2013 ZOOMA Texas Race Recap

Last weekend was the Texas edition of the ZOOMA Women’s Race Series. It was the culmination of months of training by our Muscle Milk Light Athletes and Ambassadors alike.

Race day started at 4:30 for me since I wasn’t staying on property. I definitely recommend staying at the Hyatt Lost Pines if you can! The resort is gorgeous and you can stay cozy in your bed right up until the last minute on race morning. If you don’t stay at the Hyatt, there are several parking options for you.

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I parked at Cedar Creek High School around 6am and hung out in my car for a bit to stay warm. The forecast has called for a warm, humid day with a chance of thunderstorms. However, it was a windy, chilly (for my Texas blood!) 50 degrees that morning. I dressed for the former, which would come back to haunt me later. Close to 6:30 I hopped on a shuttle over to the Hyatt.

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A few of us met up at the information tent pre-race for a photo op:

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Caroline, Erika, me, Kelly, Rhonda

Before we knew it, it was time to head to the start! Everyone (with the exception of Ashley and I) was running the half so they jumped into the starting corral and got ready to go.

ZOOMA Countdown

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About a week before the race I made a decision to run the 5K instead of the half. After a hill workout on the treadmill my right arch was giving me a little trouble. I had the same issue after Philly and Decker, but fixed the problem by changing shoes. Then it came back. So anyway, I dropped my race distance down to the 5K just to be safe.

ZOOMA Texas 13.1 and 5K Course Map

The 5K course isn’t nearly as hilly as the half, but still enough to be challenging. It obviously wasn’t going to be a PR day with my angry arch so I took it easy. It’s been a long time since I took on such a short distance – last summer maybe? I actually kind of miss it. In fact, this resulted in a 5K race registration for Brad and I on April 21st.

Anyway, back to ZOOMA

When I made the right onto Pope Bend, I saw someone in the not-so-far-off distance pickup the Mile 1 sign that had blown away and put it back on the side of the course. I don’t think this was exactly where it was supposed to be because when I passed the marker, my watch registered 0.75 miles. Now I know there are all sorts of things that can alter Garmin accuracy, but to be off a full quarter mile seemed a bit much. IMG_20130323_075042_929

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When I passed the Mile 2 marker, my watch beeped simultaneously. So we were back on track! Just in time for this beautiful hill.

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After that it was pretty much flat for the remainder of the course so I cruised along and rocked out to my music.

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Passing the start line on the way to the finish…

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Done! Official finish time was 39 and change. Not my fastest showing but I really enjoyed the race. The atmosphere of ZOOMA races just can’t be beat!

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I positioned myself at the finish line with Erika and watched for a few of our friends to come through.

Here comes Carmen, a member of last year’s HEB Girlfriends Program:

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And fellow ambassador Ashley:

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The wind was really whipping at this point and after stopping running, it was really cold (again, it’s all relative – my southern blood has a different interpretation of “cold”). It was time to hit the post-race refreshments and grab a cup of coffee.

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But I got distracted on the way…

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If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, this shouldn’t surprise you in the least bit.

Wine at 8:30am? Don’t mind if I do!

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And THEN I made my way to the coffee. My priorities are certainly in order.

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I downed two cups in attempt to warm up a bit before heading out to spectate the half marathon but with no luck. T-shirt and shorts was perfect to race in, but not so much for hanging around afterwards!

Erika and I camped out near mile 10 near the entrance/exit of the golf course so we could see runners at both spots.IMG_20130323_095731_794

Lisa, from Growing Up Mo

Once all of our Muscle Milk athletes and ambassadors had come through, we headed to the finish.

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Love this shot of Nora’s daughter
running in with her!

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Muscle Milk Athlete Nora and ZOOMA Ambassador Lisa

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ZOOMA Ambassador Missy

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Kelly, Rhonda, Shannah, Nora, me, Lisa

I am so proud of all of the Muscle Milk Light Athletes and Ambassadors. Every single one of them has inspired me over the past few months and I’m so thankful to have met them. They are all amazing!

