Category Archives: Texas

Getting Ready To Move

That’s right.  I’m moving!  Not physically (yet), though, but keep reading to find out more on that.  It’s a virtual move.  I’ve bought a new self-hosted domain, which means once I make the switch, you will no longer see, it will just be  And it won’t be The Urban Retrofit anymore.  I hope you all come with me on this new move.  I’m really excited about it and down the road, I’m looking at getting a new look for the blog, but one step at a time.  It’s kind of like a home renovation.  First I’ll make the move, and then I’ll overhaul the site, one page at a time.  Expect to see the move very, very soon!  (Like, hopefully if I don’t procrastinate too much with it, this week!)

So a real move?  Yes, Nick and I have been talking about moving for a while.  Now that I’m home, I’ve been tasked to get in touch with a realtor.  It’s in the middle of my list of things to do, among applying for jobs, and drinking 65 ounces of water every day (a february goal that hasn’t been going so well).  Our current residence is Nick’s place that he bought several years before we started dating to I’ve left a lot of the “should we rent”/”should we sell” thoughts to him, although I’ve definitely given him my opinion here and there.  Since it’s his place, I don’t want him to feel like I’m forcing him to move (unless I get a job outside the DFW area).  But the reality is, we are cramped for Texas standards.  We’d like to have a yard so we can get a dog and so I can have a garden that actually gets enough sunlight to produce anything.  We’d like to have more than one toilet.  We’d like to have room to entertain.  We’d like to have our own spaces; Nick, a man cave and guy room, me, a more efficient kitchen and a space for me to pick up my painting again.

Since we aren’t committed to Dallas for the rest of our lives and because I’m on the job hunt, once the ball is rolling and we have a renter or buyer lined up for our current home, we will probably rent in the Dallas area until it’s time for us to pack up and make a new home elsewhere or plant our roots here.  Now I just have to put things in action and get in touch with a realtor.

Do you have any thoughts or advice on moving? A virtual move or a real move.


Hotcake Hustle to Crab Cakes Benedict

A whole slew of events happened Friday afternoon that turned the day from fine to really, really bad so I wasn’t in the mood to cook my ever so exciting recipe from moi.  Instead, we carb’ed up on pizza.  Friday’s turn of events had me so upset, that I questioned going to the Hotcake Hustle in the morning.  Nick reassured me that we didn’t have to go, but I told him that we were still going to run in the race, although I was 100% not feeling up for it.  I’ll fill you in on the catastrophic turn of events eventually, I promise, but for now, just know that I was not having a very good day at all.

The alarm went off bright and early.  7am to be exact, although I had been wide awake since 5am, processing the events from the day before.  Nick and I got layered up and headed out to Addison Circle.  Dodging through the crowd to find the bag check, we somehow managed to find Drake, an old co-worker of mine.  Well, actually, he found us.  Drake ran this race the year before and he warned us about the bridge over Midway Road.  The race course is a there-and-back kind of deal, so lucky for Nick, he only had to run over the bridge twice.  Drake and I were part of the 10K group, so that meant four times over the stinking bridge.  Going into the race, I was not too excited about the course.  I knew it wasn’t going to be scenic and only a quarter of it would be new “scenery” if you can even call it that, since I’d see it three more times in the loops.  The gun shot and we were off.  I quickly discovered that on the upside, being where it was, there was a lot of room on the road, so I got moving quickly.  Nick took off and I lost him until about a half a mile in.  Before I knew it, we were turning around and heading back.  I longed to turn off and go to the finish line but instead, I turned around once again and headed back as I waved goodbye to Nick.  I just wanted the second loop to be over.  There was no mystery left to it and I was bored, but my Nike+ GPS reported back to me a pace that I wasn’t expecting, so I kept pushing through.  The Bridge at Midway road didn’t start to bother me until crossing it for the last time.  Nick and I had climbed steeper hills and bridges for other races, so my anticipation wasn’t near as bad.  But the last crossing of the bridge drained me.  I was so over the course.  I wanted to stop and walk, but I kept telling myself if I walk, I’ll be mad at myself.  I made it over the bridge and was on the home stretch, about half a mile to go!  To my surprise, there were a bunch of walkers doing the 5K who were just ahead of me, right before the turn to the finish line.  The finish line was in sight and it was time to pick up the speed.  Irritated by the band of walkers in my way (like five or six of them), I yelled out (probably louder than I should have) “MOVE”.  I got a couple of dirty looks, but hey, don’t take up the whole road as walkers in a race, it’s a pain for those actually trying to run past you, I’m just saying.

