7 Ways to Slash an Hour (Or More) Off of Your Marathon Time.

So today I thought we would discuss marathon times and for those of you that are trying to hit some serious time goals, this post is for you! I don’t pretend to be an expert but I wanted to share my experiences with the marathon distance and how I’ve vastly improved in the last few years.

A few short years ago, I was running marathons and finishing them in 4 hours and 50 minutes. I was slowly but surely creeping into finishing all of my races in 5 hours and it was so mentally frustrating. But I altered some things and making those changes has literally slashed 1 hour and some change off of my current time. My PR is now 3:45 and that is due to a lot of hard work and dedication. So I wanted to share how I’ve gotten there. And hopefully I may be able to help some of you.

1. Figure out what style of training works for you. I was just talking with my running buds about training methods this morning. I have a friend that I train with in the mornings (he does his easy runs/recovery days with our group) that is pushing 60 years old and you guys he is just remarkable in every sense of the word when it comes to badass runners. He has broken 3 hours in the marathon more than once and is returning to Boston this year to really crush it. He consistently runs strong times and actually told me that one of the things that has helped him improve over the years is upping his weekly mileage. It is all about balance and all about patience. Increasing your mileage slowly over time is definitely going to build your aerobic capacity and make you a stronger runner in the long run. Pun intended.

2. Stay on top of problem areas when it comes to injury prevention. Do you have issues with your hips, knees, whatever etc!? Do not run yourself into the ground until you fall apart. Find out what is going on with your body and do what it takes to immediately nip it in the bud. The moment you stay on top of things before they become serious issues is when you will start to see improvements in your running. I run a lot…but guess what? I stretch a lot too. I see the same massage therapist 1-2 times a month who works on my issues when they come up. You do what you’ve gotta do to stay healthy and stay rocking out the mileage.

3. Be consistent! You can’t expect to improve if you are not willing to put in the work. Run when you don’t want to. Get up early before you have time to think about it and get the time in on your feet. Keep track of your miles from week to week. Include recovery weeks in your training. The more consistent you are as a runner the better you will get at it and the better you will get at what does and does not work for you.

4. Stay mobile and active even when you are not running. I have a varidesk at work. I am telling you, having an adjustable desk where you can stand up and move around and you are not sitting all day will help you immensely! Before when I was sitting all day I had to see my chiropractor on a consistent basis for hip adjustments. Now I only see him a couple of times a year. So thank you, varidesk…you are the real MVP.

5. Okay, keep it real time. Racing weight does matter somewhat. I don’t necessarily think it is the end all be all to running faster times. You still have to put in work because you could be stick thin and unhealthy and still be struggling with running. BUT… dropping excess weight does make you lighter which in turn could make you a tad faster. In the last few years I’ve dropped about 25 additional pounds really due to the higher mileage and getting adjusted to that. But I do think that helped give me a bit of a boost and helped running a sub 4 hour marathon not feel so difficult. Y’all that sub 4 used to feel HARD to me. It really doesn’t anymore. So, make some adjustments in your nutrition if you have to. Add more fresh foods into your diet. Cut the unnecessary post long run “treats”. I know some of us run because we are foodies or like to drink margaritas. But doing all of that stuff is NOT going to make you faster. Eat to fuel your running and to fuel your goals. *drops mic*

6. Hills. Speedwork. Long runs. Do them. When I started adding more hill training especially is when I started to see lots of improvement in my training. I really feel like hills strengthen my legs and make me more powerful when it is time to race. Hills definitely are speedwork in disguise. Also even if you do things like strides (quick pickups while you are running) or hit the track 1-2 times a week, tempo runs etc. All of these things will make moving faster not as difficult.

7. Run with faster people. This one is major. If you want to run faster marathon times you have to put yourself in a scenario and envision yourself being that “fast” runner. Run with people who have more experience with this than you. Run with those Boston marathoners that wear the flashy jackets. Find out what makes them tick. Sooner or later you will be rocking and rolling and pushing the pace and feeling like that confident fast runner that is crushing those marathon times.

What are some things that have helped your running improve over time?

Spring and Summer Races on Tap.

Spring and summer without a doubt are my favorite seasons to train and race some shorter, faster races. So I have a few distances (including a couple of ultras) I plan on tackling within the next few months!! Here are a few items I have on my calendar, so far.

