Playing Catch-Up…

Given that it’s been 6 months since I’ve updated, I’m sure you can imagine that I’m WAY behind on things like race recaps and training updates.  Life got in the way for a while, but I’m trying to get caught up and then STAY caught up for 2015 – it’s part of my “resolution” for the new year.

So, let’s get started.

DRC Independence 10K

After Rock ‘n Roll Seattle, my last race update, I needed to squeeze in a 10K or longer to get a good proof of time for some Disney races.  I registered at the last minute for the Dallas Running Club’s Independence Day 10K on July 5.  I needed to guarantee good corral placement for the Disney Avengers half, since I was flying to Vegas right after the run to run Rock n Roll Vegas as well.  In my head, that meant I needed to run a sub-54 minute 10K which would be a sub-2 hour half proof of time and get me in the first start corral.  On race morning, I hadn’t run a single step since getting home from Seattle, so I felt fresh, although a bit worried about my knee.  I had several running buddies there, so we chatted before the race.  I went out strong, and managed to maintain a really good pace through the 5K turn-around point.  I felt myself starting to slow down, so I used a GU (something I never do in a 10K) for the energy burst.  It helped, and I ended up finishing in 53:43, which was a PR of about 5 minutes since my last 10K race.  It was good enough for an age group award, too!

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I looked back at previous 10K results, and discovered that I’d improved my 10K time by a full 10 minutes in a single year!  It was awesome to see the progress I’d made.

Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon

I continued to struggle to get runs in through the summer months, and although I had my eyes set on Rock n Roll San Jose as a PR run, getting in long runs was tricky at best.  At the last minute, about 2 days before the race, I decided to run the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon as a long training run – my longest run since Seattle.

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This race is at the end of September, which is usually still pretty warm in Texas, and this year was no different.  It was much warmer than I’d like to race in – I want to say it was in the upper 70s at race start time, and near 90 by the time I finished.  I ran the first half of the race with my friend Alyssa, but got separated from her around the mile 6 or 7 water stop.  It was a gorgeous run, you could see the hot air balloons when they took off from the staging field.

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The course was beautiful, but fairly difficult in the heat.  I was pretty happy to turn in a time of 2:18.  And the medal is awesome.

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The plan had been to walk around at the balloon festival when I finished the race, but J & the kids had already done that while I was running, and the first thing mini-me said to me when I reunited with them was “Mommy done running? Good, let’s go home now.”  Then she screamed the whole way to the car, where she promptly fell asleep.

Up next: Rock n Roll San Jose, and my first experience as a pace group leader at the Showdown Half Marathon!

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And training starts again….NOW!

I haven’t been very motivated to do much of anything since running the marathon in Seattle.  I’m blaming the heat of the Texas summer.    The lack of motivation is rough, because I have a LOT of races on the schedule between now and the middle of January.  Races I’m actually registered for, some of which I have already booked travel for too.  So it’s time to get motivated again.

This morning, Pam, the founder of Moms RUN This Town, posted a link to a 12-week fitness challenge hosted by He & She Eat Clean and She Sweats.  It’s 12 weeks of strength training to go with the cardio I’ll already be doing as I train for the upcoming races.  So I signed up.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to update at least once a week during the next 12 weeks (although I’m going to aim for more often that that, but anyone who regularly reads my blog knows I’m bad about regular updates, haha).

The challenge requires beginning and ending photos.  And as much I don’t want to put half-naked pics of myself online, I think the accountability will be good for me… and hopefully the progress pics will be motivating for others, too!

So here we go.

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Week 1 starts tomorrow.  Here’s the plan (not the details, just an overview)
Tuesday – Challenge start (timed mile, core work) + speedwork at track
Wednesday – Arm workout + 3 mile run
Thursday – Leg workout + 3 mile run
Friday – rest day
Saturday – Chest & Back workout + hill work
Sunday – Long run + core work
Monday – rest day
I modified the order a tiny bit so that it fits with my race training plans as well.  Hopefully that will work.

Wish me luck! Are you participating in the challenge?  What do you do for strength training?  How do you motivate yourself to run when it’s a million degrees outside?

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Rock n Roll Seattle Race Recap

Back in February, I decided to run my first marathon.  Due to work constraints and timing issues, I chose the Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon to be my first, on June 21.

I trained using Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan, and for the first time in my life I actually followed a training plan almost exactly.  I had a couple of weeks where I skipped a short run, and even a week where I skipped a long run when I was worried about injury, but I arrived in Seattle confident that I would finish the race.  From the beginning, I was hoping to run in 4:30 or less.

