A few of my favorite things, part 3: PaceBands! (And a giveaway!!)

imageOne of my must haves when I run races is my pace band. I learned early on that I wouldn’t always have a friend to run with and pacers are only hit and miss at the slower paces.  It’s not to say that someone who runs slower than 2:30 halfs and 5:00 fulls aren’t plentiful – indeed, there are an awful lot of us back here, race directors! – but we just don’t seem to be a priority sometimes. That’s ok, we just roll with it. That is where PaceBands come into play. About a year and a half ago, I found this small company while printing a band in paper online. I always told my husband that there had to be a better system than printing off a paper, cutting it out, laminating it with shipping tape and trying to tape it to my wrist. Not to mention they get nasty before the race is over when you run in the August heat of Dallas. It took me no time to order one and give it a try. Verdict? I loved it! I instantly felt a comfort that I could look down at my watch and compare that to my PaceBand and instantly know if it was realistic for me to finish in the time I hoped. The silicone band is just like those bands that people have worn forever, only a bit wider. The numbers are raised and their color is a contrast from the band itself. There is a variety of paces from super speedy to “I have endurance” and come in five different colors. I’ve found that the yellow and green pace bands are easiest to read with my old lady eyes, but that is just my personal preference.

The coolest part of these pace bands is that, as a pacer, I keep a variety of times available so that I can always grab one at a moments notice. At less than $10 each and free shipping, they are a bargain!

For the record: I own a ton of pacebands and paid for them all by my little lonesome. I love them and wanted to share them with you. All of the opinions in this review are mine and I have not received any compensation for this blog… However, the company has offered to let me give away one of these awesome pace bands to a lucky reader of my blog!  Woo hoo!

So, without further adieu, if you would like to snag a PaceBand of your very own for your next goal race, just click: a Rafflecopter giveaway

The “rules” are pretty simple, just visit and like (and maybe tag a friend!) the PaceBands page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/pacebands) and follow my blog. If you already follow my blog, you’re halfway there! I’m using Rafflecopter, so on Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 a winner will be selected. But seriously, I would love to help tell everyone about PaceBands. I wear them to all my halfs and fulls and everyone always thinks they are the bomb. If you would like to buy one (or two or three!), here is a link to get you started:PaceBands.com. Not only is shipping free, they come super speedy!

Medal Monday: Michelob Ultra 13.1 Dallas Recap

Marcy and I after the 13.1This weekend, I ran the Michelob Ultra 13.1 Half Marathon in Dallas. It wasn’t a race on my schedule, but when a friend of mine that was organizing the pacers asked if I would pace, I couldn’t say no. This particular race a couple of years ago was my very first half marathon. The course is really nice and it’s MY BIRTHDAY WEEKEND! I quickly asked one of my best running friends if she would be willing to pace with me. I was afraid she might say no because it would mean that we would be giving up an 18 mile training run and she is responsible for pacing our training group. I was so excited when she said YES!

The pace would be a fairly easy run for us with a 2:50 finish. I love pacing runners with a 2:50 or 3:00 finish time. Many times, they are first time runners not sure if they can finish and just praying they don’t get swept up by the SAG wagon. Other times, they are second-time halfers wanting that sub 3:00 finish and unsure if it’s feasible because they remember how bad they hurt trying to complete their first. Whatever their goal, they are some of the friendliest people you will meet at a race. They say thank you to everyone out there cheering them on, keeping them safe and handing them water. They have stories and aren’t afraid to tell them. Stories of how they got up of the couch and lost 100 lbs the hard way. Stories of battling a cancer that is ravaging their body and they want to accomplish something off of their bucket list after facing down death. This is a pretty powerful bunch of runners. We don’t have dreams of age group awards or elite status back here. Pacing this group requires more than just even splits and knowledge of the course. It sometime requires education, such as “what is this ‘gu’ that everyone keeps eating?” But mostly, it requires you to be a top-notch motivator and believing in the runners in the group when they are positive they can’t go any further.