Cowtown 50k – Sunday, February 25th / Ft. Worth, Texas: Technically this one is still in the winter, but it is UP NEXT on the calendar. I am so excited to be PACING this race this year! As some of you know, last year I paced the marathon distance and this year I will be tackling the 50k (31 miles) Pacing is a whole different type of animal, but I’ve been fortunate to be able to pace various distances over the last several years. This will be the first time I’ve paced beyond 26.2 miles though. So, I’m very excited to be able to help some runners conquer their goals! And yeah, earn a glass of wine or 2 while I’m at it.

Rock n Roll Dallas Half Marathon— Sunday, March 25th / Dallas, TX: This race is kind of a staple on my race calendar every year. I absolutely love how organized the Rock n Roll race series in general is, and they always have the best runner swag and medals. If medals are your thing, I definitely recommend you find a Rock n Roll race in your area to run. They are just a blast. There’s bands all along the course to rock out to as well as a great post race party. Definitely cannot wait to run this one.

Danman Trail Race- Marathon— Saturday, April 7th / Madill, OK: I talked a bit about my experience running this one last year. Basically, there’s an awesome guy that has a ranch and tons of land out in Oklahoma and he invites all of the runners to run a race on his property. You can choose shorter distances like 10k, there’s also a half/full/and 50 mile race. ALL FREE. Yes, you read that right! Free. Plus he cooks food and you can camp out the night before and bring tents and such. So my trail run group goes out there and it is just one big freakin’ party. Gotta love it. This year I will run 26.2 out there on the trails.

Hachie 50 Miler— Saturday, May 5th / Waxahachie, TX: This is a newer race that I’ve kept on my schedule recently. This race was also my very 1st 50 miler 2 years ago. I love it because the field is fairly small which is great because usually I win some type of award (top female overall last year). It’s a paved, looped course which I actually enjoy because I get to see my friends over and over, and the course is fairly shaded plus there plenty of aid stations. And, you can’t beat an ultra close to home.

Hell’s Half Acre 25K— Saturday, July 7th / Ft. Worth, TX: I’m excited to have this one on the calendar! I’ve been wanting to do more HOT summer races just to test my stamina and this one should prove to be a good one. It is a 3 mile looped course and there’s also a 50k but I’d like to work on my speed so 25k should do the trick. Plus I need a new 25k PR (the only 25ks I’ve run have been on trails) so let’s see what I’m capable of.

Of course, I may throw a couple more races in the mix (I’ve got my eye on some more TRAIL stuff) but this is what is on tap so far! I’m still looking at marathons for the fall. Wineglass in NY as well as Revel Big Cottonwood in Utah are both calling my name. Decisions, decisions. Then, I’ve already signed up for my 2nd 100 miler in DECEMBER. Woo freakin’ hoo.

What races are on tap for your spring and summer?

Quirky Things Runners Do, Continued.

Runners, we are a quirky bunch…aren’t we? Let’s do a bit of a continuation of some of the quirky things runners do…in no particular order…

Hem and haw about waking up early to run. But hey, someone’s gotta do it. Getting up and out the door is half the battle.

Go out for ‘just 4 miles’ and end up doing 7 or 8. Guilty.

Get up to run on a Sunday morning after going out with your buddies on a Saturday night. Because ‘sleeping in’ is overrated.

Post motivational ‘run quotes’ on Instagram. Preferably with a sunrise or sunset in the background.

Bitch and moan about things we cannot control, like the weather. Just because we can.

Go run long and come home and basically do absolutely nothing for the rest of the day. Well hey, you’ve earned it.

Runners, what are some more quirky things that you do?

New PR! Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon 2017 Recap.

Happy Global Running Day!! You guys, this week has been quite the whirlwind. But I am back from my long weekend in beautiful San Diego, California! I almost did not want to come back to Dallas because I was having so much fun. Anyway, let’s recap the marathon a bit, shall we?

I flew into San Diego on Saturday and immediately made my way to the expo to get my goodies. Of course I had to stop at the Brooks Running center to check out the latest and greatest in running gear.

I even ran into my homeboy Meb, fantastic super human Olympian! I met him in Dallas at a UCan event years ago so it was great to hang with him again for a bit.

