Friday, December 27, 2013

Liebster Award

Hello again. I hope everyone had a marvelous Christmas.  I know I enjoyed spending time with family and friends.  I received some awesome new running goodies that I can't wait to use in the upcoming year.  Currently I'm working on my race schedule for 2014.  Hopefully I will be able to post it soon.

Melissa, a fellow blogger over at The Redheaded Runner blog nominated me for a Liebster Award.  Thank you Melissa.

I've looked up this "award" and found out it is a chain letter style award for new bloggers to share some facts about themselves, and at the same time, promote other small bloggers.  A good explanation is here and here. So now onto...

The rules:

Thank the person who nominated you and link them in your post.
Tell 11 random facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions provided by the person who nominated you.
Choose 5 or more blogs you like and link them in your post.
Write 11 questions for these bloggers, so they can answer them.
Go to their page and let them know that you nominated them.

So 11 facts...
1. My last name is Polish and forever long (Moczygemba), so I mostly use the name Julie M when commenting on blogs.
2. I learned to spell my name in pre-school when my dad sang it to the tune of the Mickey Mouse song.

3. I'm the youngest of 3 kids, and I love my older brother and sister.
4. I have 24 first cousins.
5. I graduated from Baylor with a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

6. I played varsity tennis in high school.
7. Speaking of high school, I went to one of the largest public high schools in Texas.  My graduating class contained over 1,250 students and graduation was in a former basketball/hockey arena (go Mavs!).
8. I play into the Texas stereotype because my parents own cattle. We don't live on a farm, although they both grew up on one. I love helping feed the cows (& naming them). Say hi to Speckles.

9. I used to play cello (for 4 years!).
10. I love listening to country music.
11. I love traditions and I hate change.  I'm going to make a really good old person.

Now to answers Melissa's questions...
1. Why did you start running?
Gosh, I guess I started running in college to stay in shape.  High school was easy.  I had tennis practice for 2-3 hours every afternoon and could eat whatever I wanted.  In college I realized, I had to make some effort on my own to stay athletic.  I didn't really get hooked until my senior year when I signed up to run a half marathon that Baylor hosts.  After crossing that finish line, I knew I wanted to feel that way again and the obsession began.

2. What motivates you in life?
I'm pretty self-motivated if I have a goal I want to accomplish.  I always strive to be the best, whether it was at school, at work, running.  My family has always been very supportive of everything I do and that motivates me to give it my all.

3. Trails or roads?
Roads. I've only tried trail running once.  It was fun, but there aren't a lot of great parks near me.  I also did not enjoy cleaning the mud off my shoes.  

4. Worst race experience ever and what did you learn from it?
The Burning Pine 5k in Bastrop, TX.  I ran it with my brother, his wife, and her friend.  We all had goal times, but everyone ran about 2 minutes slower than their goal.  I learned that not all race courses are created equal.  This one was very hilly and I walked when I had to.  It also taught me that hill workouts are important and can really improve performance.

5. Pre-race traditions i.e. obsessions 
Nothing too out of the ordinary.  Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo the night before.  I lay out my clothes and bib before I go to sleep.  In the morning I have a pre-race banana and usually a granola bar.

6. Parent to kids or a pet? Do tell. If neither applies WILD Card it, baby!
No.  I had a rat terrier growing up.  Her name was Skeeter.  When I get my own house, I really want to get a dog.

7. What are your thoughts on New Years Resolutions?
I'm not a huge fan.  People usually make a resolution that is either unattainable or so vague that there is no way to know if the goal was actually accomplished.  I like shorter term SMART goals.

8. Tell us about one place you are just dying to visit.
Internationally...Poland and/or Germany.
Domestically....Chicago and Boston.

9. Dream race. Dish.
I really want to do a runDisney race.  I was really close to signing up for the 2013 Wine & Dine half-marathon, but I waited a little too long and the race filled up.  

10.  How do you stay motivated to work out?
Signing up for races is a big motivator.  I also use social media to keep myself accountable, which in turn keeps me motivated.

