Too Hot to Handle Race Results

Ryan

Overall: 83rd out of 1007

Age Group: 10th out of 66

Traci

Overall: 501st out of 1007

Age Group: 30th out of 73

This race around White Rock Lake, although extremely hot, was awesome. We did the 15K, which is a total of 9.3 miles. Ryan killed it with a pace of 7:33! It was an out & back race, so I got to see him on his way back towards the finish line. This always encourages me to see his smiling face and thumbs up as we pass each other (and I still have several miles to go). My pace was close to 10 minutes which, hey, I know that’s not blazing speed but I was happy with it considering it was blazing H.O.T. It does make me feel better that I beat at least half of the other participants! ;) This race is done very well – they do all they can to help overcome the heat and humidity that July provides Dallas, Texas. Extra water/powerade stations, misters along the route, and ice cold towels at the finish line…it all makes running more tolerable. My little bro, Jeff, did the 5K and did great! He’s really doing well in his training for the Manchester Half, so 3 miles is getting easier for him. He did 5 last weekend. His determination & dedication is very impressive and I’m a proud big sis.

We really enjoyed this race and will mostly likely keep it on the annual race list. Next up…Tyler Half Marathon on October 9th!

It’s too hot, I can’t handle it!

This weekend, we will be heading to Dallas to run in the Too Hot to Handle 15K. The name of this race is rather appropriate. Running 9.3 miles smack dab in the middle of summer in Dallas sunshine & humidity is ridiculously hot & definitely hard to handle! However it’s usually a fun race and for some crazy reason, we keep going back year after year. The spray mists throughout the course and cold brew at the finish line definitely help! It’s a beautiful setting running around White Rock Lake. One of my dad’s favorite spots to run. The other day, when I went online to register, I stumbled across this photo that I’ve never seen before. Me, Jeff and my Dad at the start of this race in 2009. Pretty neat!

This year, Ryan and I plan to do the 15K and my brother, Jeff, is doing the 5K. Jeff started training a few weeks ago for the Manchester Half coming up in November…he’s going with us to New Hampshire this year! I’m so proud of him, he’s doing so great. Ryan and I are trying to get our milage up, not only for the half marathons we plan to do this Fall, but for our marathon in January! I’m rather nervous about doing 9 miles, that will be the furthest I’ve gone in a while. But it will be a great challenge!

Houston Marathon

Well, we did it. We registered for our very first FULL marathon: January 15th, 2012. That’s right folks, 26.2 miles! WHAT WAS I THINKING? :)

Ryan & I both registered for the lottery in the Chevron Houston Marathon last week, along with several friends & family, as a team. If one of us got picked, we would all get in. We were nervous! The way it works is this: you register, put in your credit card info, and then wait. They do a random selection over the weekend and if you are picked, they charge your credit card and send you a confirmation email. I may or may not have checked our credit card balance several times throughout the weekend to see if a charge had shown up yet. Tons of people enter this lottery, so we weren’t quite sure if we’d get in under the 13,000 cap.

Well, here is what we woke up to today…

YIKES! We got in! So now, it’s time to get serious. Time to get real. Time to get my butt in gear! 26.2 miles, here we come. H52S!

High Five!

This past weekend was the High 5 to the Sky 5K and it was amazing! Amazing for these reasons:

1. We have the best friends and family in the world. Overwhelmed by the amount of support & love shown during this event! Thank you all again for everything, we feel truly blessed.

2. It was such a special memory maker and tribute to Dad as we celebrated his life. I just know he was smiling down on us that morning as we joined together at one of his favorite places.

3. Enough money was raised to help provide about 50 children with clean water for one full year through Project 7’s Quench the Thirsty charity. Dad would LOVE this – he had a huge heart for kids. For every t-shirt sold and race entry registered- all the proceeds went to this awesome organization.THANK YOU for helping to “change the score” for these kids!

4. Addi & Kam had an absolute blast. Addi ran/walked the entire 3.1 miles. That is a lot, especially for a 4 year old! Of course, she thought the whole race was for her and expected everyone to cheer for her at the end. She ran her little heart out and had tears in her eyes when she finished! Yesterday, she asked me, “Was Poppy proud of me for running the race?” Yep, no doubt he was, sweet girl.

Special thanks goes out to the following people/businesses:

Sarah Hardin- race day photographer

Clay & Lauren Hightower- managing the registration table & getting bananas from Brookshire’s

Brookshire’s – donating bananas for post-race

Trinity Mother Frances Hospital: donating bags and pens for the race packets

Project 7: donating stickers and bracelets

To view all pics from the race, click here. High 5 to the sky!

High 5 To The Sky 5K.

Dear family & friends,

We would like to invite you all to join us on June 11th for the High 5 to the Sky 5K. This Fun Run/Walk is in memory of my dad, Kip Clark, who passed away June of last year. He was a runner, a lover of life, a true friend, and an inspiration to many. He loved the Mineola Nature Trail, so we felt this would be a proper setting for this 5K. The race is a special tribute and celebration of his life!

All proceeds from the event will be donated to Project 7: Quench the Thirsty, a charity that works to provide clean water for children all over the globe to help prevent sickness and disease. You can read more about this awesome organization and the work they do at www.project7.com.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7

What: High 5 To The Sky 5K. Fun run & walk. All ages.

When: 06/11/11. Packet pickup and race day registration from 8:00-8:20 am. Race begins @ 8:30 am.

Where: Mineola Nature Trail.

Why: To celebrate the life of Kip Clark and raise $ for Project 7.

Cost: $15 includes t-shirt and donation to Project 7.

Registration: Registration form and entry fee must be received by mail before 05/28/11 in order to be guaranteed a shirt. Late registration available race day during packet pickup time. No shirt guaranteed for late registration.

Questions: Email tracidixon@mac.com

Let me be loud & clear.