And alas my running blogger boos Fallon and Mai! We have been reading each others blogs for a while now so it was so great to run into them. Hashtag I’m kind of jealous that they are originally from California and get to run here all of the time.

The next morning I got my bib on and made my way out to Balboa Park. It was a 6:15 a.m. start which is pretty early but with the time change I was wide awake and ready to get going.

I started things off just running by feel, since honestly I did not know what to expect with this race. As most of you know I just ran the 50 miler a few short weeks ago, and have been keeping my weekly mileage fairly high. I knew for sure I was in better shape than when I ran this same marathon last year. So I expected to hopefully have a faster time than last year. But as far as a legit PR, I was doubtful. The full marathon course is tough, going up an intense hill at mile 23 that is basically relentless. A lot of people choose the half over the 26.2 distance for this race because of that very hill. But, I was ready to take on the challenge since I’ve been doing lots of hill training.

The first half of the race I ran pretty conservatively, finishing at the half mark at 1:49 and some change. After the half mark there are some elevation changes and eventually we end up in Mission Bay, which is a great view of the beach and lots of folks out there to cheer us on. I was starting to feel tired around this point which was after mile 18 or so but I kept on trucking because I knew that giant hill up the highway was coming.

On the highway lots of folks start walking but I just kept my head down and knew it would be over soon. Then the course kind of does a bit of a downhill on back into downtown. Lots of spectators here. I looked down at my watch and saw that I had plenty of time and I was actually going to PR. What a thrill that was! I was definitely not expecting to run my fastest ever marathon on this course. Hallelujah. All of the blood sweat and tears is paying off.

3:45:40 finish, 8:37 pace, feeling good feeling great. On a hard ass course! Hey buddy, I will take it.

Celebration with wine was definitely in order. Cheers to life.

How was your weekend? What are you looking forward to this upcoming weekend?
Pool time, some hot runs in the sun and catching up with friends. Bring on summer.

When It’s Cold Outside…Runners Be Like…

We all know how easy it is to fall into excuses during this time of year. It’s too cold, it’s too windy, there’s snot coming out of my nose (hey just keeping it real), my bed is too warm etc. I found some cold weather running funnies on Pinterest that explain my exact thoughts sometimes. To be honest, I love the cold but the early dark mornings can be tough! HA. That just makes you that much more of a badass though if you get it done.

In no particular order…

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Are you getting your run on today?
Done and done.

What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods?

2016 BMW Dallas Marathon Recap.

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend! I sure did. I gave myself an early Christmas present…a fabulous new marathon PR. Let’s discuss, shall we?

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So the weekend started off pretty mellow. I scaled back the miles last week leading up to Sunday’s race. Friday I did a little shakeout run and then Saturday I rested the legs. Me and my homegirl Tracy went up to the Dallas Marathon expo to pick up our runner swag. I loved the graffiti art on the wall.

Saturday night I laid out my clothes and I was ready to go. Gotta love this shirt. Running wild. That is me indeed.

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Race day! Tracy and I got up extra early, got a ridiculously awesome spot right by the race site in downtown Dallas and then walked around to find our Irving Running Club buddies. Here’s just a few of the crew. We had lots of runners doing the half and full marathons that day.

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I lined up to the start ready to go. Temps were pretty chilly, with a light misty rain and a bit of humidity. Not the most amazing conditions, but not too shabby either. I was loving the chill in the air. The start was really awesome too, they had some fireworks going off, and a few Olympic runners (Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi just to name a few) were there as well. Meb did a little speech and sent us on our way.

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I started off running with my girl Tracy who was going out with guns blazing. One of the things I loved the most about this training season was doing a lot of my training with her. She is a bit of a faster runner so she really pushed me and motivated me to keep up. I’m so thankful for her! I had to pull back a bit because I knew for me I was starting out a bit fast. I reigned it back into a solid pace that I knew I could hold for a while. I also tracked myself so I was getting alerts on my phone on how I was doing, my estimated finish time and etc. The first few miles literally seemed to fly by. I loved seeing my friends and runner family out on this course. Running in my hometown is absolutely the best.

