8 Reasons Why You Should Run The Miracle Match Marathon in Waco Texas

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8 Reasons Why You Should Run The Miracle Match Marathon in Waco Texas.

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Race Date: End of January

Location: Waco, Texas

Race Distances: 1 mile, 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon, Full-Marathon, Ultra Marathon (50K)

 

1 – No stress to run a PR

This is not the kind of race to go for a PR. Check out this elevation map!! This is the kind of race to challenge yourself and just enjoy the scenery. Did I mention there is an option to go up these lovely stairs of death at mile 24 (or mile 29 if you’re doing the ultra)?

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2016 Miracle Match Ultramarathon

2 – A small race with a HUGE payout

The race may be small, but it does not run short on bling. You not only get a race shirt, but also a finisher’s jacket, and a custom medal design by Sport Hooks. Not to mention a huge post-race party with free food (and even free margaritas for you racers in the 21+ age group.)

3 – Great chance you’ll place in your age group

Although this race grows every year, with around 1000 racers, you have a great shot at placing in your age group or even ending up on the podium. Check out past results here.

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4 – A full tour of Waco by foot

The race course takes you from Downtown Waco (near the Magnolia Silos), through the beautiful campus of Baylor University, right by the McLane Stadium, out towards Woodway, along the edge of our lake, and finishing up through Cameron Park. You see everything!

5 – The Race Director has run 130 marathons (11 of which were in an Ironman)!

Nancy Goodnight knows how to put on a race and throw a party – and that’s exactly what this weekend is all about! With only one state (New Jersey) shy of running a marathon in all 50 states, she knows what works and what doesn’t. And if you have a minute, read this story about how she finished Ironman Florida with seven broken ribs and a collapsed lung. If that doesn’t convince you to come check out her race, I don’t know what will. Her races are all about having a good time and for a good cause.

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6 – Speaking of a good cause, you are supporting the Be The Match foundation.

Be The Match connects volunteer donors with patients in need of marrow transplants for life-saving therapy!

7 – If you’re a Fixer Upper fan, the race location is only blocks away from the Magnolia Silos.

Why miss out on a chance of a Chip & Jojo spotting. Their Magnolia Silos are right around the corner from the start line and host hotel. You can carbo-load with a cupcake from the Silo Bakery.

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8 – I’ll give you a high five at the end!

Although I am so excited for the reason I cannot run the marathon this year (baby Cork), I will be at the finish line cheering on all of the runners! And I’ll give you a high-five, or fist bump, your choice, as you cross our historic Suspension Bridge!!! So that’s totally worth the trip to Waco because I give the best high-fives!

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Alright, now that I’ve convinced you to run the toughest little marathon in Texas, go register here. Check out the race website here.

Read my 2016 Miracle Match Ultramarathon race recap here.

And my 2014 Miracle Match Marathon race recap here where I set a PR at the time of 3:40 and snagged a qualified entry into the Chicago Marathon.

 

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2016 Boston Marathon: The race!

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Update: Five days before I ran the Boston Marathon, I learned I was having a Chemical Pregnancy (early miscarriage). I hadn’t shared this with the world when this post was originally published, but you can read about it here.

On April 18, 2016, I ran the Boston Marathon. But before I tell you about the race, you should check out my road to Boston here.


Monday morning came early and I was so exhausted after sight-seeing by foot and bike for two days straight. My legs were already sore but I made the most of this vacation! I have no regrets. I saw and did everything I wanted to. Day 1, we ran and walked 18 miles and day 2, we biked close to the same. I had the best time hanging out with Andrew and we both needed to just get away and explore together.


Before the race, I met up with Ruel in the Boston Common and we hopped on a yellow school bus for a ride out of town. I am so grateful to have experienced this with her. I have run and trained with her for over two years now. I cheered her on when she ran the 2015 Boston Marathon and she was there when I qualified for Boston at the Dallas Marathon. She’s added so much joy to running and life.


We hung out at the Athlete’s Village in Hopkinton until our race started and ran into our Waco friend, Nancy Goodnight. She’s  the race director of our local Waco Marathon – Miracle Match Marathon – that you should come check out! Read about it here. If you think Heartbreak Hill at mile 20 is tough, try climbing over 100 steep stairs at mile 24.


We had a group of runners from Korea take a picture with us. I thought they wanted us to take their picture, but they actually wanted a picture with us. I think they thought we were Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg or something.

And I met Katie (@katiesfitscript) and briefly bumped into Bethany (@babfitrunlife). When instagram world becomes reality…

 

As our wave was called to the start line, I had to tell Ruel goodbye. I made the long walk to the start alone and already wanted to be at the finish line with Andrew and friends. Honestly, running 26.2 miles was the last thing I wanted to do when I woke up that morning. But that was kind of the whole point of this vacation.

