all of the Christmas decorations and lights up to enjoy. I really like this one.

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So that’s it! If I had to say what race goals I have this year, they’re not lofty. As I said, at least two half marathons hopefully. If I am in a position to train for a winter marathon, that would have to be decided by this summer. There is a 5K at the end of this month I’m interested in. I’m just playing it by ear, but I do feel I have rediscovered my love of running in recent months, whereas I had been pretty apathetic for awhile.

I did six miles in the rain on New Year’s Eve, and it made me feel hopeful for the upcoming year.

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Race Recap: Turkey Trot & Downtown Christmas Run

The past month has been filled with packing, cleaning and moving, as we left DeRidder and are now settled in Shreveport-Bossier. It was a move I was very happy to make, but it came with the typical stress that moving entails and we are still not completely done with the transitions – I still have to find a job here, and we will hopefully buy a house within the next year. But my husband is enjoying his new job and we are really happy to be here.

While I was still in our old place trying to get ready for the move, there wasn’t much time for running, but since we got here, I have a lot of free time and have been running a lot more frequently. This has included two holiday-themed 5Ks, one on Thanksgiving and one last night through the Christmas lights downtown. That is one super great thing about living here in a much bigger city than before –  a waaaaay more active running community and more frequent races.

Turkey Trot

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This is a very popular race on Thanksgiving Day that attracts regular runners as well as walkers and families looking to do something active before their big meals.

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We did this race last year and it took us out on a dirt trail along the Red River, but the river flooded last summer and I’m guessing it messed up that trail, because this year the course kept us on the asphalt path that I always run on along the river.

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Thanksgiving here was not cold whatsoever, and it was also a little rainy that morning. During the race a heavy mist began hitting us, but it felt nice. I’d much rather run in warm rain than cold rain!

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The total distance was about 3.45 miles, which we did in under a 10-minute pace. The race was not chip timed.

Downtown Christmas Run

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I had never done this race before, because it’s apparently always on a weeknight and this is the first December we have lived here and been here during the week.

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The race is three loops around downtown Shreveport, where there are numerous Christmas lights decorating the streets. It begins and ends in front of the courthouse, which is also decorated in green and red. It was a big race, though not nearly as large as the Turkey Trot, and the first mile was rather slow due to having to weave around all the people. Each of our miles were a minute faster than the previous, beginning with a 10:42 mile for Mile 1 and finishing with an 8:36 mile for Mile 3!

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Our final time for the 5K was 29:40.

Both of these races were just for fun, but I was pretty happy with how we did in both of them. Looking forward to more races and more running!

2015 Log Jammer Half Marathon Race Recap

I have done dumber things than run a half marathon one week after running a marathon (like run a marathon one week after running another marathon), so signing up for the Log Jammer Half Marathon scheduled for Nov. 8 wasn’t too crazy, even though the NYC Marathon was Nov. 1.

I ran this race last year and the weather was cold (high 30s) and rainy. It was intimidating to go into, but I felt awesome when I finished. This year’s race weather was forecast to be much better – mid-50s and sunny.

I went into the race without a goal in mind, since it was so soon off the marathon, but I did want to run the whole thing. Ever since my knee injury in May, I’ve become a big walk-break-taker. I took breaks during all my long runs and during NYC, but I want to work my way up to not having to do that. So that was my big deal – no walking breaks.

I picked up my packet Saturday, which was actually a very rainy and cold day, reminiscent of last year’s race day. Thankfully by Sunday morning the rain had cleared and the sunny forecast proved to be true. The race had what seemed like a lot more participants than last year as a result.

Start/Finish Line Area

I like the course for the most part  – starts downtown, proceeds 7 miles in the nearby neigborhoods, 2 miles down a highway that takes us to the levee path, then 4.5 miles along the Red River back towards downtown.

I am moving to Shreveport very soon, so this is going to be my new permanent stomping grounds. I took note of how pretty the fall foliage is right now and how much I really like the area. I am excited that we will be living there.

My legs felt pretty tired throughout the whole race, but I also felt kind of strong. I made sure to keep my breathing tempered and not go too fast. There are several little hills around Shreveport, so I just ran them slowly. I kept a pretty even pace throughout the whole race, just under 11 minute miles, and the only times I walked was when I got Gatorade at the water stops and took a few steps to safely consume my drink.

On the levee path by the river I felt myself faltering, but I kept up my running and passed several people over the last couple of miles. The temps stayed in the high 50s I think, but because of the sun I was sweating pretty good by the end. I crossed the finish line at 2:22:50, which was about 11 seconds slower than the Barksdale AFB Half Marathon I did Sept. 19.

According to the race results, I ran 1:11:19 for the first half and 1:11:30 for the second. My splits were almost exactly even last year too! I don’t know what it is about this course, but I managed somehow the past two years to basically run the same time each half. My time last year was much better though – 2:07:something.

Now that NYC is over, I’m not sure what my goals are and my races will be. Moving throws a big wrench into any long-term planning as well – I know we’ll likely do the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day like we did last year, but that’s the only thing that I’m sort of sure of.