Mile Markers The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run – by Kristen Armstrong. I am about halfway through reading this book and am absolutely loving it. It motivates me so much! I have always enjoyed reading Kristen’s blog on Runner’s World ever since my Dad told me about it. He loved reading it too and often times sent me links of her posts. Her writing is so inspirational to me. She is not only a runner, but also a mom and someone who likes to live life to the fullest. I love hearing her stories about parenting, early morning runs with friends, races she’s done, and just life in general. It’s a great book thus far and I feel certain I will finish it within the next week or two.

As I sat outside on the patio today soaking up the sun, I read chapter 12 called “Confidence”. Good stuff about what she feels makes for a confident woman and how it starts on the inside. I came across this line and it stuck with me. She was talking specifically about how our influence and own self-confidence affects our children. I read it, reread it, and then knew I had to come in and post this blog.

“If our lips are moving but our actions don’t match, we become a badly dubbed foreign film, without the benefit of subtitles.”

How true is that?! And very biblical. If we say one thing and do another, it just doesn’t make any sense. To our kids or to anyone else for that matter. How confusing is it to a child for you to say “do this” or “do that” and then you don’t follow up your talk with your walk and do those very things? Very confusing. A bunch of jibber jabber. A waste of time.

This goes along well with what we’ve been talking about in or community group lately – we have to be who we want our kids to be. We have to be genuine and real by letting them see who we are, which is honestly scary & motivating at the same time. I can’t tell Addi to use kind words and be patient to Kam if I don’t exhibit patience and kindness to her when they are pushing all of my buttons. I can’t tell people I am a runner, if I don’t actually get out and make time to run. I can’t say I love Jesus, but then snuff the poor and needy right here in our community. I can’t say you’re my friend and then not be there for you to cry on my shoulder while you are struggling. It just doesn’t (shouldn’t) work that way. It’s not just lip service.

I don’t want my life to be badly dubbed without subtitles. I want it to be loud and clear. I want people, especially my kids, to know who I am, who I love, what I stand for, what I do, and what’s most important to me. I want them to see momma get sweaty and push myself to finish a run. I want them to see me make mistakes and apologize for them. I want them to see me show love to a stranger. I want them to see me make dating Ryan a priority. I want them to see me worship the Lord with all that I am. I want them to see me strive to be better in all things. I want to be confident in who I am, inside and out, and be content in my own skin- even through all my imperfections– so they will learn to be confident women themselves one day. That, my friends, will make for a beautiful film!

We are faas runners!

Check out these bad boys! The new Puma Faas 500’s. Oh yeah. Not only do we light up the streets of Tyler with these bright colored kicks, but we are running super faas at blazing speeds. Ok, ok…well at least Ryan is. I keep telling him he should try to qualify for Boston!

Ryan bought his shoes a few weeks back and immediately loved them. After hearing him talk about how awesome they were and after suffering from shin splints from a recent pair I got at Christmas, I thought I’d splurge and get me a pair too. Pink of course! I’ve only run short distances so far in them, but they feel great. They are very light weight and provide a smooth heel to toe transition. Maybe I do run a bit faaser? My pace has been better lately! And maybe these shoes will finally take us to that full marathon?

Here’s a pretty entertaining video when the staff of Puma introduced these shoes at the NYC Marathon Expo last year, if you want to check it out. We bought our’s online from Running Warehouse. They had the best price we could find & also have free 2 day shipping.

This Week’s Quiet Miles.

Running in the Spring is amazing. Despite the air filled with breath-restricting pollen that is. This week’s running has been exceptionally good for me on so many levels.

For about a month now, Traci and I have been on a mission to get up earlier than normal with the intention to have about 1 hour each morning to seek our Creator. We roll out of bed, tip-toe our way to the coffee, separate and do some light stretching, push-ups and sit-ups to wake-up. From there it’s time to engage with the His written words. I do this routine specifically on the days I am not scheduled to run.

For a long time now I have enjoyed listening to podcasts during my miles. In talking to my ‘boys’, I often speak of how valuable these messages are to me, especially in combination with the milage that accompanies them. It really is an extension of my quiet time. Usually a Carter/Chandler message lasts about 45-55 minutes. Perfect for my new 7 mile route. Podcasts allow me to focus on the message and grow numb to the steps. A quiet time listening and absorbing His words.

This week I decided to pick up the miles and run consecutively, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Each morning, I laced up and headed out the door with my usual must haves. For some reason though, my iPod was not happy and would not play. Now I know why.

Tuesday, adorning my new kicks, I was set to do my customary “out to Rose Rudmen park and back” route. I walked out the door, sunk my watch with the orbiting satellites and pressed play. Nothing. No lights on the shuffle, nothing. I walked back inside my quite house and put in on my desk. Without any message or music to keep me entertained, I decided to spend the time in focused conversation with God. Usually He does all the talking but in lieu of the temperamental iPod I decided it’d be my goal to pray as long as possible. WOW! What an amazingly intense 54 minute conversation with the One who knows the deepest part of me, and still loves me.

Wednesday, our Azalea 5K route was the goal. An easy 3. I decided to forego the iPod. There has been a lot in our minds recently with our current housing situation. That and mission have created excess brain activity for me lately. I settled into my pace and began to just let go. Quiet, restful, dark and peaceful are words that would describe my run. Refreshing and exactly what I needed.

This morning I picked up my shuffle that had been resting on the charger next to my bed since Tuesday. With every intention to finally hear part 3 of Chandler’s Authority series, I walked out the door, sunk my watch with the orbiting satellites and pressed play. No message. Just 2 songs. Bummer. I wrapped up the cables, tucked them into the clip and clipped it to my shorts. Bummer. “Ok, well apparently I’m suppose to have a quiet week!” I thought to myself. I walked to my starting point, turned on my blinky red light, pressed start on my watch and was off. Off to another great 7 miles of quiet contemplation and conversation.