Standing in the corral, I started thinking about the race ahead of me. This was it. This was the Boston Marathon. And I felt so out of place. I know I qualified and deserved to be there, but I still remember myself as the slower runner who didn’t have a shot at ever making it to Boston. I was surrounded by super fit and fast athletes. It was a bit surreal.

The start of the race is very downhill. I mean, you just keep running down, forever. And then you go up a little bit, but right back down. By mile 2, it was already fairly warm and I remembered thinking the heat and sun may make for an interesting day.

I was smart about the aid stations and fueling – taking in water and Gatorade, and dumping water on my head. I ate 3 gu’s during the race, some oranges, and those little ice pops in the long clear plastic. Do you remember those? They tasted magical! I am sure if I ate one today, it just wouldn’t be the same.

Before I knew it, I was approaching mile 10. The first miles went by fairly slow. I think I had so much anticipation for Heartbreak Hill and the finish that it felt forever away. I ran into a couple of people I knew on the course (from instagram and real life), which helped move things along.
Newton was the cutest town and I wished I would have gone to explore it while we were there. Next time, it’s definitely on the list! Heatbreak Hill confused me. I guess I envisioned this huge sign welcoming us to our doom, but there were just some steady inclines and one really long incline and then it was over. The crowds lining the hill just pushed you on up. I focused on my high-fives as I climbed to the top. I am not saying it was easy, but I just kind of got lost in the moment. The adrenaline from the crowds are indescribable.

The hills were finished and I was on the home stretch to Boston. I figured I would have walked by this point, but hadn’t. I headed into the final miles still feeling great with no cramping. I was surprised and so thankful. I kept doing mental checks and asked myself “are you having fun?” I was! I was having a blast!

Four miles from the finish, I burst into tears. Too early, I know… The crowd started chanting “Boston, Boston, Boston”. I just lost it. I mean, I was running the Boston Marathon. I thought back on the races where I tried to qualify but missed it and then to the races where I finally qualified. I think struggling to qualify made this race even more meaningful for me.

I pulled myself together and headed towards my finish – into the wind. The cups that littered the ground were now little tornadoes at my feet. But fortunately it cooled off the closer we got to downtown and our finish line.

I made it to the Citgo sign and pulled out my phone for pictures.

One Mile To Go.

Boston Strong.


Then Laura ran up to me and I couldn’t hear half of the words she said because the crowds were so loud and I have hearing loss in one ear (I bet you didn’t know that). Anyways, she was an angel and gave me that push to the finish. We turned RIGHT ON HEREFORD and then LEFT ON BOYLSTON. I kept saying that in my head, right on Hereford – left on Boylston, and out flowed the happy tears…
I was sobbing running down Boylston street. Everyone was cheering for me (and the hundreds of other runners around me) but they were cheering loud, and in my head it was for me. And I could see the Boston Marathon finish line. And I worked my tail off to qualify and get here. And it all lead to this moment. I crossed the finish line and I was a Boston Marathon finisher.

 

I immediately received a text from Andrew. “3:41. Solid. Congratulations! I’m so happy for you.” He has a way with words, doesn’t he?! I feel like that text should come with a fist bump. “3:41. Solid” *fist bump*

I made my way through the crowds to get my medal, bag of food, and to the family meeting area to give Andrew a fist bump. I’m joking. I hugged him. And then sat on a curb for about 20 minutes. We just sat and talked about the race, surrounded by a million people. I just soaked in the moment.


And then I made a questionable decision to get on a bike. Our hotel was 2 miles away and that Stuffed vegan vanilla cream cheese French toast with strawberry drizzle from Veggie Galaxy was 3 miles away. Either way, I needed to move in one of those directions. So I opted for a bike and french toast. Andrew called it a recovery ride – I don’t know that I would agree.


After my french toast celebration meal, we hopped back on the bike to head 2 miles down the road to the hotel, but we ran into all the barricades of the race. There was no crossing by bike. So we walked the 2 miles to our hotel, cheered on some runners, dodged the crowds leaving Fenway Park, and stopped for some Ben & Jerry’s vegan Peanut Butter and Cookie ice cream.


Finally back in the hotel, I crashed and watched the news coverage of the race – and ate my ice cream.

I don’t think I could have had a better day. Well, I suppose if I magically ran a sub 3-hour marathon that would have topped it, but let’s be real here. I finished feeling amazing, healthy, not injured, not sick, and had the most incredible vacation with Andrew.

