These kiddos went back to school this week, in the second and fourth grades.





Hard to believe that they looked like this, like, yesterday.

IMG_0001So much happening on the running front! Spending lots of time running with Lifetime Run and Cooper Fitness:


And then, this happened a couple of weeks ago – a weekly mileage PR:

MIleageNo major injuries this season; everything looks to be on track for Houston. In other news, I’m pacing the wonderful Showdown Half Marathon on Oct. 10. You have a choice of bringing home bling in 3 colors! Since I am neither an OU nor a UT fan, I’m going with blue:


If you’re so inclined, you can register here. FYI, all the cool kids are running with the 2:25 pacers! 🙂



Today I was helping the boys get ready for school when I took notice of just how big and handsome they are. I had to drop everything and get some pics. I can’t believe these are the babies that I brought home just a few short years ago.


So, I ran the Raider Run 5K in Wylie two weekends ago. I didn’t write about it right away, because I am still a little miffed at how things turned out. This was to be a time trial – a test to see whether I’ll be able to make the time goal that I’ve set for myself for the Allen Eagle 5K. So, the race is tiny, but the people in charge seemed to be on top of things, so they had a gun start and off we went.

It was a pretty little course. Lots of young people running. Some 9-year-old kid, who’s going to be an awesome runner one day, is tailing me. I’m going along – my pace isn’t awesome but it’s enough for a PR – when I notice that my Garmin reads 3.15 and we’re nowhere near the finish line. I look around, sure that I missed a sign somewhere. Nothing. I keep going in the general direction that I remember the finish line to be in, all the while my Garmin ticks to 3.2, 3.5, 3.6 …

At this point I started to slow down, because I purposely paced myself for a 3.1-mile run and now we’re nearing 4 miles and I’m running out of steam. Finally, the finish line arrives. I kid you not, the Garmin says THREE POINT NINE MILES. Now, I’ve run 5Ks that have been 3.0 and ones that have been about 3.3, but this is ridiculous. The timing clock at the finish says something close to 31 minutes. So, I probably should have stopped the Garmin back at 3.1 and used that time, but all of the blood was in my legs, I guess, and I wasn’t thinking. I asked several runners afterward if their watches clocked a long race. They did.

Now, after all that, the timing company (It’s Your Race) seemed to be having trouble figuring out who the winners were. I sidled up to the truck they were working out of and asked them my time. It was 30:57 or something like that, and I’m the second female over the line, a minute or so behind a 12-year-old with a ton of youthful energy on her side. So I grabbed a cup of Starbucks from the refreshments table and settled in to wait for the awards.

We waited two and a half hours. Lots of people left because it was so freaking cold. But I stood there, making conversations with some other runners, because I figured I was surely getting a medal, being the second female over. Right? Wrong. Apparently, the age group awards weren’t divided by gender for this race, so my 36-50 age group was completely taken up by men, who were, of course, several minutes faster than me.

I was so disgusted. With myself, for not gunning it and running as quickly as I could when I saw the race was getting long. With the organizers and the timing company for making so many missteps. I didn’t take any pictures. I threw my bib away.

But, as it always seems to go, the running universe sort of righted itself for me the following weekend. Late Thursday night, I was able to snag a bib for the Hot Chocolate 15K from an awesome lady who got sick and couldn’t run it. I do not run gimmicky races like Hot Chocolate and Rock N’ Roll very much, precisely because they feel too gimmicky and seem all about the money, with large displays of merchandise shoved in your face at every turn. Even though I’m way too young to remember the days before running became a “hot” sport, I still prefer those old-school races for local schools and charities. But anyhow, the bib was up for grabs and I got it. Called up my running buddy and made plans to meet her ass-early in the morning to drive to Dallas that Saturday.

Now, my first instinct was to run that damn race as fast as I could, as a sort of revenge for the terrible, horrible, awful 5K from the previous weekend. But somewhere along the drive to Dallas, I decided that I was going to make this FUN. It was going to be something enjoyable for once. I immediately felt a sense of relief, rather than those butterflies that I normally get as I approach a race site.

I didn’t take any pics before the start of the race, because I was fiddling around with my Nike armband and whatnot. But this was a big race, with about 13,000 people lining up. And – like me – most of them were in it to have fun. People were dressed up, and everyone was excited:
















(Thanks to the Morning News for the pic above, which I believe is of the 5K. I didn’t see these ladies, but they sure were in the right spirit!)