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I clocked my first half at around 1:51 and some change feeling good. And honestly feeling like I could still hold strong through the second half (something I’ve definitely had trouble with in the past). We went through White Rock Lake and over some hills which I also felt strong on. I felt a bit tired around mile 20 but I knew I could push through still and bust that wall down. I took a salted caramel gu and just kept trucking. I also had my hydration pack with plenty of water so I didn’t really stop at many water stops this time, only to take in a few sips of gatorade. Just keep trucking…relentless forward progress…is what I kept saying to myself for most of this run.

I will just say this. I went into this race with the intention to PR. I knew without a shadow of a doubt, despite the weather, and whatever obstacles I would face that day…that it was going to happen for me. Yesterday was the first time in a long time that I believed I was capable of this strong of a race. After a few years, and after my previous fastest time, finally the stars aligned and it was my moment. I wasn’t sure if it would be under 3:50. Honestly, I would have been ecstatic with that time as well! But I flew into that finish line with a solid 3:47 and some change finish. Smiling from ear to ear. I did it. And my goodness…does it feel oh so good.

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There is nothing sweeter than a new marathon PR.

26.2 number 22 complete.

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How was your weekend? Did anyone run the Dallas Marathon or any other fun race? If so…congrats!

I Just Ran a Marathon…Now What? As Told by The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

So, for most of you marathon runners out there fall and winter time means racing season. We train for months and months in the summertime, enduring the heat and humidity for that special day. Running a marathon for a lot of us is like…giving birth. Not that I know how that feels or anything but hey…I can surely imagine. Blood, sweat and tears goes into training and when the race is finally said and done it leaves you thinking, now what? Well, never fear. The Real Housewives of Atlanta are here to help you figure out what you should do with your life now that training season has come to an end.

Rest and recover. Oh so important…like probably the most important thing you will read on this list. I tell you what I am probably the lamest person in my group of friends when it comes to being able to stay up late. That late night life is not really for me. But guess what I do not care. No shame. Get your rest, girl. And do not feel bad about it. You’ve put your body through the ringer and you need every little bit you can get. Recharge your batteries so you can get back out on those roads.

Cross train and do some other fun activities that aren’t running related. Cycle, swim, pick up a weight. Kickbox, dance, whatever. These things will help you not get burned out from running. I’ve stayed in love with running because I mix it up. I am at the gym 3 days a week teaching fitness classes and strength training. It honestly has made me a stronger runner overall and I’m very thankful for that.

Don’t worry too much about calories. I know, that is easier said than done. But nourish your body with good, wholesome foods. At least the first week following the marathon just focus on replenishing your body. You want a burger? Eat the damn burger. Have a glass of wine. Cheers.

Hydration is still important. The few weeks following make sure you step your water game up. I keep a huge jug at my desk and I just chug a lug all day long.

No Porsha…the non alcoholic kind.

Go easy on yourself physically…and mentally too. Sometimes my mind is a little bit in shambles as well after a race and I kind of just feel all over the place. Give your body and your brain time to heal and recover. I wouldn’t make any crazy major life decisions the week following a race especially. That is just me. I usually want to jump right back into training after 26.2 and sign up for ALL OF THE RACES. Give it a beat or two. You will be back in business before you know it.

When’s your next marathon? What are some things you enjoy doing when you’re not running?

2016 Marine Corps Marathon Recap.

Well hi there! Sorry for the race recap delay. I am finally back from my Washington DC getaway! Hope all is well in your world. Let’s do a little marathon race recapping, shall we?

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I had such a marvelous time…so fun getting to see college friends and many friends who I consider more family than anything else. This was my 4th time running this race and my 21st full marathon. It’s actually one of the only marathons I’ve run more than once! I just love the challenge of the course, the marines cheering you on every step of the way, and the organization overall. It is hands down one of the best 26.2 experiences around.

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So since I arrived late on Friday we got up fairly early on Saturday to head to the race expo. I loved the change of expo location…the National Harbor which is absolutely beautiful. I kind of wished I had more time to explore this area but I loved it.

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I grabbed my race number, took some pics with Marines and I was ready to go.