Please check out their ZOOMA Texas race reports to hear how it went:

Nora In the Books
Missy Race Report, Sort Of
Lisa ZOOMA 2013 Race Report – A Calling
Leigh Ann ZOOMA Texas Half Marathon Recap: Battling My Demons to the End
Caroline ZOOMA Texas Half-Marathon – I did it!
Jennifer Race Recap: My Take on ZOOMA Texas

And a huge congrats to fellow ambassador Jennifer Fisher who won ZOOMA Texas!

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It seems this year’s ZOOMA training and race flew by SO fast. While I ran the half last year, the 5K was a fun change of pace. I’d highly recommend either race distance. Don’t be discouraged by the hills – I saw quite a few women walking around with PR medals.

What other race will give you a water bottle AND a yoga mat in your race packet? This year’s tee is an awesome color and the fit is PERFECT (not too short or super tight). I’ve been using the cute bag to carry my lunch to/from work.IMG_20130331_085031_748

Grab a few of your closest girlfriends and register for the 2014 race!

Texas « ZOOMA Women s Race Series

2013 LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon Expo

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Yesterday afternoon I headed downtown to the LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon expo at the Palmer Events Center for packet pickup and to work the ZOOMA booth with Tricia. When I pulled in at 2:45 there was quite the crowd waiting out front for the doors to open at 3.

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Packet pickup was fairly uneventful. The computers crashed nearly immediately after the expo opened but it didn’t seem to be a big issue. As long as runners had their bib number to provide to the volunteers (since they couldn’t look it up) the line moved pretty quickly. Thank goodness for smartphones! There were also booths to lookup your bib number if you didn’t have the confirmation email to verify it from.

Overall, it was a pretty easy process even though I had to wait in two separate lines since my bib number wasn’t anywhere near Brad’s. Afterwards I did a quick sweep of the expo and surprisingly didn’t buy a damn thing. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

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Then I made my way to meet Tricia at the ZOOMA booth.

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We registered a few ladies for the upcoming Texas race, as well as the newly announced one in Chicago.

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Have you seen the swag bag for ZOOMA Texas? It’s pretty awesome, probably the best I’ve seen from any race. Each runner receives a tech tee, yoga mat, reusable bag, and stainless steel water bottle.

ZOOMA Texas Swag Bag

Still haven’t signed up? Register using discount code TXAMB2 for 10% off the half marathon or 5K race fee! Wine, massages, and recovery yoga at the finish – what more could you ask for?

Back to Austin – LOVE the participant tee this year. I think this girl would love it too. FINALLY a shirt that is a different color! The lime green is awesome.

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Oh! And I also received a limited edition art card from Lasting Commemoratives for each of us. (These were available to the first 1,000 people who claimed one through a link provided in an email from the LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon)

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This will be my third year running Austin (2011 recap, 2012 recap) and while the course may be challenging, the crowds keep the energy up and it’s really an awesome race.

I can’t wait to run this amazing city tomorrow!

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Exiting the Comfort Zone

In reflecting over the past year of running, I can’t help but be disappointed with my race (and even training) performances. 2012 started off with a bang, knocking out a 5K PR on the first day of the year and a 23-minute half marathon PR on the last weekend of the month.

After that though? Things sort of fizzled out. My half marathon times gradually slowed, I stopped racing shorter distances, and after a not surprisingly spring burnout, I ran myself right into my first ever DNF at the New Jersey Marathon. After getting my ass kicked at the Spartan Race, I took a full month off of running. This ended up renewing my love for the sport and fueled the fire to begin training for the Philadelphia Marathon.

Halfway through July I began to reassess my goal time for Philly. The 90-degree evenings were beginning to take their toll on me at the track and my long-run pace was nowhere near what it should have been. I’m not the fastest runner to begin with, so to say this was discouraging is an understatement.

