A Little More Each Day

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

Des Moines Half Marathon 2016

I ran the Des Moines Half Marathon for the third time this weekend, this time with the added twist of the I-35 challenge thrown in the mix. After finishing the Kansas City Half Marathon on Saturday, I cleaned up and we grabbed lunch before heading out for the 3 hour drive to Des Moines. It’s not the most exciting drive – I took a nap, drank lots and tried to stretch out my legs. After doing packet pick up in Des Moines (quick and easy!), we checked into our hotel and settled in for a evening of rest, rolling and some yoga stretches.
Lovely color

I like this year’s shirt color – my favorite so far! Very fall appropriate.

One of the nice things about the Des Moines race is that it starts at 8 am, so you don’t have to wake up super early. I had time to go down to the lobby and grab breakfast. One of the invited Kenyan runners rode down with me and I told Darrell I was a little tempted to follow her and pick all of the same foods for breakfast. 🙂 I have a feeling there’s a little more than breakfast choice that influences her race success compared with mine.

I confess, I assumed that I didn’t need to look at the course maps or anything because it had been the same course for the previous two years. It wasn’t until I headed out of the hotel and realized that everyone was walking in a different direction than I was that I realized maybe something had changed. It turns out, lots of things had changed. The start and finish weren’t on the bridge like it has been in years past, thanks to some construction. Another difference this year was the assignment of runners to corrals based on the projected finish time. It didn’t look like they were rigidly enforcing the corrals, but I didn’t challenge it. I actually lined up in the back in the “un-corralled” group because I was planning on taking my time. They got all of the corrals off in quick succession and I do feel like there was less jockeying for position since I was more closely grouped with people of the same pace.

The start was a little confusing, in that we first moved across the 5K starting line and everyone turned on their Garmins to start racing. We turned a corner – and there was another starting line? Again, read the race day packet. A map of the starting line was probably there and fewer of us would have been confused. Turns out, there was a 5K start line and a half marathon/marathon start line.

Similar to the last two years, we spent the first two miles in town (although a different path through town) before the half marathon split off from the marathoners. As always, that split was well signaled with lots of volunteers pointing you in the right direction.

In years past, we spent several miles running through parks before heading back downtown for the last couple of miles. This year, we only did a loop of Gray Lake before heading back to town, which meant lots of town time. I do enjoy the park and lake time because they’re flat and gorgeous in October.


DSM lake

DSM park timeI also find the asphalt a little easier on my feet as opposed to the concrete of city streets. The only glitch in the race for me, which was overall extremely well supported like always, was the fact that we didn’t get any kind of aid station until well after mile 2. It was insanely humid all morning, so I was grateful for having my own water bottle. Not only did we go quite a while before getting an aid station, but that poor aid station was having a really bad day. It was a huge mess. They only had water – no Gatorade refilled – and not much water at that. Fortunately, that was the only glitch with aid stations and support. After that, it felt like there was an aid station every mile and a half or so. All of them had lots of enthusiastic volunteers, plenty of fluids and fuel at several stations (gels at two stops, bananas/oranges/candy at others).

After we left the park, we had a trek through some boring city scenes (sorry Des Moines!) as well as some nice, friendly neighborhoods, with trees and spectators out in their yards.

Neighborhood stretch

It was also in this stretch that I came across a bacon aid station. Yep, they were handing out bacon at mile 9. I passed.

Bacon aid station

Not only did the course change take out some lovely park time, but it added a heinous and huge hill at the Capitol building.

Judicial building


The capitol and judicial buildings were lovely, but I’m not sure it was worth that massive hill at mile 10. There were also a couple of out and back loops in the last four miles, which is never a fun to pick up miles. All in all, I was exhausted and it was the least fun part of the race. Yuck.

As I was coming through mile 12, I was weirdly emotional about this whole thing. I was almost done with my second half marathon in two days. It’s been less than 3 years since my first half marathon and about 4 years since I decided to start losing weight and taking control of my health. It amazing to me how much my life has changed and it was because I decided to do it. There’s more to it than the decision of course – I’m blessed with a supportive family and the financial resources for healthy food – but it started with me. It started with the decision.