The gun went off and they began to release runners in waves. I decided to stick with my friend, who was going to be running it by herself otherwise, and when it was our turn we bounded out doing about 10:00.

There weren’t as many spectators as with the Dallas Marathon, but those that were there were enthusiastic. Absolute best part of the race? This booze station that was set up somewhere around mile 5. (Yes, I had some. Didn’t pay too much attention to what they were pouring. I think it was rum.)

I barely looked at my Garmin the whole race. I did notice at one point we were going about 10:30 – fast enough to where we weren’t spending the whole day on the course, but slow enough for me to keep from getting winded. At mile 8, I started to get antsy, and my friend graciously allowed me to charge ahead and finish. I ran an 8:00 pace for the last mile of the race, coming in at a time of 1:37 something. It was about 20 minutes slower than I’d normally finish on my own, but I didn’t care. I wanted to have fun, and I did.

The party continued at the post-race, where the runners were treated to (plastic) mugs filled with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and plenty of stuff to dip it in. I took a pic of my mug but it had a bruised banana in it that looks sort of gross, so I’m going to use RAM Racing’s stock photo:

















Finally, here’s a pic of us at the finish line. (I’m on the right; my post-race pics are never good. And my metal went all wonky. It’s supposed to be a candy bar)

The takeaway? Not every race needs to be run at breakneck speed. That’s a good way to burn out, get injured or just plain take all the fun out of running. I’m not Kara Goucher, and I never will be. So I can run races just for fun. And this one surely was.

Many, many years ago, before I became A Serious Runner (snicker), I had an extra 30 pounds or so that had somehow made its way to my rear end. I ended up losing that weight with Weight Watchers, becoming a Lifetime Member, which pretty much means that you can go to meetings and use their online tools for free – as long as you come in every month and get weighed. I kept it up for a really long time. But then life got in the way, I stopped going to weigh-ins, and – unsurprisingly – a few more pounds crept back on. I remained about 5 pounds above my goal weight for a really long time. Then I ran a less-than-stellar time at The Dallas Marathon and decided I was going to do everything possible to improve my performance. But how? Weight Watchers was fine when I was walking 4 times a week, but it really didn’t fit my lifestyle anymore. Enter Racing Weight, a book that says it can help endurance athletes get closer to that “ideal weight” without sacrificing performance.

I started following the advice in Racing Weight sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I even wrote about it in a previous post. Now that I’ve actually been following it for a good long while (with several periods of slacking in between), I feel I can give a more nuanced review, with pros and cons. First, the good stuff:

It’s flexible. There’s no need to buy special “diet food” so you can prepare the meals outlined in the book. While there are some meal suggestions, you pretty much come up with the meals on your own. As long as you’re eating lean meat, dairy, and fruits/vegetables (and paying attention to your portions), and avoiding junk, you’re following the plan. So just stock your pantry with the healthy stuff you like.

No energy bonk. The food in Racing Weight is specifically designed so you can still train for your marathon or half without wanting to curl up in a ball and sleep all day. AND, whatever you eat during your long runs isn’t counted – so you can have Gu or Gatorade when you need it. (I’m speaking of the main Racing Weight book; the companion, the Racing Weight Quick Start, is a little stricter and should only be used in the off-season.)

Booze is OK. You can still have a nightly beer or glass of wine (or a cocktail, if you don’t add a bunch of sugary mixer). This was a strong selling point for me!

But the plan does have its drawbacks. Here are a few that I’ve noticed:

It’s flexible. If you are the type of person who likes structure in their diet, then this may be a little too free-form for you, since few concrete suggestions are given. I understand there is a Racing Weight Cookbook, though, so you may want to check that out, too.

Equipment is required. To pinpoint your ideal racing weight, you have to do a few fiddly calculations, including body fat proportion. And you’ll need either a body-fat scale or a hydrostatic testing session to figure out your body fat. Not a big deal if you already have such a scale, but it’s something to consider.