Running is SO INCREDIBLY therapeutic to my soul. Ask any long time runner and they’d agree. Days that I set a goal to get out at run, and for whatever reason do not end up running, I’m a cranky mess. I NEED to have this time. This week’s miles, however quiet they were physically, were louder than my earbuds can scream. At the end of each day’s quiet, hour-ish run laced with prayer and processing, I am ready to take on the world. In that hour I have thought through multiple angles of many circumstances, dreamed big dreams and warded off my cranky tendencies. Most importantly though, I spent solid time seeking the wisdom of my heavenly Father and sharing my desperate need of Him.

Thank you God for ensuring this week’s “quiet” miles.

Here an azalea, there an azalea.

Azaleas are literally everywhere! Another reason why I love Springtime here in beautiful Tyler. Such vibrant array of colors going on right now – reds, yellows, whites, pinks, and of course greens. The beauty of creation is a reminder of how awesome our Creator is – the ultimate artist.

This past weekend began the official Azalea Trail. There are certain roads that make up this Trail that highlight gorgeous azaleas throughout historical homes that make up what is called the Azalea District. It’s pretty neat & attracts a lot of visitors to Tyler! We enjoy taking long walks this time of year through our ‘hood to see all of the azaleas.

This past Saturday, we ran in the annual Azalea 10k which was an absolute blast. I love this race! It’s a hilly course, but so beautiful. Ryan actually set a personal record – 7:14 pace! He placed 40th out of 657 runners. Speedy G! My time wasn’t too shabby for me at 9:26 pace. Considering I haven’t been pushing myself on speed these last couple of months, my goal was just to break 10, so I was pleased. We had some friends run with us too and they all did great! Everyone did better than what they hoped for. Proud of my running buddies!

Also this weekend, Brown’s Landing sponsored a Lemonade Stand on the Azalea Trail, so I helped with that. For every cup we gave away for free, Brown’s Landing donated a quarter to the American Cancer Society. It was a fun day in the sun!

The Dixon Half Marathon Training Plan

Disclaimer: Ok, first & foremost let me preface this post by saying this…we are not experts in this matter. We are not doctors. We are not (yet) certified trainers. We are not on staff at Runner’s World. We’ve never even run a full marathon (not yet anyways). We are just normal, regular people who love to run and eat a lot of chocolate. So, now that we have that cleared up…

We’ve had quite a few people ask us over the past few months how we train for our half marathons. Thus far, I have run 7 of them and Ryan has run 8. You can see the list of races here. Also, here’s an archive of all the posts we have about running. You can also find these in the sidebar category labeled “RUNNING”. We love it…I posted a blog with 10 reasons why.

13.1 miles is a fun challenge to take on. Trust me when I say, if I can do it – YOU CAN! Seriously, when I first started running about 6 or 7 years ago, I could barely make 1/4 mile without stopping. Training just takes time and patience, but it is well worth it! About a month ago, some friends of mine decided to register to run in the Big D Half Marathon in April and asked me how they should train for it. So, I put together a four month training calendar for them based upon books I’ve read, other training tips I’ve researched online, and what Ryan and I have done that works for us. This schedule is meant for people who are already up to running about 3 miles on average and here’s what it looks like:

Our method is to run about 3 to 4 times each week, depending on how much time we have. One of those runs should be a long one. What we usually do is run between 3-6 miles on these “weekday runs” and then run our longer distance runs on the weekend. An example of our schedule is I do Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday while Ryan does Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday.  The next week we rotate that schedule. Each weekend, we try to bump up the long run distance as you can see on the calendar. A little at a time, usually in mile increments.

For better overall fitness, it is a good idea to incorporate one day of cross-training and one day of speed work. What I mean by cross-training is anything from bicycling to walking to swimming to lifting weights. Speed work is my least favorite things and I usually slack in this area. But when I’ve done it in the past, I really can see a difference in my pace. On speed work days, we like to go to the local high school track and do quarter mile repeats. This is where you run a quarter of a mile as fast as you can, then walk for a minute and do it again. And again. And again. Run fast, walk. Run fast, walk. You get the picture…it’s not fun! Definitely gets your heart pumping and it will help you better you time on race day. More on speed in a minute.

Another piece of advice we give to everyone just starting out is to get you a GOOD pair of quality running shoes. This is essential! In order to prevent injury and just to have a more enjoyable run, you need good shoes. You can not skimp out on this! It will be worth your money but GOOD shoes are not necessarily the most expensive ones either. Saucony and Mizuno are our favorite brands. But I have friends that prefer Asics and some that like Nike…just depends on how you run, your foot arch type, whether you overpronate or underpronate, etc. They have to feel right with a little wiggle room for your feet to expand when they get going. You can read about my latest fav shoes here…and bonus they are only $40!

Hydration is important! Not just during the race but more importantly the day prior. We do our best to drink about 2 liters (yes) of water each day. Ryan runs with a water bottle for any run longer than 4 miles. You can see what his other running essentials are here. One of these includes the best tool we have, a GPS watch. This is great for knowing your exact distance and average pace which we value greatly. Many ask what a good pace might be for running distance. The best answer is to just get out and run, find your natural, comfortable pace. This is where you will feel as though your body just grooves. When you find that pace, get used to it, get the miles adding up, challenge yourself with speed work for better times.

So for those of you who are looking to take on the adventure of registering for a half marathon, I’d say go for it! Registering for a race is a great motivator to keep you on track with your running. Such a challenging, yet very rewarding experience. Here’s a clip from an article I read recently regarding the finish line of the Austin Half Marathon. I loved it and shared it with my friend Ame who ran in Austin her very first half marathon. I feel it sums up the feeling and accomplishment of crossing the finish line very well & thought I’d share it with those of you considering this venture…

“At the bottom of the hill, you turn left, and it’s a block to the massive finish line structure. Smile, wave, cry – whatever you do, you’ve done something phenomenal, that so few people will ever even try to do. You chose to train. You chose to run on many days when the weather, or your schedule, or your will, were pushing back. You got through a day full of choices – whether to slow down, whether to walk, whether to stop. Maybe you didn’t win each of those battles, but everyone that you did win says something about who you are, and who you choose to be, and that’s what’s great about this sport.”

