Category Archives: 13.1

The Stars at Night half marathon race recap

Last weekend I traveled to San Antonio to run the Stars at Night half marathon. I signed up because I wanted a race to get my weekly running miles back up after a long hiatus from distance running (this was my only half marathon in 2017!), and bonus! I figured it would be a fun weekend getaway for the first half of winter break when the kids are at their Dad’s (which is always depressing for me, even 7 years post-divorce).

It was a good idea in theory.

We arrived at the JW Marriott, site of the race, around 2:30pm, in plenty of time to check-in, get my packet, and head downstairs for the 5pm pre-race meeting (5:20pm start time).  It was my first time at the hotel, and while it was lovely (and large), it was also a holiday zoo, crowded with runners and families and Christmas festivities. The young woman checking me in asked if I was “here for the race” and I said yes. She asked me what I was running, and I said the half marathon. She looked at me blankly and asked “How many miles is that?”

It still startles me when people don’t know how long half marathon/marathons are. I consider it common knowledge.

I said “13.1 miles” and she blurted out “Oh my GOD, well, good luck with THAT!” as she turned around and looked outside.

Did I mention it was pouring out? It was pouring out. Did I also mention that most of this race was not on a road, but on trails through the golf course? Trails that, as I would soon find out, became absolutely submerged with water?

I was not looking forward to a wet, cold, dark 2.5 hours.

Initially, I was really intrigued and excited by the race. I’ve never run an evening race (my pre-race nutrition plan took some strategizing since usually I wake up, eat a bagel with peanut butter, and race 90 minutes later), and we were required to wear head-lamps since it would be so dark. It was *supposed* to be a fun, Christmas-y jaunt through Hill Country and holiday lights, a night adventure.

It was an adventure alright.

We started on time (ish), after huddling in mass in the pouring rain, grumbling, outside the hotel conference center for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only 4-5 minutes. The first 3 miles or so was through the neighborhood surrounding the hotel, which confused me a bit, since I thought the race was supposed to be through the golf course (we would turn off and enter the trail into the woods around the 3.5 mile mark).

As you might imagine, there were no spectators or people cheering … just a few hundred of us, running through the rain through a neighborhood, quiet. It was weird, to be honest … like a very large, dejected, cold, wet group run.

Once we turned on to the trail, I felt a momentary (and short-lived) excitement. THIS is what I came for – an evening trail run with lights and scenery and nature!

Y’all. It was so wet. And muddy. And cold. There were points where I had to high step through nearly knee high water, or “run” with my arms out at 90 degree angles, trying to steady myself, and not fall flat on my ass as my feet surfed through slick mud. I saw more than one person go down on the course, and a few who looked like they just gave up, as they abruptly turned and left the trail.

At some point, maybe mile 9, my arm got so numb that I could no longer feel the vibrations from my Garmin watch letting me know when I should do my run/walk intervals (I had it set to 3 minutes running/45 seconds walking).  I got creative and ran through a song, then when it ended I would walk for 30 right-foot steps, then run until the next song ended.

The race officials elected to move the finish line inside, which made for a weird end (although fitting with the entire weird experience, I guess), so we ran through the loading dock area into one of the conference rooms. My husband caught me coming in – notice me carefully run around the metal grate as I approached.


The video, and picture, does not at all capture just how frozen and soaked I was. What my husband should have captured on video was me attempting to talk for several minutes after I finished. I was so cold that I couldn’t speak properly – my words were coming out all slurred. He observed, with a nervous laugh, that I sounded like a stroke victim.

My official time was 2:26:55, which, although it seems really slow compared to my last half marathon a year ago (2:17:28) is actually my 3rd fastest half marathon of 7. So I guess all things considered it wasn’t a bad time, given the conditions.

Would I do another night-time half marathon? I actually liked the novelty of running at night, and it would have been fun if the weather wasn’t so horrible and the trails weren’t so hilly and treacherous. I prefer larger races with more energy and people (it was kind of … weird… running in the dark through the woods) but I’d love to do a (shorter) evening fun run in the future.