So there was the finish line and Nick waiting to capture it all on his phone.  (And shoot, I’m trying to upload the video, but it won’t let me, so you all will have to wait to watch it.)  The last glance of the clock at the finish line said 57:15.  Woohoo, under an hour (and that’s just the unofficial time)!  We met up with Drake and his friend at the line for pancakes, but gave up about half way through the line and headed home to see the official time: 56:40!  Almost under a 9 minute mile.  The icing on the cake for the race was I came in at #13 out of 72 for my age group for the 10K.  What an awesome feeling to have done so well.  It helps that I just jumped from the 25-29 age group to the 30-34 age group, but heck, I’ll take it!

I treated Nick to one of his favorite dinners for being such a good sport and doing the race with me as well as putting up with me being so upset the day before: Stuffed Peppers Santa Cruz Style, courtesy of Recipes From a Kitchen Garden
And a side salad to go along with the stuffed peppers.
It made for a tasty dinner after a great race.

But wait, it doesn’t end there!  More food is in store!  Nick tried to trick me to sleep in on Sunday, but as usual, his attempts failed.  The trick usually entails closing all the blinds and curtains to make the bedroom super dark.  I have a strong internal clock, so I was awake by 7:30, my typical sleeping in time.  I try to be kind on mornings when he wants to sleep in by getting out of bed and going to the living room to read or start on some chores, but to my surprise, Nick was wide awake shortly after me.  As if Saturday night’s stuffed peppers hadn’t stuffed me to the brim, I asked him if he wanted to go out for breakfast and of course the answer was yes!

We decided on the Coffee House Cafe, a relatively new restaurant that is just down the street from us (but we still have to drive to get there).  We’ve been there once before and enjoyed it so we made another go at it.  If you live in North Dallas, I recommend you try the Coffee House Cafe.  It’s not a chain that is typical of this neck of the woods.  The breakfast menu has a lot of interesting items on it, the wait staff is very friendly (thanks for serving us, Georgio!), and the decor is well done- part rustic, part contemporary, all warm and welcoming!

Nick and I started off with drinks.  An Irish Coffee for him and a Bloody Mary for me.
Not able to decide what to get, I asked Georgio what he recommended.  I took his advice of the Crab Cakes Benedict.
Two crab cakes sat on top pieces of toast and were topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, accompanied with a side of breakfast potatoes.  The crab cakes were loaded with fresh herbs.  Nick said that the herbs were a little too overpowering over the crab, but I thought they tasted fresh and unique.  The dish was very filling and I barely made it through the first Crab Cake Benedict, but Nick was happy to help me finish the second one.  (Oh, and in case you are curious, Nick ordered the Challah French Toast Sandwich.  That was really yummy, mixing savory and sweet flavors.)  I’ve really enjoyed the two visits to the Coffee House Cafe and hope to visit the “neighborhood” joint more often!

Do you have a favorite neighborhood breakfast spot that you frequent?  What do you love about the place?

Crazy CAD Monkey

I debated on what to write about today, finally deciding on sharing my workspace with you all.  First off, it’s lunchtime (my usual blog writing time), so I’ve got my Kashi Spicy Black Bean Enchilada ready and waiting for me to eat.  (I’ve already scarfed it down and have moved onto the apple.)

Since right around the holidays, I’ve been working on and off on a project that I refer to as The Suburban Hell Project.  Well, I haven’t actually called the project out loud to anyone here at work, but that’s what I call to myself.  If you couldn’t tell, I’m not so fond of the project!
(Again, sorry for the poor picture quality.  I’m limited to the camera on my phone.)  I have two monitors so I can spread my work out and easily move between programs.  Working at an architecture firm, I pretty much only use AutoCAD (open on the left monitor), Adobe Photoshop (open on the right monitor),  and Adobe InDesign, along with a few other programs used here and there.