Marcy and I rode together downtown to the start line because the train tracks in downtown were under repair beginning that day, which is about typical. I hate driving downtown because I always get turned around – add a race with closed off roads and I have no idea how I managed to get there. LOL We had to be there by 6:15am so we could grab the pace sticks at the VIP tent and get a group picture taken before the 7am start. The first thing I noticed was that this race felt smaller than it did the last time I ran it, which makes me sad. It’s a good course and one of the few that are in downtown Dallas. We make our way to the start line and immediately begin to see people gather at all of the pace sticks. A few fast selfies with friends pacing other times and we turn our attention to the group. The usual deer-caught-in-headlights looks from people caused me to snap into pacer mode. We began asking questions to warm the up – is this your first half? how has training been going? are you by yourself or with a friend? We quickly told the group that we would be using a run-walk method of 1 minute run and 1 minute walk to get us to the finish. This finish time seems to lend itself well to the 1:1 interval and with newer runners, sometimes that is all they can muster by the time you hit 11 miles. It ended up working out for a girl in the group that was training with the Dallas Galloway group and was well-versed in 1:1’s. There were others that thought they would do a different interval and we encouraged them to do whatever they felt most comfortable with and just stay near the stick because we were running even splits.

imageimageEarly on, Marcy and I encouraged the runners to get water when they could because the water stops were spaced every two miles until we got to mile 7. In some cities, this might be ok. In the heat of Dallas, the first lesson was that you should always carry water, even in late October. I had to make a pit stop at mile 6 (WHY?!?) and send the rest of them on. Four people in front of me at the portos taking their own sweet time resulted in an 8 minute mile for me to catch up to the group. Thank goodness for run-walk, because I really needed walk breaks for a while after that! Hahaha

Some of the best moments of the race include seeing Devanghi hanging out on the corner while down in the M-Streets, cheering everyone on and seeing one of my son’s old hockey teammates on the Katy Trail working a water stop with his school group. Sunny with the BGR girls just in front of the AAC was superb and they gave the runners a much-needed burst of energy with their enthusiasm and a group working one of the final water stops had “Panther Pride” shirts on. I quickly asked if they were the Hillcrest Panthers. What an awesome surprise to see them out there! I yelled “Go Crest” and told them my son was a student there. They all knew him (I hope that’s a good thing!) and we cheered and went crazy for a second before I kicked it into gear to get us all to the finish line. This is why I run. There are so many great people out there and we are all brought together by this crazy thing called running.

The final mile of the course is all uphill and can be kind of intimidating because you can see it coming. I could hear the heavy sighing and I reminded them that we would finish this hill together, Marcy and I talking them though it. Baby steps, sixty seconds at a time, swing the arms more, keep your body as upright as possible. To see the smiles on everyone’s faces after the conquering of the hill was the bomb. All that was left was a couple of turns. Thanking them for letting me spend the morning with them, we told them to go grab their PRs because they earned them. This group of runners stuck with us the entire race, through a few tears of “I don’t think I can do this.” To have them waiting at the finish line for Marcy and I as we crossed at 2:49:14 (not too shabby, if I do say so…) was pretty stinking amazing. One of the girls actually won her age group!! Seriously, that never happens!!

imageSwag: This is a race shirt I will wear. It is navy blue and had a cool design by taking its cue from the Dallas BIG campaign. BIG things happen in Dallas with lots of B’s and G’s around town. You stand in between them be cause “I” am part of what makes Big D BIG. I’m a sucker for it, what can I say? Even better? The PACER SHIRT ROCKS! Oh my goodness. Adidas knocked it out of the park with their shirt. At first, we were disappointed because they were supposed to be singlets, but they were so light and airy, that they really kept you cool. There was so much s-t-r-e-t-c-h to this shirt I could have shoved a three hundred pound guy into it with me, but when it isn’t stretched, it was perfectly form-fitting. Definitely some space-age technology going on with this shirt.

Aftermath: I feel as if I have been hit by a car. I think the fast mile mid race about killed my knee because it is so stinkin’ stiff. No bueno. Lots of yoga and stretching, a chiro visit, epsom salt bath and a massage are all on tap for this week because I am running the DRC Half on Sunday for myself in hopes of a sweet PR. Shoot, maybe I’ll even use a pacer to get me there. 🙂

Mid-Season Unexpected Training Derailment

You know how sometimes life just happens? I thought I was pretty good at managing life, but apparently, I was just on a schedule and a creature of habit.  The  minute I was removed from what was considered normal, the wheels fell off. My training has been sporadic and life has just been exhausting.