9 ways I shaved 9 minutes off my half marathon PR.

As I blogged last week, I was nervous for this race. I thought I could do well. I was pretty sure I was going to PR. But still. You never know.

On Sunday morning I ran the Dallas BMW half marathon with 20,000 ish other runners. The weather was perfect: overcast and 50 degrees with some drizzle and fog fading for the start. The wind gusts picked up the last few miles (I imagine it was less pleasant for the 26.2 people still out there), but I was able to run most of the race without feeling too much resistance.

I suppose there’s no need to build the suspense for how I did, since the title of this post is a clear spoiler. I shaved 9 full minutes off my previous PR, run at this same exact race in 2014.

check out that pacing #humblebrag

So how did I do it? After 2 years, two years spent consistently running and racing regularly, how did I have such a big drop in one race? I’ve thought a lot about it, and here are 9 contributing factors (I believe) led to that 9 minute PR.

I. My previous time wasn’t that fast. Let’s start with a dose of reality. I’m not a fast runner. I’m not even a fast runner for a 42 year old mother of 3. There are a lot of middle aged runners faster than me. I know from my years of swimming and coaching that you can only get big drops in time when there’s that lack of speed to begin with. I’m not being falsely modest, just practical and realistic. If I was running sub-2 hour half marathons, I would never see a drop like that. But my previous (5) half marathons were all run in the 2:26 to (cringe, altitude in Colorado) 2:35 range. I was bound to drop time at some point, amIright?

With that said, I still dropped a lot of time for me, which brings me to my next 8 points.

II. I took a break from the distance. When I discovered I could actually run 13.1 miles (in April 2014), I got a little addicted to medals running. In short order, I ran 4 additional half marathons (in less than 2 years). I grew weary, mentally and physically, of training for the long distance. I purposely took almost a year off from a half marathon race, to give my body and brain a break.

III. I played around with the Galloway run/walk method. I’ve raced some of my previous half marathons without walking at all, and finished some others with (exhausted) short stints of walking as I staggered through the last few miles. I’ve never done an entire training cycle with the dedicated intent to try out the run/walk method, thinking (full disclosure) that is for people who just aren’t tough enough to actually run all those miles. However, given my slow times with the “real” running, what did I have to lose by trying a training cycle with the run/walk?

I still did all my mid-week 3-6 mile runs (speedwork, tempo runs, easy miles) as straight runs, but practiced different run/walk ratios for my Saturday long runs. Eventually I settled on a 3 min run/ :45 sec walk ratio. As I practiced my long runs, I was shocked to discover that I was finishing 9, 10 and 11 mile runs in the 10:50-11 min/mile range without feeling like I was killing myself. Not only was my pace faster, but I wasn’t miserable.

Maybe that Galloway guy is on to something.

see? I smiled for the camera. Run/walk covert.

IVI worked on running faster during my mid-week runs. Yes, this is a no-brainer, but remember, I’m still relatively new to this running thing. Before I really committed to trying to lower my half marathon time, I completed my runs, but was not particularly motivated to work hard at them. I mostly stuck to the “novice” training plans, with suggested mileage, without a focus on speedwork. I figured out that I wanted to run my half somewhere in the 10:20-10:30 min/mile range, and started really working on the treadmill during the week at growing comfortable with that pace for 4, 5 and 6 mile stretches.

V. That triathlon training, tho. If I had to identify something really different about this year, versus my previous 2 years of half marathon training and racing, it was all that triathlon training during the 6-7 months before this latest 13.1 training cycle. From March through September, I only ran 3 days a week, but I was also swimming and biking several times a week. Remember, I completed an Olympic distance triathlon on Labor Day. I have to believe that had something to do with it. Also?