Livestrong Austin Half: Recap

This past weekend was fast and furious! I’m still recovering. We left Tyler Saturday morning first thing, kid-free & caffeinated. Along the way, we met up with our friends Mike & Ame who were also on their way to the ATX. Ame had decided several months ago that she wanted to complete a half marathon before she turns the big 3-0. Well, she turns 30 in March, so she picked the Austin Half to be her goal. Awesome! I love it when my friends decide to take up running. In fact, some other friends are running their first half in April and I hosted an official “half-marathon training” meeting at my house several weeks ago – am I a nerd or what?!

We followed speed racer Mike & Ame the rest of the way and of course had to make a pit stop at Chuy’s before we could do anything else. I mean, nothing says pre-race food better than chips, creamy jalapeno, and spicy tacos, right? Then, we all headed downtown to the race expo. Oh my word, it was packed OUT downtown! So much traffic and so many peeps. We finally found a place to park in some neighborhood on some street and headed in for our packets. I know I’ve said this before, but I heart race expos. They always make me feel like an actual, real, legit runner. Such great energy at these events. Being around other people that enjoy the same hobby as you as you all prepare to embark upon another challenge together – I don’t know how to explain it really. It’s refreshing and inspiring! Check out our swag… (don’t mind the blurry photo, time to upgrade to iPhone 4)

After loading up on protein bars, organic cereal samples, and Greek yogurt, we headed back to our car. Then, on to watch my niece play basketball! We had such a great time catching up with my brother and his family. We laughed A LOT. Not sure if we were all just really tired or what, but everything was funny. I’d share stories, but you wouldn’t think they were funny, trust me. Definitely a had to be there kind of thing. Good times. That night, we headed back to their house and cooked spaghetti to carb-up. Enjoyed a glass of wine as we tried to rest and relax and head to bed as early as possible. The alarm was set for 4:15 a.m. – YIKES.

I don’t know about you, but waking up before 6 is really hard for me. Well, waking up before 5 is just plain ridiculous. It’s the middle of the night for crying out loud! We threw on our race day attire, pinned on our bibs, drank some coffee, ate a Cliff bar and headed out the door as quietly as possible. We met our friends at their hotel and proceeded downtown to the starting line. Austin is such a cool city. Gotta love a race that starts in front of the state capitol building! National anthem was sung, introductions of all the race big wigs were made, and then it was announced that Lance Armstrong himself was there and running in the half marathon with us. Neato! I never actually saw him, but knowing that he was running was a cool thought.

The race itself was a lot of fun. Hilly, but fun. I decided to run with Ame, I wanted to be with her as she accomplished this pre-30 feat! The route was neat…running down Congress Avenue through downtown and by Lady Bird Lake. There was an insanely steep hill around mile 12. But, we conquered it and finished under her goal time! She did awesome. I was very proud of her. Ryan beat us, of course. I think he finished right behind Lance. ;)

After the race, we went back to Mike & Ame’s hotel to shower. Do you know how bad one stinks after one runs 13.1 miles? Peeeew weeee! I was craving a cheeseburger, so Ryan & I Stopped at Saltgrass on our way back to Tyler for this plate of deliciousness…

Crazy, but very good weekend. My hips were sore from climbing all of the hills! We’ve taken several days off from running, but I’m already itching to get back out on the road. Next up…Tyler Azalea 10k in March. H52S!

ATX Half this Sunday!

This weekend we are heading to central Texas for the Livestrong Austin Half Marathon! I am stoked about this race. Minus some tough hills, I’ve heard awesome things about this one. It’s Austin, so of course there will be live music throughout the entire run thanks to the local bands. Pumped about that. And no doubt we’ll see some interesting running costumes! The last race we ran in Austin, we saw an Adam & Eve couple running. Yes, only wearing leaves.

The course takes you by the UT campus, around the Capitol building, along side Lady Bird Lake and through downtown – how cool is that?! Plus, we have a good friend that is running her first half marathon and so, my plan is to run with her. She determined she wanted to accomplish a half before she turns 30 next month. So proud & excited for you Ame!

If you are really bored on Sunday morning, have an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and want to track us during our run, here’s how! Go here to see the free app you can download in iTunes. Ryan’s bib # is 8185 and mine is 11565. The app looks really neat! It will show us as cute little dots, our location on the route, and our pace.

I’m really looking forward to this weekend away and making more memories. I’ll, as always, be sporting my Dad’s Livestrong bracelet during the run. High five to the sky!

The middle miles.

Central Park, New York City

There is usually a point in distance running where you reach a pleasant plateau. The time when you have found your rhythm, your breathing is regulated, you are in the groove. Usually for me, this takes a good 3-4 miles. The first few miles on a long run are usually always tough for me. Thoughts flood my mind about what I have to do that day, how far I still have to run, how I wish I could get rid of that darn back fat that I’ve acquired from having two babies, etc. But after I crank up the music and start to relax and get in a rhythm, I am in a zone. My happy place. Then for several miles, I feel great, like I could run forever like Mr. Gump. This doesn’t happen every time, some runs are hard the entire time. Usually during a half marathon, I am in this zone from about mile 3 until close to mile 8 or 9. Then, the last few tend to be challenging…maybe because you know the end is near and reality sets in that you’ve run nearly 10 miles? Regardless, this is how I endure the long runs- the middle miles make it enjoyable.

I love these middle miles, they remind me why I love to run. During this time I can think clearly, I enjoy the time to myself doing something for myself, I pray, I think of my Dad, I think of all that God has blessed me with, and a lot of times I set new goals. Some of my best worship experiences have happened on long runs through the beauty of nature. This time has also been like therapy for me through the grief process. It’s good stuff. Good for me emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Because of this “me” time, I feel I am a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. I seriously get cranky when I don’t run, just ask Ryan!