Once September rolled around, I threw all pace goals out the window. My goal for Philly was to finish. I registered Brad and I for the Austin Distance Challenge, putting races on our calendar every month through the middle of February. We knocked out a 10K and 10-miler in October, I ran Philly in November, and then finished an incredibly hilly half marathon in December. I closed out my running year on December 29th with the Operation Jack 10K, as I do every year.

So now I’m here. It’s January 8, 2013 and I’ve got a blank slate for the year. So how am I going to tackle it?

Here’s the plan:

  1. {spring} Focus on the half marathon distance. I really want to get my PR (2:14) down. Ideally, I’d like to get it under 2:10 at the Long Branch 1/2 Marathon in May. (NJ Marathon course redemption? I think so.) I have 3 half marathons in between now and then (3M, Austin, and ZOOMA) but plan to use those as training runs. Long Branch will be my spring goal race.
  2. {fall} run FAST. Yeah, this one is kinda huge. A sub-2 half marathon. Coming from someone with a (year old) 2:14 half PR, it’s terrifying to consider crossing that finish line in 1:59:59 or less. Sure, I have other race goals for the year – but this is the important one. Before December 31, 2013, I would like a sub-2 half under my belt. The race is TBD but I have the Shiner Beer Run tentatively penciled in. Any other suggestions for a fast fall half marathon? Open to traveling!
  3. Do NOT register for any full marathons. This one directly stems from item 2. I would like my half PR to be under 2 hours before registering for another full marathon. In other words, I’m shelving the 26.2 distance until 2014.
  4. Stop running races just to finish. Do you know what kind of problem this is? An expensive one. The city of Austin makes it incredibly hard for me to resist clicking that “Register” button. Obviously you can’t commit to racing every.single.race you enter, but I need to work on managing my schedule better. 4 half marathon in 4 months? Not necessary. It definitely makes achieving my goals harder by putting this much stress on my body. This being said, I probably need to adjust my 13 Races in 2013 goal. Quality > Quantity.
  5. Find the perfect pair of running shoes. Good lord, I’ve been searching long enough. Right now I’m running in Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12. Great shoe that keeps my shin splints at bay, but my arches HATE me after about 3 miles. Lose one pain, gain another. I also have a pair of the Mizuno Wave Inspire 9 that I bought back in November. They’re still in the box, with a fresh pair of Oiselle laces, ready to go! I’ll probably test them out at the end of January and hopefully (as long as I’m shin splint free) use them for the Long Branch 1/2 training cycle. Maybe they’ll be my perfect pair? Only time will tell but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
  6. Dig deep & exit the comfort zone. While reviewing my current PRs, I noticed the paces are VERY similar. {5K 9:29, 10K 9:55, 13.1 10:13} I nearly hit my 10K PR during 3M last year! I’d love to drop the 5K pace to high 8’s, 10K to low 9’s and 13.1… well you know where I want that one to be. I know I have more in me, but I need to dig deep, push harder, and exit the comfort zone. I need it to feel uncomfortably hard. I need to really RACE.

So that’s it. My running goals for 2013. My list of non-running goals is a work in progress, but I’m getting there. The running ones absolutely deserved their own post though – hey, this is Melissa RUNS after all.

Muscle Milk Light Half Marathon Challenge :: ZOOMA Texas

Have you conquered the 5K distance? Dabbled in 10Ks? Looking for a new challenge? Maybe you’ve contemplated clicking “Register” on a 13.1 race but just can’t bring yourself to do it. I think I can help…

Apply for a spot in the Muscle Milk Light Half Marathon Challenge!

ZOOMA Women's Race Series

ZOOMA Texas is giving five local runners the opportunity to take part in a 12-week program that will get them to the starting line of their first half marathon. This amazing challenge is definitely something I would have loved to have taken part in back in 2010. Big support system? Check. Training plan? Check. Nutrition tips? Check check check! You will be 100% ready to tackle 13.1 miles come race day.