It’s imprecise. There is no guarantee that your performance will improve once you reach your ideal “racing weight.” In fact, it probably won’t, if you don’t put in other work, like speed sessions and strength training. But even if you do put in the work, you may have to play around with your weight some to see what your best weight is. For example, according to the formulas in the book, my racing weight is 115. However, I may find that I can get even better if I go down to 112. Or I may find that 115 is too low and I need to be at 117 to be my best.

In conclusion: Racing Weight is definitely worth checking out if you’re active and looking to take off a few pounds. But it may not be for everyone. I will admit that it has been tough, and I have screwed up more than once. (OK, more than 5 times.) But I’m lighter than I was before, and I think I’m getting faster, though that won’t be apparent until my next race.

It’s a weird little experiment. I’m looking forward to seeing the results!

Yes. It’s been forever since I posted. And I really don’t have a good excuse, especially since I completed one of my biggest running goals to date – finishing a marathon. I finished in 4 hours 37 minutes – pretty good, considering I got rained on three times and looked like a drowned rat by the time it was over. Oh, and I puked on the DART afterward. Good times.

On to bigger and better things. Since I apparently cannot live without having some kind of running goal on my plate, I’ve decided to try and PR in the 5K this year – namely, to finish one in 22 minutes. That’s a big PR, since my current one is 24:37. I’ve undertaken an “advanced” plan that includes speedwork. This was the torture I put myself through today – 400-meter repeats:

400meterrepeatsThe repeats were done at a pace of about 7:09 min/mi, and it was hard for me to hold that for the 2-3 minutes that it took. Not good news, since I need to run a 7-minute mile (three of them, actually) to reach that 22-minute goal. I’m hopeful that I’ll adapt and my body will rise to the occasion. If not, I’ll settle for a 23-minute race, or something close to it.

Up next: the Raider Run, a 5K that’ll tell me if I can get to where I need to be by the time my goal race comes around.

It snowed in Texas last night. Behold:

Yes, this is what passes for snowfall in Texas. In December, anyway. I love the cold weather, so while everyone else around town was groaning and shivering and massaging their frozen joints – I decided to go out running! It was pretty much just me, one (badass) lady out walking, and several patches of barely frozen ice, which I artfully avoided. Didn’t take any pics, but I looked pretty much the same as I did in this photo, taken last week. (Edited to spare you the view of unmentionables that, for some reason, are always hanging beside the shower.)

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Holiday festivities begin at the end of this week with a trip out of town and a little visit to the ass kicking of the year the Iron Bowl. Roll Tide!


Not my scale.

I’m in the thick of marathon training, so naturally, my hunger has gone through the roof. And, not so concidentally – so has my weight. OK, it hasn’t gone “through the roof,” but I’ve packed on an extra 5 pounds or so. And with the big race coming up pretty soon, I knew that weight would weigh me down and possibly slow down my finish time. I’m not realistically aiming for a BQ or anything, but I do want to make every second count. So, I downloaded the Kindle version of Racing Weight, a book that’s been making the rounds in runner’s circles for a few years now. The book purports to tell you all about the best way to slim up and get to your ideal racing weight – for most people, that’s somewhere in between “Have you put on a few?” and “Wow, are you sick?”

There’s nothing especially groundbreaking about the nutrition advice in Racing Weight. Eat more veggies and fruits, don’t eat doughnuts and fries. Only eat when you’re hungry. What is different is the real-world approach that Fitzgerald uses when it comes to things like portion sizes. When I did Weight Watchers, everything had to be measured down to the tablespoon, cup or ounce. With Racing Weight, a portion of lean protein is the size of your palm. Cheese is about two slices. This makes following the plan much less of a fussy prospect.

If you like specific goal weights and rigid guidelines, this may not be the book for you. Fitzgerald provides some general guidelines for estimating your ideal racing weight, but you’ll have to go through a process of trial and error to figure out the exact number. In other words, you slim down until your times start to suffer, and then add a few back on. Fitzgerald also recommends getting a body-fat scale to measure how much adipose tissue you have. I did not do this, but I used the YMCA body fat estimator to get a rough idea.

Fitzgerald recommends starting his plan by doing a “quick start” in the off-season – you’ll have to buy his other book to do this – and then switching over to the long-term plan. I purchased the quick start book from an Amazon reseller, and it’s still on the way, so I haven’t had a chance to delve into it yet. Also, it’s still training season for me, so a quick start (I’m guessing with less calories) probably wouldn’t be ideal right now. So I just started using the long-term plan right off the bat.

