Tuesday, February 27, 2018

My Surprise PR at the Cowtown Half Marathon

On the Thursday before the Cowtown half marathon my ankle started feeling weird. I didn't recall anything specific that would have caused this pain, so I just wrapped it up and hoped for the best.

I've been officially training for Cowtown since the beginning of the year. I was on a short cycle of just eight weeks, so I didn't have a lot of time to ramp up the miles and work on speed. I had a solid running base under my belt, but I didn't have high expectations for my finishing time.

At the Cowtown expo in Fort Worth.

Last week I wrote a post about my training road to Cowtown. This is the first year I ran the big race in my own city of Fort Worth and I now I wonder what took me so long. This was the most well-organized race I've ever run. Free parking was ample (even when you showed up at the last minute, like I did). The location was convenient and accessible. The race SWAG was fun and abundant. Seriously, who gets two shirts, a jacket, a head wrap and a medal? The corrals were well-thought out and organized. Even the weather was perfect on Sunday (sorry to the 5K and 10K runners on Saturday who got soaked in the pouring rain).

Even with a sore foot, I felt ready for the race. More ready than usual. I was actually scared that I was feeling too confident as if somehow that would jinx the whole thing. Stupid runners superstition.

I found a cute running skirt hiding in my drawer that still had the tags on it. It was supposed to be a little chilly in the morning, but I knew once I started running it would be perfect. I wore a tank with a lightweight jacket and took my traditional "Flat Lea" like any good runner on Instagram does.

I set the alarm for 5:30 am to prepare for a 7am race start. I woke up with a new soreness on the outside of my foot. What the heck is going on? It didn't hurt inside my cushioned running shoes, but I was a little worried about it.

I ate my long run and race day tradition of toaster waffles with berries, syrup and a banana. I hit the road while it was still dark to head south to Fort Worth.

I won't bore you with my mile by mile commentary, but I broke the ultimate racing rule and did something brand new on race day. (Do as I say not as I do: Never wear, eat or try anything new on race day.) I set my TomTom Spark GPS watch to alert me if I was running faster than a nine minute mile pace or slower than a 9:30 pace. I thought this was a safe pace as to not kill myself but still be in range to get a PR. I didn't have time to do any runs with this new setting so I was annoyed to realize it changed the main screen settings so I couldn't see at a glance how much time has passed or my average pace. It only showed me current pace and whether I was on target or not. (There may be settings I was unaware of to fix this, but I didn't realize until I started running, so it was too late.)

The only times my watch told me speed up was during the first mile when it was crowded and during mile nine on the killer 1/3 mile hill across the bridge back into downtown Fort Worth. The rest of the race it was telling me to slow down, which I happily obliged.

I couldn't believe how quickly the miles were whipping by. I felt great the entire race. My music was pumping in my ears and my legs were grooving along. After mile six, it seemed like I was steadily moving between 9 and 9:10 (but I couldn't be sure). I started to get the idea that I could maybe set a new personal record for this race, but I didn't want to get my hopes up.

My last half marathon PR was at the Dallas Rock 'n' Roll in 2012: 1:59:23. Six years ago! I want to prove to myself that, at over 40, my running glory days were not behind me. Would this be the race? I didn't think so going in.

During the race I never knew my average pace or the amount of time that passed. I don't know if this mentally helped me or hurt me. I just decided to keep moving forward at this comfortable-ish pace, not pushing any faster...until I hit mile twelve. I decided to push it on the last mile just in case I was close to a PR. That 1.1 mile was the only time I suffered the whole race. I found it funny when I looked at my splits after the race. That final mile wasn't faster than my previous few miles. It just goes to show, it's all in our heads.

post race celebration! 

#runcowtown half marathon medal
When I looked at my final stats on my GPS watch after crossing the finish line, It said 1:59:00 couldn't believe I hit a new PR! I was on cloud nine! I would like to thank strength training, the run streak and early morning race day waffles.

official time.

After the race I ran into some social media friends!

When I got home, hubby got me PR flowers. Cue internet "awwww"

Did I just achieve a half marathon PR on a bad ankle? I've been icing, elevating and compressing since the race. Hopefully I'll be back to normal again soon after a few recovery and rest days. Now I feel the like the sky's the limit if I have a longer training cycle that includes some speed work. My glory days are still here. Except...

As I was walking back to my car after the race, I reached back to smooth my skirt and it was tucked into the shorts in the back. Was it like that since my porta-potty stop at 6:45am? If so, I deeply apologize to all the runners behind me.

My official race photo. I paid $30 for this sucker, so I thought I would share!

Keep Running,


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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

On the Road to Cowtown...

I love to run half marathons. It's my favorite race distance because it always feels like a worthwhile challenge but it doesn't take too much time to fit in the training. I know a lot of people train to run full marathons and beyond, but to me, thirteen miles will always feel like a major acomplishment! If I can carve out an extra hour to two on a weekend on top of my normal running schedule, I know I can successfully train for a half marathon.

I love destination races, I've run races in San Diego, San Antonio, Las Vegas and Pittsburgh. We are running the Disney Star Wars Dark Side half marathon in Florida this April. People always ask me why I am not running my local race in Fort Worth. That would be much too convenient and inexpensive, I joke.