Here are the full details:

Commitment:

  • Runners must be able to currently run 5k and committed to training for a half marathon
  • Must be willing to be interviewed and featured on ZOOMA blog and ambassador blogs
  • Weekly check-ins with ZOOMA staff and ambassadors through email, phone or video logs
  • Attend 4 events between January-March

Perks for 4 H-E-B Athletes:

  • Support network of amazing runners, our Texas ambassadors
  • Training Plan
  • Training shirt
  • Education: tour of H-E-B healthy living department with dietician meeting to help you learn how to fuel for your runs
  • Cross training: yoga session at local studio
  • Race entry into ZOOMA Texas half marathon
  • Recovery: Muscle Milk Light

Perks for one Muscle Milk Light Athlete:

Sound like something you’d be interested in? Apply here!

Run to ZOOMA Texas

Sometimes running is an individual sport. Headphones go in once you step foot on the track and you race against the clock to nail your mile repeats. Your game face is on when you set out on a tempo run, shooting to achieve those paces that will help you come race day. But when running long? Those just might be the hardest miles you run. While they’re probably done at the slowest pace of the week, you spend the most time on your feet during a long run.

The best way to power through these miles is to run with a friend. Friendly conversation and catching up with one another can make those miles fly by. And generally those are usually the best runs you’ll ever have, the ones which feel effortless, and – dare I say it? – enjoyable!

And what’s even more fun than running long with friends? Racing with friends!

ZOOMA Texas

Registration for ZOOMA Texas is officially open! To kick-off registration, ZOOMA has a Run to Texas Giveaway where you have the chance to win two race registrations and two amazing massages from Spa Django at the host hotel, Hyatt Regency Lost Pines!

Grab your best running friend and enter the giveaway for a chance to win an entry to run ZOOMA Texas in March. It’s the perfect destination for a girl’s weekend. Come run with us, you won’t be disappointed!

ZOOMA Women’s Race Series :: Texas Ambassador

A few weeks ago I submitted an application to become a ZOOMA Texas Ambassador for the ZOOMA Women’s Race Series.

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run. laugh. celebrate.

Imagine a powerful sea of women on the move–encouraging fellow runners, creating unforgettable moments, and celebrating personal running triumphs.  Picture a post-race party and expo all wrapped up in one memorable “after-party expo” where these strong goal-oriented women come together for well-deserved celebration.  This is the Muscle Milk Light ZOOMA Women’s Race Series.

As you may recall, I was both a Mentor for the ZOOMA Texas Girlfriends Program and an Ambassador for ZOOMA Texas’ 2012 race.

ZOOMA Ambassador

I loved the atmosphere at this year’s race. Women coming together with their girlfriends, running their first (or tenth!) half marathon or 5K. The thing about ZOOMA is that it’s not just about the miles from start to finish.

It’s the journey. It’s about the training and having a support system to help you get to the start, and properly celebrate at the finish. And ZOOMA does it VERY well.

ZOOMA Kickoff Party at Lukes Locker

ZOOMA Training Run - Brushy Creek

ZOOMA Training Run at Brushy Creek

ZOOMA Training Run Brushy Creek

ZOOMA Training Run - Cap 10K

ZOOMA Pre-Race Another Mother Runner Party

ZOOMA Texas Race Day

I’m excited to announce I have been selected as a ZOOMA Texas Ambassador for the 2013 race!