11. Perfect Friday night.
Dinner out and movie in.  I love snuggling up on the couch in the comfort of my own home.  Movies in the theater are good, but it's so much nicer to watch in a peaceful room without strangers around.

Next, my questions....
1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What is your most memorable race/fitness accomplishment?
3. What is one goal you have for 2014?
4. Name one non-fitness related blog you follow.
5. What activities will be involved on your dream vacation?
6. Did you play any sports growing up?
7. When you were in kindergarten, what did you want to be when you grew up?
8. What is your favorite book?
9. What is your biggest strength?
10. Describe the best date you ever went on.
11. If you could live anywhere in the US, where would you live?

Lastly, my nominees...(all of these bloggers are just awesome)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Run, Run Rudolph

This weekend I ran in The North Texas Great Santa Run.  I love running holiday themed races. Last year I ran the Jingle Bell Run in Dallas.

2012 Jingle Bell Run at the Hilton Anatole Hotel

This year I recruited some friends to dress up like Santa Claus and run a 5k with me.  This was a local race that benefited My Possibilities. Each race entry included a Santa suit, complete with hat and beard.

I was super excited about this event.  Especially after the Dallas Marathon got cancelled, I wanted to get out there and do an event even if it was just for fun.  I chose not to run for time and just paced myself with my friends.  There weren't any chip timers at the event.

Before the start, I was shocked at how many Santas were actually there.  I was expecting a couple hundred, but there were easily over 1,000.  And then this legit Santa came out in his Porsche to lead the race start.

Santa in a Porsche

Right at 9 am, we were off.  It was a little crowded at the beginning and I forgot to start my Garmin on-time, but who cares, I was running in a Santa Suit!!  How many people can say that?  The race had a lot of up one side of the street, run around the median and come back down the other side of the street.  Normally in a race, I don't like this type of course because the scenery gets a little boring.  However, this made it easy to see all of the Santas which was entertaining.

Running around mile 2.5

The Santa suits were made out of felt, not the best material for running. Luckily, none of my friends had major wardrobe malfunctions, but we were looking out for one another.  Finally we reached the finish line at the Dr. Pepper headquarters.  There were a ton of great sponsor tents and even a live cover band.  It was a pretty awesome post-race party with lots of activities for the kids that came to the event.  Food selections came from La Madeline, Egg & I, and Dunkin' Donuts.  All perfect post-race breakfasts.  There was also lots of fruit and snack bars from Trader Joe's.  Overall this was a great event and may become a holiday tradition for me.

The after-race picture

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Race That Never Was

I should be sitting here writing about the great race I just finished or the shiny new PR I just earned. However, North Texas weather had some other ideas.

Shortly after Thanksgiving they began forecasting an Arctic cold front that would bring sleet and ice to DFW. I was immediately bummed that the race would be much colder than I had hoped for, but I also convinced myself that the weather men were exaggerating about the "Icepocalypse/Icemageddon " that wad headed our way. If they had a catchphrase for the storm, it had to be more about media hype.

Well on Thursday the sleet started and I haven't left my house since. The hype was right. Friday morning I woke up and there was a 2 inch layer of ice on all of the sidewalks and roads. Not snow, just slick ice. I chose not to go to work. Everything was shut down because in Texas we do not have the supplies for storms like these.

The front of my house on Friday. Poor Oak Trees

Talk on the news began focusing on the Dallas marathon. Packet pick-up was supposed to begin that Friday but it got pushed back to 2 pm to allow the vendors and volunteers extra time to travel the roads to downtown. The marathon seemed like the only weekend event that hadn't been canceled. Then at 1 pm, the final announcement came. The race and expo were both canceled for safety of runners, spectators, and volunteers.

Of course I was bummed at the initial news. But I also sighed a little sigh of relief that I wouldn't have to run with temperatures in the 20 and light sleet. I know people have run in worse but I was unprepared for such weather having never run outside when it is below freezing.

So now I sit at home. Day 3 of this ice storm and I have yet to leave my house. I'm looking at my 3 months of training that I methodically followed preparing for this race. Now my "taper week" just looks like a week of being lazy. But I've made the decision to get back out there and keep running. I will choose a new race to conquer. And maybe next year I'll have a second chance to run Dallas.

