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Lubbock Part 2

6 Aug

One night Staci text Alyssa and I and said that she had just gotten an email about a 5k that would be taking place while we were in Lubbock.  I was planning to run on Saturday anyway, so I was game.

The race took place on the campus of Texas Tech.  It started right outside the football stadium and wound through the campus.

The race was extremely small.  I would say that about 70 people participated. It did not start until 8:15, which was 15 minutes late, so the sun was beaming and the temperature rising.

I run on Saturdays before the sun comes up, so I carried a bottle of water with me.  Boy am I glad I did, because they did not have a single water station.  I know it was only 3 miles, but I usually want something to drink by mile 2.

I used my new Garmin to watch my pace and wanted to stay around 11 minute miles.  I felt really comfortable there, so when I would start slacking a little I would pull myself back up to speed.

Alyssa and I ended up crossing the 3.1 mile mark at 33:23… 1:09 faster than my time at the Firecracker 5000!

I was really proud of us, because it was hot! The course actually measure longer than a 5k to me and a couple other Garmin wearers, so I went with the time and distance of my Garmin.

After the race we headed to J&B Coffee Co… again. I am telling you I love this place!  If it were near my home I would be in trouble! Chain restaurants and coffee shops hold little appeal to me.  I would much rather support a person than a corporation.

I was going to get a scone, until I saw these “cookies”.  I read the ingredients, and they were all REAL FOOD! And, it was made in Texas! Once again, supporting a small business and my very own state!

The entire “cookie” was actually 2 servings, but I about the right number of calories for a breakfast that will keep me full for a while. So I ate the whole thing along side a decaf iced coffee with soy.

We did a little shopping and then met some of Staci’s family for lunch at Sugar Baker’s.  It is a small bakery/restaurant that had one veg friendly option… a pb and j. The jelly was Bama, so I skipped that.  I just had the p on rye bread.

On the side I had the fruit cup, which was doused in cream.  Yes, it tasted good.  No, the cream was not necessary.  I wish it would not have been there.  Fruit is sweet enough without adding anything to it.

After lunch we got into our bathing suits and headed for the pool.  I actually fell asleep for a while in the sweltering heat.  I get sleepy when I get too warm.  I actually never got in the water. The sun felt good, though I lay there and sweat for almost 2 hours.

Dinner was my choice, and I will admit it was kind of a bust.  I found a restaurant online called Manara Cafe, which had Mediterranean food.  I was disappointed that their ovens were not working, so our options were limited.

We devoured the hummus, which was so-so and the tabouli which was pretty good.  The falafel was actually wonderful… very dill-y. I love dill! The pita was obviously store bought and disappointing. Luckily, we did not pay much for the meal.

After eating we met Staci’s friend Libby to walk in a park because the evening was actually cool enough to be outside.  They took us to a beautiful new neighborhood with an incredible park in the center.



The ladies lounged. I took pictures.  I tried sitting… I am just not good at it.

The sunset was beautiful and the clouds put on quite a show for us.

Eventually we left and went to a little ice cream shop.  I kind of wanted frozen yogurt, but really did not want to eat dairy again.  So I opted for italian ice, which really really disappointed!  I should have just thrown it away.  It was not worth eating, but it is really hard for me to throw away food that I pay for.

The night ended at Libby’s, where we my Cooper, her mammoth of a sweet dog.  Though he is over 100 lbs, he was gentle and kind.  I am not really a dog person, so I let Alyssa handle all the petting, but I appreciated how well behaved he was.  He is a good boy.

Another late night… followed by an early morning.



Firecracker 5000 Race Recap

7 Jul

Want to rewind time and visit Monday with me?

On Monday I ran the Firecracker 5000 in Ft. Worth.  I am glad I live in a place where I can find a race pretty much any weekend.  I signed up for this race with my oldest sister Christina, who is pregnant, and my Dad.  This was Dad’s first race!

On Sunday we went to the Ft. Worth Running Company to register and pick up our packets.  It was a lengthy drive, but I do not like picking up my packet the morning of the race. The Ft. Worth Running Company is where I bought my Yurbuds when I picked up my race packet for the Ft. Worth Zoo Run.

My plan was to beat my time from the Zoo Run, as that was back in April.  I knew that I was a better runner now that then.

On the morning of the race I woke up and ate a piece of toast with banana and peanut butter.  I normally just eat a couple small dates before I run, but I had a bout 2 hours before the race, so I ate something more substantial. I had a little iced coffee and water, too.

I really was not nervous as we drove to Ft. Worth.  We were making great time.  I felt good.  But, boy was that sun bright!

The race did not start until 8:30, which I consider to be the time when all running should cease outside in Texas in July.