I hope you have something like this that you do just for you. Something that challenges you, pushes you, strengthens you, encourages you, calms you, relieves stress, gives you time to process and think. Whatever it might be, it obviously doesn’t have to be running. Although I always recommend it! I know as a mom, it’s hard to find any time for alone time. Trust me, I understand. But I think it’s truly important. So if you don’t do something like this already, I would encourage you to find those “middle miles” and set aside time to do it regularly!

Thursday’s Awkward Swimming Experience.

In search for some cross-training to complement my running I decided to give swimming a shot.

Thursday morning I woke up, got suited and headed out the door to try my hand at swimming at the TJC  pool. I walked into the large indoor pool room and began to assess the situation. This pool is huge! Broken in half with 4 lanes on one side and open on the other with a diving board and shallow area.  The 4 lanes were occupied by swimmers that knew what they were doing with no one else in the pool. It almost felt comforting that this huge pool was so vacant.

I, like many others, am a bit intimidated by new adventures, especially if it means being half naked in front of strangers. It’s that “not really sure if I’m doing this right” feeling that I am uncomfortable with. Never-the-less I was set out to overcome and explore this activity. I love swimming so why not?

The water was warm enough to be a relief to the outside temps of about 40 degrees. Nice! I began to paddle around and get accustomed to those movements that I haven’t felt since last summer’s family vacation. Man this is cool I thought as I gently swam the distance to the deep end of the pool. Upon my return to the shallow end my attention was requested by the lifeguard.

“Sir,”she said “this side of the pool is for water aerobics. If you’re going to swim you need to get in a lane.”

Confused and bewildered I looked around to see no one besides myself in the “water aerobics” side of the pool and 4 people in the 4 lanes used for laps.

“Huh?” I thought out-loud.

“If you want to swim you’ll have to share a lane with someone.” The lifeguard continued.

I couldn’t help but add a smirk and chuckle to the conversation as I began to think of how to process this information. Already intimidated by the new adventure to get up and go swim, now I have been thrown into a new challenge of “sharing a lane with someone”. I don’t even know what this looks like. Do we take turns? Do I have to talk to this guy and plan out a strategy? “You’re it!” What? So with no confidence at all I swim under the lane dividing ropes and enter the “swimming zone”.

I know how to swim. I spent many summer hours in a pool since I was young but not olympic style stroke swimming like I’ve seen Michael Phelps doing on TV or the guy I’m now sharing a lane with is doing. You know, the kind of lap swimming that the swimmer has perfect hand over hand form. My new lane buddy doesn’t even seem to take breaths and effortlessly does that underwater-flip-and-push-off-thing at the ends of the pool to maintain his vigorous pace. Fantastic.

Psychologically defeated, I begin to do my varied form of a dog paddle to the end of the pool and back, mindful of my new lane partner. Most of the time I was concerned I’d bump into him and throw off his workout. That was the last thing I was wanting for sure! I continued this timid and graceless swimming style for about 30 minutes before I’d had enough of this claustrophobic embarrassment. Out of the water to my paper thin towel in attempt to sop up a bit of wetness, I look over to the “water aerobics” side of the massive pool (which I was violently expelled from) to see 1 person bobbing around in one of it’s corners. 1 person! Maybe next time, I’ll give water aerobics a try.

Wow. What an awkward experience. I couldn’t help but think of this skit from Saturday Night Live. An awkward experience indeed!

{click to view this skit}

3 Day Fruit & Veggie Diet: Day 1.

After our cruise, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas holidays, Ryan & I had gained probably ten pounds between the both of us. Even though we were still running consistently. We felt bloated, and just kind of yucky! We could totally tell in our running that we felt heavier and somewhat sluggish. Afterall, we did indulge quite about over the past two months. It’s not everyday you eat a burger & fries for an afternoon snack or pizza at midnight like we did on our cruise! So, we looked into some diet/cleanse options.

We usually eat pretty healthy on a normal basis. We were really just looking for something that would help give us a little boost back into our healthy eating and possibly cleanse our system in the process (ew!). We decided upon this 3 day fruit & veggie diet and we plan to do this monthly going forward. You know how much we LOVE food and LOVE to cook, but 3 days? I think we can handle that! So, we will set aside 3 days each month where we will only eat fruits and veggies all day. We also determined that we would only be allowed 1 cup of coffee in the morning, 1 glass of V8 juice, 1 cup of herbal tea, and then drink water the rest of the day – at least a total of 2 liters.

Below is what day 1 has looked like. Today has been sort of hard, I’m not going to lie. We are used to drinking multiple cups of coffee, eating meat, and carbs are a Dixon fave…not to mention sweets & wine! But, we made it through the day. 2 more to go!

Day #1

Breakfast: 1 orange, 1 apple, 1 cup of coffee

Lunch: Organic mixed greens salad, 1 carrot, 1 celery, water

Afternoon snack: Banana and 1 glass of V8 Fusion juice

Dinner: Steamed broccoli with sauteed squash, zucchini & onion, water

Evening snack: 1 cup of green tea, blueberries

Saturday’s Emotional 8 Miles in Quitman.

One of our favorite things about the 2 years we lived in Quitman was the running. The scenery there and the “slower” traffic is a nice combination. As with most places we live, (have lived) we have a few set routes for whatever milage you are wanting to accomplish. From just a few to 10 or more. Country roads with horses and cows, open fields seeded with grains, decreped barns and it’s vacant downtown adorn this East Texas route. Hilly at times, thankfully flat at others. Here is an old post showing some pics of these hot spots.

Deciding to run there on Saturday, Traci and I wanted to revisit some of our favorite scenes. In effort to plan out our 8 mile quota, I stumbled upon a great resource called  mapmyrun.com. This site allows you to mark your start then draw the route you want to run on a Google Map. When you design your route, it automatically displays mile markers. Once you are finished making the route, editing and tweaking, it shows the elevation and you have the option to see a 3D fly through thanks to Google Earth. Super cool! Here is the route we planned.