VI. For the first time, I actually did my strength training. Unlike my actual runs (which I am fairly militant about completing), I inevitably begin every race training cycle with the best of intentions about strength training. I conscientiously work in 10-15 minutes of planks, lunges and squats a couple times a week the first week or two…and then just sort of drop it. I don’t know what it is about that dang strength training, but I just can’t stick with it.

Until the past 2 months, when I diligently maintained my twice weekly planks and lunges. I still hated it. But I did it.

flying across the finish line. Tri training + strength training = strong finish

VII. I changed up my shoes. Previously, I’ve trained and raced in super cushy sneakers (or “kicks” as my husband calls them. Is that a Texan thing? I don’t know. Weird.). I oscillated between Brooks Glycerins or Saucony Rides. Don’t get me wrong, those are super comfy sneakers, and I still have mad love for them, but I discovered through my triathlon training that maybe I could pare down some of that extra bulk. I discovered the Saucony Kinvara and haven’t looked back.

VIII. I dropped a few pounds. Okay, I’m sure this is psychological more than anything else, but I lost 3-4 pounds, not that I was dieting or trying to reduce my size, but I’m constantly retooling my diet to figure out what makes me feel better during workouts, and keeps my energy up during the day.

IX. I nailed my pre-race week nutrition. I was very regimented the entire week leading up to the race with what I ate. While I’ve figured out what works for me in general as far as nutrition (see VIII), I went into race mode earlier than usual for this half. No desserts, no booze, and carefully planned dinners with a mix of healthy carbs and protein.

Do I believe that not drinking any alcohol or eating any cookies for 7 days before running a half marathon directly correlates to a 9 minute drop? *shrug* It couldn’t hurt.

So that’s it. Nine ways I think I had an amazing race on Sunday.

Next up? A 15k in February, and then it’s time to plan my triathlons!

Knock on wood

So, how about that 2+ month blogging hiatus?

I have not forgotten to blog. In fact, as the weeks passed by, I felt increasingly guilty about neglecting my little corner of the internet. This, in turn, led me to feel indignant and resentful; it’s my blog, and if I don’t want to write, I shouldn’t feel (self-imposed) pressure to do otherwise.

Did I not feel like writing? That’s a complicated question.

Even when I wanted to write, I’ve had very little time. My life, logistically speaking, tends to grow harried and frenzied in predictable patterns. In any given calendar-year, I am reliably underwater for roughly 4-5 weeks from mid-August to mid-September, then again for the holidays, then again for the month of May. There may be other very busy, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, or weeks, that are circumstance-specific, but you can place bets on those spans as always crazy.

This year, however, has the been the first year (that I can remember) that it just never eased up from that mid-August mania. I kept waiting for it to settle down, for there to be the weeks when we weren’t supposed to be in 2, 3 or 4 different places at once. Where I didn’t have to plan on takeout dinners at least 1-2 nights a week, because I wasn’t even home to cook. It turns out the ages when I am officially overwhelmed, over-scheduled, and over-committed as a mother of 3 kids are 12, 14 and 16.

Truth be told and in full disclosure, however, much of the time, I haven’t wanted to write. Like for so many, the (national and international) events of the past few months have left me very … weary.

I haven’t been blogging, but I have been running. And this, also, is where I hesitate to say too much. Knock on wood. Throw salt over my shoulder. Cross my fingers.

*whispers* I’ve been running really, really well.

This Sunday, I’m running half marathon #6, the BMW Dallas half marathon. I have diligently followed my training plan, even with the crazy-making, harried hamster wheel of my life.  I haven’t skipped a single run, and only rarely shaved the occasional mile or two off sessions (and never from the weekend long run, only with the mid-week runs,  when I might  only cover 5 or 6 miles instead of 7 or 8, because #motherhood and #teaching).

“They” say that long runs should average 30-60 seconds min/mile slower than desired race pace; for a runner of my speed and caliber, I think it’s recommended to pace more solidly on the 1 full minute slower end. So, when I began my half training in earnest all the way back on October 8th, I figured an 8 mile run at a 10:40 pace was just a fluke. A good day.

