Author: ARC Information

Melissa & Sonja: 3M Half Marathon

Put it on a Post It! 3M Half Marathon is done!

Written by: Sam Jimenez

Melissa was excited for the half marathon, because it meant earning the fourth piece of the puzzle and eating more breakfast tacos.

Sonja was looking forward to Melissa and Bonnie improving their times and showing the progress that they made since the last race.

Melissa: I felt great before the race. During the race, Melissa could not help but notice the humidity, but knew she would finish and kept moving. After the race, all she could think to herself was “I finished”.

Before the race, Sonja was worried they would never get their turn with the Port-A-Potties as the lines were so long but thankfully they were able to get our business done in a timely manner which is the most important part of any race. The first six miles of the race started well and then the humidity began to take its toll on Melissa. She started slowing down and if Sonja slowed to run next to her, she slowed even more. Sonja decided to change tactics since running beside her wasn’t working so she stopped slowing down, and Melissa would be behind her for a bit and then Melissa would catch up to Sonja again. Around mile 9 Sonja started getting tired of talking to her to keep her moving.

Sonja kept moving forward and knew Melissa was following behind her by a few people and would look back to keep an eye on her. When she looked back another time, Sonja couldn’t see her. It turns out, Melissa had gained a burst of speed and had passed Sonja without either of them realizing it. Sonja ran behind her for a while before she turned and found her again. When they were in the tenth mile, their mutual friend, Natasha, ran onto the course to tell Melissa how great she was doing, that really seemed to motivate her, and she started running again.

Their goal was to beat the 3:00:00 time and they were very close to accomplishing this goal. If there was not so much humidity, they may have done it too. When they finished Sonja was happy that Melissa PRd and then she looked up the hill and questioned why anybody would end a race in the middle of a hill. It was difficult for them to walk up the hill out of the finish corral to the top where everything was.

Melissa’s goals were to beat her time from the Decker Challenge and to keep moving throughout the whole race.

Sonja’s goal was for Melissa and Bonnie, the two athletes with special needs completing the Distance Challenge this year, to see that with hard work and support dreams can become reality. She wants them to realize that they are stronger than they thought they were and that they can adventure out from Special Olympics into other events that they once believed were not for them.
Melissa’s most memorable moment during the race was at the ten-mile-mark when her friend, Natasha, cheered for her to keeping pushing and to push through the pain.

For Sonja, the most memorable event was asking one of the police officers at an intersection on the UT Campus to cheer Melissa on, because she was struggling from the humidity, as were many people who had to stop running the race. So many runners were walking at this part of the race, but Sonja and Melissa were already so close to the finish. Melissa looked very surprised when the police officer yelled, “Go Melissa, you can do this!” She started moving forward again (who wouldn’t be motivated by a police officer cheering them on?), and Sonja kept moving with a smile on her face.Melissa’s parents are coming to her next race, and she is excited to have them waiting for her when she crosses the finish line. Her puzzle piece will finally be complete which means she will be able to frame it and add it to her running wall. She is also looking forward to getting her reward snacks and breakfast taco.

Sonja is hoping that Melissa’s parents are able to come out and cheer her on, since this has been something Melissa has wanted since they met her this past summer: for them to watch her finish a half marathon. Her parents live in San Antonio and Horseshoe Bay and have supported her from a distance in her running events, but as any runner knows it is great to have your family at the finish line when you accomplish a big event for the first time, and the half marathon will be the final piece that allows Melissa to complete the Distance Challenge for the first time. Bonnie has had her Dad at the last two races and really enjoyed having him cheering for her and filming her as she crossed the finish line. He will be recovering from surgery and will be able to make this last race.

Melissa will be training for the next race by continuing to do basketball on Tuesday afternoons. She will also continue working with Kayleigh’s Club and doing track on Sunday afternoons.

Sonja has started working more in her classroom then she would like to, but it had to be done so she has not gotten to work out as much as she would like. They were both going once or twice a week to Rogue Core Class in December and January when they were offering them free to the public. That was hardwork, but they both enjoyed it. Sonja injured one of her shoulders, so she has started doing the Body Blade workouts to help get it back into shape which was recommended by Run Lab. Sonja has been able to do some Saturday runs with the Ship of Fools downtown. She has, in addition, been doing the drills with her after school running club twice a week to keep moving. She is currently helping coach Kayleigh’s Club on Sunday afternoon to help keep the athletes moving. She misses being able to run with her friends at the Ship of Fools, who have been my inspiration for getting back into running. She has seen many of them become pace leaders in large races and events, and although she is not the fastest runner, yet, she loves being able to help pace another person and help move them forward the way she has watched others motivate each other.