We arrived at the much adored “grandma’s house!” around 10 am, said hello and as the girls began to play, Traci and I walked out the door to start at the back of the property. The sun was shining and our muscles were shivering. My playlist included a Matt Carter message on the God’s ability to do the impossible followed by some old school hip-hop. 45 degrees and breezy we pressed start and began our tour.

This place invokes so many emotions. Most may not know of our “Quitman life” and the ups and downs we faced. Joy with the birth of Kamryn, depression with job struggles, thankfulness in the hospitality of Traci’s family and desperation as I struggled with the guilt of feeling unsuccessful. We passed 2 houses we lived in for brief times. One we miraculously and quickly sold in a flat market shortly after a layoff, and then another we lived in for only 3 days. We ran past houses of friends, former colleagues and family who care about our little family and still reminisce of our little coffee shop.

At mile 2.5 we continued past the funeral home that we were forced to enter last June. Seems only yesterday we were running these very roads with Kip. He and I often spoke of how it was motivational for us to run past the town’s cemetery, nursing homes and ironically that same funeral home.

Mile 3 started our ascension of “Cate’s Mountain” to be visited by a familiar big dog that Traci often speaks of. Then we crossed HWY 154 close to dad’s wood shop where he created and felt “alive”. Addi’s beautiful baby bed was born there. Artfully cut and chipped away from large ruff planks of cherry and walnut woods. I was able to “work” there on occasion building studio acoustic panels for fun, and when I was between jobs, building cabinets for money he generously paid.

Mile 4 and onto a great country road with cows and naked trees; the sun shinning on them almost picture like. A major road and some Saturday traffic forced us to dodge a few cars, all the while with my beautiful bride right beside me. An exchange of thumbs up tells me she’s feeling ok.

We winded our way around the corner past the basketball gym where Traci’s sister Jen became a local hero and brother Jeff just graduated high school (2 years ago!). The graduation ceremony where the valedictorian’s speech included a reference to the “great times at the coffee shop after football games.”

Mile 6.5 and past 2 local churches and I thought of a blogsite I designed for a youth group. How that paid invoice and the one for designing the “Experience Quitman” light-pole banners provided yet another month of food and fuel in a time of unemployed and uncertain struggles. He has always provided. He promises He always will.

We continued through the lifeless downtown with thoughts of unreached potential. Past a building Kip and I dreamed of having for my studio reminded me to never back down from a challenge. This road took us into the park that was a part of a charity run our running group put together to raise money for a local 4 year old girl named Sophie with a stubborn brain tumor. How proud I was for the efforts there and how grateful we are for God’s mercy on her healthy life today.

As we passed the “fried food air” of Dairy Queen, 8 miles were complete. Success. With the milage complete we began our cool down walk; just a bit further to grandma’s. As we walked, we talked about the emotional roller-coaster-of-a-run we both just separately experienced.

“His fingerprints are all over this town. You know?” Traci said in reference to her dad with a tear induced, broken voice.

Indeed. Floods of emotions and stories swallowed us as we passed each significant and personal landmark. This town resonates from his influence. We discussed the buildings, the efforts, the struggles, the triumps and ultimately the memories that were just shaken awake on this hour long jaunt.

We turned left onto Meadowbrook Lane to view yet another house we lived in for nearly a year. Number 115, the red brick Clark house on the hill. The weight of that site still heavy with all its memories. The sacrifices that were made for us to feel at home there are still echoing. Lives were rearranged to get us there, rooms rearranged to make it “home”. Footsteps down the long hallway of this house along with voices were lightend to keep our babies from waking when they slept in their cribs. Awesome meals were provided when we had nothing to contribute and rooms and closets were built when we had to return after moving to an unknowingly unfit duplex.

Up the driveway and into the house we were cheerfully greeted by our precious girls hiding under blankets, eager to surprise. Happiness overwhelms my heart with the site of these crazy little women. When we made our decision to move East from Lubbock, we unanimously agree that it would be for the good of our children. Despite the struggles we faced, we are so thankful they brought us here.

Life has been drastically changed by our time in Quitman Texas. So hard. So good. So emotional. Thank you God. It’s been said that “life is a sum of our experiences.” That chapter has added no less than total trust for us. What an incredible route on this path of life. What an incredible 8 miles.

So now we continue on. Fight the good fight. Finish the race. Remain faithful.

Are you scared?

Is there something you are scared of? It could be something silly or something big. It could be something that probably would never happen, but you still worry about it regardless.

If I’m being completely honest, which I always try to do on this blog, I have to say that I’ve always sort of been chicken when it comes to running, or at least where and when I run. Don’t laugh, but my two biggest fears are the following:

1. A big ferocious dog will chase me down and attack me. Yes, I’m 30 and scared of big dogs.

2. A big scary man will jump out and attack me.

Sounds somewhat silly, I know. But this is why I never would run alone on the back country roads in Quitman. This is also why I never ever run in the dark. Ever. I always run in the daylight, in neighborhoods or trails where I know/hope dogs will not be on the prowl, and usually in a place where people are constantly around.

So, needless to say, to hear that earlier this week in OUR own neighborhood and around a popular park here in Tyler, a runner was attacked while running along a street that I run on often…it shook me up. At 5 a.m. in the morning, a man jumped out and tried to attack her. She was very prepared though, kicked his butt and escaped. She had mace and a foghorn. I want to meet this runner! I am so relieved to hear she got away. A friend of mine that lives right next to the park actually heard the fog horn and her scream. Wow, how scary. I bet she won’t run in the dark anymore after that!

As I ran yesterday at the trails (at 9:30 a.m., in the broad daylight, with many people around), I found myself being a little afraid. Instead of admiring the trees and thanking God for his creation, I found myself peering into the trees looking for a man with a ski mask and holding my keys in a way so that they could be used as a weapon if need be all while planning my defense.

Then, I heard my thoughts and told myself, “STOP IT!” God did not give me a spirit of fear. It was seriously ruining my run. A time when I usually have the best worship and quiet time was being overcome with fear. I was stressed and worried. I told myself I was not going to let the evil in this broken world ruin a time during my day that I look forward to, always thoroughly enjoy, and feel is very beneficial to me in so many ways. I said a little prayer and continued on, trying to change my focus back to where it should be. I’m thankful to know that God is in control and right there with me with each step I take. That calms my nerves and fears!