I’ve followed the plan more or less faithfully over the past six days. During that time, I have lost 7 pounds, according to the number on the scale. I’m attributing some of this to water weight. Before, I was eating a lot of processed food and, I assume, quite a bit of sodium. When the salt intake dropped, the water fell off, too. I think that my scale weight will begin to drop off more slowly in the coming days, and I’m OK with that.

I haven’t seen any improvements in my times during training runs since beginning the plan, but neither have I seen any slowdowns. Time will tell. My approximate goal weight is approximately 13 pounds down from where I am now – I’m guessing that being that much lighter would have to help at least a little. I won’t reach the goal in time for my race, but it’s nice knowing that I’ll be part of the way there when I get to the starting line.

FYI: I have NOT received compensation of any kind for this entry! I bought the book myself and simply wanted to share my experience with it.

Photo courtesy Thinking Tree/flickr

Yes, I’m still running. Yes, I’m still training for a marathon. That’s why I haven’t updated in a while. But first, I wanted to share my newfound love for a product I recently discovered. The folks at Sunology Sunscreen were nice enough to send me some of their product to check out. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that if you’re a runner in Texas, you have to wear some kind of sun protection or you’ll end up a) with skin cancer or b) extremely uncomfortable. So let’s check it out:

The product they sent me was in a little individual packet – great for carrying along on a run, but it usually comes in a squeeze tube, as seen below. For purposes of this review, I used the SPF 50 Body formula.











The formula is fragrance-free, which I really like. I can’t stand having smelly sunscreens because it always seems like the scent doesn’t entirely go away after showering, and just blah. So that was a plus. The sunscreen is also all-natural and uses titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to protect your skin – another bonus.

I used the sunscreen recently when I went out for a run on a cool but sunny day. The first thing I noticed when I put it on was that it was THICK. It felt more like glue than like lotion, and the texture was a little different than regular formulas, sort of grainy. It also gave me that white “ghost face” look, but I didn’t mind. I took a pic of said ghost face, but it’s hard to see here.
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I think I did somewhere in the realm of 8 miles on the day I tried out the sunscreen. I did notice during my run that my sweat wasn’t running into my eyes as much. I reached up to my forehead at one point and noticed that the sunscreen had kind of mixed with the sweat and formed a kind of goo, probably because of how thick it was. It sounds gross, but it was actually good: my sweat wasn’t running into my eyes so I didn’t have any need to reach up and wipe my face with my shirt or my hands. When I have to do that, I inevitably rub some sunscreen off, and – if it’s a long run – I usually come home with a bit of a sunburn.

Here’s the post-run photo. Look closely and you’ll see the sunscreen still hanging on.

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So yes, I would recommend Sunology Sunscreen for runners in Texas, or really, anyone who wants sun protection without having to rub unpronounceable chemicals on their face. You can pick it up at their website, and it looks like it can also be found at Amazon. Happy (sun-free) running!

These past few weeks have just seemed like one big, long to-do list. Patrick is in third grade now and we can’t slack on homework any more, plus I’ve been on a project binge of sorts. I abruptly decided one day that I absolutely could NOT live without some sort of fall decoration on my door, so I spent my spare hours last week making this:

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Then I looked at the chair that I keep over in the corner near my desk – the one that I got for free from some lady who was just going to throw it out – and decided that I would reupholster it: (I don’t have a before. Trust me when I say it was horrid. Ripped, faded fabric, the whole nine yards)

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But my biggest and best achievement came on Saturday, when I finished an 11.4-mile run with my new partners from Life Time Run Club. Distance-wise, it’s not record-setting; after I ran my first half-marathon in 2012, I was determined to complete a full soon afterward, and I was putting in long runs of 14 miles or so. No, the biggest achievement about this run was the fact that I never stopped moving. No breaks to fix my music or drink from a water fountain or stare at the weird, stinky bird rookery on my route – all things that I am known to do when I run alone.

