A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Friday Favorites: Happy Halloween!

We’ve got a Halloween theme to our Friday Favorites this week! Today, I get to go to Oliver’s Parade of Costumes at 3 pm. It’s a ten minute parade, but I have to get there 30 minutes before it starts if I want A) a decent parking spot so I can get out after its over and B) a decent parade viewing spot. Yes, preschool parents can be a little nuts.

Fingers crossed that Captain America mask holds up through the parade and trick or treating! It's gotten a lot of wear lately.

Fingers crossed that Captain America mask holds up through the parade and trick or treating! It’s gotten a lot of wear lately.

Like we talked about Wednesday, I tend to plan ahead to select a few treats for Halloween that make me feel like I’m celebrating the holiday without going overboard. Cooking Light had a round up of the nutritional content of the various snack sizes of Halloween candies, which may help you in planning in what your treats are going to be. The only time I ever eat Milk Duds anymore is from the little boxes at Halloween, so I was pleasantly surprised to see they were only 53 calories. That may be my treat for the night this time. 🙂


While you’re making your choice, be sure to take note of these suggested wine pairings for Halloween candy here and here.  Twix (a personal favorite of mine) has the same chocolate-caramel tones as the Milk Duds and I love a good Malbec, so that may be my wine of choice to go along with trick or treating.


I’m planning on more of a snacky-appetizery meal plan for tomorrow night, rather than truly trying to sit down for dinner so this round up of Halloween recipes from Cooking Light is going to come in handy.  I particularly like the idea of black bean hummus (I LOVE a good hummus!). This recipe round up from Weight Watchers also looks good. That vegetable strata looks great and would be good for breakfast in the morning too.

On a non-Halloween, but absolutely too good NOT to share note, please check out this race report from the Marine Corps Marathon. I LOVE my race bling but can absolutely see why that kind Dallas runner shared his medal with Valerie. She kept going for hours after so many would have given up. The perseverance of the human spirit is one of the most amazing things about running for me and stories like this remind me what a fabulous little family we have as runners. Also, Jenny? AMAZING!

My little part-time fireman. There's a fireman hat, but I love that he prefers his fedora.

My little part-time fireman. There’s a fireman hat, but I love that he prefers his fedora.

Oh how much my baby has changed in two years! The fireman was from 2013 and now I’ve got a big kid who will be out after bedtime trick or treating because he has the stamina to cover more than our street. These holidays tug a mama’s heart strings. 🙂

I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween! I can’t wait to see everyone’s pics online all weekend.


Race Recap: The Great Pumpkin Run

This weekend, I celebrated my first run post-half marathon with a family fun run as a fundraiser for the local Girls on the Run program. It was incredibly cheap and perfectly timed to both get me running again post-race and get O a little running practice in before his race at DisneyWorld, so it was winning all around!

We headed to the park on Sunday morning in our superhero finest, including that poor Captain America mask that O wanted to run in. The kids race was first and I was really surprised to see the number of people at the park for the race – and in real costumes no less! Almost everyone was dressed up, which was cute.

The race was untimed and didn’t actually have a clearly defined start and end point, which was entertaining. Thank goodness we were taking this as a laid back run! Well, I was anyway. O was pretty serious as he lined up at the starting line with the other kids for the 400 meter run.

Captain America ready to go!

Captain America ready to go!

He said he didn’t need me to run with him, but I followed along behind. There was a bicyclist guiding the runners up and around a corner to the turn around point and she seriously underestimated how fast these kiddos took off to run! She nearly got run over. As kids do, they dashed off with no concern for pacing.

He's pretty quick for a little guy!

He’s pretty quick for a little guy!

After about 150 yards, O was ready to stop and walk. At that point, he was looking back for Mom, no matter how much he said he wanted to do it alone. I held his hand and we walked for a bit before he was ready to run again. Unlike his last kid’s race, he didn’t want to give up on it, which was great!

After the turn around, things got a little crowded on the path so he deviated into the grass to pass some people and totally wiped out! The grass was a little damp and he was literally spitting out grass as he stood back up. I was impressed that there were no tears and no drama – he just popped back up to keep running! He was exhausted but proud at the end (and glad when I told him the Mickey race would be shorter – and have a medal!).