I am the queen of signing up for half marathons and then not properly training for them (which makes for a miserable race day experience). I know, I know. I am a running coach. I know better. But as I always say, it is not what we know, it is what we do. Knowledge means nothing without action. I was determined to properly train for this one. Pinky swear.

I decided to sign up for the Cowtown half marathon last December because I felt ready to tackle the training for another half marathon and finally run the big race in my own city. I was dealing with a shoulder issue for most of 2017 that prohibited me from running long distances, but as my shoulder improved I was itching to start long run training again. I haven't ran a half marathon since 2016! It was time to put an end to that. The Cowtown half marathon is on February 25th.


I started training in December after I signed up and did a couple of longer runs, but fell off the long run wagon when the weather went south. I know, excuses. I didn't get serious about my long runs until January. That still gave me about eight weeks to train and with the solid running base I already had, I knew it would be enough time.

I also have been strength training with Optimal Force Fitness on Mondays and Fridays and doing my own runner-specific strength training in the ShredShed. Strength training for runners is so important for performance and for injury prevention.


My motto for my training long runs is Beastie Boy inspired, "Slow and Low that is the Tempo." I literally repeat it in my head like an mantra. It helps me slow my pace while I build endurance. I know I have a tendency to go out too fast (especially if I am feeling great) then puttering out at the end.

Hubby is not running this race with me, but he usually comes along for the first half of my long training runs. He is a great pacer, he reminds me to slow it down. I told him I need his voice on a recorder for the first half of Cowtown on repeat: "slow down, slow down, slow down." After the first half, I can go as fast as I want.

Honestly, If I had more time I would train a little more for speed, but eight weeks is not enough time to train for both speed and endurance. For injury prevention you should never increase intensity and volume in the same week, which means you have to choose week by week if you are going to train to run faster or farther. With the limited time, I had to choose to train for distance so I would have the endurance to finish at all.

My half marathon PR was back in 2012 and it was just under two hours. I want to prove to myself that my running glory days are not behind me and I am still capable of running a sub two hour half marathon, but it's not going to happen this time. In order to run a half in less than two hours you need to maintain a 9:10 pace over 13 miles and my long training runs have been around 9:30. I can probably expect to pick up a several seconds a mile with race day excitement, but it's just not realistic to expect that race day pace will be 20 seconds faster than training pace. We'll see.

Just a lesson to myself to not cut the training cycle short like I did by not following through with training in December.


Hubby and I started the run streak on Thanksgiving Day 2017 with Runner's World. The idea is to run at least one mile a day every single day. Some days you run more than one, then on rest days you just run one mile. When January rolled around and the official run streak ended, hubby wanted to keep going. I was a little worried it would be too much for my (old lady) body, but I've been doing great. At the time of this post we've been streaking for 89 days! I think it has enhanced my half marathon training, rather than inhibit it. I run most of the rest day one milers slow as to give my body the recovery it needs. If I am feeling tired, I run several one mile days in a row. The key to a successful run streak is to listen to your body.


Fueling for a half marathon is as important in training as it is on race day. If you feed your body high quality carbohydrates, proteins and fats you will see the best performances. I try to live by the 80/20 rule. It's just an estimate, but the idea is to eat healthy nourishing foods 80% of the time and allow 20% of your calorie intake for treats and indulgences. This helps me stay in balance (something I struggle with, the all-or-nothing). 

Every Sunday we have waffles as our weekly treat. No, they are not high protein, low carb, flourless healthy waffles, they are the good ol' toaster waffles with berries and syrup. I noticed when I would eat my indulgent toaster waffles the morning before a long run that I would run really well. It's probably the boost in carbohydrates or maybe it's just mental, but after a few weeks of waffles = good run, I decided that the race day strategy will be to get up early and eat waffles before I go. I am already excited (about the waffles).


Race day is Sunday February 25th. I finished up my last long training run of 12 miles this past Sunday and I feel confident. I plan on a modified taper week of just one mile a day until race day to keep the run streak alive. I'll do my regular strength training workout on Monday, hip and core exercises throughout the week and will walk Ollie for a couple of miles every day. Then on Friday before the race I will skip my usual leg workout and just focus on arms. I should have really fresh and recovered legs by Sunday.

Of course Ollie doesn't like any of this nonsense because the training runs are too long for his aging bones and he can't even enjoy race day!

Stay tuned, I have some exciting things coming soon. I have an amazing guest post that you're just going to love with an adorable furry face and in the first week of March I am going to Houston for a one day Blog Elevated conference. I'll be hanging out with @runoutthebox so go follow her over on Instagram.

Wish me luck and cool weather!

Keep Running,


Does your running partner have four legs

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Welcome to the latest edition of Tuesday Tails Furry Feature when I introduce you to the furriest, cutest four-legged runners on the web (and their human). It's always my most popular post of the month and I look forward to introducing you to this month's feature Heather, Belle and Willow.

Hi, Heather. Tell us a little bit about your favorite running partners. 