Coming back to reality is hard. Dishes, laundry, work. And the close of this chapter is something to get used to. I have looked forward to the Boston Marathon for 17 months now and it’s bittersweet that it has come and gone. But the memories will last a lifetime and I know I will be back.


Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who tracked me, cheered me on, or shouted my name on the course! It has made this experience even more sweet.

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Miracle Match Ultramarathon

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The Miracle Match race weekend hosted in Waco, Texas is one of my favorite weekends out of the year. The race director is an incredible athlete herself so she knows how to put on a good race. Miracle Match doesn’t try to be the biggest race just your favorite small one. With over 1500 runners for all events, the race definitely gives you a more personal atmosphere and race experience. If you’re looking for a break from the cold weather in January, add this weekend to your calendar next year.

I have run the Miracle Match Marathon for three years (2012, 2014, 2015), but decided to take on the extra challenge of the Miracle Match Ultramarathon 50K in 2016. My only other road 50K was Cowtown 2014 where I finished in 4:40. Coincidently, I finished Miracle Match Marathon 2012 around 4:40 as well setting a PR at that time.

Miracle Match Marathon 2012



So 4:40 became my goal. I thought it would be fun to try and beat my Miracle Match Marathon finish time from 2012 with an extra 5 miles added to it this year. Plus – I would also set a PR for my 50K road ultra time. win – win!

Cowtown UltraMarathon 50K 2014

 

I ran the Miracle Match Marathon last year with my running buddy, Ruel, and finished 3rd with Ruel as 2nd and our friend Krystle finishing 1st. This is my favorite picture ever. 

 

A lot has changed in a year so we recreated our podium shot. Krystle is expecting a baby girl next month so she cheered from the sidelines and Ruel is just as speedy as ever and ran the marathon distance this year, finishing second female and first overall masters with an impressive 3:29!

The course takes you through the Baylor University campus and the brand new football stadium before you head through downtown Waco.

It’s hard to pace for this course as the first part is relatively flat although there is a gradual overall incline. However, mile 13 is where the hills hit – and they hit hard! But I had a “home course” advantage knowing what was coming. Check out this elevation chart. You go up, and then you go down – over and over!


 

Mile 24 offers an optional challenge – Jacob’s Ladder Challenge. Jacob’s Ladder is over 100 steep steps straight up. Every year I blow right on past this challenge and every year I regretfully tell myself that I should have just done it. As I was finishing up the hills through Cameron Park, I caught up to the solo wheelchair racer. Jacob’s Ladder was within ½ a mile and I was still debating if I would take the climb. Seeing the wheelchair racer power up those hills gave me the perspective and motivation to go all in for the challenge. My legs may be hurting, but I am able – so up I went.

Then came the split at mile 24.5. Marathoners to the right towards the finish – Ultras to the left for a double out-and-back in the sun. Why did I think an ultra was a good idea? I knew that would happen. I knew I would question my sanity once I made it to the split, but I was mentally prepared for it looking forward to that final mile – Mary’s Mile.

  

Mile 31 was Mary’s Mile. Mary is the wife of my dear running buddy and close friend to the race director. The moments at the end of this race, seeing her signs, will be a forever memory.

I finished across Waco’s iconic suspension bridge setting a new PR of 4:38.

I love this weekend and look forward to it every year. The Waco Striders are one of a kind and I am so thankful for the friendships I have formed. They are my family.

So proud of you!!

But I am most thankful for Andrew. He cruised around the course by bike offering encouragement, but more importantly, food and water.



Hope to see you at Miracle Match next year!!

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Houston Marathon Highlights & why I’ll never run a marathon in all 50 states

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My Houston Marathon was bit different than some of my recent races. I haven’t run a race without a goal in a couple of years, which is so strange to think because I never imagined I would actually run races with a goal – other than to just finish, in one piece. My last race I ran without a goal was the Fort Worth Marathon in 2013 finishing in 4:07. Coincidently, that was also my PR race in 2015 with a 3:24 finish. It’s been such a fun journey and I’ve loved setting goals, working towards them, and reaching them – but I’ve started to feel a bit burnt out. I started losing some of the simple joy of just running for fun, but that’s a story for another day. So Houston was my ‘no goals’ race.