Darrell headed off to look for a restroom as soon as his Oliver filming duties were over and because the bathroom was already locked for the winter, ended up farther away in a port-a-potty. Before any of us were ready for it, they announced that the 1 mile and the 5K were starting! Oops! Oliver and I stood there chatting about what we were going to do – could he come with me? Maybe if I did the 1 mile instead? I definitely couldn’t leave him while I waited for Darrell! Thankfully, Darrell heard the announcement and dashed back to us. It was a large, slow pack of people starting the 5K on a narrow path, so it was very easy to join in even though I didn’t start until a couple of minutes after the official beginning.

Great mix of families and runners and walkers!

Great mix of families and runners and walkers!

I LOVED how many families were out doing this together. There were lots of group costumes and lots of kids in strollers (or popping in and out of strollers to run a bit and ride a bit). It was very laid back and the perfect way to enjoy a fall day.

I passed PacMan again at the end - who even had all of the ghosts with her - and she was TIRED of that outfit :)

I passed PacMan again at the end – who even had all of the ghosts with her – and she was TIRED of that outfit 🙂

I loved seeing all of the costumes. There was a family full of kids dressed as the 7 dwarves:

This dwarf was a little tired of all of this by about mile 1.

This dwarf was a little tired of all of this by about mile 1.

I just ran when I wanted and walked when I wanted, mostly soaking up the gorgeous day. I finished the run at around 35-36 minutes, which is my usual “easy” 5K pace and had a great time. We’ll definitely be doing this again in the future! Maybe next year I can convince Darrell to walk it with us 🙂

It helped that we had a gorgeous day and were running in my favorite park!

It helped that we had a gorgeous day and were running in my favorite park!

Have you run a costumed race? This was my first costumed race outside of the Disney events and it was so cool to see what people came up with!


Weight Loss Wednesday: Surviving Halloween!

I don’t yet if I’m going to be out on Trick or Treat duty with Oliver or home handing out candy, but I enjoy both options. I love seeing all of the kids in their costumes!

I'm not the crafty - we won this in the preK auction, but isn't it cute and Halloweeny?

I’m not this crafty – we won this in the preK auction, but isn’t it cute and Halloweeny?

I confess, from a healthy lifestyle perspective, going out for the actual trick or treating is much better for me. I’m walking and active, rather than sitting at home with a giant bowl of candy thinking “just one won’t hurt, will it?

My pieces (ha!) of Halloween advice:

1 – Choose a predetermined number of treats that fit your personal food plan and set them out at the beginning of the evening. After you eat them, leave the wrappers out to remind yourself of what you’ve already had!


2 – If you’ve got a candy that you know you can’t resist eating while you’re staring at it all night, DON’T BUY THAT KIND TO HAND OUT! There are lots of candy options. We skip SweetTarts and Skittles in our house because I LOVE them.

3 – Plan for a tray of healthy snacks to have on hand during the candy dispensing. It’s hard to make a real meal that works for Halloween with all of the coming and going, but plan ahead to have something healthy on hand so you don’t give in to fast food or something else you’ll regret during the festivities (like deciding a million Twix bars makes a balanced dinner).

4 – DON’T save your calories all day so you have room for more candy. Trust me, that will backfire. You don’t want to go into any situation with that much candy hungry.

5 – Have a plan for shutting things down after the holiday is over. For both adults wanting to avoid holiday weight gain and kids needing to avoid cavities, it’s better if Halloween is a one time event. The more we let the holiday bleed over to a few pieces of candy here and there for weeks and weeks, the worse things can be. You want to shut off that “holiday” mindset as soon as you can or else the entire period between Halloween and New Year’s turns into one big puddle of regret. For us, we gather up everything but a few favorites and bring it to work for the communal candy drawer. You might also think about programs where you turn the candy into the dentist for rewards or sending it overseas to troops.

6 – Rather focus on NOT having candy, focus on all of fun things you ARE going to do, like appreciating the costumes or your neighbors decorations or the warm mug of cider you’re going to have. Focus on the positives you’re getting from the experience, rather than the negative you’re avoiding.

Darrell's beheaded-head (?) face is quite convincing!

Darrell’s beheaded-head (?) face is quite convincing!

How do you get through the treat fest that is Halloween? I’m a little envious of people without a sweet tooth who manage this day without any trouble. Definitely not me! I think this might be the first year Oliver really understands what candy is, so wish us luck in keeping his candy intake to a reasonable level too!


Tuesdays on the Run: First night training!

I’ll confess, running at night has not worked well for me in the past. I’ve never been able to get the food/stomach management right. The only night race that I’ve done was a midnight run a couple of years ago (here). I made the poor choice to eat yogurt pre-race and learned that does not work for me. It felt like I had a ROCK in my stomach. Ugh.

Sweaty selfie in the dark!