I don’t think I have ever been able to keep a consistent pace for this long a distance. The closest I came was back in 2012 at the Dallas half, and even then, I took a few breaks to fight for water at the overcrowded aid stations. This was definitely a milestone achievement for me – but it wasn’t hard. Having good, steady, talkative partners made it easy. For added motivation, there was also the fact that I was running an unfamiliar route. I had to keep up, otherwise I’d be picking through the trail alone, wondering which way to turn.

For a long time I’ve said that I’m best when I’m running alone. And I still do like running alone. But I may have discovered the value in (the occasional) run with a partner.

So, for my birthday this past January, my husband bought me a pair of wireless earbuds for my birthday. Now, these were Very Expensive earbuds … we’re talking over $100. But, you know, it was my birthday, so I figured it was a nice splurge. And I really enjoyed these earbuds. Until they started to break. First one of the speakers came detached from the unit. Then the button to connect the unit with the phone didn’t work. And so on and so on, until I finally sent them back to the manufacturer for a replacement.

Now, this company made things right and sent me a new pair of wireless earbuds. And I was happy. But I was also a little miffed at the shoddy performance of such an expensive product. That’s why I was excited when I heard about the Jam Transit Wireless Earbuds. At $39.99, they’re a considerably cheaper investment than other similar products, and they seem to perform most of the same functions. And they come in lots of colors! The folks at Jam Audio were nice enough to send a pair for me to try out. Here’s my experience with them.

First Things First
The earbuds come in a nice hard sided case. So far, so good.

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Opening the Package
The box was easy enough to open. Upon taking it apart, I found the unit, along with a manual and several different sizes of rubber ear cups – for those of us with exceptionally large or small ear holes, I guess.
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Power Up
Upon turning on the unit, the light flashes for a few seconds and then stops. The buds came pre-charged, which I appreciated. To pair them with my iPhone, I simply pushed the power button for five seconds until the lights started blinking red and blue.
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Then I went to the Settings folder in my iPhone and found the name of the earbuds in the device list. To pair it, I just clicked on it. Easy.
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The Buttons
There are a few buttons on the outside of one of the buds: One to turn volume up, one to turn it down, and another to play/pause songs. The buttons are easy to distinguish from one another just by touch, which I appreciated.
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A Few Adjustments
The cord that connects the two earbuds was very long – it went down past the back of my neck. Never fear, there’s a clip to squinch them together and make things a little less tangly. Voila!
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The earbuds came with a little micro USB cord, which I attached to the buds and then plugged into my iPhone charger on the wall. Though they came pre-charged, I wanted to make sure they had plenty of juice. The manual says 3 hours of charging will get you 6 hours of usage time.
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And Now for the Real Test…
I played around with the earbuds on a Friday afternoon, just listening to music, but I knew the true test of their functionality would be during my long run on Saturday morning. Since it’s still horribly hot here, I got out at about 5:15 a.m. to put in my 8 miles. Here’s me on the trail, wearing my dorky headlamp. Not a great pic, I know.
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So How Did They Do?
I was very impressed with the fit and sound quality from these earbuds. They did not fall out once, despite copious amounts of sweat emanating from my head and dripping into my ears. I was also able to turn the volume up and down with ease – which was especially nice when I unexpectedly ran into an acquaintance during my run and needed to pause for a second so I could speak. However, I was frustrated because I could not seem to find a way to skip songs mid-run; I ended up just pulling my phone out of my armband a couple of times. Later, I found out (by reading the manual) that there is actually a way to skip songs – you simply hold the “up” volume button for two seconds. Moreover, you can also go backwards by pressing the “down” volume button for two seconds. That’s a function my Very Expensive Earbuds don’t have.

In Conclusion…
I think these earbuds are an awesome product for runners who like to listen to music when they run, but don’t want to deal with the messiness of corded earbuds. They’re also handy when listening to music around the house – the range is something like 30 feet, so you can set your phone on a table and not worry about carting it with you while you walk to the other side of the room. The buds also come with a 1-year limited warranty, so you don’t have to worry about being out money if they go bad just a few weeks in. Check them out right here and buy ’em, if you so choose. I highly recommend them.

Though I cringe to share it, here’s a pic of me, at the end of Saturday’s 8 miles, with the earbuds. I am telling myself that most normal people look like crap after running 8 miles in the August heat.

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Jam Audio sent me a pair of wireless earbuds to try out for this review. I am not employed by Jam Audio and I was not compensated in any other way for this post.