Cross-training For Runners

Our awesome Distance Challenge Presenting Sponsor, Select Physical Therapy, provided some amazing insight to why cross-training is so important for runners. One of their top Orthopedic Specialists, Rachel Tolentin, included a variety of exercises to keep you strong as you round out the 2017-2018 season.

As runners we tend to focus on running being our sole workout, especially when training for longer runs can take a big chunk of time during the week. However, to be a well-rounded runner and reduce the risk of injuries it’s very important to make sure you are incorporating flexibility, proximal hip and core strengthening, as well as low to no impact training. The reason low to no impact training is important is because running causes a significant amount of stress through your bone structure from your feet all the way up to your spine. Incorporating Cross Fit or lots of plyometric (jumping/landing) workouts on your “off” day doesn’t let the bone remodel and adapt to loads needed for running which increases your risk of bone breakdown (aka fractures)!  

The types of low impact training that are best to incorporate into your routine (that still works cardiovascular endurance needed for running) are swimming and biking. Also, yoga helps maintain or gain the flexibility that helps prevent running injuries. Pilates allows for good core and flexibility and allows for a reduced risk of injuries. Receiving a functional movement screen is always recommended for any runner to identify where your specific weaknesses are so you can focus your cross-training workout on your individualized needs to help avoid injuries plus to help improve your time and running form!

Below are some great exercises to focus on, starting at basic and moving to advanced based on your ability:

  • Plank with variations – leg lifts, forward shifts, etc
  • Bridge with variations – single leg bridge, bridge with hip abduction band
  • Side plank – with clamshells, with hip abd, with arm lifts
  • Monster walk and Side walks
  • Squats – regular, sumo, single leg
  • Lunges – with rotation, side lunges



*Please keep in mind that you will start at your ability level and only do the amount of reps or time that you can tolerate.

If you’re interested in a movement screening or have any additional questions regarding injuries or simply inquiring about how to do one of the exercises below, please don’t hesitate to email me ( and I will put you in touch directly with Rachel and Select Physical Therapy.

Enjoy integrating these exercises into your training for the Austin Full and Half Marathon and we’ll see you at the finish line!!

Melissa & Sonja: Decker Challenge

Melissa and Sonja were kind enough to share their story with us on an earlier blog, and agreed to let us follow along as they #DareTheDistance with us this season! 

Conquering Hills and 13.1 Miles

Contributing Writer: Samantha Jimenez

On Sunday morning, December 10th, Melissa and Sonja headed out to run the Decker Half Marathon with the thrill they feel heading out to every race. Melissa was thrilled to be running her first half marathon, because not many people with special needs can say that they run half marathons, or many people in general. She was also excited to run it with Sonja and Bonnie. Sonja was excited to see Melissa conquer the hills and complete her first half marathon.  

In the days leading up to the race, Melissa described the feelings as nervous excitement while Sonja was excited for the surprisingly good weather on a December morning which she described as a nice bonus for the Decker run. Throughout the race, Melissa motivated herself with phrases like “I can do this and I’m doing it”. One of her favorite moments during Decker was running past the Ship of Fools water stop and hearing all her friends and support cheer for her which gave her encouragement to keep going.

Sonja felt strong about the race, and had overall encouragement in the beginning as Melissa was doing great for the first four miles.  Then the hills really got rolling and the pace started to slow down as it started feeling like they were climbing up the hills both ways. Sonja was conscious of the time as the race became more difficult.  Melissa never quit, but at times she was struggling to get up the hills.  

At 2 hours and 45 minutes they still had two miles to go and needed to finish prior to 3 hours and 15 minutes. Sonja began calling out the time and pushing Melissa to keep going. She was struggling with the end of the race like many who are new to Decker. Sonja would yell back at her husband, Michael, who was pacing Bonnie, another special needs athlete the time to give them a sense of the time as well. When the 2 hours and 55 minute mark hit, they had just turned into the Expo parking lot for the longest 1.1 miles ever, and Sonja began starting to sweat from nerves in addition to the run. She kept telling Melissa that she would be really sad if didn’t get her finisher jacket, especially when she was so close to finishing, and Melissa would start jogging with a limp.  This continued the whole way to the finish. Melissa was able to pick it up when the finish line was finally in view at the last 400 yards. The two crossed the finish line at 3 hours 6 minutes. Less than 8 minutes to spare. Bonnie was about 20 seconds behind us and also made it.  That is the closest Sonja said she ever wants to come to the disqualifying time for the Distance Challenge.  