Sweaty selfie in the dark!

Managing the gastrointestinal part of a night run is my primary reason for doing night training runs this week to get ready for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. My Des Moines Half Marathon training is probably going to carry through the 13.1 miles just fine, especially as I have no time goal other than to have fun. I just want to avoid being on the side of the road with an angry stomach in the middle of the race! Definitely not Disney magical!

Last night I headed out at 9 pm for a little 3 mile run. I’d eaten dinner at 6-6:30 pm (sandwich, soda – bad idea, butternut squash soup & carrots) so I had plenty of time to digest and go to the bathroom before the run. If I was planning on anything longer than 3 miles, I would definitely have avoided the carrots and squash soup just to avoid the fiber, but thought I’d be okay for a short run. For my practice longer run and for race day, I’ll plan on eating my usual race breakfast for a light dinner a couple of hours pre-race (coffee, bagel, PB, banana, juice or Gatorade). My bigger meal for the day will be lunch with small, high carb, low fiber snacks through the afternoon before the race.

Don't I look thrilled to be heading out at 9p?

Don’t I look thrilled to be heading out at 9p? Also, that weird puff on the side of my head is where my hair is growing back after the lupus flares. Cute right?

One thing I noticed was horrible acid reflux and then I realized that I ALWAYS have reflux when I run at night. While that could reflect food choices, it could also reflect the fact that your lower esophageal sphincter (the muscle that closes the opening between the stomach and esophagus and keeps things in the stomach) relaxes naturally at night. Thanks to the side effects of my lupus meds, I tend to tip easily over into reflux territory these days anyway and all of the jostling against that relaxed muscle when I run means of course I have reflux running at night. Eating bland food in the afternoon and evening pre-race and taking both my Zantac and my Tums before the race should help. Fingers crossed! I’ll keep you posted as to how it works in my test runs throughout the week.

Another issue with night training: I'm a big fraidy cat and literally jumped & squealed at my own shadow last night!

Another issue with night training: I’m a big fraidy cat and literally jumped & squealed at my own shadow last night!

Other things to consider with a night race:

  • Stay off your feet as much as possible in the afternoon to rest!
  • Be sure to eat something post-race. I may not feel like eating much at 2 am but if I’m going to refuel properly and avoid a miserable morning-after the race, I need to eat a good mix of carbs and proteins in the early hours post-race.
  • Bring clothes to change into post-race so a) I’m not freezing in sweaty clothes while I get that food to refuel and b) I don’t wake my family up as I struggle out of sweaty race clothes back in the hotel room at 3 am.

This week’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is running a night race, so I’ll be sure to check out everyone’s posts for more tips. Be sure to check out Patty, Erika and Marcia for the rest of the link up!




Weekly Wrap-Up: Recovery Week!

There’s nothing like a week of well-earned rest after a good race, is there? I’ve had a nice week of walks and yoga, letting things settle back into the groove.



Monday 2 mile walk pushing O in the stroller for most of the way – bad idea! The walk would have been fine, but pushing 40 pounds of toddler up hill was more than I was ready for! I actually got a little woozy.

Tuesday 30 minutes of stretching and yoga before bed

Wednesday 30 minutes of walking

Thursday 30 minutes of yoga and stretching (see a pattern here?), plus some body weight strength training

Friday 2 mile walk (thankfully, without pushing O!)

Saturday 2 hours of walking at the zoo for the Halloween party – O had a blast!

Darrell is doing a great impersonation of a cut off head, don't you think?

Darrell is doing a great impersonation of a cut off head, don’t you think?

Sunday First run post-half marathon – an untimed, fun run for a Girls on the Run Halloween fundraiser. We had a great time running with O and then taking on a lazy 3 miles. I’ll have more later this week, with loads of pictures!

Check out O leaping through the air!

Check out O leaping through the air!

All in all, it was a good recovery week. I did a good job cutting off the post-race treat mentality by getting back to tracking on Monday. I confess, I didn’t track every day this week but other than some bedtime snacks I don’t really need, I did okay with food all week. I need to get the bedtime snacking back under control this week since that was one of my goals for the month!

Last week, I ran across lots of people lost on our campus so my good deed is definitely all of the escorting and guiding I’ve done. My NSV is two fold: A) inspired by the article I mentioned in last week’s Friday Favorites about being trapped by old visions of ourselves, I tossed a pair of capri pants I never liked much anyway that are now too small into the Goodwill bin and B) despite the fact that those pants that fit two years ago are too small now, I’m happy to see that most of my pants that were snug earlier this summer now fit nicely.