However, I did set a couple of small goals:

  • Goal 1: Make friends on the course
  • Goal 2: Give Andrew a hug when I saw him
  • Goal 3: Snap a #selfie during the race

I started the race pretty lonely and disappointed. I was surrounded by thousands of runners, but no one wanted to talk. I could tell the runners who were driven towards a finish time – eyes straight ahead, strong form, and not much of a smile. I left them alone. Then there was this crazy runner who was repeating his time splits, aloud. “So this 5K was 24 minutes, and I have 17 minutes until I need to be at the next 5K”, and then more mumblings. I left that guy alone too. Most of the other runners were jamming out to their iPods. I caught up to the 3:40 pace group excitedly expecting to make some friends, but no one was chatty. So I trotted along all by my lonesome…

And then, out of the sea of loud silence, I heard a “hello!YES!! A friend, my first goal. Kacie was in town from North Carolina to knock Texas off of her 50 States bucket list. I would LOVE to run a marathon in all 50 states one day. So I thought about this for a while as I chatted with Kacie throughout the next couple of miles.

After she zipped up a hill and I fell behind (hills hate me and I hate them), I decided I could not run a marathon in all 50 states. You see, I have this thing about flying. It terrifies me. Like really really terrifies me. Next I met Matt. And coincidently he was a pilot (I’m not making this up). I told him I thought his profession should be on one of those ‘Deadliest Jobs’ shows and he disagreed. He confirmed my fears were irrational. Whatever, Pilot Matt. I still don’t like flying and therefore can never run a marathon in Hawaii so I will only be in the 49 states marathon club.

I lost Matt when I finally saw Andrew standing on the sidelines. I passed him, but ran back to give him a hug and a kiss. Andrew, not Matt, in case you weren’t following. Goal 2: CHECK!

Later in the marathon, I met Katie. This is me saying “Hey Andrew, take a picture of us. We’re wearing the same shirt. Do you see? Can you see that we’re wearing the same shirt?” I am sure he could because it was fairly obvious. It was fun making another friend and running with Katie for a bit. Thanks Katie for putting a smile on my face! I loved seeing you out there.

 

As we were nearing “the wall” of the marathon, I oddly did not hit it. I credit that to training for the 50 miler. BUT, this one guy did. He was just shuffling along digging in a plastic baggie for what I assume were salt tabs or some other type of nutrition. He looked like he wasn’t having a great race. I am normally sympathetic and pass by with a burst of encouragement, and for the record, I did offer a “good job” – but it wasn’t entirely sincere. You see, this guy was all super-fit in a BEEF Team shirt so it boosted my confidence as I zipped on by. I so wanted to shout “PLANT POWER!!” and sprint ahead. But I didn’t. I said “good job, beef”. But in my head, I was thinking “hehehe, a vegan girl just passed you.”

I was nearing the end of the race and was beginning to feel a little over it. Do you ever get to that point in a race or long run? Just over it and ready to be done. Anyways, I knew my friends were running and was anxious to see how my speedy running buddy Ruel finished up. I pulled out my phone to search the results and saw she finished in 3:15. Yes! THREE hours and FIFTEEN minutes.


So then I started texting with friends, which presented me with my third and final goal. #SELFIE


And then I crossed the finish line, and it was done.


I finished in 3:43:47. Not my best, not my worst, and a time I am happy with. It was a great race to reflect on just a bunch of stuff and enjoy the run. It also relit a little fire that makes me want to run super fast and chase crazy goals. So I’ll take that too.

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2015 Fort Worth Marathon

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Friday

My last run of the taper ended with gorgeous weather and a breathtaking sunset.

Saturday

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have an alarm that woke me up in the morning. It was so nice to sleep in.


Andrew and I spent the rainy morning on the back porch playing on our computers. Do you like my page on Facebook?

I made this really pretty and equally as yummy beet, banana, and berry smoothie.

And prepped for the Fort Worth Marathon on Sunday. I posted the goals I had set for myself here and keep reading to see if I met them.

Sunday

Sunday was a very early morning with a bit of a drive to the race.

I am thankful for Andrew and his willingness to wake up at 3:30am on a weekend to support me in my race. He’s a keeper.

Most of my running buddies were there and it’s always so encouraging to be with them at that start.

…..stay tuned for more race pictures and a race recap this week. But for now, I reached my goal and finished with a new PR.


And finished 2nd in my age group and won a new coffee mug. How perfect is that??

So as I’m feeling pretty proud of my accomplishment, I got one-upped by my dad who finished his first half-ironman!! Go dad! I am so so proud of you!!

This whole weekend was just perfect. I am beyond thankful for friends, family, and the physical ability to run a marathon.

Have a happy Monday!