When I registered for the race, my friend Junior volunteered to pace me, and over the course of my training, his goal time for us kept getting faster.  LOL  I knew it was a lofty goal, but set out on race morning with Junior’s 4 hour goal as my goal too.

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The race started at the Space Needle.

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Junior had a bunch of running friends who were also running RnR Seattle, so we met up with them before the race.  They have a pre-race tradition of taking over one of the early start corrals at RnR races, and Seattle was no different – we gathered in Corral 2 for a group picture, then stayed there for the start.

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Starting in Corral 2 was a very different experience for me in a big race.  It was wonderful to not have to dodge and weave around huge crowds of people for 2-3 miles (or more), and it helped us start out at the desired pace – we were aiming for about 8:40/mile through mile 18 or 20, to build a cushion for the last few miles.  And we started off right around that pace… in fact, we ran mile 2 in 7:40, which is my fastest mile split since high school!

The course was beautiful.  The first half was relatively flat with a few hills, through downtown Seattle and along the lake.  Check out the views!

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Around mile 7 or 8, Junior tripped and fell on the uneven pavement, and I had to jump out of the way so I wouldn’t trip over him.  I tweaked my knee a little bit, but it only hurt for a couple of seconds, so I assumed it was ok, and we kept on.

We made it through the halfway mark and were still on pace for a sub-4 hour finish, although just barely.  To that point, every single split of the race was a PR for me (5K, 10K, and 13.1) – the half split was a PR by 11 minutes!  Unfortunately, I started to fall apart not long after that.  I hadn’t followed my race fueling strategy to that point – I’d planned on fueling every 4-5 miles, but didn’t use my first gel until mile 7ish, and my 2nd one at mile 12ish (or possibly later), and I just wasn’t able to overcome the energy deficit when I finally started fueling regularly.

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(selfie somewhere in the first half of the course)

Around mile 14 or 15, the course shifted to highway running for about 10 miles.  Highway running, if you’ve never done it, kind of sucks.  I was having a hard time finding level ground to run on, and was really struggling by this point.  I definitely was doing more walking than I’d wanted to do, and we were falling way behind our 4-hour goal pace.

After what seemed like an eternity, we began to go back into downtown Seattle.

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By this point, I was counting down the remaining distance in half-mile increments, mentally fighting with myself to run it in.  The race ended on a fairly steep uphill, and Junior took off sprinting up the hill.  I dragged myself up the hill behind him, saw the 26 mile marker and the finish chute, and dug deep.  Somehow, I found the energy to run fairly hard into the finish – not my typical finish line sprint, but definitely a much harder run than I’d been able to manage over the final 10K of the race.  Junior finished about a minute ahead of me, and managed to get some pictures of me crossing the finish line.

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All in all, I’m pretty happy with my performance overall.  My official time was 4:31:26, so I was pretty close to what I’d hoped for from the beginning.

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My overall positions were pretty good – top 35-50%, depending on category.  As I mentioned before, my splits through the halfway mark were all PRs (and I guess technically, so were the 2nd half splits, since I’d never run an official race over 13.1 before, LOL).  I wish I’d executed my race strategy a bit better, especially with fueling.  I definitely learned a lot about myself, and about longer distance running, so hopefully I’ll be able to do better next time.

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(Junior & me after the race)

After the race, we found part of the group, grabbed a beer in the beer garden, and then watched the headliner concert: Sir Mix-A-Lot!

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It was a great end to a great day!

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Maybe the Craziest Idea Ever!

I’ve completely lost my mind.  First, I haven’t even run one full marathon yet, and I’m already registered for a second and am contemplating a 50K ultra race.  But that’s not even the crazy part.

No, the crazy part is that I’ve decided to run TWO half marathons on the SAME DAY, as a birthday present to myself.

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First, I will run the inaugural Disney Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland, which starts at 5:30am.  Even with stopping for pictures, I should be done easily by 8:00 or so.  Then I’ll go back to the hotel, shower, and head to the airport, for the…

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Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon.  This one doesn’t start until 4:30pm, so I should have plenty of time to get there, check in to the hotel, pick up my race stuff, and get to the starting line.  I’ll stay in Vegas that night after the race, and fly home on Monday morning.

This really might be the craziest thing I’ve ever done.