Three weeks ago, while fighting a respiratory infection that “looked like the beginning of pneumonia,” life hit like a ton of bricks. On the news was EBOLA. No big deal, but it was in my town. But there is zero risk, so we go on about our business. Until you get that call from the 6-year-old’s school. One of the exposed children from the Duncan household attends her school. Fear, outrage, confusion, uncertainty. It all hits you. I’m a pretty smart girl and did well in science, but when your youngest daughter, too young to be allowed to cross the street by herself, is involved, it’s game on. All of a sudden, the hand washing wasn’t long enough. Sixty containers of hand sanitizer were spread throughout the house and in backpacks and cars.  Seriously, you can’t make this crap up. Custodians in spacesuits were in the school every afternoon to clean with Lord only knows what kind of chemicals. The helicopters that hovered over the house day and night were an unwanted disruption to quiet dinners. The media standing outside of the school each morning were confusing to the kids. School, however, became a safe haven for them. Blinds were drawn, recess and PE were kept indoors, teachers and administrators kept the kids safe and protected and loved, business as usual outside of temperature checks and extra nurses on site. Two more cases of Ebola by nurses in our neighborhood rattled everyone’s nerves just when we thought things were starting to die down a bit. Crazier still was that I was asked to work from home while this was all going on. Things were not normal and I didn’t wish for any of this to become the new normal.

My perfect schedule with my perfect lunchtime workouts in my office building gym and runs at the trail that backs up to my office building were put on hold as I attended meetings via conference call. Had I planned for this, I could have made up a dream schedule complete with early morning runs and workouts at home, but it all happened so suddenly that there was no time to prepare. So, therein lies the root of it all. Preparation. It’s more than just writing it on a calendar. It means coming up with a backup plan when life throws you a curveball. I’m nowhere near where I should be on my Plan B, but I will actively be putting something together over the next several weeks.

I’m now back at work and life is looking more like it did a month ago, complete with lunches brought from home and my runs outside on the trail, which is where I am heading now. I have a half marathon to pace on Saturday morning and a half marathon next weekend I will run for time, so be on the lookout for race recaps!

We were interviewed for our local FOX network about lessons learned in the last twenty-one days, and I answered that the world is a pretty small place when it comes right down to it. What I would like to also say: Have a Plan B…

A few of my favorite things, part 2: my iPod Shuffle!

imageAs I count down to my next marathon on December 14th, I thought I would share the items that I consider “must haves” for my race. I don’t typically run with headphones during training runs. Bottom line is, I have great friends that I train with and I enjoy their company too much to listen to music. However, races are usually a different story. I don’t typically have anyone to run with, so I have a playlist of my favorite tunes that I know will motivate me. Up until a year ago, I would just use my iPhone because I was already carrying it, but I knew that my iPhone battery wouldn’t survive the length of time I would be out there for a marathon. (Let’s face it, I have ENDURANCE… LOL) I am so excited that I decided to pick up a small little iPod.

This cutie snaps perfectly to the strap of my running bra and is kept underneath whatever top I’m wearing while I run so that it is protected and won’t be lost while running. One of my favorite things about it is the long battery life and the engraving that my sweet hubby had put on the back of it -” December PR is made today!”  It’s a phrase I use often when it’s 105 degrees outside and training runs are brutal. You just have to keep plugging away because the PR I’m chasing takes time to achieve. 🙂

What are some of your must-have’s when racing?


One Lovely Blog Award

I’m so excited! I have been fortunate enough to be nominated for an award for new bloggers, and I wanted to share it with you!

I would like to thank Tyler from Learning To Thrive In 1455 for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog award!  It certainly makes me feel as if I have a voice in this enormous world of ours.

One Lovely Blog Award

Now here’s a little information about the award:

The One Lovely Blog Award nominations are chosen by fellow bloggers for those newer and up-and-coming bloggers. The goal is to help give recognition and also to help the new blogger to reach more viewers. It also recognizes blogs that are considered to be “lovely” by the fellow bloggers who choose them. This award recognizes bloggers who share their story or thoughts in a beautiful manner to connect with viewers and followers. In order to “accept” the award the nominated blogger must follow several guidelines:

  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
  • Add the One Lovely Blog logo to your post.
  • Share 7 facts/or things about yourself
  • Nominate 15 bloggers you admire and inform the nominees by commenting on their blog

Seven Facts About Me:

  1. I’m crazy enough to try almost anything at least twice.
  2. I am very picky about my cupcakes – they have to be awesome!
  3. I’m a terribly slow runner, but I do it anyway because I love my running group.
  4. My running friends likely know more about me than my family… LOL
  5. I can’t cook, but I also really have no desire to learn. I’m lazy. 🙂
  6. One of my favorite forms of exercise has been on the aerial silks!
  7. My crazy world includes two dogs and 12 chickens, despite my living three miles from downtown Dallas.