ZOOMA Texas

ZOOMA Texas lets you savor the splendor of spring wildflowers in the Texas Hill Country, as you wind your way through 13.1 miles well outside of Austin city limits. Bluebonnets and Texas paintbrush dance in the waving grasses on either side of the quiet roadways that make up this scenic race. For the last few miles of the half marathon, you’ll traverse exclusively on the gorgeous grounds of the host property, the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort. Less than 20 minutes from the Austin airport, the tranquil, gracious setting—complete with a few authentic Texas longhorn cattle—is the ideal retreat for a girlfriends-getaway. There’s even a secluded adults-only pool overlooking the Colorado River that borders the property, perfect for chilling post-race. The pool is part of the resort’s award-winning Spa Django, offering restorative massages, body treatments, and facials. Consider treating your tired feet to a Texas Two Step Massage after challenging yourself in the race.

Given that the race is in Hill Country, there’s no getting away from inclines and declines, but the course’s natural beauty and the race’s all-women’s vibe will carry you along. The after-race party expo, held under a rustic wooden roof on a pavilion overlooking the river, is the ideal location for sampling complimentary wine, shopping, perusing results, and sharing laughs and memories with friends old and new.

Sound like a race you’d be interested in? Registration is now OPEN! If you sign up before January 5, 2013 you will receive a special Training Care Package in the mail. Use discount code TXAMB2 for 10% off your registration fee!

Be sure to follow ZOOMA both on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all the exciting ZOOMA news.

Have any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below!

Have you ever run a ZOOMA race? If you had your choice, which would you run: Amelia Island, Cape Cod, Annapolis, Great Lakes, or Texas?

What’s your guess?

Earlier this year I was given the opportunity to be an ambassador for the ZOOMA Women’s Race Series.

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I met so many incredible women and enjoyed representing such a fun, fabulous destination race. They’re currently in Atlanta, Austin, Annapolis, Great Lakes, Cape Cod, and just announced today they have a new location about to be revealed on Thursday!

Where do you think it could be? Head on over to ZOOMA’s blog to take a guess & be entered to win an awesome swag bag from the mystery location!

LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon Expo

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Last night another ambassador and I were scheduled to work the ZOOMA booth at the LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon Expo at the Palmer Event Center in Downtown Austin.

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Rather than make another trip downtown today to pick up my race packet, I headed over to the expo a little before my shift. This proved to be a wise decision as Austin is faced with this today:

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Flood Advisory and thunderstorms? No thank you. Perfect day to relax and not have to leave the house, especially with the way Austin drivers approach rain. If the expo attendance last night is any indication of how today will be, it’s sure to be an absolute madhouse. Definitely glad I’ll be avoiding that.

When I arrived at the expo at 2:40 (it opened at 3) there was already a TON of people waiting out front to get in. Once the doors were unlocked I headed straight to packet pickup. We all pretty much had the same idea.

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One section was for marathoners, and another for the half. Then each section was divided into individual lines according to bib number. The volunteers were efficient and I had my bag in hand in under 10 minutes.

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I lingered at the Marine Corps Marathon booth for a few minutes, professing my love for it and convincing future marathon hopefuls that they MUST run MCM. Best. Race. Ever. I may not be running in 2012, but I’d love to head back to DC/VA in 2013!

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After attending countless expos, I’m at the point where I’ve pretty much accumulated almost all of the gear I could want to buy. I made my way through the entire expo fairly quickly, and there was only one booth I wanted to open my wallet at:

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And because there’s no such thing as “too much” Nuun:

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Citrus Fruit to replenish my almost-empty tube, and three flavors I didn’t previously own: Kona Cola, Orange, and Banana.

Debra found me at the Nuun booth and we did a few laps around the expo together. We’ve connected on Twitter, Daily Mile, and through our blogs but had never met up in person! She’s trying to beat her PR from last year’s Austin Half Marathon. With 3 runs of 14+ miles during this training cycle, there’s no doubt she is going to KILL her time on Sunday. Good luck Debra!!

After doing a little Nuun shopping, it was time to work the ZOOMA booth with Erika.

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We had a GREAT time talking to many women (and a few men!) about the upcoming race out at Hyatt Lost Pines. Everyone who signed up for our mailing list at the expo would be emailed a discount code for the race and receive a ZOOMA tee.