I get a lot of curious looks from people when I tell them I’m an urban planner.  The first question I get asked is, “What’s an urban planner?”  It’s a very broad profession that can cover quite a lot, but the best explanation I’ve come up with in regards to my current job is that I count parking spaces.  All the work I’ve done here is very dependant on the car; screw the people, all that matters are if there enough parking spaces in the design.  Or at least that’s how I’ve (sarcastically) learned to approach my part in the part in the architectural design process.  I think the car is the devil.  It’s a devil that we can’t live without, just like plastic (but I’ll save that devilish rant for another blog entry).  As a society, we are so dependant on cars that they drive the design of our communities.  (No pun intended).  There is some crazy statistic that for every car in the U.S. there are eight parking spaces.  That’s a lot of asphalt!  Wouldn’t it be nice to have eight homes?  You could have a home on the beach, in the mountains, in the city, in the country, in the north, in the south, and two other great places.  Well, every car in America has eight homes.  Aren’t all those cars lucky!?

Okay, you get my point.  Moving on.  I try to keep my desk neat.  I can’t stand clutter.  It makes me feel out of control.  (OCD issue, I know.)
I’ve got an assortment of papers taped to my overhead storage for quick reference.  There’s my 2012 calendar that Nick made me which has yet to be hung up, my water, banana, and a box of Kashi Granola Bars.  There are also two books on my desk which I bought and “donated” to the office library, but I’m thinking of bringing them home.  And last is my paper storage bin.  I used to keep this on the other side of my desk (area shown in the next picture), but one of my bosses kept moving it every time he came to explain a new project to me.  Well, you know me and my order.  He kept messing with my order and it drove me so crazy I had to move the damn paper storage bin to the other side of my desk so this particular boss would quit moving it every time he came over to talk to me.  (OCD again.  I can’t help it!)
The other side of my desk (where the paper storage bin used to live).  Here, I have a rescued bamboo plant, tissues, and a bobble-head that I picked up at a conference a long time ago.  I also have my running scheduled taped down to the desk (so nobody can move it) for quick reference, although I have my workouts memorized by heart.

To my back is a window…. leading out to the beautiful parking lot.  Look!  Homes for all those cars!  I’m a hypocritical urban planner.  I have a car out there in the parking lot.  In fact, not only is it a car, but it’s a gas-guzzling SUV.  But to my defense, I got it when I was in Michigan and Four-Wheel Drive was more appropriate there.  Besides, I might not stand a chance of survival in anything smaller than an SUV if I were to ever get in a car accident in Texas.   Everything is bigger in Texas, including the cars!  I keep radiating towards talking about cars today for some reason.  Back to the window.  I’m happy and very fortunate to sit by a window. I know Nick’s office is miserable without any windows in sight.  When I first started working here, I sat in the middle of the studio (Studios are what architects call architecture offices) without any natural daylight by me.  I found it very depressing and jumped on the opportunity to move to a desk by the window.

Below my desk is my computer (to save precious desk space) and a blanket.  I know, the blanket is very dirty being on the floor, but it serves a purpose being there.  As you can see, we have concrete floors (über architectural), but unfortunately the exposed garage is right below this floor, without any insulation.  The floor is VERY cold, which leads to cold toes.  So I put the blanket on the floor as my impromptu insulation.  It helps.

And to round out my workspace (I know it’s been a trilling tour and you all are sad for it to end) is this cute holiday card I got over the holidays from another architect friend.
 A cityscape!  What a perfect holiday card for an urban planner.  I think I might try to recreate the card using my graphic know-how and give it out myself next holiday season!

And that concludes the tour of a crazy CAD Monkey’s workspace!

Uncertainty Has Gotten The Best Of Me

I have to make a confession.  I’ve decided to stop training for the Austin Marathon.  Not knowing if I will be around for the race has made it extremely difficult to stay on track.  Not to mention that, boy, is it time-consuming.  I get really lonely after a while!  I do plan on running a marathon eventually, but the timing isn’t right for the Austin Marathon.  With that said, I am still training…. for the Austin Half Marathon.  Since I’ve already achieved the half marathon already, I won’t have any disappointment if I don’t run in the Austin Half Marathon.  I’ve done some more research and there are actually three half marathons pretty close to each other, so if I can’t make the Austin race, then hopefully one of the other two will work in my schedule.  First up is the Texas Half Marathon in Dallas.

I think this race is mainly for people training for the Big D Marathon in the spring, so it won’t be nearly as exciting as the White Rock Lake Marathon/Half Marathon.  After the Texas Half Marathon is the Austin Live Strong Marathon/Half Marathon

followed by Cowtown Marathon/Ultra Marathon/Half Marathon in Fort Worth.

I think this one is a big deal, but I don’t know a ton about it.  (If you aren’t from the Dallas/Fort Worth Area, I should point out that the two cities are very different and tend to be rivals.  People in Dallas don’t really follow what’s going on in Fort Worth and vice versa.)