This was a very small race, in it’s second year I believe.  But, there was a great atmosphere.  Being a holiday, there were a lot of families and couples there together.  There was a good mix of elite runners, seasoned runners, serious runners, runners in the making, joggers, jog/walkers, and walkers.

I noticed before the race that I felt thirsty but the race was about to begin and I did not want to go to the effort of getting water and finding a place to get rid of it. That was a bad choice.

I made sure to line up much closer to the front this time, but still a ways back. I was totally ready, Yurbuds in, as we sang the National Anthem and we were off!

The first mile was completely shaded, which was great.  My legs felt strong!  It was not hard work.  I was enjoying myself!

The first mile went by quickly, and then we turned around and headed back the way we came.  The second mile was almost entirely in the blazing sun!  At one point I actually stopped sweating… pretty sure I was just out of sweat. The third mile was in the shade again and included a hill, which was the only part that I walked.  I knew that we were almost there and I wanted to have some energy left to push on the last .10.

So, did I beat my time, YES!  Did I beat it by as much as I wanted, NO!

Ft Worth Zoo Run: 35:05

Firecracker 5000 : 34:32

I finished :33 faster.  The conditions were completely different and that does have to be taken into account.

This was a good training run though because I felt more comfortable running that I ever have.  It felt more natural, less forced.  I felt more confident.

I was so proud of my Dad as he crossed the finish line, in good spirits and ready to sign up for another race! I love that Christina’s baby has already crossed the finish line of 2 5ks!

And, as we drove away, we got to bask in the success of our morning all before 10am… just the way I like it!

My Reaction to Ironman Texas

23 May

(I wrote this only an hour after leaving Houston, while still in the car.  It is my initial response to an amazing day.)

Ironman Texas…

I always love being in the presence of athletes.  They let me know what the human body is capable of.  Being an athlete is not just about health or fitness.  It goes beyond health, to performance.  It asks the questions, “How far?” and “How fast?”

While I am yet a newbie runner and an even newer cyclist, I stand amazed at the men and women who push their bodies beyond the boundaries of what 99.9% of the population would consider sane by competing in Ironman competitions.

Take into consideration that it is not a show up on race day and do 12 hours of hard work.  These people put in hours and hours of training every week – hours of swimming – hours of cycling – hours of running – hours of stretching – hours of foam rolling – hours of analyzing data – hours of sweating.  They lay it down week after week in training, all building up to a race where they give their all, all day long.

I would imagine that the Ironman journey begins in the mind. It probably starts with the question, “Could I do that?, or with the declaration, “I bet I could do that!” And every day, that same question or declaration is likely revisited.

I am only training to run 13.1 miles and I already face a mental battle.  There are some days I think, “I can run 13 miles.” Other days, I think, “There is no way that I am going to be able to do this.”

The more I read about triathletes and see them perform, the more their insanity makes sense to me and the more respect I have for them.

The true competitors (whether competing with themselves or an actual pro) are driven peope.  They set foals and live their daily lives in an effort to achieve those goals. Their sport requires dedication to now one, but three sports.

Maybe they are insane.  But it seems to me, that it may be the best kind of insanity.  The kind that refuses the ordinary and embraces possibility.  The kind that does not stop at, “Who am I?” and goes beyond to, “Who can I be?”

Yes. they spend their time and money in ways that many of us could not understand, but we all choose how to spend our time and money in line with our own priorities.

In reality we are all masters of something.  There is something that we are pouring hours of time and effort into. None of us has the luxury of only focusing on one aspect of life. We all have to juggle more than one “sport”.

Life without goals is aimless. You’ll get no where quickly.

It is not one of my goals to do an Ironman. But, my response to volunteering at this weekend’s race was that I set some goals.  I took out a pad of paper and wrote down a list of 5 fitness goals that I have for the next year of my life.

Do you have goals written down?

When was the last time you felt amazed by the strength of persistence and discipline?

There is a good chance that it has been way too long.

Ironman Texas Volunteer Recap

23 May

On Friday, I headed to Houston with Christina and Jesse to volunteer at Ironman Texas.  I was a spectator at the Ironman European Championships in Frankfurt, Germany last year , and jumped at the chance to be in that incredible environment again.

I had an idea what I was in for, and any time you can just get out of town is a nice break.

Of course I did a little packing of food, because I try to be prepared so that I can eat as normally as possible, even when on the road.

I was only going to be gone for 24 hours, but I have a tendency to over prepare. My goal was to keep everything simple.  I did not want to be worried about keeping anything cool until will got there. 