Thankfully, as I was about to break into tears, Darrell texted met to tell me he was at mile 13 with Oliver and Oliver wanted to run in with me. For so many reasons, that 0.1 miles was the best of my life. Oliver is such a huge motivation to keep running, to keep making healthy choices and so finishing that huge challenge hand in hand with him was beyond words. Still get goose bumpy thinking of it. 🙂 I was honestly a little worried I’d be disappointed to run this course slower, because I PR’d here last year, but it was an accomplishment just to finish this! My time never really crossed my mind.

After the end of the race, we grabbed medals and pics and a piece of pizza. I love that Oliver told me that his heart was beating fast. No kidding, kiddo.

I hope the course goes back to its prior route after the construction downtown, but regardless, I love the support of this course. The spectators and volunteers are fantastic and always enthusiastic. I’ll definitely be back to run this race again!

Do you have a race you come back to over and over?




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!



Des Moines Half Marathon 2014

Approaching this race, I never felt any real nerves or excitement. I was looking forward to it, but because a) I knew I’d finish (which was a fear I had last time) and b) things have been so busy I haven’t thought about it much at all! It wasn’t really until we got in the car Saturday afternoon to drive off to Des Moines that I even gave it much thought at all other than being something on my to-do list for the weekend! We gathered up all of our things, packed healthy snacks and hydration and hit the road for Des Moines.

As we came into town, we first went to the Expo at the Iowa Events Center. We paid to park in the lot rather than try to find parking along the street in a city we were unfamiliar with, especially as we’d be taking O in with us. We’d told O that we were going to a big running store, which is a pretty accurate description of a race Expo, don’t you think? Our first stop was dropping off shoes at the donation bins, as they were collecting food and shoe donations at the Expo.

It looks like a lot of people donated!

It looks like a lot of people donated!

We next headed back to packet pick-up, which was in the back of the Expo space. The Expo space was larger than I expected and much larger than Omaha was at last year’s marathon weekend! It was not nearly as crowded as Princess, thankfully. Packet pick up lines were sorted by bib number, which they’d emailed us earlier in the week and also had printed out on a series of long tables if you didn’t have the email. There was no line at all and I had my bag, complete with goodies, long sleeved tech shirt (very nice!) and bib in just a minute. They didn’t even ask for ID, which was a big departure from RunDisney as well!

Surprisingly big Expo

Surprisingly big Expo

We then wandered the Expo for a while to let O stretch his legs. There were booths from several shoe companies (Altra, Hoka, Brooks, etc), the SweatyBands headbands, running gear and Jeff Galloway (who I was geekily excited to see, but I didn’t stop for a picture because that would be too much).

Very tempting

Very tempting

Oliver loved the booth that was giving away cow bells and tattoos, both of which he armed himself with before we wandered back out the car. We could have gone straight to the hotel and walked to the Expo, but we didn’t realize they were so close together! The Iowa Events is only a few blocks from the race course, for anyone who is planning on heading out for this race in the future and staying near the race course. We stayed at the Savery Renaissance hotel, which was a block from the course and only 3 blocks from the starting line so it was really convenient.



And tattoos that O still has not let us wash off.

And tattoos that O still has not let us wash off.

We got settled in to the hotel and ate dinner in hotel restaurant, where they were doing an all-you-can eat pasta bar instead of their usual menu in honor of the race. In hindsight, I wish they’d been doing their usual menu because for some reason, I let myself fall into the trap of “gotta carb load” and ate two bowls of pasta, plus who knows how much bread. I was so uncomfortable for the rest of the night! I know better than that!


There was a table of African runners near us and my oh-so-smooth husband commented on how he guessed they were a lot faster than me because they were more “aerodynamic.” Thanks babe.

I was able to get to bed early, thankfully, but it was not a particularly restful night as all 3 of us were sleeping in a king sized bed. O was sideways between us, kicking Darrell, playing with my hair constantly and talking in his sleep ALL NIGHT LONG. We were all a little grateful when 6 am rolled around and we could just get up. Being so close to the starting line and with a smaller race, I didn’t need to leave until 7:30 am, so I had plenty of time to get dressed and pick up the bagel box they were offering runners down in the lobby. I ate my usual oatmeal, but I had the bagel for snacking later.