What’s the craziest (workout/running related) thing you’ve ever done?  Do you agree that I’ve lost my mind?  🙂

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Rock n Roll Dallas Race Recap

On March 23, I ran the Rock n Roll Dallas Half Marathon.  While I PR’ed (woo-hoo), I just barely PR’ed.  It should have been a lot faster, based on the times I’d been running in training, the weather, the course… but I’m getting ahead of myself here.  Let me go back.

So, in late February I ran the Cowtown Half Marathon, and kicked off the first official week of my full marathon training (Rock n Roll Seattle, here I come!).  Training for Cowtown, and then in between Cowtown and Rock n Roll Dallas, I was actually *gasp* mostly following my training plan.  At Cowtown, I tied a PR on a much more difficult course, and my training run paces were continuing to increase, so I was optimistic going into RnR Dallas.

We had a busy weekend leading up to the actual race.  On Friday night, we had a potluck dinner with my local running club.

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 Saturday, we went to the race expo (SO MUCH FUN!), home for naps, then back into Dallas for dinner with some of the coolest people I know… the Runner’s Corner peeps.  We carb-loaded at Spaghetti Warehouse and socialized.

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Then it was back home to get the kids in bed for the early morning ahead.

Sunday morning found us up EARLY.  The race started at 8, but the shuttle allegedly stopped running from the parking lot to the start line around 7, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss it.  I got up around 5 to get ready, then got the kids out of bed at 5:30.  We headed out around 5:45.  Luckily, we didn’t run into much traffic, and we were parked in the lot by 6:30 or so.  This is where the day started to get long for J – spectators weren’t allowed on the shuttle, so he was stuck in the car with the kids while I went to get on the shuttle.  Ordinarily, the family wouldn’t go with me, but the headliner band happened to sing my 3 year old’s favorite song, so I couldn’t leave him at home.  More on that in a bit.

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I easily made it to the shuttle on time, and arrived at the start line area around 7:15.  I had 3 groups to get into photos with, all scheduled at the same time.  Luckily, 2 of the groups were meeting in the same spot, so I headed there first.

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(With my MRTT group)

Then headed to the meetup spot for Runners Corner.  I missed the big group picture.

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(The big group picture. I’m not in it)

But we took another picture right before heading to the start corrals.

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(Not many of us left. Ignore that I’m standing weird.)

Then it was off to the corrals.  I think there were 14 or 15 start corrals.  I was assigned to corral 7, so right in the middle.  I had hoped to be able to run with some of the Runners Corner people, but it didn’t work out that way.  So I ran alone… as alone as one can be in a sea of 10000 people.  I felt pretty good for the first 5 or 6 miles, but something felt off.  I usually hit my groove around mile 3-4, and then stay pretty steady for the rest of the distance.  But my pace was all over the place, I’d run a “fast” mile and then a “slow” mile, with no real reason for the change.  It was a disappointing run for sure.  The course was nice, though, and pretty well supported, although they could have used one or two more water stops to space them more consistently.

I ultimately finished with a new PR by about a minute.

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Then it was off to the finisher festival.  I grabbed some snacks and beverages on the way to the stage to refuel, then stood around while they presented the awards to the top finishers.  And then it was time for the headliner concert, the reason I dragged the kids out of bed before 6am:  American Authors!

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I took about 40 pictures of them performing, but I’m only going to share this one.  Of course, they saved their hit song, Best Day of My Life, for last, and that’s the one G wanted to hear.  After they performed, they also signed autographs and posed for pictures.

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It really was the best day of G’s life.  He STILL talks about the guy with the “funny hair” picking him up for the picture.  Seeing his excitement as they sang “his” song and as he took a picture with them was worth the early wake-up for sure.

Overall, it was a good event and I’d run it again if I wanted to see the headliner act perform. Or maybe even if I didn’t.  RnR races are pretty expensive, even on the day registration opens, but I enjoyed it.

Have you ever run a RnR event?  Do you think they’re worth the money? What’s your favorite race so far this year?

Oh yeah, I’ve updated my race schedule for 2014.  Any suggestions on good races in the months where I don’t have anything planned?

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Cowtown Recap & Review

Whew, it’s been a long time!  Life is definitely interfering with the blog again!  We’ve got about 9 weeks left in the school year, so things are crazy at work, and I’m working on my principal certification too.  It’s no wonder I’m struggling to find time to run, much less write about running.  🙂  I’ve got several important updates to do on the blog, so I’ll start today with a recap/race review of Cowtown back in February.

The Cowtown is run in Ft. Worth, about 45 miles from where I live, so we decided to make a weekend trip out of it and stay in a hotel in Ft. Worth.  We also had a visitor for the weekend — Waddles the Penguin, mascot of the coolest runner’s group on Facebook, Runner’s Corner.  Waddles went to work with me on the Friday before the race and helped out quite a bit in my classroom.