So instead of following my marathon training schedule, I’ve reverted back to the half marathon training schedule, with a few minor tweaks.  I’ve kept my short runs at three miles instead of starting at two and working my way up to three.  I’ve done the same for the mid-week medium runs, starting at four miles instead of three.  And finally for the long runs, my base has been eight miles, with a 10K scheduled for next weekend and possibly two 15K races in the weeks to come.

So there you have it.  Uncertainty got the best of me, but I’m not completely getting off track.  Even if it is JUST a half marathon, it’s still a half marathon and in my book, that’s still a worthwhile achievement!

Top 15 Christmas Questions

So I’m borrowing today’s blog idea from Food And Fitness 4 Real, who borrowed it from Clean Eating Chelsey, and beyond that, I don’t know where it came from, so thank you ladies for a fun blog survey!  This survey is going to be a little tough for me, since Nick and I have only had two official Christmases together and we will be out of town for this year’s Christmas.  So I’m going do a hodge-podge of our Christmases together as well as the Christmases from growing up.

1. Does Santa wrap presents or just put them under the tree?
Growing up: definitely wrapped, under the tree.  Where would the fun be of gifts that didn’t need to be unwrapped
Christmas with Nick: Normally wrapped, next to the fire-place.  This year they were (we did our Christmas a week early) unwrapped.

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2011

2. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Growing up: White for sure!  On both the house and the tree.  I always wanted the colored twinkling lights as a kid, but in retrospect, I appreciate the white.  They are much classier.
Christmas with Nick: Mixed.  We haven’t had a “real” tree (see explanation below) since we’ve been together, but we’ve hung lights on the balcony outside as well as the staircase guard rail inside.  Nick bought the colored lights.  I bought the white lights.  (If I have my way, eventually we will use all white lights.)

3. Do you hang mistletoe?
Growing up: Yup!  We had a big ball of it.  It was fake, but now that my mom lives in Oregon they’ve got that stuff growing wild on the trees that line the drive up to her house.
Christmas with Nick: No, it’s hard to find mistletoe, real or fake, anymore  but I saw a write-up in a magazine that I recently read with a place that you can order it from (the company is in Oregon, of course).  If we were staying in town this year, I would have ordered some.  I would like to start that tradition up again!

4. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Growing up: Probably breakfast.  I think it changed every year, but we always had a nice breakfast together on Christmas morning.
Christmas with Nick: Starbucks.  It’s not really a dish, but it’s something we’ve had together on Christmas morning the past two years.  We venture out to the Starbucks across the street- Nick gets a Venti Caramel Macchiato and I get a Tall Non-fat Chai- and bring them home to sip on as we open presents.  (Besides, I think of Thanksgiving more of a food holiday than Christmas.)

5. Favorite holiday memory as a child?
Growing up: Ooh, that’s tough.  I really have to think about that one…. I remember getting underwear that had frills on it and I was so embarrassed to open it in front of everyone.  I was probably 7 or 8.  I don’t know if that’s a favorite holiday memory, but it’s a memory that stuck with me, and it’s funny to think about it much later in life!
Christmas with Nick: This question doesn’t apply.

6. Snow, love it or dread it?
Growing up: Growing up in New England, it was part of Christmas and the holiday season.  As a little kid, it was fun to play in the snow, make snow angels, sledding, and go skiing.  As I got older, particularly when I was in grad school in Michigan, I HATED it!  It was pretty and serene for a few hours and then it was miserable.
Christmas with Nick: Now that I live in Texas, I miss the seasons.  It doesn’t feel like the holidays with out snow.  (The grass is always greener, right?)

7. Real tree or fake?
Growing up: Real, all the way.  Being in New England, it was almost a tradition (I say almost because it didn’t happen every year) to go to the Christmas Tree farm and cut our own tree down.  (Ah, that’s a good holiday memory from growing up!)
Christmas with Nick: Real miniature tree.  Our place is way to small for a normal sized Christmas tree.  Last year was the biggest of our trees, residing on top of the coffee table.
Christmas tree of 2010
Christmas 2009 was a rosemary tree.  This year’s tree is more like a fern.

8. What’s the most important thing about Christmas for you?
Growing up: presents.  Haha 🙂
Christmas with Nick: Spending the day with Nick and starting to build our own new traditions together (although there are very few right now).

9. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Growing up: That’s another tough one.  Chocolate chip cookies maybe or chocolate chip pie.  I don’t really remember a lot of sweets from my childhood.
Christmas with Nick: Like I said, I think of Thanksgiving as being the food holiday.  I could care less about having sweets at Christmas.  But if someone brings a sweet treat to the office or we are at a holiday party, I’ll probably have a little nibble.

10. What is your favorite tradition?
Growing up: I guess this is the almost tradition of going to the Christmas Tree farm and cutting a fresh tree.
Christmas with Nick: Starbucks!

11. What tops your tree?
Growing up: When I was very young, we had an angel.  As a teenager, my mom changed it to a big red bow with the ends streaming down the tree.  It was very pretty.
Christmas with Nick: Our biggest tree we had (see picture above of the Christmas tree 2010) came with a bow on it (Thanks for the Christmas Tree topper, Whole Foods!).  This year our “fern” tree is too delicate for ornaments or anything to put on top of it.

12. What is your favorite Christmas song?
Growing up: I loved all the traditional Christmas carols.  I used to sing them with Jim, my step-dad, in the car to ourselves.  We Three Kings Of Orient Are really sticks out in my mind as one we sang a lot.
Christmas with Nick: My boss’s son, Austin, who is six, visits our office every now and then.  Back in September when Austin came for a visit, my podmates and I heard this little kid voice singing religious Christmas songs.  We all started to giggle, it was so cute listening to Austin sing the songs that he’d been learning at Catholic school (several months prior to the holidays)!  So while it’s not a specific song per say, hearing the songs from a little kid’s voice is always a hoot (and I’m sure that’s exactly how I sounded way back when Jim and I would sing together in the car).

13. What do you leave for Santa?
Growing up: Cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.
Christmas with Nick: Nothing, although, Nick probably pours him some Crystal Light in the middle of the night.

14. Do you have a Christmas morning tradition?
Growing up: Wake up early and wake everyone else up.  Open presents and eat breakfast.  Sometimes it was eat first then presents, other times it was presents (and coffee for the adults) first and eat breakfast after.
Christmas with Nick: Sleep in (which for me is 7:30 AM), go to Starbucks, come home and open presents and maybe have a bagel sandwich for breakfast.

15. Do you prefer to shop online or at the mall?
Growing up: Well, the internet isn’t what it is today back then, so for sure the mall!
Christmas with Nick: If I can get it online, I totally will.  Otherwise, I go to the store.  I avoid the traditional mall at all costs, going to stores that have stand-alone locations or are in more of a strip mall, like a free-standing or strip Gap or Target.  (Dallas traditional malls are the worse in terms of crowds that I’ve seen in all the places I’ve lived, while the strip malls aren’t nearly as bad.)

Of these questions, which is your favorite?  Answer it in regards to how you celebrate the holidays.

Training On The Treadmill

My friend Abby commented on my recent half marathon recap post, asking if I planned on continuing on to a full marathon.  The short answer is yes, I am training for the Austin Marathon in February.    Back in October, I made the unofficial decision to keep going after the White Rock Lake Half Marathon and work towards the full marathon.  The long answer, though, is maybe.  There is a chance I won’t be around that weekend to go down to Austin for the race.  I won’t know for sure until January, which makes training very difficult.  With the White Rock Lake Half Marathon, I registered for the race several weeks before I started to train for it.  I was motivated the whole way through; I had already paid the $85 registration fee, there was no turning back after that!  With the Austin Marathon being up in the air, it’s hard to keep myself going, but I’d rather be trained and not be able to go to the race than not be trained and go to the race!  On a side note, I meant to post this with my half marathon recap, but I totally forgot.  Here is my completed training schedule for the half marathon with the paces and times for all of my runs.  I’m not particularly fast, but I’ve come along way from the middle of September.So now it’s the “dead of winter”, which is a term I use loosely here in Texas- it’s 70 degrees out today, and I’m reluctantly training.  However, being the “dead of winter” it is dark, dark, dark by the time I get off of work.  Now most women running alone in the dark are afraid of being attached by someone lurking in the bushes.  For better or worse, I don’t have that fear.  I do have a different running-in-the-dark-fear.  I have developed a dislike for running on sidewalks in my neighborhood because they are uneven, lacking ramped curb cuts in various places, and suddenly stop for no apparent reason so I’ve come to prefer running on the street.  Running on the street at night is a wee bit dangerous, especially in a place like Dallas where the car rules the road.  So my fear is two-fold: I’m afraid I’ll be hit by a car if I run in the road and I’m afraid, that with the lack of visibility, I will trip and twist my ankle or worse by running on the crappy sidewalks.  To me comparing my fear(s) with what I consider most women’s fears of running alone at night are like getting in a car crash versus getting in a plane crash.  I feel like my odds are greater for getting hit by a car or falling and twisting my ankle than getting abducted by a serial killer.  Maybe I’m way off, but that’s at least how I think.   So my fears have led me back to the gym.