decker challenge finish

Melissa pretty much collapsed into Sonja’s arms with tired relief and joy after they finished, and it took both women a few minutes to feel able enough to walk. Sonja’s first Decker ended with her in at the ambulance getting checked out for exhaustion, so she credits Melissa with not being in quite as bad shape, but simply, understandably exhausted from giving it everything she had and then some.  When Melissa took her shoes off, she had blood on top of her toes on both feet, even though they had cut her toenails prior to the race. They celebrated with a big meal at Sonja’s house and then Sonja drove Melissa home.  Walking up the stairs to Melissa’s second story apartment was brutal but good for her.  Plus Melissa had to work the next day at a job that requires being on her feet and walking which meant a lot of stretching her muscles out.  She took a good hot shower and nap that Sunday afternoon like so many of those who ran the Decker and more than earned it, and like so many of us who have not done a 13 mile race involving multiple hills, but enjoy Sunday afternoon naps.

Melissa felt really proud of herself when she crossed the finish line, having accomplished her goal of completing the race in the allotted time. Sonja’s goal was to make sure Melissa was aware of the time, remind her of her running form, and remind her to use going downhill to help make up time. Sonja never doubted she could do this as long as she was very aware of these three things.  The only time Sonja stated she ever had any doubts creep into her head were when Melissa started limping and struggling towards the end, because she would not push Melissa to keep going if there was a chance she would get injured, stating that if that was a possibility, they would have stopped.

Sonja had several moments that were memorable for her. One of these moments was when Gilbert from the Gazelles yelled support back to Melissa. As she was running by his water stop she yelled, “I can do this!” and he yelled back, “Yes, You CAN!”  She hadn’t been yelling at him, but he had heard and responded. It brought a big smile to her face.  Periodically throughout the race, Sonja would have her yell out different phrases to encourage her that she is strong, that she is able, that she is a warrior, that she is a runner, and that she is completing one of her dreams. The timing for that one just happened to be one of those perfect moments.

Another one of these moments was when some people recognized her at another water stop after mile 10 and the massive hill, and started cheering her on.  She was able to pick up her step and get some energy from the crowd cheering her name. People on the sidelines rarely realize how much they motivate runners, much like crowds at a football game or a concert. The runners can draw off of their energy, because if the roads were empty, it would be easy to walk the whole thing, because running, but especially races like this, are about mental durability as much as physical endurance. It would be easier to get in their own heads about being tired, being sore, and being lonely, but there are these people waving and clapping and gosh darn they cannot walk by their audience, they just have to run and the cheering helps so much.

  As great as these moments were, the most memorable moment for Sonja was crossing the finish line, because Melissa decided they would hold hands as they crossed together, and that was a special moment. In past races, Sonja had been behind her taking video and pictures while cheering her on, but this time for her half marathon, they crossed hand in hand, arms up, legs wobbling, but together, as friends and winners.

Melissa is looking forward to receiving another magnet puzzle piece after their next race, and watching her puzzle become more complete and, everyone’s favorite thing about a race, eating breakfast tacos. Sonja is looking forward to watching Melissa improve her time on the next half marathon, because there won’t be any hills like Decker, a relief for everyone running. She is excited for Melissa to see she is even better than she realizes, and wants the same thing for Bonnie. Both of these women are stronger than they think, but are fighting the mental part of running that stops a lot of people.  

Until the next race, Sonja and Melissa will be training with Kayleigh’s Club on Sunday afternoons. and with the Ship of Fools on Tuesday evenings as well as playing basketball with Austin Parks and Recreation Warriors on Tuesday afternoons. They will also be doing the Monday/Thursday Core Class at Rogue which often leave you sorer the next day than you initially think. They are going to be getting more runs in now that the weather is supposedly going to be better and possibly do some long runs on Saturday prior to Melissa going to work.

Melissa & Sonja: Run for the Water

Melissa and Sonja were kind enough to share their story with us on an earlier blog, and agreed to let us follow along as they #DareTheDistance with us this season! 

Moving up from the 80’s 8K to a 10-mile run; Melissa was excited to release “the beast” she has been training, and her fellow runner and supporter, Sonja, was excited to see Melissa get some distance under her belt, or her laces, and see what she could do.

Melissa was a little scared that she wasn’t going to complete the Run for the Water, but once she got going, she did much better than she expected. During the race she felt awesome because she believed in herself and kept herself motivated towards the finish line. She felt incredible after too, because when she crossed the finish line, she realized she could do anything she put her mind to.