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(making copies; monitoring a U.S. History test)

Anyway, we headed to Ft. Worth after we got off work on Friday, since I was running on both Saturday and Sunday.  The Cowtown is a whole weekend of events, a 10K, adult 5K, and kids 5K on Saturday, and a half marathon, marathon, and ultra marathon on Sunday.  If you complete one event each day, then you complete for the Cowtown Challenge and get an extra shirt and extra medal.

My plan for the weekend was a slow & easy 10K, and hopefully a PR on the half marathon on Sunday.

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My flat mama (+ Waddles) for the 10K on Saturday morning

Saturday morning, I was up EARLY.  I didn’t want to miss the shuttle from the hotel to the race site.  I grabbed a banana in the lobby and hopped on the shuttle.  The traffic was terrible and it took quite a while to get there because no one would yield to the bus.  Once we arrived at the convention center, I made my way to the start and ran into my MRTT ladies.  It was a chilly morning, so I held off on lining up at the start as long as possible.

Overall, this was a GREAT run for me.  I was planning on slow and easy, and ended up with a PR.

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Not only a PR, but in a large race, my best overall finishes EVER.  Top 10% of female and age group finishers, and top 20% overall.  I couldn’t have been happier about this one!  I guess penguins make you run faster.  🙂

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(Waddles with my 10K medal on the shuttle back to the hotel)

After the run, I spent some time walking around the race expo inside the convention center before heading back to the hotel.  It was a nice expo, but I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without, so I went back to the hotel to shower.  Then we spent the rest of the day at the Ft. Worth Zoo with the kids, before grabbing dinner with some friends who recently moved to Ft. Worth.

Sunday morning came much too early, following the 10K and all the walking at the zoo.  I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to run, but I was up early again anyway.

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(flat mama for the half marathon)

I was still hoping for a half marathon PR, but was pretty hesitant since my PR was on an almost perfectly flat course, and the Cowtown course was anything but flat.  The shuttle was much more crowded on Sunday morning, but the ride to the convention center seemed shorter.  I had a nice conversation with the people sitting around me about other races in Texas.

Once I arrived at the convention center, I set out to find my MRTT group for our traditional pre-race group picture.  They weren’t too hard to find, since there were so many of us that morning.

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Then I ran over to find the Runner’s Corner people so Waddles could make it into the group picture.

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(it was still dark, so the photo isn’t great)

Then it was off to line up in the start corral.  I took some pictures as I waited.

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(I wasn’t in corral 3, but I walked past it when I went to line up in my own corral)

This was a much tougher course than I expected.  I knew it would be hilly, but I didn’t anticipate how hard the rolling hills would be.  And I almost never train for hills.  I even had to walk some of the course, which I almost never do.  In the end, I was still pretty happy with my performance.

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I missed a PR by about 15 seconds, which is significantly better than I thought I’d do at the halfway point.  I was also in the top 40% overall, and top 30% in both women and my age group.  I think this might have been my best overall finish at the half marathon in terms of percentages to date.

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And look at the really cool medal!  Cowtown does a 3 year series of medals, and this was year 1 for the new series – a bronze star bet buckle-looking medal.  Next year will be silver and 2016 will be gold.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be running it the next 2 years, too. 😉

I really enjoyed the race atmosphere at this one.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a challenging course, and I look forward to doing it again.

Up later tonight or in the next few days: my review of the Dallas Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon!

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February Fitness Survey! {Link Up}

fitness survey

It’s time for the February Fitness Survey!  Answer the questions for yourself, then link up over on Sarah’s post at How My World Runs.

1. Do you have a fitness board on Pinterest?  If so, share it!
I’m not all that active on Pinterest.  I do have a “motivation” board and a “training” board, but I don’t even know how to link them.  :/

2. What is your go to place for fitness questions? (friend, blog, website)
I get most of my fitness questions answered from friends or from other members of various Facebook groups I’m in.

3. What do you do to workout when the weather outside is too cold, snowy or icy?
I run anyway in the cold.  I don’t have other options for snowy/icy.  I don’t own a treadmill or have a gym membership. So in treacherous weather, I take an unscheduled rest day.

4. Latest song added to your playlist? 
Pompeii by Bastille

5. Share a link to your favorite healthy recipe.
My current favorite is a Paleo spaghetti squash carbonara that you can find here.