In other news, this storm has been really good for my sleeping patterns.  I am also thankful that my house has not lost power and everyone I know has stayed safe.

And lastly I cannot end my post without this. Sic 'em Bears!  Great season!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Turkey Trot Race Recap

This Thursday, I started my Thanksgiving morning with the 8 mile Capital One Bank Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot. I didn't commit to this race until Tuesday.  I had a number of reasons for my last minute entry.  I was undecided because no one else in my family was going to run it with me.  I hated to inconvenience people on Thanksgiving to go with me to an early morning race all the way in Dallas.  I was worried about the crowds and the parking and had heard some bad reviews from people who have run this trot in the past.  As the date got closer, the weather turned colder.  I asked my brother and boyfriend to come watch me run, but didn't mention the 35 degree weather forecast until after I had convinced them.  After putting all of those excuses aside, I was glad I signed up.

This year, there were two options when signing up - timed or untimed.  Timed runners were eligible to start in a timed runners corral near the starting line. I've heard in the past that serious runners have gotten stuck behind strollers and walkers and been very frustrated.  I opted for the timed option and had to arrive at the race before 8:40 to get in my corral. 

Since I wasn't sure about parking downtown, I insisted we leave the house no later than 7:30.  The race venue was about 30 minutes from home.  We were able to easily find parking, but had to pay $10.  The downtown lots upped the prices since there was an event going on.  I prefer races that offer free parking, but it wasn't a major inconvenience.

After parking, there were lots of volunteers directing runners to the starting line.  Since it was a large race, I expected it to be crowded, but with an hour until the race start, there was plenty of open space.  I was able to snap this picture in front of the starting line.  I bundled up to stay warm before the race started.

Since my brother, sister in law, and boyfriend were all with me, I didn't do a whole lot of exploring.  I did a quick warm-up jog/stretch and then went to take a picture with the inflatable Thanksgiving turkey before taking my place in the corral.

The race started promptly at 9 am.  I felt like I started a little slow.  I was watching my steps since there were a lot of people and scanning the curb for my cheering squad.  After I spotted them, I picked up the speed.  There was a band for entertainment around mile 1.  I didn't hear much of them as I sped past.  Then we made 2 left turns to head down Elm St.  I was surprised at my pace - quicker than expected.  Around mile 2.5, my cheering squad made another appearance.  I was excited my brother brought his DSLR so I could have nice race photos.  I also threw off my gloves to them.  The sun decided to come out and I was getting warm.

I was laughing at #5395 for photo bombing me

At mile 3, the 5k runners took a sharp left turn to their finish line.  From there the race course opened up a bit.  We ran through Dealey Plaza and the Design District.  I was able to see some of the first place runners during a part of the course where the out and back loop was on opposite sides of the median.  I always enjoy seeing the fast runners, it is very inspirational.  At the halfway point, my pace slowed some, but I was okay with that because I started out faster than I expected.  I began getting a little warm.  I was wearing 2 long sleeve shorts, capri length tights and the loose adidas pants.  I made notes for my upcoming half marathon that will likely be similar weather.

The last mile had 2 tough hills - the last one right before the finish line.  I saw my cheering squad for a third time right before the finish line.  I tried to smile but my legs were tired.

I crossed the finish line and my official time was 1:15:46.  I was very happy with my results.  After the finish line, volunteers handed me a water bottle and a banana.  I gobbled down the banana quickly and headed to the meet-up spot that I arranged with my brother and boyfriend.  We snapped a few quick finisher pictures and then headed home for a turkey lunch at my parents' house.

I'm glad I started my Thanksgiving day with a run.  It was the perfect dress rehearsal for my half marathon on December 8th.  Would I do it again?  Maybe.  Definitely if I can find some running buddies to do it with me.  My brother was sad I didn't tell him there was a 5k option.  I told him he has 12 months to train for the 8 mile course.

Anyway, today begins my taper week and then the Dallas Half next Sunday.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Do we have any other trotters out there?