I’m grateful this week that I have a good partner in parenting. We’ve had some parental angst this week with O’s preK and I’ve had to go have a couple of mama bear meetings. Sigh. I don’t like being “that mom” and yet, it’s my baby. Sometimes I have to step in. Darrell is such a sane voice in all of this, helping me figure out what to say so that we’re focused on what’s actionable and what needs to change instead of just our parental anger (and make no mistake – he was angry too). I think he is a huge part of keeping me binge free (and really, not even tempted) this week even though this kind of mama drama has been a problem for me in the past.

This week, I’ll be doing a few night runs to get ready for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in less than two weeks. Yikes! For someone who is in PJs by 8:30 most nights, the idea of running 13.1 miles in the middle of the night is a little mind boggling. My plan, like I outlined here, is to do a couple of short evening runs this week and then on Friday, do a mini-test of the actual race day with a 2 mile run in the AM (to simulate the 5K my day will start with) and a 7-8 mile run at 10:30 pm (to simulate the half marathon). It’ll give me a chance to figure out how to pace my legs and most importantly, to practice my food for race day. I definitely do not want to be sidelined by GI distress in the middle of the night in a Disney race!
I hope you all had a great week! Anyone have any tips for night races they can share?

weekly wrap up

I’m joining Tricia and Holly for their weekly wrap-up. Thanks for hosting!


Friday Favorites: An early start to Halloween festivities!

This weekend, we’re getting an early start on Halloween activities with trick or treating at both the local grocery store and at the zoo. I’ll be sure to share some pics of our costumes if Oliver succeeds in costuming Darrell and I too. 🙂 He currently wants me to dress as a princess and Darrell as a construction worker, but we’ll see how successful he is in that endeavor.

A small funny to start us off: Earlier this week Darrell was trimming an overgrown bush and sawed through the extension cord! He was okay but he tripped a ground switch in the house and we got lots of "steps" in for our workout for the day running around trying to find it!

A small funny to start us off: Earlier this week Darrell was trimming an overgrown bush and sawed through the extension cord! He was okay but he tripped a ground switch in the house and we got lots of “steps” in for our workout for the day running around trying to find it to get the power back on! – Also, we’ve now added a new extension cord to his Christmas list!

I’ve got a collection of things that gave me the warm-fuzzies to share this week. First up, read Melanie’s race report on Another Mother Runner. I’m a fairly stoic person and this had me tearing up. She was training for the New York City Marathon when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Rather than abandoning the run all together, she and her community put together a marathon in her hometown as a celebration of her training before she starts treatment and I was so awed by her dedication and the support of her amazing community. People can do such wonderful things in such amazing circumstances.

A much lighter note of doing wonderful things despite the circumstances, check out Emmie’s post on making super cute lemons out of lemonade in terms of outfit choices. Rather than being depressed by the woeful lack of size options in some stores, she made great use of a too-snug dress from the new Target Adam Lippes line. As someone who always struggled to feel like I looked pretty and put together when I was plus size, I so admire Emmie for being a constant voice of “yes you can” in fashion.

I’m not saying I’m smarter than my beloved husband, per se, but some might think that since I’m the more educated of the two of us. I don’t know if you guys have seen the posts this week about men not actually being attracted to smart women, but I loved this response on the benefits of being married to a woman smarter than you. I hope Darrell saw this and agrees for the most part. 🙂

You guys know I’m always interested in reading about and working on improving my body image and this week, I read a couple of interesting things that you should check out. First up is an interesting post about how we can get trapped by comparing ourselves not just to external barometers like the yoga instructor or the supermodel, but to our past bodies or even the future “aspirational” clothes we have for our ideal future bodies. This author writes about throwing away the old clothes in her closet and notes that she “was also throwing away a barometer for “success” that no longer served me and frankly, never did.” I’ll be honest with you guys – that has me wanting to go home and toss everything in my closet that is just a little snug “but maybe I’ll get there.” She closes with the question “How can I do my best with what I’ve been given?” which has given me a lot to think about in terms of approaching my life in general and my relationship with my body.