Belle is a 5 years old Miniature Pinscher beagle mix. Willow is a 9 months old German Short hair Retriever.

Where is your favorite place to run with your pooch? 

We love to run on the back roads.

Have you ever raced with your dog?

Not yet, but we are excited to be training for a 10k in April.

Tell us about a running moment that made you proud.

I am proud of Belle for running 12 miles with me. This is impressive because she only weighs 20 lbs and has sticks for legs.

What running (or life) lesson can we learn from our dogs? 

Running with my dogs is the best thing I ever did! They are more balanced energy-wise and they motivate me more than I ever thought they could. I’m not just that crazy runner girl, ow I’m the crazy runner girl with two dogs!

Do you want to tell us anything else about you or running with your dog?

Everyone should exercise with their dog on a regular basis. It builds a bond and helps to lessen behavior problems.

Do you want to be featured on this blog with your dog? Fill out this form to be considered. For now, this is a monthly post (12 times a year) but with enough new interest, I am considering expanding it to once a week (52 times a year) so there is plenty of opportunity to get in your feature submission. We'd love to hear from you!

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Does your running partner have four legs

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Vanilla is the New Chocolate: 5 Crave-Worthy Vanilla Protein Shake Recipes

This post is sponsored by Premier Protein. All opinions are my own. If I hated it, I would tell you. 

Somewhere along the line, vanilla got a bad rap. "It's so vanilla" describes something that is plain, boring or lackluster. I am here to take vanilla back. I boldly declare that vanilla is the new chocolate! I will prove it with these five crave-worthy, delicious smoothies that happen to be nutritious. When you combine fruits, veggies and protein you have a delicious on-the-go meal that's actually good for you.

Why Protein? As a nutrition habits coach I help my all my clients focus on adding more protein into their diets, not just my athletes and the weightlifters. Everyday people who want to live more healthily can benefit from a protein boost, because most people aren't meeting their daily requirements.

5 crave-worthy vanilla protein shake recipes

Protein helps repair and build muscle which is helpful if you work out, but if you are trying to lose weight then consuming enough protein can help you preserve the muscle you already have. When you lose weight, you want to make sure you are losing mostly fat and not muscle. Muscle tissue on the body helps you burn more calories as you go about your day scrolling Pinterest, reading a book or enduring that marathon, even the Netflix kind! Maintain and/or build your muscle tissue for a higher metabolism.

Protein helps you feel full for longer after you eat so you can stay satisfied between meals. Protein has a higher thermic effect than carbs or fats which means you use more calories just to process protein. The thermic effect of food is the energy it takes your body to digest, absorb and store the foods you eat. Most people will benefit from protein-centric meals and snacks.

I am excited to work with Premier Protein again. I love their affordable, easily accessible protein powders with no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. Their 100% whey protein powder is new and improved with 30 grams of protein per scoop, 180 calories and only 3 grams of sugar. You can pick it up at Sam's Club.

5 crave-worthy vanilla protein shake recipes


You know how you're supposed to eat 6-8 servings of fruits and veggies a day? Yeah, it's tough. I know. Adding a handful of spinach to your smoothie helps you meet your daily veggie requirements and you can't even taste it (really!). Try this delicious high-protein spin on the classic green smoothie.

1 banana
1/3 cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 handful of spinach
1/2 cup to 1 cup of milk, almond milk or water
1 scoop of Premier Protein Vanilla Milkshake protein powder


What comes to mind when you think of cocoa and mint? Little girls with green sashes and cookies! Not to take anything away from that adorable, irresistible cookie sales force, but give this recipe a try when you have a hankering for a thin mint. 

1 banana
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
1/2 to 1 cup of milk, almond milk or water
1 scoop of Premier Protein Vanilla Milkshake protein powder


When you can't leave it all behind for a tropical island, at least you can always close your eyes and sip on pineapple and coconut to pretend. Bring your own drink umbrella for maximum effect.

handful of spinach
handful of frozen pineapple
pinch of coconut
pinch of sliced almonds
1/2 to 1 cup of milk, almond milk or water
1 scoop of Premier Protein Vanilla Milkshake protein powder


Maybe nothing is quite like Grandma's homemade apple pie, but when Grandma's not around to tell you that you're getting too skinny, blend up this delicious high-protein treat and save the extra pie calories for a special occasion.

1 sliced apple
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 to 1 cup of milk, almond milk or water
1 scoop of Premier Protein Vanilla Milkshake protein powder


Remember back in the days before cell phones and high speed internet when we spent our days climbing trees with the neighborhood kids until the street lights came on? Back then our big decision of the day was either an orange creamsicle or a Turbo Rocket popsicle. I always went for the creamsicle so this one feels a little sentimental. 

1 medium orange
1/3 cup of plain Greek yogurt
1/2 to 1 cup of milk, almond milk or water
1 scoop of Premier Protein Vanilla Milkshake protein powder

Pick up your own Premier Protein Vanilla Milkshake flavored protein powder at Sam's Club for 30 grams of protein per serving. Blend up a few of these recipes and join me on my quest to declare that vanilla is the new chocolate!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Premier Protein. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Keep Running,


Does your running partner have four legs

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