But then this happened.

  • Sat Oct 15th: 6 miles at 10:55 min/mile
  • Sat Oct 22nd: 9 miles at 10:49 min/mile
  • Sat Oct 29th: 8 miles at 11:04 min/mile
  • Sat Nov 5th: 10 miles at 11:08 min/mile
  • Sat Nov 12th: 11 miles at 11:18 min/mile
  • Sat Nov 19th: 12 miles at 10:59 min/mile
  • Sun Nov 27th: 10 miles at 11:00 min/mile
  • Sat Dec 3rd: 8 miles at 10:57 min/mile

I have been nailing my long runs. I wasn’t trying to overly exert or push myself, and I finished each run feeling okay (ie not ready to vomit and spend the rest of the day in bed. Although some of those days did involve a nap).  As of today (Tuesday), my legs feel slightly sore and fairly tired, but if memory serves, that’s about right for the beginning of taper week at the end of a half marathon training cycle. I have 5 miles tonight, and then just 2 and 3 mile easy runs left before the race.

think I am in really good shape to PR this Sunday.



2016 Dallas Rock n Roll Half Marathon Race Recap

I cannot believe I ran this race just under 2 weeks ago – it feels like a distant memory (so much for a detailed race recap). After running the half on Sunday March 20th, my husband and I boarded an early Monday  morning flight to Seattle, then traveled up to Vancouver on Thursday, finally arriving back in Texas on Monday afternoon. The past few days have been a back-to-work whirlwind of catching up, laundry, groceries, returning emails, and trying to acclimate to “real life”.

I ran a half marathon 11 days ago? Really?

On the one hand, I was really excited for this race. Unbelievably, it’s been an entire year since I last ran a half marathon, the Washington DC Rock n Roll half.   I enjoyed the Washington DC race (with the exception of the weather, and awful 2+ hour journey back to the hotel), and the course map looked intriguing. I’ve run several races in Dallas by now, but none crossing the Trinity River.

On the other hand, my initial excitement and confidence about a potential PR was undermined by the training maladies I’ve encountered over the past couple months. First there was the pulled back muscle, which led me to cancel my January Houston half marathon entry.  Then there was the bronchitis in January that led to another week off.

I haven’t had optimal training, is my point. Physically, yes, but also mentally and emotionally.

And so it was I found myself in the early morning hours, shivering in corral 10, wondering what, exactly, I was thinking when I decided to begin my spring break in what has been a very stressful and exhausting year with a little 13+ mile jaunt around the city of Dallas.

 in the corral before the race. I look more chipper than I feel.

 The first 7-8 miles, I felt great. The energy of the crowd was high, the signs were entertaining, and the sun coming up over Deep Ellum and then downtown Dallas was gorgeous. My goal for an average min/mile was 10:45 (would get me to a solid PR), and I could tell I was hitting that.

look, I even smiled for the photog

Then I hit mile 9.

In reviewing my training log, I only did 4 long runs of 10 miles or longer in the 2 months leading up to the half marathon (1 10 mile, 2 11 milers, and 1 12 mile). My monthly mileage peaked at 77 miles in February. I just wasn’t sufficiently prepared, and my body knew it.

I got tired.

As I slogged my way through miles 10, then 11, then 12, I could tell that I was still going to come close to a PR. Not the solid 5-6 minute drop I was hoping for with my goal of a 10:45 min/mile, but still, I could tell I would come close to breaking the 2:26:26 that was my current best race time.

Dang that long .34!

The tough part about racing, versus the hypothetical mathematical equations we play with when trying to calculate a PR pace, is the intangible race day elements. For example, my current PR distance (if memory serves) was 13.22 (side note: does anyone, ever, finish a half marathon having only run exactly 13.1? I hate that. Yes, I get that it’s part of it. It still offends my sense of justice.)