Bright and shining start.

Bright and shining start.

It was an easy walk down the starting line and there wasn’t much of a wait for port-a-potties or anything else. As O and Darrell were meeting me at the finish, I didn’t need to check a bag so I just wandered over to a starting point near the 2:30 pace group. They had signs for projected pace, plus several different pace groups, so it was very easy to figure out where to line up.

Not only were the groups well-marked, most people actually self-seeded appropriately.

Not only were the groups well-marked, most people actually self-seeded appropriately.

If there was much fanfare at the start, I didn’t see or hear it where I was and soon enough we were off running. It was a friendly crowd of runners, with a surprising number of spectators at the start given how chilly it was (low 40s). I was most nervous about missing the split for the half marathon course. We all started together, marathon and half marathon, and the half course split off somewhere after mile 2. The half marathon course is a lot flatter than the full marathon course, but I didn’t want to wait until the hills started to realize I’d missed the turn off point! I was worried for nothing. Not only was there a giant flashing sign, there were volunteers lined up a block before the split yelling and pointing.

The volunteers for this race were truly amazing! In the start and finish area, I was never out of sight of a volunteer with a big “ASK ME” sign and a clipboard to point you in the right direction. Throughout the race, we were always in sight of these fantastic bike riders as well:

Seriously the best course support ever

Seriously the best course support ever

They had first aid supplies, tissues, water and even Twizzlers. 🙂

The water stations were also frequent and most of them were sponsored by specific groups and themed accordingly. My favorite was the tropical themed station, that promised the water was margarita flavored and gave out leis to the runners. There were also stations with Gu and fruit. As I was carrying my water bottle, I didn’t stop at any aid stations but I enjoyed seeing them.

There were also lots of little bands and musical acts along the way, a lot more frequent than I was expecting!

Loved this silly little musical act

Loved this silly little musical act

The course itself is very flat (only a couple of small hills) and scenic. Most of the half marathon course is through parks and green space, with the gorgeous changing leaves of a Midwest fall. The weather was also perfect – crisp, cool and breezy. I had a good time listening to the crowds, which lined the whole course, and the other runners cheering each other on. All of this made it easy to keep my A goal of having fun!

I loved the miles that looped along the water

I loved the miles that looped along the water

As far as my B goal of running strong and keeping to my intervals, I’m proud to say that I did! I skipped a couple of walk breaks (including one spell where I accidentally turned off the interval timer) but didn’t walk when I wasn’t scheduled to, even on a hill at around mile 11 where I really wanted to!

I was on track for my 2:30 time goal until around mile 9-10, which was where the course got a little compressed to let the marathon winners come by (yes, the marathon winners finished before I finished the half!) and I got stuck behind the big mass of the 2:30 pace group. I was moving faster than them during my run intervals, but slowing for the walk intervals which meant things got slowed down overall when I couldn’t get past them. It was frustrating to say the least. I thought about just sticking with them for the rest of the race, but knew as tired as my legs were, I wouldn’t be able to stick with them for the 3+ miles that were left without walk breaks and I didn’t want to mentally break the pattern I’d set of sticking to my current intervals. I reviewed my goals and reminded myself that feeling like I was running strong was more important than the time, so I’d stick to my intervals, which I knew I could carry to the finish. I was happy with that decision when I got to that hill at mile 11 and was able to keep running up it rather than stopping to walk!

Brilliantly sunny day!

Brilliantly sunny day!