My Nominations:

  2. The Souzapalooza Blog
  3. Running For Cupcakes
  4. Run Smiling
  6. hellyontherun
  7. The Sugar Peddler
  8. Decorator’s Voice
  9. Ovations Home Culinary Services
  10. Seeking An Enriching Life
  11. Second & NE
  12. Faithful Homesteader
  13. The Accidental Texan
  14. Fit Loose Health

I would definitely recommend checking out these awesome bloggers.  If I do say so myself, this is one lovely list of blogs!

Brunch for a Cause

Cafe MomentumThis morning my family and I had the privilege of dining at a Café Momentum event. Café Momentum is a group of amazing people who are providing culinary training and life skills to some of Dallas’ at-risk youth in detention. These are great kids that maybe took a wrong turn, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn from it and become stronger and better through this program. The group is currently building a restaurant in downtown Dallas with classroom facilities and everything, but in the meantime, local chefs are opening up their restaurants for monthly pop-ups to raise funds for the program.  Tickets are tough to get – you have to be fast when they go on sale – but we have been able to attend a couple of events.

granola parfaitThis morning was the first brunch event for Café Momentum and it was held at Chef John Tesar’s restaurant Knife. The meal was truly amazing. We began with croissants and muffins, Bloody Marys and Mimosas. The second course was house made granola with vanilla yogurt and a blackberry and raspberry parfait.  The vanilla yogurt was tart and mixed beautifully with the natural sweetness of the pureed berries and was beautifully presented in a stemless wine glass. The next course was a watercress, goat cheese and walnut salad.  I will confess now that none of the ingredients are usually what I go for. However, it was scrumptious and I ate every.single.bite. Yep, it was delicious and I hope Chef recreates this dish at the house (hint, hint!).watercress salad

The main course was off the charts! Truffled scrambled eggs, house made sausage, biscuits with sausage gravy, and bacon! You could literally smell the beautiful, savory scent waft from the open kitchen. The sausage was house-made and had a sweetness that made it difficult to not devour. My son was hilarious.

Ohmygod truffled eggs and sausage gravy, also known as heaven

Ohmygod truffled eggs and sausage gravy, also known as heaven

He is firmly in “camp bacon” and was disappointed when the menu did not include bacon. His outburst of glee when he saw perfectly crisp, likely house-cured bacon on his plate was hysterical and those around us couldn’t help but laugh. That being said, seriously, even the bacon was perfect. The biscuit was divine and the sausage gravy was the best I’ve ever had. The final course was banana “pudding,” which was a layer of custard, a layer of caramel and a lighter than air layer of banana flavored mousse, topped by house-made miniature vanilla wafers. Literally, I force-fed myself those final bites despite my being full. I might have needed a moment by myself after that, I definitely needed a nap… hahaha.

Café Momentum’s new dedicated space will be open in December and to kick it all off, Rachel Ray’s show is featuring this program on her show next month some time. While banana puddingwe dined, there was a film crew interviewing the guests, the workers and the dreamers behind this vision. One of the things I am most impressed with is the commitment to pay each of the interns in the program a living wage. In Dallas, a living wage is calculated as $9.17 per hour. A living wage guarantees someone clothing, food and shelter. It doesn’t guarantee someone a new iPhone or the latest $200 sneakers, but the necessities.  Because of the donations, they pay the interns $10 per hour!

The program has unequivocally been a success and it would be amazing to see this movement throughout the country. I have to believe that it would lead to a sea-change on how we view and treat at-risk youth. They are worthy of second chances and a shot at dignity. We just have to offer it.

Alex makes sure to thank Chef Tesar for the amazing breakfast, and get him to sign his menu. :)

Alex makes sure to thank Chef Tesar for the amazing breakfast, and get him to sign his menu. 🙂