Sonja was also nervous before the race due to others making sure she knew what the cut off was before they were disqualified-3 hours, 15 minutes.  This was something that had come up in several conversations and unfortunately, Sonja, being as human as she is, let it begin to worm its way into her head: the doubts of what would happen if whichever scenario happened.  During the race she started realizing that Melissa was going faster than the pace they trained for, which was 15-minute miles to be safe to ensure she wasn’t going either to fast but not to slow either.  Sonja started getting excited as Melissa continued to pass people, especially going up the hills when so many others walk; she continued to run up each hill. There was only one hill she walked a small distance at the very top, other than this she ran the entire ten-mile route. When they were coming up to the finish line, and they had just hit two hours a few minutes prior, Sonja felt a medley of excitement, happiness, and pride. Melissa crushed her goal of completing the race in about 2 hours and to keep her feet moving the whole time.  Sonja also reached her goal of helping Melissa reach the finish line in the allotted time and keeping her moving forward.  

Melissa’s most memorable moment was when she would yell out “mile 2, 8 to go” and so forth. Everybody in the race would cheer along with her. Sonja was amazed at how many people would recognize her hand in coaching Melissa as she encouraged her to tackle a hill and proceed to tell her what she could do to train as well. It was interesting to Sonja to hear others advice such as telling her to have Melissa eat this, or walk at certain points.  It reminded Sonja of when she was pregnant, and everyone started telling her about their pregnancy, and what she should or should not do without even knowing her. The running community is very much a family in this way of wanting to help others do their best.

Sonja’s best memories of this race were the same as Melissa’s, merely from a different perspective: Melissa yelling at each mile marker how many miles she had completed, and how many more were left and then the cheers of those around her.  It is something Sonja believed many runners think, “ok 3 miles down, 7 to go.”  Hearing someone yell it out, loud and proud, makes it feel more real, like it is actually happening and that the race is going to get completed. Sonja’s favorite memory is watching Melissa speed up as she rounded the corner for the finish line and throwing her arms in the air when she crossed under the arch.  She had done something that others didn’t think she could do and at one point she even wondered about but now it was done! She had proved everybody wrong, including a version of herself who at one point did not think it could be done.

Melissa is looking forward to running in her first half marathon and sharing it with her Austin family. She is also looking forward to adding another piece to her distance challenge puzzle and eating well-deserved breakfast tacos. According to Sonja, Decker is the most challenging of the five races due to the vast number of hills, and the weather that has been very cold during the Decker marathon in times past. She is also looking forward to watching Melissa continue to conquer the hills which is the main thing they will continue to work on: getting up the hill.  Sonja is looking forward to watching her and Bonnie complete their first half marathon, again something both ladies have been told they should reconsider since they have special needs.

Melissa is training by working with the Warriors Fitness Club on Monday mornings. Run Lab has both women training their core on Monday and Thursday evenings. She will also train with Ship of Fools on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Melissa will also train with Kayleigh’s Club on Sunday afternoons.

Sonja is blessed that Melissa is very active already and loves to be moving. Run Lab has graciously offered Kayleigh’s club members access to their core classes on Monday and Thursday evenings and they are tough.  Both women will continue to run together on Tuesday evenings with their great Ship of Fools running group for speed training.  On Thursday evenings, they will either work with the core class at Run Lab or Melissa will be with her Warriors Fitness class as she isn’t keen on running on dark streets at night. They will do Melissa’s long runs on Sunday afternoons when the sun is up, and the path is lite. Sonja feels so blessed that different organizations are working together to help them both.  She states that it is such a blessing to see the support Melissa has received since she has started this journey.  On almost every run now, someone says hello to Melissa. They recognize her from her job at Randall’s or from one of the areas where she workouts.  She is quickly becoming a celebrity just by running and not stopping.

One more piece of the puzzle is complete, and both runners are continually working towards the next piece together, taking on the increasingly more difficult challenges head on. We’ll be watching for you both at the Decker Challenge!

ARC Member Spotlight: Clarissa Alvarado

Clarissa has been an ARC member for many years, and this year she’s been training with us for the TCS New York Marathon! She will be running with Team Flatwater to support the Flatwater Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to providing mental health resources to those diagnosed with cancer, their families and loved ones. We wanted to get to know her a little better as she prepares for race day… 


Tell us about yourself:

I’ve been a runner most of my life. I enjoy the outdoors, especially the water. I love the beach, and I am very much a “beach” or “coastal gal” at heart. I attribute my love for the beach to my love for home. I grew up in Ingleside, Texas, which is a small town in the Coastal Bend community. My family lives in Corpus Christi, Texas, and have many relatives and friends that live along the coast. I am also a dog lover and the proud fur mom of two dogs, Kona June and Porter Charm. To know me is also to know I believe in “pura vida,” and part of living this way of life is surrounding myself with family, friends, and adventures!