I definitely gave all my little legs had in this race. I think I definitely have a sub-2:30 half marathon in me, but with the overall fatigue I’ve got from work and all of the travel I did this week plus the lack of adrenaline I had (again because I had other things on my mind this week!) it just wasn’t in me Sunday. 2:32:48 is my official time and according to my Garmin, I traveled more than 13.1 miles to get there so I’m happy with that time! At 13.1 miles on the Garmin, I was actually somewhere between 2:30-2:31 so I got very close to my goal except for a lot of weaving on the course. 🙂 This time is a big improvement over my official Princess Half Marathon time (2:45) and over the time my Garmin said I was actively running (as opposed to waiting in character lines, bathroom lines) at Princess (2:35). Maybe I’ll try to get into the Lincoln Half Marathon in the spring to gun for that sub-2:30 time goal that still out there. I’m sort of glad I still have it to shoot for (although I definitely won’t be shooting for any time goal for the Star Wars Rebel Challenge!).

We finished on the same bridge where we started

We finished on the same bridge where we started

All in all, it was a great day to run and I would definitely run this race again. If you’re in the Midwest, this would be a great first time half marathon with all of the course support, the flat course and the liberal time limits. As the course is shared in places with the marathon, it stays open for 7 hours so there were a fair number of walkers in the half marathon. Definitely check it out if you’re in the area or looking to check Iowa off of your 50 states list!


Balancing recovery from one race with starting a new training cycle

While I bask in glory of crossing the finish line yesterday and picking up new bling (full race report coming soon!), I’m thinking about both allowing my body to recover from this race experience and the beginning of training for the Star Wars Rebel Challenge.


Official time 2:32:48, which I'm happy with! New PR! Plus, I met my A & B goals -- had fun & ran strong!

Official time 2:32:48, which I’m happy with! New PR! Plus, I met my A & B goals — had fun & ran strong!

The Galloway training plan for the Rebel Challenge, which will include a 10K Saturday and Half Marathon on Sunday, actually started on September 16. I was still in the midst of my 13.FUN training plan for the Des Moines Half Marathon, so needless to say I won’t be following that plan. As I’m coming off of a good training cycle for one half marathon, I don’t think I really need to start back at the beginning of another half marathon training cycle, even if it is going to be a little different from my prior training because of the 10K component. I’m working out what that training is going to look like and will let you know what I’ve settled on later this week!

Regardless of where my training plan for Star Wars starts, I know I want to give myself some time off. I ran hard yesterday and gave all my legs had. I’ve decided that two weeks of recovery and reverse taper seems fair for this training cycle, as I haven’t had any real injuries (other than my left hamstring/piriformis getting tweaked a couple of times in the last month and definitely talking to me after the race yesterday, but it’s tight more than sore). I know from my past race recovery experiences (Recovery after my first 10K here with lots of good general tips and Easing back into running after PHM here) that I can expect to feel slow and sluggish as I get back to running this week, but it is important to get out there and move. I think a huge part of the reason my recovery after Princess went so well was the fact that I was walking around the parks within an hour of finishing the race. Moving around helps mobilize all of those metabolic by-products of the run and flush things out. Don’t let the post race endorphins encourage you to push too hard though! Yesterday, I did some wandering around the race village (and the HUGE food line) before I could get back to my guys, plus stops along the way home to gingerly get out of the car and walk around. While I wasn’t as active as I was post-PHM (I think I hit 45,000 steps that day!), I did try to get some gentle activity in because I know it will help.

My plan is a couple of easy 30 minute runs this week, followed by a 4-5 mile run this weekend. Conveniently, that matches up with the 2 week recovery plan the Another Mother Runner ladies surprised us with yesterday after the conclusion of the 13.FUN training plan! That was unexpected but helpful. I’ll be in Salt Lake City this weekend, which I’m pretty sure is at higher elevation in Omaha, so I’ll be sure to take it easy.

Do you make a plan for your post-race training or just wing it for a few weeks?


Weekly Wrap-Up: Race Day edition!

As this posts, I’m probably waking up with a mix of excited race day nerves (who are we kidding – I’ve probably been up for a while and too keyed up to sleep!). At 8 am, I’m toeing the line of the Des Moines Half Marathon, celebrating the end of my 13.FUN training cycle and reminding myself of my race day goals.

This has been a light workout week, with lots of focus on hydration (check!), healthy food (check!) and rest (mostly check!) as race day approached.

Getting my fill of salads early in the week, since I won't be eating these closer to race day.

Getting my fill of salads early in the week, since I won’t be eating these closer to race day.