As I was explaining it to my husband (who, ironically, ran cross country in high school, so *should* be more of a runner than I am), he goes, “Oh, well, then you got an unofficial PR.” Me: “No. My unofficial time is 2:27:18” (the time on my Garmin. Which happened to be only 1 second off my official). Him: “But if you had only run 13.1, you would have a PR. So it’s like an unofficial PR, right?”

Me: “THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS.” (as much as I wish it did).

 Mile splits:

  • Mile 1: 11:04
  • Mile 2: 10:33
  • Mile 3: 10:53
  • Mile 4: 10:26
  • Mile 5: 10:32
  • Mile 6: 11:06
  • Mile 7: 11:02
  • Mile 8: 11:06
  • Mile 9: 11:44
  • Mile 10: 11:30
  • Mile 11: 10:56
  • Mile 12: 11:16
  • Mile 13: 11:33
  • .34: 3:37

Official time: 2:27:19  448/996 in my age group

Still, I chalk it up as a great race. Really. I still scored my 2nd fastest half marathon time (this was #5), and the race was a lot of fun. I even felt well enough to head out to brunch afterwards. The weather was gorgeous, and I headed into vacation with *slightly* less guilt about the calories I was about to consume over the next week.

PR or not, a medal is a medal

So how about that triathlon I’m supposed to do in 2 weeks and 3 days? Have I ever been less trained or ready for a race in my life?

Blog about that coming soon…

Tri? What tri?

On Friday night, my husband and I had dinner with our best couple friends. In addition to being funny, kind, generous and loyal, they’re also into the health and fitness scene. You may remember my best friend as my inspiration to sign up for a triathlon (she also runs a fitness blog). And her husband? Maybe you’ve heard of Coach Calorie (if you haven’t, you should).

So, inevitably when we all get together, the conversation turns to our latest exercise goals. It went something like this:

Coach Calorie: “So how is the tri training going?”

Me: *mumble* *hedge* *hem* “Uh, it’s going.”

Coach Calorie: “Oh yeah? And the biking?”

Me: “Yeah, I’m getting in some biking.”

Coach Calorie: “Like, on the bike?”


And that about sums up my “tri training”.

I’m doing a sprint tri in just over a month. 40 days, to be exact.

I could write a veritable short story about why I am not exactly, per se, “training” for the tri. Depending on your point of view, it’s either a narrative of a very legitimate, understandable, reasonable explanation why I just haven’t been able to devote time, energy or attention to 3 sport training …  or a long winded rationalizing rant of excuses and defenses.

I’ve been really, really busy. Let’s just leave it at that.

Oh, and I’m also training for a half marathon I’m racing in less than 2 weeks. Have you ever tried to train for a half marathon, and a sprint, pool-based, triathlon, at the same time? With little time to work out?

So, yes, maybe I haven’t been in the pool since Feb 15th (yikes, training log, really?)

And maybe I’ve only been outside biking on my actual bike a handful of times.

And maybe I’m going away for spring break and will not do any training at all for a week a mere 4 weeks before my triathlon.

have been doing all my long runs (and most of my short runs. ish.) for my half marathon. If I can run for over 2 hours, surely I can do a little sprint triathlon, right?

That’s my weary mantra, and I’m sticking to it.

In all honesty, I’ll finish. I mean, I do longer than the swim for a warm-up, I’ve biked the mileage several times already, and I’m running 13.1 miles one month before the tri, so a 5k? I can handle that, even tacked on to a short swim and 10 mile bike.

But as for “transitions” and “speed” and “racing” – meh. I still get the medal.

The truth is, I’m proud that I’m still working out 6 days a week, and not backing out of either race. Life hasn’t been easy, lately. I mean, it’s never easy, but there’s been a special alignment of the work-kid-divorce stars that have led to a lot of compartmentalization and positive reframing and get-up-show-up-because-you-don’t-give-up-EVER work on my part.