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Houston Marathon: Race Recap

On Sunday, January 18th, I finished my 11th marathon at the Houston Marathon. Going into this race was much different from my recent races. I did not have a time goal or any expectations to set a Personal Record or run a Boston Qualifying time (under 3:35, 8:13 pace). It was hard finding motivation and “psyching myself up” to run 26.2 miles. I wanted to finish the race feeling strong and happy and not let my race performance dictate my joy in life as I felt challenged to feel secure in joy from Jesus. The verses I prayed on for this race were “Those who trust the Lord will be joyful… We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” (Proverbs 16:20, 33)

Race Start: I began this race with not much excitement, feeling a little down, and just heavy – physically and emotionally. I was surprisingly holding a strong pace until the half way point and was actually faster than in Dallas where I earned my Boston Qualifier time. It was so weird. My pace was so much better than how I was feeling. I kept thinking I would just hold this pace as long as I could because I knew later I would likely crash and burn as I continued to feel weighed down.

2 minute delay: At mile 16 I did something I swore I would never do in a race. I pride myself on how much water I can drink and how long I can hold it before a restroom break – yes, I am proud of this skill. I couldn’t take it any longer. I spotted a port-a-potty up ahead and sped towards it to hopefully better my pace for the stop I was about to take. It cost me 2 minutes and ate up my buffer I had created to run under a 3:30 for another BQ and PR. I sprang from the port-a-potty and my legs actually felt as if they had recovered some. I resumed my pace at an 8:00 mile and on I went to finish the last 10 miles. I couldn’t believe I was kind of almost done. I think debating whether I should stop or not for a potty break kept my mind entertained as the miles flew by.

And then the race took a turn for the better….

Spirits lifted: At this point, I knew I wasn’t on track for a PR, but that wasn’t my goal anyway. I saw a sign that read “at least you’re not at work” and smiled. That did it!! That one smile boosted my spirits and I felt renewed – which was an answer to my prayers of the first half of the race. I started smiling at the signs, thanking volunteers, encouraging runners that were walking (I am sure it annoyed most of them), and cracking jokes as I went along. Talk about a complete shift in my attitude, outlook, and spirit. I felt the excitement and joy I was praying for.

Finish line: As we passed the 25 mile mark, I knew I was on track for a BQ (sub 3:35), but it would be close. I saw a guy with an ironman tattoo that was walking. I said “you’re an ironman. This marathon is the cherry on top for you. Come on!!” He laughed and started running and I made it my goal to beat him – just for fun! I took off and finished stronger than I have in any other race.

BQ #2: I finished just under a Boston Qualifying with a 3:34:35. But more importantly, I finished with strength and a joyful spirit. I didn’t set a PR and I didn’t care. It was such a different feeling than my recent races and something I truly needed.

Since I began progressing in my running and setting time goals, I would feel so defeated and like a failure if I didn’t reach my goal or set a Personal Record. This race was different and I missed the freeing feeling of just running to enjoy the sport and the gift.

So I threw the dice and the Lord determined how they would fall. I am grateful for this ability, this experience, and this gift – but more importantly I am thankful for the giver of these things and for teaching me how to seek and find joy in Him and not my performance.

And I was so excited to meet two amazing women this past weekend who I have only known on Instagram. – @vegrunchica & @my_happy_pace

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Upcoming Races:

January 25, 2015 – Miracle Match Marathon – Waco, TX
March 7, 2015 – BCS Ultra Trail 50K (31 miles) – College Station TX
March 29, 2015 – Austin Rattler Trail 75K (46.5 miles) – Smithville, TX

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Dallas Marathon Race Recap

Dallas Marathon 2014 Race Highlights

-Meeting Ryan and Sara Hall at the expo AND Sara told me she liked my ‘Strong in the Lord’ tank! (Maybe I should add “Sara Hall approved” in the tank description)

-A personal record finish time AND a Boston Qualifier finish!

Oh yes, it doesn’t stop there…

-Ryan Hall handing me my finisher medal and we chatted for a quick sec about Sara’s personal best finish and he asked how my race was.

Okay, now I am done. But really, what else could top that?? In all seriousness though — starting with some of my running buddies, having my family there to cheer me on mile after mile, and seeing my friend Felicia at the finish was so incredible as well!

Race weekend recap

Expo: I can sum up the expo with “I met Ryan and Sara Hall”. They had a Q & A and it was so fun listening to them share advice and their experiences. I asked them “When racing with a time goal, do you prefer negative splits (starting slow, finishing strong), an even pace throughout, or going all out?” Ryan said he prefers going all out and using the crowd and his surroundings for motivation to keep pushing strong. Sara said she likes to begin fast and take advantage of the adrenaline at the beginning of the race. She also takes advantage of the downhill as she is fast at running them. Great advice, but let’s keep in mind they are professional runners.