Monday 3 miles or cross-training on the schedule, but I confess I didn’t get around to anything as I was at a conference from 8 am until 10 pm, with a brief flying trip out to west Omaha to have dinner with my guys. I’m glad I decided to take the opportunity to get some extra sleep this morning instead of waking up early to get a workout in. I desperately needed the sleep.

Tuesday 3 miles, with the last 10 minutes at Race Pace. This run was going fairly well, with things nice and easy, until I stumbled over an uneven chunk of sidewalk during those last 10 minutes at race pace! In catching myself, I wrenched something in my left hamstring and mostly limped home. I did lots of foam rolling and stretching as soon as I got home and that evening, in hopes of getting things settled back down ASAP.

I was really enjoying the fall scenery before the stumble - I'm going to hate it when the neighbors start raking!

I was really enjoying the fall scenery before the stumble – I’m going to hate it when the neighbors start raking!

Wednesday 2-3 miles: I actually did this naked, without the Garmin, running what I know is a two mile route from my house. I didn’t want to push at all after Tuesday’s pulled hamstring and wanted to see how things really felt. I occasionally felt some tightness in my left hamstring, but never pain, which was really reassuring.

Thursday Rest!

Friday 30 minutes running, with 3-4 strides at the end. Such a classic fall evening, with crunching leaves, the smell of fire pits and the sound of distant high school football games. Those strides felt really good! No pain in my hamstring, so I think things are good to go (but I did bring my mini-roller to keep up my rolling on Saturday night before the race).

Saturday In the training plan, this is race day. In the book, they suggest a 15-20 minute shake out run or nothing on this day if your race is on Sunday rather than Saturday. Just for the sake of nerves, I did a short little loop through the park on Saturday while I was out taking care of a work task before we hit the road for Des Moines.

Sunday Race day! Send me all of your best vibes for safe and happy and non-rainy running! Checking Iowa off of my 50 states list today and getting some new bling to show for it!!

Here's the bling for the 13.FUN virtual race - so cute!

Here’s the bling for the 13.FUN virtual race – so cute!

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Friday Favorites: What a crazy week!

I am seriously discombobulated this week. I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that it is Friday, with all of the travel and being off my normal routine. I hit the road again next week (Salt Lake City) so it’s going to be a while before I really get back to normal.

Speaking of abnormal, this was the MORNING snack at one of my meetings - caramel covered apple pie!

Speaking of crazy, this was the MORNING snack at one of my meetings – caramel covered apple pie!

With my half marathon a couple of days away,  I could really use a refreshing on dynamic stretches and warm ups. I tend to just head out the front door and run in the morning, but with a PR in sight I need to remember to warm up a bit before Des Moines. Laura has a written a quick and easy dynamic warm up here that I’ll definitely be pinning to  use before future runs!

I’ve also particularly enjoyed all of the posts about race etiquette this week from the Tuesdays on the Run crew. My favorite has to be the Mulan themed rules of the road from April, but that may be because I feel like I watch Mulan all the time thanks to Disney Junior’s repeated airings. 🙂 There was also a recent post on etiquette over on the Runners Guide to WDW that applies to any race, not just RunDisney events.

I linked part of Laura’s Ragnar recap last week and here’s the rest of it. I got so caught up in the story! I love that they reached out to help the other runners and pushed through some miserable weather. It sounds like such an adventure! Ragnar is definitely on my to-do list. 🙂

In thinking about my half marathon goals, I wondered if I even wanted to set a time goal. I’m not fast. Running is not about being fast for me. It’s about going the distance. With these thoughts floating around my head, I found myself nodding and cheering along with Jamie’s post about speed today. She’s absolutely right – you don’t have to be fast to be a runner and to have fun as a runner and be challenged as a runner. Jamie’s got a full race calendar this fall and I know she’s going to rock them all. Check out her great post here!