All that work? Is exhausting. And I’m still hanging in there, on all fronts.

Also? I have this guy beside me (except for the 4 days he went to San Francisco. Without me. Because he’s a big britches in training.).

It was bound to happen

In just over 2 years of solid running and race training, I’ve never missed a race due to illness or injury.

Actually, I’ve never been injured, and with the exception of one bout with pneumonia, I’ve never been sick enough to even modify a training plan.

So I’m due.

Last Sunday, I bent over to pick up the laundry basket, as I have done approximately 3 billion times since 1992, and broke my back. Okay, I didn’t literally break my back, but that’s essentially what I called out to my husband as I gasped, tears in my eyes, shaking my hands (if you know me, you know my “rapid handshake” pain response), bent over.

“I broke myself.”

I have never dealt with lower back pain. Upper back pain I am intimately acquainted with; I have a 20 year history of a stress-induced pinched nerve in my right shoulder area, causing me, 1-2x a year, to seize up and walk around like Joan Cusack  in Sixteen Candles.  But with my upper back pain, as long as I move carefully and don’t turn from side to side, I can alleviate the pain.

There is no escaping this. It hurts to walk, it hurts to talk. It hurts to lie, it hurts to sigh. I don’t feel good here, I don’t feel good there, I cannot feel good anywhere.

Suffice to say, I have not run since Saturday, which is the longest I have gone without running since roughly August 2013.  I’m stretching, and cautiously foam rolling, and in tiny increments, my back is feeling better each day, but it still hurts pretty much all the time.

Then, because God has a really funny sense of humor, I wiped out trying to step over our dog gate coming down the stairs on Thursday (which clearly I could not do given the broken back), and smashed my  knee on the tile floor. My Osgood Schlatter’s lump is double its usual size, and my knee is turning a lovely bluish purple. So now I’m gimpy in my left leg.

I was due. I’d like to think I was due for a runner’s injury, an injury due to my hardcore athleticism, but no, apparently I was due for old age  and klutziness.

Which is all to say that the Houston half marathon that I was planning on running in 5 weeks is not going to happen.

I was already feeling behind on my training. I switched to a 3x a week plan for this half, given my burnout, but was really feeling the difference in my training. I told myself that all the other cross training I have been doing (steady regiment of swimming, cycling and 2x a week strength sessions) was compensating, but I was already second guessing my choice to spend money on a destination race at less than optimal conditioning. When I signed up for the (always quickly sold out) race back in June, I thought this would be a PR goal race, my first half marathon in 10 months.  Realizing I’m just not there mentally and physically, I’ve been feeling guilty and anxious about spending the money for a weekend away for a race that, while I know I would finish, I felt in my gut wouldn’t be a PR.

I feel like this week was a sign that canceling was the right decision. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure I would even be in a strong position to run the race between my back and knee; I have no idea what the recovery time on this is. Right now I would be super happy to sit down and stand up without wincing, never mind run 13.1 miles.

So, I deferred my Houston half registration to 2017, and am focusing on getting back to 100% for my March 20th Dallas Rock n Roll half. I’m hoping to be able to start some slow jogs next week, with a new 12 week training plan starting right after Christmas.

2015 Rock n Roll DC Half Marathon race recap

We had a great time in Washington DC, and the family trip deserves a blog post of its own. If I have time, I’ll do that.

However, more importantly, I survived my half marathon! I ran the entire race! It wasn’t my worst time! (can you tell I had very low expectations after my bout with pneumonia? Not to mention the 6 days of nonstop walking the week prior to the race).

Beginning about 48 hours prior, I started feeling very apprehensive. First, there was the lack of optimum diet and rest. My legs were already sore from all the sight-seeing. We were eating out every meal.  I wasn’t sleeping well in the hotel.

Then, there was the weather: cold and rainy.

Nevertheless, I begrudgingly optimistically laid out my clothes the night before, and set my alarm. I knew I could finish it, but I anticipated having to walk-run the race instead of my (usual) steady jog throughout.