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

Psalm 46:1 – “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”

2010 Recap Through Pictures

I am VERY excited about 2011. A brand new year. A fresh start with renewed motivation.

This past year has been a whirlwind to say the least. Over the past few days, I’ve been reflecting back on 2010 and everything that happened. By far, the hardest year of my life. The hardest year in my family’s lives. Looking back on 2010 for the rest of my life, I know it will always be known as “the year Dad passed”…however, I also know that some great things happened this year and some awesome memories were made. I started looking back through pictures reminiscing on the good things and thought I’d scrapbook in one post a recap of the year. I am thankful for the blessings of 2010. Even through the tragedy and darkness, the Lord provided rays of sunshine to give us hope and make us smile. A little over a month before my Dad died he sent me this email. I re-read his emails often and have shared some on this blog. But this one, although short & simple, means so much to me and I think of it often…

2010 was definitely hard, but I WILL keep smiling! I have so much to be thankful for. And even though 2011 will no doubt bring its own set of hardships, I know that THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME! The joy that only comes from the Lord is my strength.

I’m hoping to jam pack a bunch of new memories for the Dixon clan in 2011 and live life to the fullest. Cheers to making each day count!

Us at Kiepersol Winery on New Year's Eve.

With love,

Traci

2010 Recap Through Pictures

January

Ryan & I celebrated 7 years of marriage & went to Shreveport for a little getaway.

I hosted a Recipe Exchange party at our house.
Read this book with our community book and it knocked our socks off. Good stuff.

February

It snowed! The girls got to build their first snowman.

Went to the Extreme Home Makeover Kickoff here in East Texas!

Some friends gave us a jogging stroller and have used it non-stop ever since.

Got to see Singing in the Rain at TJC – Ryan ran sound for the show.

March

The weather turned beautiful and we started playing outside again!
We ran in the Azalea 10k right here in Tyler.

April

We started a Date Night Co-op with some friends.

Went to see Switchfoot at TJC!
Hunted easter eggs with cousins.
Ran in the Capitol 10k in Austin.
Went to a Texas Rangers game with Poppy & Grandma & Uncle Jeff!

May

We walked the Tyler Race for the Cure 5k with Poppy. This was the girls very first race to participate in!
We celebrated Mother's Day in Quitman with Grandma.
We had our family pictures made at one of our favorite places in Tyler - the trails.
Had a blast celebrating my 30th birthday!

June

Aunt Debbie came to visit from New Hampshire.
June 4th. My dear Dad passed away suddenly after his morning run. Now he is running and living it up in Heaven!

We enjoyed swimming in the evenings at our friends' pool.

Aunt Jen treated the girls to the Tumble Bus!

July

Addi played in her very first t-ball game at school.
We escaped for a family vacation to Fairfield Bay, Arkansas.

August

Addi started Pre-K. Kindergarten days will be here before we know it, oh my!
Addi turned 4!
Kamryn had a blast at Jumping Jacks.

September

We made a trip to Lubbock to visit old friends.
We "adopted an Apache" through the TJC Tennis program.
Ryan did a live recording at KE Cellars.
We had a night away in Dallas to see a friend get married.
Got together with friends to give Robyn a baby shower. Mayleigh was born in November!

October

Got a new job working for Brown's Landing as their Marketing Director!
The girls started a new school on Tues/Thurs.
Went to Georgetown for Kelly's ordination service.
Started going to Story Time at the public library regularly with friends.
Ran in the inaugural Tyler Rose Half Marathon.
Ross came to visit from Minnesota and we went camping in Beavers Bend.
Andy's brought back Pumpkin Pie concrete for the season!

November

We flew to Boston to run in the New Hampshire Half Marathon in honor of my Dad. High five to the sky!
Ryan built our fire pit.
Another baby shower! Brunch with friends to celebrate Jennifer's baby boy on the way. He'll be arriving in the next few weeks!
I ran in the Bambi 5k Run while Ryan was at home sick.
Ran in the Dallas Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.
My mom cooked a feast for our Thanksgiving meal and Ryan carved the turkey.

December

Went on a Caribbean Cruise with cousins & made new friends.
Ran in the White Rock Half Marathon in Dallas. 3 halfs in 3 months achieved!
Kamryn turned 3! And I made my first decorative birthday cake.
We celebrated Christmas in Georgetown with family.

HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS!

3 in 3

As you know…late summer, Ryan & I set a goal to complete 3 half marathons in 3 consecutive months. Not sure why we decided to do this other than the fact that we wanted to run in these 3 specific half marathons for certain reasons…and they just so happened to be in 3 consecutive months!

October – Tyler Rose Half

November – Manchester Half

December- White Rock Half

It really was so much fun and honestly easier than I expected! All three races were so different, each provided a unique and neat experience. I can’t believe I’m even going to say this…but the thought of running a full marathon doesn’t scare me quite as bad as it did earlier this year. What??!!! Plus, having seen a couple of friends accomplish this feat has spurred me on even more.

We still have not committed to one yet, but are still researching. Both Ryan & I want to complete a full. We were looking at doing the Austin marathon in February, but decided that was too soon, too hilly, and too cold to complete 26.2. So, we will register for the half instead…which I’m super excited about. Sounds like a blast of a race w/tons of bands and swag! Plus, we have some friends doing it as well, so we’ll make a fun weekend out of it. Good to have a couple of months until our next race…nice little break!

We ordered each other running shoes for Christmas. Romantic, right? That’s the way we roll. Found a buy one, get one half off special & ordered them online! Even better. They haven’t arrived yet, but they should within the next few days and I’m pumped to try them out. We both got the Saucony Grid Raiders…here are mine:

So if you have any advice on which marathons are the best ones to do or ones we should definitely avoid..especially for the first one, let us know! The latest issue of Runner’s World has a whole section called “Marathon Guide” in it with a list of suggested first time marathons…I’m thinking Disney or D.C. would be fun options!