6. What’s your favorite fitness app?
It’s a toss-up.  I like MyFitnessPal for tracking nutrition and Nike+ for tracking runs.

7. Share a picture from a recent workout.
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This was Sunday morning, early, before a long run with my MRTT mamas.

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Countdown to Cowtown

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The countdown is on!  Less than two weeks until my next races – the Cowtown 10K and half marathon!

I’ve done a little bit better at sticking to my training plan this time around – I’ve managed to get in at least one weekday run each week, and of course I’ve done my weekend long runs.  My pace has even increased on my long runs, probably because I’ve been running with faster people.  I’ve managed to average a sub-10 pace on nearly all of them.

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(my 12 mile long run, 7 first and then 5 more right afterwards, with different training buddies)

So, there’s been definite improvement, but I’m still not training “right”.  It’s just so hard to run alone, in the dark, after work.  And even harder to find consistent training partners for the evenings – people just have too much going on!  But on Sunday, I did my long run EARLY with a group, and while it was tough to get out of bed, I felt awesome while I was running and afterwards.  So I think I’m going to start going two runs a week in the mornings before work.

Hopefully that will get me on track with a consistent training plan.  I need to figure something out that works, because I just registered for my first FULL marathon!  Training officially starts next week, and the race is June 21.

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I’m terrified and excited, all at the same time!

What’s the longest distance you’ve ever raced?  What’s your favorite distance?  If you’ve done a marathon, what’s the best advice you can offer to a new marathoner?

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Healthy in 2014! Week 1 {Link Up}

My friend Victoria, who blogs over at Smiles ‘n Snuggles, has started a weekly “Healthy in 2014” Link Up party.  Posts will go live on Monday, and can focus on any aspect of health and fitness.  Posts don’t even have to be new!  Just share your tips, link your old posts or write a new one, and join the party!  You can link up on her post each Monday.

My healthy focus this week is on cross-training.  I don’t do enough of it.  I’ve always just run.  But I know that to get faster & stronger, I need to add to my workout routine.  I think I’m going to try the Insanity Core workouts, or possibly T25 Focus.

Have you used either of these?  Thoughts?  Recommendations for good cross-training exercises?

(I promise a more in-depth link-up post next week, I have students coming to my classroom shortly and need to finish preparing!  Have a great Monday!!!)

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Planning for 2014

(sorry for the lack of pictures in this update, I didn’t feel right about stealing copyrighted images off the race websites)

Why must races be so expensive?  It makes it hard for me to plan out my 2014 race calendar.  :p

Right now, the only races I’m registered for are our MRTT Winter Virtual – Start Your Engines 10K on Feb. 15th and the Cowtown 10K & Half Marathon on Feb. 22 & 23.

But there’s a whole host of events I *want* to run.

The Polar Dash in January.
The Hot Chocolate 15K in February (which I won’t run, because it would mean racing 3 weekends in a row, and that’s too much)
The Dallas Rock & Roll Half in March.
The Fairview Half in April.
The Divas Half Marathon in April (in Galveston, so probably a no).
The Disney Expedition Everest Challenge in May.
The Too Hot to Handle 15K in July.
The Niagara Falls International Marathon in October (what a great option for a full!).
The Disney Food & Wine Half Marathon in November.
The Shiner Half Marathon in November.
The Dallas Marathon (or half marathon or marathon relay, more likely) in December.
The Santa Hustle Half Marathon in December (also in Galveston).

And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head!

To run all of them would cost me over $800 in race entry fees ALONE!  And there are travel expenses to be incurred for several of them, too.  All told, I’d probably spend $2000+ easily to run just the races on this list (not including Disney park tickets for the races at Disney!).  That’s just way too much money for one year of racing!  😉

Most likely, I’ll run the Fairview Half in April – it’s hosted by the same people who put on the New Year’s Double, which was a great experience.  I’ll definitely do the Shiner Half in November as long as falls on the same weekend it was held this year (the weekend before Thanksgiving) because that’s a good weekend for me to travel.  I’d like to do something at the Dallas Marathon, since my relay got iced out (and I’ll get a 2013 & 2014 medal if I complete one of the races there).  And I really, really want to do the Santa Hustle because it looks like so much fun!

But, if I decide to do a full marathon, the Niagara International Marathon looks like an awesome course and awesome experience.  Where else can you start a race in one country and finish in another?!?!

Ugh.  I need to figure this out so I can start budgeting for my race expenses.

What races are you running this year?  How do you decide how many races to run & which ones?  Do you overthink this as much as I do? 🙂

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