I pre mixed all the dry ingredients for overnight oats to be placed in the fridge of our hotel room (the very fridge which ended up not working, so my oats hung out in an ice bath bucket over night). I also made some trail mix, and pre measured some roasted pumpkin seeds and edamame. And, made some whole wheat crackers the night before we left.  Fruit was a must!  We did not have a single banana… bummer (but, I snagged one from the LAME hotel breakfast in the morning). 

I packed a few bars too, just in case, and some almond butter and PB2 (the powder in the tiny container). Carrots travel well, so I cut up two carrots into sticks.

Once I spent all that time mentally and physically preparing food, packing clothes was a breeze! I was not working out on Friday and knew I would be sitting for hours in the car, so to be a bit active I turned on an episode of House (which I tend to get addicted to and could sit and watch for hours).  I would watch it until a commercial came on, then I would pause it and run upstairs to pack for a while.  After about 10 minutes I would run back downstairs and watch until the next commercial.  (I LOATHE COMMERCIALS!)

When all was said and done, this was the damage.  That sure looks like a lot of luggage for one night!

I was supposed to run 3.5 miles Saturday, and I brought my running gear… just in case. I also fit my whole pillow in that suit case. The little back pack has books and magazines to read on the ride down.  I am blessed that I do not get car sick, so i like to stay entertained! Heaven forbid I just sit back and enjoy the ride. The cooler has all my food and the brown bag is my purse.  So, I think that I really did not bring that much. 

That was until Christina picked me up and took me to their house where we loaded the car.

You see that tiny black bag at the front of the photo?  That would be EVERYTHING Jesse packed.

The pink bag is Christina’s.  All of a sudden it sure did look like I was packing for a week in comparison.  (Mind you, I have used that same suitcase for an entire week.)I said goodbye to my bike on the way out the door.  She is living with Chris and Jesse until I can buy a tire pump of my own. And, the riding by their house is much better. She is a pretty girl, don’t you think?

We made our way to Houston, really to Conroe.  You can read my post along the way here.

Our hotel was pretty much awful!  The guy at the desk was dishonest, telling my brother-in-law that they did not have any non-smoking rooms.  When Christina went inside, he magically had not one BUT TWO rooms open up.

Like I said, the fridge did not work.  In the middle of the night, Christina may have turned the heat on and so we all woke up very warm, but I slept about as well as I ever do in a hotel (not too well).

I woke up with that same nervous feeling I get when I am watching Jesse race.  The only person i knew that was racing was the guy i bought my bike from, and I had only met him once. I tend to get nervous easily.

We made our way out to Bike Aid Station 8 (80 miles into the 112 mile bike ride), at the corner of nowhere and nowhere. We were about 30 minutes early, but it turned out to be a really good thing.  Many of the other volunteers were late because they had to deal with the traffic of the road closures for the race.  And, in typical Danielle style, I like to be early… just in case.

Around 9am, our truck arrived, and we walked the 1/3 mile from our designated parking place to our aid station. For the next hour, we unloaded the truck, set up tents and tables, and set up.

We also had to take the caps off of HUNDREDS of bottles of Power Bar Perform (an electrolyte drink), snip off the plastic ring with garden sheers, and then screw on a sports top.  Christina and I were snippers, and were prepared to have some very sore forearms the next day.

You never know what volunteer shirts will look like.  These shirts were made by K Swiss and are super soft and light.  It was a little odd that they were green and red, but I like that on the back they read, “Iron Team” instead of volunteer.

This was clearly at the beginning of the day, because at the end we were a mess!

From 1:45-3:45 we stood a the first station the riders road by with empty bottles being thrown down beside us.  I am really excited to announce that I was not hit by any of the bottles.  Jesse predicted that I would be hit by at least one bottle, but I wasn’t!

The riders came around a corner, threw down empty bottles (often spraying themselves with the last of their water before chunking the bottle).  Then they would get supplies from one of the volunteers, all while riding by.

It was our job to hand them what they were calling out for as we announced what we had in our hand.  So, I said “Perform” about a million times throughout the day.

Often the would urgently say, “Water, water?”

They would ride by us retrieving Perform, water, bananas, and Power Bars, PowerBar gels.  There was also a medic tent and a porta-potty station.

It took me a while to work up the nerve to hand anyone a bottle.  They were riding by SO FAST at first.  But, after the pros went by and the age groupers started coming to an end they were riding more at my speed.

The key was to hold the bottle steady on your palm with your arm extended.  I became a pro at this very fast.  Sometimes it did not work out so well and the bottle would just go flying out of my hand toward the ground.

(By the way, the strawberry flavor was much better.  The riders were actually asking for it.  So, if Power Bar is reading this, send more red next time and less lemon-lime.  From what I hear you need to discontinue the mango altogether.)