Last but certainly not least, I wanted to share the Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project again this year (talked about in more detail here on her site and my thoughts last year here). I am so fortunate and so blessed, but so many families are not. The thought of anyone out there hungry is just heartbreaking, so I especially like the opportunity to help other moms out who are trying to provide the best they can for their families. Whether you need to give or you need help, there are many resources available for both this time of year. Part of my packing tonight for the Des Moines half marathon weekend will be gathering food and shoes for the donations they’re collecting at the Expo. I love when there’s a good cause tied to a good time. 🙂

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Send good weather vibes my way!



Pre-race communication can be so helpful!

I have loved getting monthly emails from the IMT Des Moines half marathon (that I’ll be running in just a few days! Eek!). Each month since I registered, I’ve gotten an email with updated information about who has registered, where they’re cofffrom and lots of practical information about the race. The half marathon currently has 5444 registrants, 67% women and an average age of 37, so I will fit right in!
A sample screen shot of one of the many emails

A sample screen shot of one of the many emails

Speaking of 37, the most recent email informed us that there would be 37 performers along the course! I assume that includes the whole marathon course and not just my little half marathon, but that is still a lot of entertainment for a non-Disney race! I’m really curious to see what the entertainment entails. They specifically listed several bands that will be performing, which should be fun.I like that they’ve also told us exactly where the water stops will be and what types of water/electrolyte drink/gel they will be providing, which helps you to train with the products that will be offered on the course. They’ve also already share pics of the race shirt, which I have to say look really nice! It’s a baby blue (admittedly not my color) half zip pullover in a tech material, which is going to come in very handy for Midwest running.
A month or so before the race, they gave instructions for checking your registration so you could clear up any glitches before the race arrived, which was handy. There’s also an app for the race, that includes runner tracking information (in addition to tracking by text/email), the schedule of events, a course map and even tools for tracking your training! I am truly at amazed at all of the support and the nice stuff that we’re getting for a race that cost me less than $60 to run. It has really taken a lot of stress off, in terms of planning for this weekend, which has been great given how busy I’ve been lately. It’s such a relief to know that all of my questions about when and where to be, along with maps, are sitting in my inbox waiting to be printed.
As much as I love RunDisney, I do wish their pre-race communication was this good. I got most of the information I needed from other bloggers, not the sporadic communication we actually got from the race coordinators or the website itself. It feels even more disconnected, having booked my StarWars run through a travel provider, because I’m not getting anything directly from RunDisney (assuming there’s even anything that has gone out). Of course, the Des Moines Half Marathon bling will be nothing like the RunDisney bling but I’ll love it all the same.
In other news, I treated myself to a little hour of playing hooky earlier this week and went to check out a new shop I was interested in. It’s called Provisions and it is run by the Grey Plume, a fantastic farm-to-table restaurant here in Omaha. The shop was tiny and full of little jars of mustards and other condiments, coffee and even the dishes used in the restaurant.
A display of local soaps actually used in the restaurant, with a view back to the dining room for cooking class and back to the kitchen!

A display of local soaps actually used in the restaurant, with a view back to the dining room for cooking class and back to the kitchen!

What was even more fascinating was looking through the glass and seeing into the kitchen space where they actually prepared all of these little jars of goodness!
Apple butter without cinnamon - perfect for O!

Apple butter without cinnamon – perfect for O!

I picked up a couple of things, of course, and picked up a flyer for cooking classes that they’re offering. I think hubby and I will try for a Christmas-time date night at their Chocolate production class! I was going to try to keep it as a surprise for him, for a Christmas gift, but was so excited about it I spilled the beans as soon as I got home Tuesday night. 🙂
I wish we could do ALL of the classes!

I wish we could do ALL of the classes!

I’m so glad I stopped in. I was only there for 10 minutes but it was such a breath of fresh air in a busy week. It was so appreciated!
Do you ever take little mini-breaks during a busy week? Isn’t everything in a little jar automatically cuter and tastier?

Race Week To-Do List

I got back home yesterday and realized there was no need to take my suitcase down to the basement because I’ll be leaving for Des Moines for the half marathon before I know it. Next Saturday afternoon to be exact. It’s a 2 hour drive so we’ll be going out Saturday afternoon to hit the Expo and will be staying at a hotel within walking distance of the start/finish line. Darrell and Oliver are coming with me to cheer me on.