After the Q&A, they had a photo op and I stood in line to take my picture with them. As I walked up to them, Sara told me she liked my ‘Strong in the Lord’ tank! Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!! So if you have one of these, Sara likes it!

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Race: I went into this race with a much different mindset than Chicago, but this deserves a whole other post and I promise it will be worth the read. I posted my goals for the Dallas Marathon, which were simple and vague. If I felt good, I’d go for a BQ! If I didn’t, no pressure! No pressure was my theme for this race. I began this race with two girls that I trained with – both incredible runners and Boston Qualifiers. I hung with one of the girls until about mile 7 as she was determined to get me started strong and on my way to a BQ! We held around a 7:46 for these miles before she took off to finish with a 3:22 finish time and 3rd in our age group (F 25-29). Side note: Anytime I win a race in Waco, it’s because she isn’t there. She is an exceptional athlete and I am so thankful for her push at the beginning of this race.

I crossed the half with a 1:43,which was my second best half marathon time. I was really nervous at this point and thought that maybe I did start too fast and was afraid I would pay for it at the end. I kept telling myself to just push it until mile 20 and then hold on until the finish.

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I remembered seeing mile markers 17 and 22 on my way out and used these as mental target points. I knew at 17, I would be finished with the lake and wind and that mile 22 was a downhill. I powered through to both of these target points and took advantage of the downhill at mile 22. I spent the next 2 miles trying to do math in my head. Anyone else do this? I was trying to determine how much slower I could run each mile to use up the buffer I created. I still haven’t figured it out…

At mile 24 I realized I was almost finished and all signs pointed to a BQ. I refused to believe it. I thought I had it in Chicago and I watched it slip away. You NEVER know what can happen in a race. I found a girl that was running strong and followed closely behind her to try and keep my pace. Mile 25 passed. I knew I had 15 minutes to run 1.2 miles, but I still didn’t even entertain the thought that I would get my BQ. Again, you NEVER know what can happen. I knew the finish line was just around the corner and all I could think about was being able to see Andrew and tell him I did it!

Finish Line: There it was. The finish line. I saw my friend, Felicia, first and she was going crazy cheering for me. And cue the tears. I looked at her pointing to the finish time. Maybe I will do it. I mean, I had 4 minutes to spare, and it was literally right in front of me. Next, I saw Andrew and my parents, and started saying “Do you see? I did it! I did it!”. And there I was crossing the finish mats, full steam ahead. I didn’t stop running. I still didn’t really believe that I BQ’d. Maybe my chip messed up or who knows, I kept thinking. A volunteer stepped in front of me and held out his hands yelling “Stop! You’re done, you’re done!” I looked at my watch and saw 3:31.

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Boston Qualifier: I walked through the finish chute with my hands over my face overwhelmed by what just happened. A personal record, a boston qualifier, what could top this…. Oh, “Hi, Ryan Hall”. There was Ryan Hall handing out finisher medals. I walked up to him and he handed me mine. I told him I was the girl yesterday who was wearing the shirt Sara liked and showed him my Run Wit Endurance one. They are Christians as well, if you didn’t know. I asked how Sara did and he said she set a personal record, I don’t think he mentioned the fact that she won the half for women… He then asked me how my race went. Cherry on top!

This was my 10th marathon. This was 9 more marathons than I ever thought I would run. I finished my first marathon in 2010 in Dallas with a finish time of 5:32:48. I finished on Sunday 2 whole hours faster than my first. As I’ve said before and as I will continue to say, I am so thankful for this journey. God has given me this passion and this ability. Some days, I am not sure why. Then when I read your sweet comments about how I’ve inspired you to believe in yourself or set a goal that seems impossible, I realize that He is using me to encourage others to dream big! Never ever doubt what you are capable of! With patience and persistence, anything is possible!

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Race Stats

Official Time – 3:31:01
Pace – 8:03 min./mile
Age group (F 25-29) – 8th out of 251
Female – 34 out of 1623
Overall – 238 out of  3953

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OKC Marathon Race Recap

What a humbling race experience that I desperately needed.
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Just like any other race, I began obsessing over the weather conditions as soon as the 10 day forecast was available. I knew to expect winds, but seeing a chance for storms was very nerve-racking. The evening before the race, the storms were expected to blow through in the early morning so I went to bed expecting to have wet and windy race conditions. My alarm clock woke me at 4:45am for my 6:30am marathon start time. We arrived at the race venue with no sign of rain and a few scattered lightning strikes. At 6:00am they announced a delayed start time to 7:00am; at 6:45am, they delayed the race to 7:15am, then to 8:00am. Finding shelter from the downpour and severe lightning we anxiously waited to see if the race would even start. Praying that God would move the storm past us, I was still fairly certain that if the race did not start at 8:00am then it would definitely be cancelled because of road closures. At 8:00am, we were still huddled taking shelter as stormy clouds built, thunder rumbled, and lightning lit the sky. I was already thinking about the ride home and what race I would run next weekend since this one would likely be cancelled.