In case you were wondering what you do with the sleeves you have cut off of your shirt, you make a t-shirt sleeve mullet.

It was a super long day but so much fun!  I loved watching the riders go by with a smile of their face… though not all of them did this. Some people were just having a great time. Others, not so much.

I will definitely volunteer again!  In a tiny way, I played a part in those people having what they needed to cross that finish line after a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mi bike, and a 26.2 mi run.

Congratulations to all the new Ironmen!

Race Recap 2011 Fort Worth Zoo Run

17 Apr

It was so difficult to go to sleep Friday night.  I was tired, but so excited/nervous.  I had an early wake up call set for 5:45, and I got up with the first toll of the bells. I always set my race clothes out the night before. I get my bib pinned on my shirt and gather all the gear I’ll be taking with me (arm band, headphones, etc).

I headed downstairs, where I made a piece of toast with pb and half of a banana.  I also had an iced coffee with some almond milk.

I was soon joined by this little angel face, who had no idea what fun she was in for.  It would be her first trip to the zoo!

Christina came over to pick us up at 6:55.  I put on her heart rate monitor before leaving the house, which made for a funny observation.  The closer we got to the race site, the higher my heart rate rose.  When we left the house it was in the 60s.  By the time we parked, it was in the low 90s.  I was pretty nervous.

Pre-race picture, before I was all sweatified

Christina did a great job navigating us there, so we arrived in plenty of time to use the porta-potties (my least favorite part of races), check out the booths (lame), and do a little dancing(Leila) and stretching(me).

By 8:20, we headed to the street to go line up.  Christina was on Aunt duty, so I lined up where I thought I should be, but I was wrong… oh so wrong.

By 8:30 when the race began, we were packed in and moving toward the starting line and the people in front of me were walking.

The passages in the Fort Worth Zoo are pretty narrow, and the whole first mile was in the zoo.  So I went bobbing and weaving between people walking, strolling along at times.  I was irritated, but it was my fault.  I chose were to line up.

Despite the crowds of mile 1 my legs felt really good.  I was jamming to a little Pandora action on my new Yurbuds. (Warning: I do not recommend that you try something new in a race situation.  Sometimes I do not take my own recommendations.) I was cruising along at a 10:45-11:20ish pace.  Right where I wanted to be, but could I maintain?

For the second mile you leave the zoo and enter a neighborhood.  It is really a beautiful route, but it is HILLY THAN A MUG! For most of the first two miles there are slight and dramatic inclines, but only slight or no declines.  At 1.20 miles we approached hill, a big hill, and it slowed me down to a 14:30 mi pace.  But, I breathed through it and made it to the top.

The only time I walked was at the water stations.  The morning was chilly, and I really did not want to get water on my shirt.  So I would walk a few steps while sipping my water and then chunk my cup and get back in gear.

I did not look at the route online before the race.  I did do this race last year, but I walked and jogged it, so I do not remember the drama of the hills clearly.  I’m guessing I walked those parts.  So, I was just holding out hope for mile 3.  Surely they would reward us with some downhills.

They did! A lot of mile 3 was down hill.  I actually got up to a 9:30 mile pace at one point.  I never understand why people walk downhill.  I let gravity and momentum do their job! There was only a small incline during mile 3, with some flats as well.

My goal for the day was under 35:00, and all race long I thought I was not going to make it.  When I had .6 miles left to go I realized it would be close, so I was kicking as hard as i could.

And, I missed it… by 5 seconds! Kind of a let down, BUT, I am giving myself a pass.  Remember all those people that I was weaving around?  At times, I could not get around people, so I know I lost time and it was definitely more than 5 seconds.

My final time was 35:05.  My time last year was 45:16.  I think that a 1o:11 improvement is great. The last 5k I did in November was somewhere around 43+ and my fastest time before this was 42+.  So this was a new PR for me, and I am proud… very proud.

Christina and Leila enjoyed the zoo on their way through.  They looked at the animals.  I actually did not see any animals.  I was too busy trying not to run over people.

We met up afterward, and went through the snack line.  I had an apple, mini chocolate chip cookie dough Larabar, and a small box of granola for second breakfast.  They ran out of bananas… how rude.

I am really proud of the improvement I have made over the last year, even more so over the last few months. Don’t assume that 5ks are only for people who can run the whole thing. This is the first one I have been able to run.  I did 3 5ks before this.  I walked the first and walked/ran the other two.  I would encourage you to sign up for a 1 mile fun run and give it a try.  The environment is so fun and full of energy.  I can almost promise that you will love it and want to do another!  Health is a lifestyle, and this is one way to keep healthy fun!  I am ready for my next race in only 2 weeks.  And I WILL be under 35:00!
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