I also really liked the Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls post about How to Combat Negative Body Image both because it presents concrete instructions for doing so, just like in a How To for anything else, and also because of the audience this is intended to serve: young people. I love the idea of proactively working on this when we’re young and these horrible thoughts about our bodies and ourselves first rear their ugly little heads.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! I hope you have glorious, non-rainy fall weather. We have a zoo Halloween party and a costumed 5K and kids race on our schedule this weekend, so I’m sure I’ll have lots of cuteness to share with you Monday. 🙂

Speaking of cuteness, since this is a picture light post I'll also share this pic of my guy hard at work in math class. :)

Speaking of cuteness, since this is a picture light post I’ll also share this pic of my guy hard at work in math class. 🙂



TLWH Running Book Club: Confessions of an Unlikely Runner

This month, the Taking the Long Way Home Running Book Club is highlighting a funny memoir on a runner’s adventures and misadventures, Confessions of an Unlikely Runner by Dana Ayers. Thanks to Wendy for hosting! Check out Wendy’s review here and her interview with the author here. which includes more of Dana’s humor and great perspective on running and other physical activity.

TLWH Book Club

This book was a much more lighthearted take on running and everything associated with it than last month’s and I enjoyed every second of it. It was definitely what I needed in my life right now, especially with the Des Moines Half Marathon looming the week I read this. It reminded me that I run because I can, because it’s fun and there doesn’t have to be more to it than that.

The author, Dana Ayers, describes herself as a “back of the pack” “casual” runner. I have to confess, I question that “casual” descriptor a bit as she’s taken on things I would never imagine! Despite the long, multi-day runs and the crazy obstacle races she has taken on, Dana is definitely speaking my language about running in general. When she points out that she ended up on the dance team as a teenager rather than another sport because dance meant “you get a set of explicit movements to follow, and you’re not required to use logic,” I realized maybe that’s why I myself was so much more successful on the dance team than on the volleyball team. Similarly, when she points out that doing cross-training as part of a class in the gym actually forces her to WORK in a way she doesn’t when she’s the one in charge, I guiltily remember how liberal I can be with my definition of “cross-training” when I’m the only one looking.

Her sense of humor about herself and about running was a joy to read. Throughout the book, she’s also included a lot of tips for new runners that are surprisingly practical in the midst of the laughter.


Looking at my race photo from the Des Moines half marathon this weekend and the ridiculous grin on my face despite the fatigue and muscle pain made me think of her description of herself as a “goldfish poodle . . . I have no idea where I am, but I’m excited about it.” That goldfish brain is key in keeping us coming back for more over and over again!


As she points out in the concluding chapter, we learn a lot from doing something that we aren’t naturally inclined to do as “back of the pack” runners. We learn patience and relaxation and the importance of accepting failure – all crucial life lessons I’ve gotten from running as a very Type A personality.


All in all, if you’re looking for a short, light and fun weekend read about running with some surprisingly helpful tips for newbie runners, check this out. It would be a great gift for someone who is considering running but afraid because they think they aren’t fast enough or built like a runner or whatever other excuses we have in our heads. You never know if you’re going to be a runner until you actually try it and Dana does a good job showing that anyone can try.

I have vacation coming up next month and will definitely be looking for a new book to read along the way. Any suggestions?




Weight Loss Wednesday: A near miss, but a win

Overall, I feel like things have gone really well since I decided I needed to start tracking again a month ago. I’d definitely let lots of extra snacks creep into my day and even though they weren’t bad quality calories, per se, there were too many of them. My plan of tracking during the week and then “making good choices” on the weekend has worked really well so far. I’m back down to 178, where I’d been hanging out for a few months before I took my break from tracking this summer. I’m feeling a little more in control of my snacking, but having the weekend to practice more intuitive eating has been good both to build trust in myself and to fuel my half marathon training (and yay for that training paying off!)

I’ve some difficulty with letting my eating get out of control on race weekends in the past, so I was a little worried about heading out to Des Moines alone this weekend. No witnesses + a stressful (even if it is good, excited stress) event = good situation for a binge. I had a plan though. I made a concrete plan for fueling, like I talked about here, and that plan included going to get a sandwich at Panera for dinner on Saturday night before the race. I knew it would set well on my stomach and give me a chance to get in some extra carbs. As someone who relies on a plan a little TOO much, I was thrown for a bit of a loop when I got to Des Moines and realized the Panera downtown closed at 3 pm. I know, that seems like a minor thing, but it caused major panic. Now I had to find something else to eat that would set well on my stomach but not tempt me to go to that overboard-disgusted place.

I looked at my options – no Chipotle nearby, which I know also works for me. Lots of restaurants, but as I got more anxious, I doubted my ability to avoid bad choices and a binge in the restaurant setting. I wanted something I could order and take out, so I wasn’t tempted to get more and more and more until I couldn’t stop. I know it seems silly, but it was a real fear and given my history, not an entirely unreasonable one.