After running on the dreaded treadmill while we were in Mexico last month, I thought getting back on the treadmill was going to be miserable.  To my surprise, though, it hasn’t been so bad.  I zone out and pretend I’m outside.  It’s not quite the same, but I’ve mentally determined every quarter-mile of my outside run and when I look down at the treadmill dashboard to see how far I’ve gone, I refer that to my mental image of where I would be in the neighborhood.  The best part is that I don’t have to run up the dreaded hill at the end!

Anyway, here is my training schedule for the full marathon, including the first 12 weeks that I completed in training for the half.  Things have already been pushed around in the past two weeks and the holidays present their own challenges, but I’ll do my best to stick to it and hopefully within a month I will know for sure if I’m training for nothing or training for my first full marathon!  (Hopefully I can keep my motivation up for it in the meantime!)

My First 13.1

I know, I know, I said I was going to write this blog entry earlier this week, but the professional photography wasn’t live when I thought it would be and then the rest of the week got away from me.  Excuses, excuses.  Anyway, I’m here to give you the full report on my very first half-marathon!

All week long the receptionist at my office kept talking about the big cold front that was coming in over the weekend and how it was going to pour all weekend long.  I didn’t want to believe her.  Every time I check my weather app it forecasted blue skies on the race day, but Friday morning I checked and it looked like the inevitable might happen… the rain and the cold.  But still Saturday looked  worse than Sunday, so I was hopeful that mother-nature would get it out of her system the day before the race.  That evening, Nick went out with his friend and when he came home a few hours later he had this troubled look on his face.  He played me the voicemail that was on his phone from his godfather, Ken, who was given only a few months to live during the fall.  More or less, this was the voicemail:  “Hey Nick, it’s Ken.  Guess what, I’m in the French Quarter.  We are making our way to Texas (from Florida) and will be there for the weekend.  Sunday would be a great day for us to get together.  We’ll be staying in Hubbard (about two hours from Dallas) at my sister’s place.  Give me a call when you get a chance.”  The timing of this couldn’t have been worse.  Obviously we needed to go see him but what were we going to do about the race.  I said it was just a race and we could forego it and drive down to Hubbard Sunday morning.  Nick, knowing how hard I trained and how important this race was for me, nixed that idea right away.  After throwing a few ideas around as to how we would make this work, we decided that we would leave straight from the race, stop at the 24-Hour Fitness in downtown Dallas to shower, and continue on to Hubbard to visit with Ken.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.

Saturday morning,  Nick and I headed down to Fair Park Saturday morning to go to the expo and pick up our registration packets.  On the way there, Nick asked me what my goal was in regards from this race.  I told him I just wanted to cross the finish line.  That was my original goal when I signed up to do this race.  Obviously over the 12 weeks I learned where my pace might actually fall and so I had an ideal pace in my head, but if I didn’t fall within that pace and finish time, I wasn’t going to beat myself up over it.
Race Expo
The expo was pretty cool.  We stopped by the Luke’s Locker booth and got some good deals.  The women’s stuff was pretty picked over but I got two new pairs of Nike Tempo shorts- my preferred running shorts- on sale, so I can’t complain too much.  The expo was very crowded so we didn’t stick around too long.  Plus, with the race and a trip to Hubbard the next day, we wanted to get all of our weekend chores and errands done on Saturday.

Saturday night we packed our bags and got our running clothes together, had Nick’s favorite pasta dinner and I called it a night.  Nick on the other hand stayed up working on his iPhone games.  I work up periodically and came out to remind him of the time and how many hours were left until we had to get up.  I don’t think he appreciated it that much!  He finally came to bed around 2:00 AM for a few hours of sleep before the alarm went off at 5:00 AM.  We had a quick bite to eat, grabbed our stuff and were out the door, walking into a light drizzle of rain and 30 degree temperature.