True to my list-loving seIf, l started my packing list for me, Oliver & Darrell over the weekend and started re-packing my suitcase with race gear. I’ve looked back at my notes from Princess (see link here) and think I’ll stick to that plan for things to carry on race day (although fewer gels this time). Other than packing & reviewing my notes from my last half marathon, what else am I doing in this final week to get ready to race?

Sleep! With pre-race jitters, l may not sleep very well the night before the race. That’s to be expected, but I need to be as well rested as possible through the rest of the week. That’s especially important as I’m exhausted coming down from all of my work travel last week. So many early wakeups for flights and meetings have definitely taken their toll. My goal is to be asleep by 9pm most nights this week!

Drink up! Hydrating for a race starts well before the race. In addition to the 64 ounces of water I’d set as an overall daily goal this month, I’ll drink an extra bottle of water with Nunn Friday in addition to adding Nunn to all of my water Saturday. (Note Nunn tablets dissolve in water & are my personal electrolyte of choice).

Lots of hydrating this week!

Lots of hydrating this week!


-Fuel for your race. Other than eating pasta the night before the race I didn’t do anything special last time. I’m just going to focus on eating whole and healthy foods this week, that I know my GI system likes. Nothing new or unusual that could upset things and certainly no need to do a huge “carbo-load.” That could actually backfire and upset your stomach so much you spend your race in the port-a-potty.

Stick to the training plan! The hay is in the barn, the cake is in the oven, whatever analogy you like. Stick to your training plan and don’t let your nerves tempt you to push too hard to get one last long/hard run in before the race. Trust your training. Rest up so you have fresher legs and don’t risk injury.

Signed TLAM

Think positive! Race week is also a good time to start visualizing the race, visualizing a happy and strong run and a joyous finish! Our minds can help or hurt us so much in running, so thinking positive and thinking about some good race mantras will help me get to race day in the best possible mindset. 🙂

In terms of thinking about the things to bring, bring everything you need for breakfast, for the race and after the race. You will need fuel post-race, clothes to change into (especially if you’re someone who gets the chills after a long run) so you don’t to hang out in sweaty clothes for your trip home and for me, since I’ll be in the car for two hours, compression socks to help things get back to normal faster. Check the weather, be aware that weather reports are frequently wrong, and be sure to bring supplies for weather that is rainier/colder/hotter than anticipated.

If you’re someone who gets stressed out about travel, be sure to think about your travel planning and packing lists early in the week so you can get everything ready before you have to hit the road or the air. Also be sure to allow yourself plenty of time on your travel day, so you’re not rushed in getting through the Expo and getting settled for the evening.

I’m actually anticipating more post-race soreness this time around because I won’t be walking around Epcot for 8 hours after the race like I did last time. I had really minimal post-race soreness and I think all of that easy-paced walking helped a lot to clear out the inflammatory factors that lead to a lot of soreness. I’ll try to walk around in Des Moines before we get back in the car and maybe head out for an extra easy walk at home too.

Do you have any preparation rituals for a big race week?

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Friday Favorites: Taper!

I tend to have A lot of little Safari tiles open on my iPhone of articles I want to read and re-read. Not surprisingly in the midst of tapering and goal setting for the Des Moines half marathon, I’ve saved a lot of articles about race preparation and travel to races. In case you’re in the same part of your training cycle, here are some articles I’ve found useful:

-I’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking about my first half marathon and the lessons l learned there. It’s been really helpful to have my notes here on the blog to look over to review. This article on Runners World goes through some specific things to look at and make note of after a race, as well as some trouble-shooting strategy for common problems.

– I’m entering the last week of training and tapering, which means light and short nuns to Keep things loose but nothing strenuous. Remember, you’ve done all of the work at this point. Use this time to recover, hydrate and bulk up glycogen stores. Trying to get “one more “big run in just risks injury. This article goes through a suggested workout plan for race week and this podcast covers a lot of Frequently Asked Questions about tapering and race planning.