I left the hotel at 6:15am to walk in the cold rain (cue Hemingway novel) to the nearest metro stop. It was already crowded with several runners. Crowded, as I would soon discover, was a relative term.


This was the crowd waiting on the metro platform to exit Federal Triangle station. It took me over 15 minutes just to exit the station.  Post-race, it would take me TWO HOURS to get back to my hotel. I do not have a picture of that nightmare because my hands were frozen, wet claws and I could not handle my iPhone.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I made my way to the corrals where, somehow, against all odds, I found my online friends, Loni and Sue. I have been social media friends with these ladies since long before I started running, and I was so excited to finally meet them in person.


After chatting for about 10 minutes, we headed to our separate corrals. Both ladies had amazing races: Loni (rockstar badass) broke 2 hours, and Sue completed her first ever half marathon.

There were over 25,000 runners registered for this race. To get an idea of what that looks like, the first corral crossed the starting line at 7:30am. I began running at 8:01am. There were many corrals behind me.

I spent just over 30 minutes in the cold rain in my corral, waiting to start. It was not enjoyable.

Mile 1: Oh thank God I’m finally moving. I’m so cold. I’m so glad I decided to wear three layers. Washington Monument. White House. No biggie. Just running past famous places.

Mile 1.5: Normally I would totally judge you, people waiting in the line for the port-a-potties after less than 2 miles, but given how long we just stood in line to start the race, I kind of understand. Still … sucks to be you.

Mile 2: Heading over the bridge. Look around, and try to enjoy this. Remember, you signed up for this because you thought it would be fun to run around Washington DC. You thought wrong, but try to enjoy it. I wonder if I’ll be able to see Loni coming back over the bridge. Maybe I can distract myself by looking for her.

Mile 3: Getting into a rhythm. This isn’t that bad, actually. 3 miles down, 10 to go. Wait, run the mile you’re in. Stop thinking about that nightmare hill just after mile 6. I’m so scared of that hill. I don’t want to run that hill. Does a 60 degree angle even count as a hill? It’s more like a cliff.  Don’t think about it.

Mile 4: I’m pacing pretty well. Maybe I should try to slow down. This is a strong pace for tired legs. But my legs don’t feel tired. You always do this. Pull it in a bit, and do your counting. 1-2-1-2-1-2. There. Keep that.

Mile 5: The hill is coming. It’s lurking. I know it’s coming. It’s just after mile 6. Oh look, Watergate and the Kennedy Center. Look at all those people ducking under the overhang to run. Guys. We’re soaked. I promise you, running out of the rain for those 100 yards does not make a difference.

Mile 5.15: There’s the 5 mile marker, but my Garmin says I’m already at 5.15. I hate that. I know it’s normal and happens every race, but I really think I should get EVERY. SECOND. OF. CREDIT. I always run more than 13.1 miles, so my pace looks slower. Sigh.

Mile 5.5: Ooh, an a capella group! Is it the Georgetown Chimes? WHY IS THERE NO SIGN? I’m going to pretend it’s the Georgetown Chimes*. That makes me happy. Hoya Saxa boys!

Mile 6: Oh god. I see the hill. You’ve got to be kidding me. Nice job with the American flags with cheering volunteers, but patriotism ain’t gonna get me up that hill.

Mile 6.1: I can do it. I can run this. Just go reaaaally slow.

Mile 6.13: Nope. I cannot. Neither can everyone else around me. Let’s powerwalk up this guys. Oh, look at all those spectators on the bridge. Yeah, I bet this is the fun part of the race to watch. This is where runners come to die. I’m not even halfway through the race.

Mile 6.25: Let’s try to make up some time. My legs hurt. That hill killed me. Lots of people still walking. Just jog easy and try to get back on pace.