Also, Jeanette came to visit! She’ll be running her second (San Antonio was her first) half marathon on Sunday. Get it girl!! 🙂 Also wishing Trinity the best of luck on his first half marathon – you’re going to have a great time and I’m sure it will be the first of MANY races for you!

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After a fun (read: miserable) drive home in a monsoon, I emptied out my race bag to review the contents. I’ve mentioned this before, but I LOVE how green of a race the LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon is. I always end up tossing the paper flyers away, so it’s awesome how they send out a Virtual Race Bag to eliminate them.

Virtual Race Bags

Okay, now onto the actual race bag:

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LOVE the half marathon shirt design!

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Each runner received one of SPIBelt’s new products, the SPIBand.

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Oh and I also made a collection of flyers from races I’m considering registering for in 2012:

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The timing of most of these is pretty damn close to NJ Marathon, so I don’t know how those plans will pan out. HOWEVER, I definitely have my eye on Dallas White Rock in December.

Despite today’s rain, tomorrow looks like a fantastic day for racing. 43 degrees at the start, sunny & 50 at the finish. Couldn’t ask for better!

Good luck to everyone running the full and half LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon tomorrow!!

ZOOMA thus far {photo edition}

The past few weeks have been non-stop and I’m loving every minute of it.

From the ZOOMA Texas Girlfriend Program group runs at Brushy Creek (even on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve – serious dedication!)…

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…to the ZOOMA Kickoff Party at Luke’s Locker downtown…

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…powering through 30 degree training runs during Austin’s cold snaps…

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…a fabulous Ambassador dinner at Roll On Sushi

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{the Rolltalian Stallion & Beefy Texan were my favorites!

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…a trip to H-E-B to meet with a nutritionist to learn more about their Healthy Living Section and making smarter food choices…

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…and an appearance on the ZOOMA website featuring the Texas Ambassadors.

Texas Ambassadors « ZOOMA Women s Race Series

Seeing our ladies come out week after week for training runs and develop a love for running has been incredibly rewarding. I’m inspired by each and every one of them and feel so lucky to have been chosen to be a part of both the mentor and ambassador programs.

If you’re in the Austin, Houston or San Antonio areas, we’d love it if you joined us on one {or many!} of our free training runs!

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If you have any questions regarding the training group or ZOOMA Texas in general, feel free to leave a comment below or email me at melissaliciatx@gmail.com!

Five Things Friday

1. I am super stoked for the upcoming 3-day holiday weekend. Followed by a short 3-day work week, followed by a 4-day holiday weekend, followed by a 4-day work week. Oh, and I didn’t have to use a single vacation day! Seriously awesome.

2. I absolutely cannot wait to put on these gorgeous shoes. I got them from my parents a few weeks ago but I’m not allowed to run in them until Christmas. Since Sunday is a rest day, I’ll be taking them out for Operation Jack on Monday!

3. I made it into the championship game in my Fantasy Football League. It’s total points over a two-week span, but I’m already off to a great start thanks to Arian Foster.

Tomorrow morning I have a ZOOMA training run with Leslie, but afterwards I plan on making myself comfortable on the couch with a mimosa to cheer the rest of my fantasy team on!

4. I’m really excited to be participating in the Operation Jack Satellite Run for the second year in a row. It’s such a great cause and I love that the proceeds benefit the Operation Jack Autism Foundation and Train 4 AutismSam is an amazing person. With it being so close to Christmas, I probably won’t ever be able to make it out to CA for the half or full marathon, but it’s awesome that there is a satellite option!

Added bonus: check out this medal – it’s even bigger than Boston’s!

5. I am officially an Ambassador for ZOOMA Texas!

I was just notified this morning so there will be more details to come, but I feel so lucky to have been chosen. It will be an incredible opportunity and I cannot wait to become more involved in Austin’s running community while helping others train for the race in March!