-My husband is making fun of me for already looking at restaurants for lunch, dinner and post-race celebrating but nutrition is so important! We’re traveling to Des Moines (and will be traveling even further for my next race in Disneyland) so Tara Gidus ‘s snack list over on RunDisney’s blog is a great resource if you’re interested in some starting ideas. Yet another Runners World article I had flagged talks nicely about pre-race nutrition mistakes to avoid.

– Of course, I can’t avoid looking at articles about mistakes people have made but I promise I’m looking at them more as a source of things I can learn to avoid repeating those mistakes than in the interest of stressing myself out. 🙂 Honestly, if I don’t break my toe this time that a huge mistake avoided!! I especially like mistake #10 on this Runners World list, as my A goal for the Des Moines Half Marathon is to have fun. 🙂

I’m in Philadelphia for work this week, which means a) I’m getting to eats lots of delicious ethnic food I don’t have in Omaha (Indian, Middle Eastern, Thai and Malaysian so far!) and b) this morning, I ran up the “Rocky” steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on my morning. More pics tomorrow from that gorgeous run, I promise, but this was a great way to make Philadelphia off my 50 states running list.

View from the top of the Rocky steps (which I of course ran up rather than walk - I did walk down rather than risk injury).

View from the top of the Rocky steps (which I of course ran up rather than walk – I did walk down rather than risk injury).

Have a great weekend everyone!!



Goals for the Des Moines Half Marathon

Before we get to goals I have to tell you guys about my cool new tech that I’m using to write this:

Windows Surface Pro 3!

Windows Surface Pro 3!

I am writing on the tablet screen and it translates to type so easily! It’s good to be married to a tech guy sometimes:)

I’m at a science meeting this week and served on my first national committee meeting this morning. I’m proud of myself for speaking up and contributing rather than feeling like a fraud. In the old days, l definitely tended to shrink in because I didn’t want anyone to look at me. Even though my skirt is definitely tighter than I would like it to be I reminded myself that I was  selected for this committee for my mind, not my skirt size. It’s amazing how our perceptions of our body can hold us back.

On to my goals for the Des Moines half marathon. I read a great blog post earlier this week on Miss Zippy’s site: Find the joy in your racing. It really resonated with me because more than anything else, I want to have fun next weekend. When l started this training plan, I chose a tougher plan because I wanted to push the pace and see what I could really do. I’m never going to win a race or even my age group, but I can definitely compete with myself. There’s an immense satisfaction that comes from pushing myself and meeting a new goal. After my ten mile race last month, I felt such a huge sense of accomplishment in meeting my goals in terms of time and most importantly, effort. Using race calculators, my time in that race predicts a half  marathon time of 2:23! That would be a 20 minute PR!  However, after the stress of the last month, I’m mentally exhausted and the idea of driving that hard in this race holds zero appeal.

So where does that leave me in terms of goals?

A) Have fun! This training plan is called 13.FUN after all. I know that the “A” goal is traditionally the hardest to achieve, “I had the perfect race” goal and for me, remembering that I’m here to have fun and keeping that in mind as my first priority will be key to my success on race day. This isn’t my job-it’s a hobby. If I can keep “have fun” in mind as any “A” goal, I’m much less likely to end up in that defeated mindset that has tainted some of my prior race experiences.

B) Keep a strong effort through the end of the race. More than a particular time goal, I want to feel like I’m finishing strong rather than dragging myself across the finish line. My race plan is essentially the same as it was for the ten miler: Run the first mile however I want; Stick to 3:00/0:30 intervals until the last mile; Decide at mile 12 what “finish strong” will look like based on what I have in the tank (with a minimum of maintaining my intervals).

C) Set a new half marathon PR below 2:30: I can’t go into this without a time goal after all of this training, of course, but that 2:23 predicted finish seems like too high a bar for now. Maybe I will surprise myself, but 2:30 feels like a good bar to target and would be a 15 minute improvement on my Princess Half Marathon official time and a 5 minute improvement on my actual running time in that race.

I once heard a race referred to as the victory lap that celebrates your training and that’s definitely how I’m approaching this race. It’s been a great training cycle and I’m really looking forward to seeing what Des Moines brings on race day!