At around 8:10, the rain stopped and you could see a break in the clouds in the distance. I walked to the start line expecting to hear announcements that they had to cancel the race because we were starting too late. To my surprise, the race was on and I hurried my way to the corral. Waiting at the start line, I thanked God for answering my prayers and was amazed at how the storm passed only minutes before race start. The words of a bible verse came to mind “ye of little faith” and it wasn’t until this blog post did I look up the verse and am reminded about how God speaks to us!

“He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”   -Matthew 8:26

How amazing to read this verse about how God calmed the storms and revealed how ‘even the winds and the waves obey Him!’ Who am I to doubt his mighty power and miracles??

As I have mentioned in my Instagram posts, I was hoping to run a Boston Qualifying time (3:35:00 or less) at this race. Since this recent November, this would be my 5th marathon and at each race I had set personal records. My current PR is 3:35:36. ((spoiler alert: I didn’t qualify)).

Waiting around for 2+ hours for a race I was expecting to be cancelled was a huge mental train wreck. As we finally started the race at 8:20am, I was not even close to being mentally focused and prepared to run 26.2 miles. I was tired from waking up early, hungry from eating breakfast hours before, and the race day adrenaline had completely worn off.  Nonetheless, the race began and I was running….

The first few miles, the roads were wet and we were dodging puddles. The rain had cleared, it was humid, and you could see clearer skies.  Around mile 4, I began to doubt that this was my race to qualify. Physically I felt alright, but I was really struggling mentally. I prayed that God would give me strength and endurance and that He would carry me to the finish line. I felt deep down that this was not my race, but I did not give up.

I saw my husband and parents around mile 9 and told them that today was not my day. I was holding a BQ pace but knew I could not keep it up. I was tired, hungry, and knew I had a long mental battle ahead of me. At mile 10, we turned the corner and were introduced to Oklahoma winds. It felt like no matter which way we turned, we were running straight into it. At times I felt like I was hardly moving. Slowly, that BQ pace slipped away and at mile 14 I knew I had lost it. From that point on, I decided that I was just going to enjoy myself and run this race with no pressure. Miles 14-19 were a blur. All I could think about was trying to cut through the wind and make it closer to mile 20. Somehow mile 20 always feels like I am almost to the finish. Little did I know miles 20-26.2 would be the longest most challenging part of the race.

Mile 20 is where the real “fun” began. All of a sudden it was overwhelmingly H-O-T! I made sure to grab fluids at every single aid station and a handful of pretzels for some sodium to prevent cramping. At this point, I really wanted to walk but wasn’t ready to give in yet. At mile 21, I had a major shock when I saw a runner lying on the ground being tended to by paramedics. I am not sure what happened, but they were inserting an IV in his arm. I ran past him a little bit, said a prayer, then started walking to keep from crying. It was very scary to see this and a major reality check that we all needed to relax our pace and be careful in this heat. From this point on, I made it a goal to run to the aid stations and walk a little as I drank water, Gatorade, and ate some pretzels.

Then a miracle happened! I experienced how God answers the littlest of prayers – At mile 22, I started dreaming about fruit. All I wanted was fruit. My thoughts were consumed with berries. Then I started dreaming about grapes. But not just any grapes — frozen grapes. All I wanted was frozen grapes. I spent the next mile trying to figure out how I could get frozen grapes after the race. I knew the grocery stores had grapes, but they wouldn’t be frozen. And would they be clean? Would the grocery store clean them for me if I told them I had just run a marathon? I could not get frozen grapes out of my mind. What’s even more odd is that I hadn’t eaten frozen grapes in years. …And then… mile 23… we were running in a residential area and there was a young couple sitting at a small table at the end of their sidewalk. They were quite, just sitting and enjoying the day as runners passed by. They had a sign on the side of their table and little cups sitting on top. Can you guess what the sign said… “FROZEN GRAPES”. Yes, frozen grapes! Can you believe it? I hardly could. I ran by, grabbed a cup and told them, “you have no idea how much this means to me”. They probably thought was crazy. I was literally laughing out loud thinking about how God answers even the tiniest most insignificant prayers. He knew I wanted frozen grapes and He provided. I have never seen frozen grapes at a marathon before and I still have no idea why I was craving them so bad. It is one of those times where you realize God cares about you in such a personal way.