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Sunday funday! Race morning was quite the early morning for me. Since I stayed with a girlfriend who lives right outside of DC she was gracious enough to take me straight to race headquarters to jump on the shuttle for the race. This process was actually much more organized than I thought it would be. Since the Metro rail stations opened late a lot of people had to do the shuttle thing that morning to arrive to the race on time. It actually all really worked out and I preferred this honestly over taking the Metro! It was much faster and security check in was a breeze. I got there about an hour before the start and got a pretty pic of the sunrise and cool flyover before the race.

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We got the ready set go and we were off. It’s usually close to 30,000 who run this race every year and we all kind of start together. So the start was slow and it’s a lot of weaving in and out but eventually the crowds thinned out and I made my way through.

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I definitely had a strategy for this race going in. I wanted to ideally get close to the 4 hour mark this time as I knew my training had been pretty on point this go round. And honestly it has been over 4 years since my injury that I had gone sub 4 so even saying that to people as far as my goal scared the living shit out of me. But that was definitely in the back of my mind for the day. I started off strong with my pace and held on solid for a majority of this race. I fought through a couple of side cramps and random issues but I felt good mentally and physically through about mile 22 or so.

Once I hit Crystal City around miles 22-23 there was a ton of energy which really helped when I was feeling super tired and not into it. Then the race kind of winds back around and we end it with a huge climb on to the finish. The Iwo Jima hill ya’ll…it is nothing to mess with. It’s basically a death march with all of the spectators watching so you kind of have to keep your game face on. Around this time I stopped looking at my watch because I knew I was just tired and super ready to be done. When it was all said and done…I came here and did what I have been wanting to do for over 4 years now. Finished with a freaking sub 4! Hallelujah and thank you baby Jesus. Nearly AN HOUR faster than my last Marine Corps Marathon. Yes, I said an hour. That is not a joke.

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I feel really good about that time and it makes me smile. Considering also the random DC heat wave things went better than expected for sure.

I also have another opportunity to really crush it in December when I run the Dallas Marathon and I am hoping for some cool amazing weather.

26.2 number 21 is a wrap. Mission accomplished.

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Anyone else have some races coming up? Best of luck to those of you racing the NYC Marathon this upcoming weekend!

Ish is Getting Real and Funny Runner e-Bibs.

Happy run this morning with the crew…fast finish miles are always the best kind of miles! 5 days left til the Marine Corps Marathon. I tell ya…ISH is about to get oh so real.

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I feel pretty good this week…a little tightness here and there but after running 20 marathons I’m very familiar with all of that. Legs are feeling decent with the scale back in high (for me) mileage. I personally love running all of the miles. So as far as my runner EGO goes (haha) it is always very humbling when I am forced to run less. I do like being done with all of my runs this week in less than an hour. I’m just focusing on my hydration and nutrition…and also on my SLEEP. I’m hoping to get at least a little sleep on the plane too heading to D.C. I leave Friday and then will do my expo packet pickup thing and get to see my college buds. Cannot wait.

So since I’ve been going taper crazy and I need a distraction let’s laugh a little, shall we? I am loving all of these runner e-bibs on Pinterest. They are all oh so true.

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And my personal favorite.

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You know you’re a runner when…finish the sentence!

Taper Crazies, 6 Days and Wknd Recap.

Hi there! Hope you are having a great Monday. It’s race week over here and I’ve got a full blown case of the taper crazies. But it’s okay…we are only 6 days away so I will get through it right? Right. Bring it on.

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Gotta love scaling back the miles…hoping it will get my legs nice and fresh and ready though for the Marine Corps Marathon. 26.2 number 21, baby!

Let’s recap the weekend a bit!

Not too much went on this weekend…it was basically a whole lot of rest, relaxation and chill time after running. Saturday morning I met up with some peeps from the IRC crew for a long run. I had 12 miles on deck.

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I was really actually happy with this run…it felt so good to be doing 8 something minute miles and actually feel good while doing it. For the most part I kept the pace conversational and enjoyed running with some buddies. I even had to reel it in a few times because we were creeping up and getting faster. Love it. Please fall weather…stay around for a long long time.

Sunday I played around in the leaves for a bit…recovery run day. It was overcast with a nice breeze and I encountered a couple of hills along the way. We have lots of pretty leaves on the ground but for some reason most of the trees are all still green? Haha eventually Texas will catch on with the fall foliage.

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How was your weekend? Do you get kind of crazy when you have to taper for a race??