In the 12 weeks leading up to this day, I thought I would be so nervous, but when we got into the corrals and walked towards the starting line, there wasn’t an ounce of nerves in me.  I was just filled with excitement.  We crossed the start line and we were off!  At this point the drizzle turned into real rain and as we wound our way through Deep Ellum and into downtown, the rain continued to pick up.  I felt pretty emotional in the first two miles.  I was excited to be apart of this race.  25,000 people came together on this freezing cold, rainy day to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles.  For some reason, this really touched me.  The miles passed and I was drenched, despite wearing a trash bag the whole time.  At about mile 4 I decided there was no point in avoiding puddles.  My feet were soaking wet and they weren’t going to get any more dry over the next 9 miles.  I was gratefully for having wool socks on instead of cotton socks.  My feet stayed warm the entire time, despite being soaking wet.  At mile 7 I hit a wall.  I was fatigued and needed to walk just a little bit, just to the top of the small incline, which was about a block, if that.  At mile 8 I decided it was finally time to start drinking water, a challenge in itself.  I grabbed the first dixi cup I saw and took one small sip before dumping the rest of it down my chin.  That little sip was going to have to hold me over until mile 9 and the next water stop.  After repeating the same experience at miles 9 and 10, I stopped running at the water stop at mile 11 and walked with the water, drinking two full cups.  At the end of the water stop, I tossed my two empty cups and started running again.

Right around mile 11 I spotted my boss and his wife and their two kids who had come out to cheer.  When I spotted them I was so happy to see familiar faces.  I really appreciated all the spectators who came out to watch that day.  It was a huge help getting through the miles, but seeing familiar faces really perked me up.  Thank you so much Brian, Koko, Austin, and Miles for coming out!  I know the weather was awful so thanks to you four and every spectator who was out there for sticking it out and giving the runners the support!

The last few miles are a bit of a daze for me now.  I remember thinking somewhere after mile 11 that I was crazy for wanting to continue on and train for a full marathon!  Around mile 11.5 or so, the marathon and half marathon joined up again (we split at about mile 8- the full went north to run around the lake and the half went south towards downtown, Fair Park, and the finish line) and I saw the first place marathon runner pass me and head to the finish line.  Damn was he fast!  At mile 12 my Nike+ GPS paused and stopped playing music, which was über frustrating.  I couldn’t get the music to play so I ran the last mile in “silence”  I’m so glad that happened on mile 12 and not mile 2.  Running 1 mile in silence is torture enough!  Fair Park was in distance.  I crossed through the gates and saw the finish line just around the corner.  At this point, I think I stopped feeling the motion of my legs running.  I ripped off the garbage bag that I wore the entire race and made my way to the finish line.
Just crossed the finish line with garbage back still in hand
Clock time of 2:33:21

As I crossed the finish line I grabbed a mylar blanket and about burst into tears. The past 12 weeks had been so emotional for me.  Deep down I knew I could do it, but fears and doubt filled me along the journey.  Running my first half-marathon has definitely been a mind over matter situation for me.  And honestly, after so many miles, my body becomes numb and I don’t feel anything physically anymore!

From the picture above, you can see that my clock time was 2:33:21.  My official chip time, though, was 2:09:42.  I am quite pleased with my time.  They ushered us into the finishers pavilion to get our medals and finisher shirts, so I didn’t get to see Nick finish.  I got my finisher picture taken, despite shivering and dripping all over the place.
Freezing cold, dripping wet finisher picture

Once Nick and I met up we decided that going to 24-Hour Fitness to shower was a horrible idea and that we’d rather take hot showers in the comfort of our own home, so we headed home before taking off for Hubbard, TX.

(Okay, I’m wrapping up, so bear with me for just a little bit longer.)  In sum, it was a very rewarding experience.  Even though it was pouring rain and freezing cold the entire time, I wouldn’t have asked for my first half marathon to be any other way!  Here are the things I was so grateful for on the race day:
1. Wool socks
2. Garbage bag
3.  A hat (which I never, ever wear when I run)
4. Spectators
5. My boss and his family for coming out and supporting me
6. My friends and family who were thinking about me from afar
7. Nick for being my cheerleader along the way, telling me I can do it no matter how frustrated I got!  I’m so glad we got to do this race “together”.  Although we didn’t really physically run together, having you in the race with me and being a part of this goal of mine means so much!  I love you!

Thanks everyone for your support!