I pulled into a parking lot, looked for nearby restaurants on my phone and settled on a Noodles & Company. I checked their menu and saw a pasta option that would work (pasta is tricky because sauce doesn’t set well for me before a run). I could order it to go and then I’d have a finite amount, with the door closed (relatively) to temptation once I got back to my hotel room. Without room service at my hotel, I felt relatively safe because I knew I wouldn’t head back out again for more food.

I was probably the only person in the store who was nervous about ordering pasta.

I was probably the only person in the store who was nervous about ordering pasta.

It ended up fine. I got my pasta and some chicken noodle soup, took it back to the hotel and ate while I watched some silly romantic comedy. The anxiety settled down and I was able to remind myself that it was okay. I was in control of my eating and this was a good fuel choice for a half marathon in the morning.

Pasta, with all of its comfort-food-associations, is particularly tricky for me and associated with lots of binge memories.

Pasta, with all of its comfort-food-associations, is particularly tricky for me and associated with lots of binge memories.

This may not seem like a big thing or even a thing worth mentioning, except that I feel like it is important to be honest about the fact that seemingly minor things like a change in your dinner plan can cause disproportionately big problems when you struggle with disordered eating. I haven’t had a real binge in over a year and its been months since I felt out of control about my eating, but still I have struggles. I need to write about this here both to remind myself in the future that I’ve encountered these bumps and overcome them and to let anyone who is struggling know that it’s normal (or at least I hope it is) to still have times where the beast rears its nasty head.

I didn’t weigh in today because I know I’ll be up from the race. I always am, thanks to swelling I suppose. My legs are still a little sore! I ran much harder than usual apparently! Have you noticed that you gain weight after a race? How long does it usually last?


Des Moines Half Marathon 2015

I cannot recommend the Des Moines Half Marathon highly enough, if you’re in the area or looking to mark Iowa off of your 50 states list. It is well worth the 2 hour drive for me and I anticipate coming back every year. It’s really well organized and well supported, with great communication before and during the whole experience. For me, it is also a very PR friendly course thanks to the relative flatness and lack of crowding. Definitely check it out!

I drove out Saturday afternoon to pick up my packet at the Expo, which was quick and easy as usual. Tip: When you come off the freeway, there’s a paid parking lot you might be tempted to park in near HyVee hall but there’s usually free street parking so check the street before you pay! You need your bib number to get your packet and they have them all printed on a table if you forget your email. I had no wait to grab my bag of goodies:

I particularly the tiny packets of BioFreeze - convenient for a long run or race.

I particularly the tiny packets of BioFreeze – convenient for a long run or race.

And my shirt:

I do like that we get a long sleeved tech shirt.

I do like that we get a long sleeved tech shirt.

I like that this year’s shirt is a nice heather grey because I’ll be much more likely to wear it than last year’s baby blue. I will probably wear this more for casual wear than for running because zipper-tops irritate me when I run. There were a fair number of booths and exhibitors, but nothing I needed so I got out quickly. I got dinner and got settled in my hotel for the night without too much fuss and actually got a reasonable night of sleep.

My hotel was about half a mile from the start line, which wasn’t bad at all for a walk on a cold morning. It was in the 30s so I was very glad for my capris and long sleeve shirt and even more for my gloves! I joined a yoga warm up group they had at the starting line, which was fun, and mostly walked around to stay warm. One of my favorite things about Des Moines is the wide range of runners and walkers you meet on race day. There are all ages, all body types and all kinds of experience levels. It makes for a very friendly experience!

Pre-race yoga

Pre-race yoga

The only glitch I had at the beginning was the failure of my iPod shuffle to start playing. I’d charged it overnight but hadn’t actually tested it before I left the hotel. This is the second time it’s failed on me. Thankfully, I have some music on my phone but it isn’t my running playlist so it made for some interesting entertainment along the way.

I'm a little embarrassed to say that I really enjoyed the Imagination Movers, on the phone for Oliver in the car, as running music. It's peppy!

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I really enjoyed the Imagination Movers, on the phone for Oliver in the car, as running music. It’s peppy!

The first two miles are a little crowded, so I just ran with the flow without worrying about my race intervals until we got a little dispersed. The half marathon and marathon courses split around mile two (very well marked, so don’t worry you’ll miss it!) and after that, you get several miles of flat, lovely looping course through a park. I seriously found myself reaching up to catch a falling leaf at one point. It was a ridiculously perfect fall day! For the first 8 miles or so, I felt like I was literally springing. Clearly my fueling and tapering strategy had worked well. I reminded myself over and over that I was interested in steady effort, not time and to hold back so I had something at the end. Even with “holding back”, miles 2-8 were all below my targeted race pace of 11:20/mile. I stuck with my 2 minute run/20 second walk intervals and keep my “effort not time” mantra going, especially when that darn 2:30 pace group started messing with my head.