Mile 7.5: That lady with an umbrella looks kind of like Kasey. It IS Kasey! She came out in the rain to cheer me on! But she’s on a downhill. I don’t want to stop. I’m flying down the hill. Kasey, quick! Take a picture!


Mile 7.75: I feel someone bump into my left arm, and I murmur “sorry”, even though I know he/she bumped into me. Oh my gosh! It’s the 2:15 pacer dude! I’m with the 2:15 pacing group. I’m so totally going to run with them! I GOT THIS I’M RUNNING WITH THE 2:15 GROUP I AM SUCH A BADASS.

Mile 7.9: And they’re off.

Mile 9: Adams Morgan. Wait, what does that sign say? Smoked MEAT? There is a person standing on the side of the road with a huge platter, tongs, and pieces of what appears to be, yes, smoked meat. If that is not strange enough, many runners are pausing and grabbing pieces of meat. I am now obsessed with thoughts of my fellow runners eating poisoned meat from a stranger on the streets of Adams Morgan.

Mile 10: Under a large tent with the sign “DC Tri Club” are a series of stationary bikes with athletic looking men pedaling furiously shouting “Go runners!” as we pass by. Okay, that’s awesome. Mile 10. A 5k left. Only a 5k. I hear several runners yelling “5k left people! We got this!” I’ve heard that every half I’ve run. I love that tradition.

Mile 11: 2.1 miles left. I’m still running. I actually have this. I haven’t had to walk yet (I do not count the hill. No one counts the hill. Everyone walked that hill. That hill should die.)

Mile 11.5: I feel someone jogging beside me. Um, hi, personal space? Oh shit, it’s my dear friend Robin! She falls in next to me and chats away effortlessly. It’s so easy for her to run this pace that she is actually texting my husband as she runs. And is able to take a selfie of us.


I cannot decide if I appreciate her being there, or if I am annoyed by how freaking easy it is for her to talk nonstop while I am struggling to keep moving in a forward direction. She keeps pulling just ahead of me, then dropping back to match my pace. At one point I may have crankily said, “Look, if you want to run faster, be my guest, but this is as fast as I am going right now.”

We’re very good friends. I can say that to her.

Mile 12.5: Less than a mile left. Robin is still easily cruising beside me, encouraging me. At one point she says, “If I’m annoying you, just tell me to shut up.” I shoot her a look, and say “Just don’t expect me to answer you.” Fair enough. We keep cruising. It’s downhill, and I’m starting to see runners with medals and foil wraps pass in the opposite direction, saying “You’re almost there!” I speed up. I can tell I’m going at a good clip at this point.

Mile 13: Just as I’m about to enter the finishing chute, I see by my watch I’m going to break a 2:30. Holy. Shit. I’m not pacing to my best time, but I’m doing far better than I anticipated. I tell Robin I’m going to break a 2:30 as she peels off, and I hear her yelling as I leave her to run the last .1 by myself.

I didn’t know she was taking this picture of me, post-finish. Clearly.



  1. Mile 1: 11:13
  2. Mile 2: 11:06
  3. Mile 3: 11: 18
  4. Mile 4: 11:06
  5. Mile 5: 11:17
  6. Mile 6: 11:13
  7. Mile 7: 12:09
  8. Mile 8: 11:12
  9. Mile 9: 11:03
  10. Mile 10: 11:09
  11. Mile 11: 11:32
  12. Mile 12: 11:43
  13. Mile 13: 10:45
  14. .28 miles: 2:35

Official time: 2:29:20

I’m really happy with this time. I thought for sure it would be my worst run ever (it seems my July 4th Colorado half really set the bar high for a horrible run), but I was a full 6 minutes faster than my worst, and only 3 minutes slower than my PR.

I thought the Rock n Roll half was really well done (the weather and public transportation wasn’t the race’s fault!) and would love to do another one.

Although I am not taking public transportation next time. I was in a sorry state by the time I finally made it back to the hotel.



*According to the race website, it was Supreme Chord.