White Rock 1/2 Marathon. Number 3 of 3.

Today we conquered our last half of this season. White Rock 1/2 Marathon. Number 3 of 3.

Traci and I headed to Dallas yesterday to pick up our race packet (bib, t-shirt, other schwag) from the new location for the Dallas White Rock Marathon. Starting this year, the expo and the start and finish were located at Fair Park in Dallas. The same location as the famous Cotton Bowl. After pickup we headed to our hotel then to dinner at Bucca Di Peppo Italian restaurant for some tasty carbs. After dinner we (the food nerds we are) headed to Central Market to check out their awesome selection including more Ben and Jerry’s flavors than we have here in little old Tyler. Bed by 10pm.

We woke this morning to 3 separate alarms, brewed some hotel room coffee, woke to showers, got our running gear on and headed out by 6:00 am. Out into the COLD! Usually long sleeve running shirts are not my preference but it I erred on the side of warmth as the temps according to my Weather Channel Ap said it wouldn’t get above 50 by noon. Our car thermometer read 37 degrees. Onto the dark and barren interstate for about 12 miles to Fair Park. We followed the leader to the parking lots, parked, got our gear together and stepped out. Out into the COLD!

If you know anything about me I have a problem with direction. There. Also, I am quick to make a decision about directions and commit without really thinking it through. We headed out of the parking lot, crossed the street and then proceeded to find the Colosseum where we were told there was warmth and bathrooms to accompany our wait time. Apparently I went the wrong way (shocker!) and we ended up making a huge U as we hustled though the maze of Fair Park. It took about 3 times longer than it should’ve. Joy! We did finally make it to our destination. With about one and a half hours to wait, we did just that in hopes of seeing some of our friends we knew were going to be running the race too. We did find our great friend Lauren and had some time to catch up before heading out. Out into the COLD!

About 10 minutes till 8:00 am (stated race start time) we moved out to join the growing swarms. With 23,000 runners this race like many other big ones starts the crazies in waves based on estimated time of finish. When we registered I stated my run time around my usual pace of about 7:45 per mile which put me in the second wave – B. Traci was set for wave J and our friend Lauren, whom we were still hanging out with was in H. She was running her first ever MARATHON to which we are so proud.

Announcements began and continued past 8:00 all the while we all kept shivering. Like violently shivering. We recently ran in a Manchester New Hampshire 1/2 marathon. The temps were about the same but today was different. Windy, dry and cold. My upper quads and hip tendons were tighter than I have ever felt them due to the cold and my rocking back an forth trying to keep warm. I quickly talked myself into staying with this mid wave as I was scared to run my usual pace. I chickened out and was completely fine with that. I was hurting and we hadn’t even begun! About 8:30 am (that’s 40 minutes of blood thinning coldness), when it was our waves turn to start, we walked towards the starting line, the announcer counted down from 10 and said go. With that and some random pyrotechnics we were off.

One step at a time we began our jaunt. My teeth were chattering as I cautiously took my first few handful of steps. Literally chattering. My muscles felt like tight rubber bands, stretched to their limits. Not good.

This year, along with the new location for the race, the route was different. Having run this exact 1/2 marathon 3 previous years, I was super skeptical of this new location and route. Last year was just plain awesome and took us along some of my favorite running spots in big D. This route took us out of Fair Park, thru the adjacent ghetto hoods, down to the outskirts of down town, thru the hip uptown, the mansions of Highland Park and then back to Fair Park for the finish. This brought about the sites of old run downs, sky scrapers, pampered creeks adorned with covet inducing houses and good ol’ Dallas freeways.

After about 2 miles my legs were loose and my form was semi-normal. My breathing and pace were good, side by side with my beautiful running partner for the day. I was enjoying the downtown sites and as we crossed Woodall Rogers Freeway (I-35) around mile 3 my iPod died. Ironically, I was thinking to myself only minutes prior to this that I was really digging having some Damien Marley motivating my run. I rolled up my earbuds and clipped it back onto my shorts. Once again Traci began singing to me as to help with my recent loss.

About a 9:30 pace and mile 6 my left knee and ankle began to feel tweaked. Not good. Also, I for whatever stupid reason wore some thicker than normal socks which made my shoes tighter and tighter as they continued to swell thru the run. Not good at all. Typically my joints feel a bit more tender with the cold but this was different. Within my stride, I tried to bend and stretch (not bend and snap) these problem areas to keep them happy. My left knee and ankle have seemed to be trouble these days. Time for new shoes as I’ve exceeded the life expectancy of both my long distance pairs.

My pains did not subside. Time to grin and bare it and count down the miles as we passed the white markers. Traci did great with her usual consistent pace and seemed to be showing very small signs of fatigue. Mile 9, mile 10. Man my feet were hurting! “3 more!” I said to myself which at this point is internal yells of motivation. Mile 11, mile 12. “One more!” we started to see Fair Park in the distance and the end was immanent and boy was I looking forward to it. We crossed the street into the Park and rounded the barricade chute on our way to the goal. We finished! Thank the sweet Lord Jesus!

We headed into a building, received our customary metal, another “I finished!” shirt, some snack bars, bagel bites and out to our car for our iced down, post run chocolate milk we picked up at Central Market. A quick change and back to Quitman for lunch at mom’s and a viewing of the terrible Redskins game.

Our friend Lauren was successful and finished her first full marathon today too. 4 hours and 45 minutes of running! That’s determination and a whole lot of running.

Overall the experience for us was OK. Not my favorite 1/2 marathon of our running season due to the extreme cold and I am still pondering the new location and route. A bit too spread out and cheap feeling to me. I am however so thankful for the opportunity and the health to do it. My knee is still sore as of 9:30 tonight and am hoping it get back to norm ASAP.

Next up, Austin 1/2 marathon February 20th.