I mostly kid – they were lovely. However, last year, I started ahead of them and when they caught me I just became so demoralized and gave up. This year, I intentionally started a ways back from them and so understandably, I was a little thrown when I caught them! And passed them! I had to keep reminding myself to ignore them. I don’t know their pacing strategy, so what they were doing nothing to do with what I was doing. I confess, I was a little relieved when I was once again behind them.

The loop through the park is populated with themed water stops and little musical acts, which is a lot of fun, as well as spectators at the entrance and exit. Also all along the course there are moving aid stations, with bicyclists packing first aid supplies, water, fuel, tissues, etc. This is a really well supported race! There were also a couple of Gu stops.

Every time I passed a place I remembered struggling last year, I told lupus to “suck it” and powered through. The bridge where I got crowded out and thrown off pace by the 2:30 group – nailed it! Every little hill that felt like a mountain last year – breezed up it! (Thanks for my hilly neighborhood!) It definitely got hard toward the end but I am so thrilled that I was able to stick with it. My knee ached, but nothing as sharp or severe as it had on my last two long runs. I still reminded myself not to push too hard because I didn’t know when it would flare up. My goal was a strong finish, not a time, so being conservative was important given my knee issues lately.

I love how happy I look in this on course photo!

I love how happy I look in this on course photo!

As I entered the last mile, I was SO tired but knew I wanted to push at that point. I can do hard things for ten minutes, right? I could handle the knee pain for ten minutes if it got worse. My interval timer has a 9 second vibrating alert, so I started running through that vibrating alert so I’d have 2:09 run / 0:11 walk just to finish on a strong note. I moved my water bottle to my non-curb-side hand so I could collect high fives from the little kids along the road as we came back into downtown Des Moines and when I got to that 13 mile marker, I remembered seeing in the morning. I remembered giving up to walk last year when I hit that bridge because I was so demoralized about missing my time goal. Not this year! I didn’t feel like I had anything left to give, but I kept going because I knew that was my brain, not my body talking. My body rocks!

When this was the first thing I noticed approaching the starting corral in the morning, I took as an omen that I would not fall apart here like I did last year and I hung onto that good omen at the end of the race!

When this was the first thing I noticed approaching the starting corral in the morning, I took as an omen that I would not fall apart here like I did last year and I hung onto that good omen at the end of the race!

Crossing the finish line, I paused my Garmin and looked at my time for the FIRST time that morning. Yes, I’d managed to wear my Garmin and NEVER check my time for 13.1 miles. I’m not sure how I managed that, but I’m so glad I did. That really helped me keep my “effort not time” mantra going strong.

Official time: 2:31:02 - 1:46 improvement over my PR!

Official time: 2:31:02 – 1:46 improvement over my PR!

I didn’t spend much time in the finish area because the food line was massive (my only complaint with Des Moines – it moves SO slow!). Thankfully, water was available immediately after the finish and an angel with a basket full of Jimmy Johns sandwiches was wandering. I grabbed a sandwich and my water and eased my way back to my hotel where I had more snacks and Gatorade waiting. They have a ton of food and drinks, but I just had no interest waiting in a line.

I have a feeling this medal will end up being one of my favorites just because I enjoyed this race day so much.

I have a feeling this medal will end up being one of my favorites just because I enjoyed this race day so much.

One thing I noticed was that my time per mile on this race was EXACTLY what I’d targeted as my race pace in my training with my modified Hanson’s plan, which is really cool. I also realized last night as I was falling asleep that I’d targeted 11:20 because it would give me a little wiggle room to weave on the course and still get to sub-2:30. I got curious and looked at the record on my Garmin, knowing I’d gone over 13.1 due to weaving (I’m not a great strategist) and surprise, surprise – check out my half marathon PR on the Garmin:

That is totally exciting to me!

2:28:31 – That is totally exciting to me!

I’m totally counting that as meeting my goal for a sub-2:30 half marathon this year. ☺ Yes, I’ll still work to get it on an official race time, but for now, I’m pleased.