From that point on, I ran and I walked and ran and walked, and I finally made it towards the finish line. Before I rounded the corner for the finish, an Instagram buddy started cheering me on from the sidelines. This was just the motivation I needed to run straight into a headwind to my finish line. After crossing, I was so overjoyed with finishing! I didn’t get my BQ but I finished under 4 hours, which is still something I am so proud of. This race was a much needed experience. It reminded me that a marathon is hard. It is as much a mental challenge as it is physical. It taught me to rely on God and He used this race to reveal to me that He answers prayers, even the littlest ones. I will always remember the OKC Marathon and what it taught me personally.

“Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself you can learn in 26.2 miles.”

This marathon kicked my butt and I am grateful for it!

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Cowtown UltraMarathon Race Recap

I finished my first ultramarathon. It was much more challenging than I expected, but that is the reason why we train, run, and race. It is a challenge that gives us the opportunity to push past walls and accomplish things that we never thought were possible. I learned a lot during this race and am thankful that I have the ability to run and that I had this experience.

Race Recap
Start to Mile 24: The start of the race was very crowded. Luckily, I was able to keep to the outside and run in the grassy median. My pace started off blazing fast, which I have learned is not necessarily a good thing. I kept a sub 8 minute pace for 17 miles and thought that I would qualify for Boston. I was giving it my all, but felt myself slowing down around mile 16 and it was getting harder and harder to maintain my pace. I kept pushing repeating to myself “every second counts” and would try and go faster. At this point, I was only thinking about running a marathon and had completely forgotten about the last 5 miles to complete the ultra 50K (31 miles). I kept telling myself that once I made it to mile 20, I would kick it in gear and hit it hard to the finish. Mile 20 past, and so did 21, and 22… I was rethinking my race strategy of going out hard and fast to give myself a buffer knowing that I would eventually slow down. I also kept telling myself that God has a plan and purpose for everything and that if it was His will for me to qualify for Boston, then I would, but if it is not, then I know there was a reason for it.

Mile 24- Mile 26.2: At mile 24, I saw my husband, Andrew. It was incredible seeing him and I told him he needed to run the rest with me. Carrying a jacket and wearing regular clothes, he took on the challenge to run the next 7 miles by my side. Around mile 25 we split from the marathon runners and continued down the trail for an out-and-back of the last several miles of the 50K. My Garmin watch beeps letting me when I complete a mile. It beeped letting me know I had just run 26 miles, but I knew I had over 0.5 miles to go before I reached the marathon mark. Throughout the whole race I noticed my watch was off from the mile markets, but It never occurred to me that I would need to factor this into my marathon time. I watched my watch roll over to 26.2 miles at 3:33:42, which would have qualified me for Boston by over 1 minute, but the 26.2 timing mat was still a quarter mile away. I ran as fast as I could and crossed the mat knowing that I missed qualifying my less than a minute. My official marathon time 3:35:36. I missed it by 36 seconds.

Rest of the 50k: I made another huge mistake and I stopped running as soon as I crossed the marathon timing mat. I immediately cramped! It was the most painful feeling I have ever felt. My calves and hamstrings were as tight as they had ever been and nothing I did made it go away. I knew I wouldn’t quit, but I had no idea how I was going to finish. All of the runners passing me offered words of encouragement as they trotted along and I was writhing in pain. Luckily, Andrew was with me and tried talking to lift my spirits. I wanted to cry from the pain, but had sweat out all of my tears. I saw the turn around point with an aid tent ahead and started to shuffle my way closer and closer. They had potato chips at the tent and I knew I desperately needed salt. I had a cup of those and it was like I was a whole new woman. I mean, talk about a second wind. It was amazing! The cramps disappeared and I was able to slowly jog the rest of the way back. It was slow, but it was steady. I crossed the finish lined at 4:42:54, which was actually only a few seconds slower than my second marathon finishing time in 2011. Again, I started cramping when I stopped running, but knowing I had finished made the pain seem less severe.

I made my way through the finisher’s area and was able to meet quite a few of runners I interact with on Instagram. I took a picture with a girl who wore the RUN WITH ENDURANCE tank for her first marathon, which was such a special memory for me. I also met some other Instagramers out on the course and one girl snapped a picture of me in action. It was such a wonderful day that I will always remember and it is so satisfying knowing that I conquered another goal. I still have my goal of qualifying for Boston and I will keep working towards that.

Things I’ve learned:
-Pace yourself. Don’t start off too fast.
-Don’t rely on your watch for distance.
-Be prepared with salt tabs in case of cramping.
-Don’t walk following a super hard effort. Slow to a jog first.
-Don’t give up!

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