This race was such a great experience. Not only is the race itself well organized and well supported, but I think my modified goals were key. Focusing on effort and celebrating what I CAN do rather than worrying about the objective measure of the clock kept my mind in the right place throughout the race. It also resulted in a shiny new PR, which is no coincidence I think. I also think that even though the Lincoln Half Marathon earlier this year didn’t go as well as I wanted, I learned a lot from that experience. When my legs were feeling tired at the end of this race, I remembered how much tougher the end of Lincoln was and knew I could do this too.

I’ll definitely be back to run this course again. It’s clearly a happy place for me. Next year, though, I’m thinking about the I-35 challenge (running Kansas City Saturday and Des Moines Sunday) . . .

This week’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is running inspiration and I have a feeling I’m going to use this race experience as inspiration for many future tough runs. Be sure to check out Patty, Erika and Marcia for the rest of the link up and other doses of inspiration!



Weekly Wrap-Up: Des Moines Half Marathon DONE!

I can tell I worked hard at yesterday’s half marathon given how sore my legs are today. 🙂 That’s a good feeling to take with you to work on Monday morning and the fact that I think that might make me slightly nuts. Know what else makes me slightly nuts? That I was excited enough to see that they corrected the spelling of this sign that I had to take a picture of it:

It's amazing how much one little letter changing made me happy.

It’s amazing how much one little letter changing made me happy.

Thankfully, O is used to the weird random-photo-taking part of having a blogger mommy.


Monday 2-3 miles on the schedule and I did a 2 mile walk with my family. I didn’t want to push it for my knee so close to race day, so I set a goal to walk most of this week’s planning miles to just keep moving.

Tuesday 3 miles, with some fartleks thrown in to keep things fun. This run really was fun! My legs felt so springy after a little rest and I felt like I was flying in those little speedy bursts.

Wednesday Some strength training and another family walk. Oliver really likes walking around the neighborhood after dinner and who am I to say no to such a healthy habit? Bonus of today: Rheumatology appointment and my weigh in was no longer in those scary 190s that prompted me to get back to tracking back in August! More on that coming up Wednesday.

Thursday Running on the schedule, 3 miles, but I decided to play it safe and just walk. I wanted to keep moving, but not overdo it and I think this ended up being a good choice.

Friday More walking! Also, lots of yoga stretches and foam rolling.

Saturday We had such a great day Saturday. O and I had a breakfast date early Saturday, followed by trips to the library and the grocery store. After lunch, we went for a family walk around the duck pond before I made the boring drive to Des Moines for the expo and packet pick up. Darrell and Oliver stayed behind, which was a little sad but I did at least get to bed at a reasonable hour and didn’t have as much trouble sleeping alone in the hotel room as I normally do.

Oliver loves visiting the geese even though he's a little terrified of them.

Oliver loves visiting the geese even though he’s a little terrified of them.

Sunday Gorgeous chilly race day! I’m glad I’d taken a closer look at the weather on Saturday before I headed out. The weather channel app had the high/low for Sunday in Des Moines listed as 50s/60s. I’d originally packed a shorter SparkleSkirt and a t-shirt to wear until I realized how chilly I was Saturday in Omaha in pants and took a closer look at the weather. The hourly forecast said it was going to be in the 30s when the race started in Des Moines!! Brrr!! I’m glad I double checked that. I’ll have a full race report tomorrow, but it was a great day all around from weather to my effort to the pleasant surprise of a new PR: 2:31:02.

I didn't look at my Garmin AT ALL during the race - I almost wish I had just I could have kicked those last few seconds off!

I didn’t look at my Garmin AT ALL during the race – I almost wish I had just I could have kicked those last few seconds off!

I’m grateful that I got through the race with no injuries or serious knee issues (achy, sure, but I could keep moving). My good deed was passing out compliments like candy while I was hanging out in the starting corral and along the early crowded parts of the course. 🙂 There’s nothing like making somebody smile early in a race when you compliment their shirt or shoes or something to make everything feel a little easier. My NSV, which I’ll talk a little about Wednesday, was not letting a hitch in my dinner plan for Saturday night throw me off into binge territory like I was briefly worried it would!

All in all, it was a great week. This week, my plan is to walk every day to help with the soreness and keep moving. I have an untimed local 5K on Sunday morning and can hopefully wrangle Darrell into another yoga class Sunday too, but otherwise I’m taking it easy to let my legs recover. My next (and last for 2015!) half marathon is coming up November 7th, so I’ve got to keep my legs happy for a few more weeks.

I hope you all had a great week!

weekly wrap up

I’m joining Tricia and Holly for their weekly wrap-up. Thanks for hosting!