When did you start running? 

I was very much a tomboy growing up, so running around the yard and climbing trees was fun for me! Running led to competing in track and cross-country in junior high and high school. I hadn’t run anything beyond 3 miles until about 10 years ago. I ran my first 10K and thought; I can run a half-marathon. The rest is history! Since then I’ve run too many half-marathons to count and the upcoming TCS NYC Marathon will be my 6th marathon. 

Why did you start running?

Running is an outlet for me, and it’s not hard to do in our beautiful city. It’s a way for me to unwind, clear my thoughts, and personally challenge myself. I valued it even more after going into remission from breast cancer. I was diagnosed with breast cancer just weeks after setting a personal record in the 2013 Houston Marathon. I was so shocked and hurt by my diagnosis, but I coped by continuing to run with Austin Runner’s Club. I ran as much as my body would let me, and after several surgeries, I just worked my way back to it. I wrote a blog and compared much of my experience with running a marathon. During this time, ARC was very supportive and many friends, including my training buddies Ashlee and Cristin, were with me along the way cheering me on to remission. 

What are your running goals? 

When I think about my cancer diagnosis, I think that running may have saved my life. I will always continue to make personal goals for myself especially when it comes to races, but my biggest goal is to stay in love with running, cancer-free and healthy enough to continue running for the rest of my life! 

What else do you do outside of running? 

I like to cross train and I go to places like ONNIT and workout with other area fitness groups in Austin. I’m a member of Outright Fitness and Performance. About a year and half ago I fell in love with stand-up paddle boarding. I have my own board, so if I am not getting miles on the road or trail, I’m getting them on the water with my SUP which I refer to as my “Pink Serenity.” I enjoy yoga and would eventually love to learn to SUP surf. It’s also a goal for me to try a triathlon. Before my cancer diagnosis, my goal was to begin triathlon training so I could do an Ironman, but those plans got put set aside. One day…

How did you hear about Austin Runners Club? 

When I ran my first marathon, I trained on my own and didn’t do a very good job training. The next year, I saw Austin Runner’s Club on Town Lake and after reading about them, I decided to join. I’ve been a member since 2009. Austin Runner’s Club has been an extension of my fitness family and I’ve made lifelong friends, so I hope to continue to build friendships, continue running with ARC and supporting their community efforts. 

What is your pre-race routine? 

For the most part, I try to keep it low-key. I always shoot for a light and early dinner. I also make sure to get plenty of rest. A couple of days before a race I intake more calories, but not a significant amount. I do my best to stay hydrated throughout the week. Many people can eat the morning of a race, but I cannot. I may take a GU and I definitely drink water. I keep it simple and just do what works for me, and I always encourage others to do the same. 

Favorite type of food?

I love Mexican food, especially chips and queso. When it comes to running, I do my best to eat a balanced meal with more protein than carbs, skip the processed foods, and stick with wholesome foods. I also love smoothies! The Soup Peddler is my go-to place for smoothies. My favorite is the Voltron smoothie, and if I don’t get one after my run, I stop by Thom’s Market to pick up a Vanilla Rebel, a plant based protein drink. 

Do you like to listen to music or podcasts while running? 

When I first started distance running, I listened to music all the time, but now I am totally fine with no music. It’s my time to clear my mind, enjoy the experience, and/or company. 

Your favorite running apparel/products? 

I’ve run in a variety of apparel, and I am always looking for functional and comfortable dri fit clothing with pockets! Right now I am loving my running shorts and tights from Athleta. Pockets, true to size, and durable. I also go to Title Nine for any of my outdoor activities like running or paddleboarding. Brooks, Nathan, and Northface are a few of other of my faves. Some of my favorite running socks are Balaga and Features. I am a huge fan of Brooks. I’ve been running in Brooks since I started distance running. I recently tried the Launches, and I like them for track workouts and tempo runs. For longer runs, I prefer  the Brook Glycerines and Ghost model. 

Over the years, I’ve developed life long friends, and I feel like ARC is another one of my extended families in Austin. Now that they have partnered with Flatwater, I feel all the more connected since two of my extended families have come together. I am thankful to ARC for supporting Team Flatwater in the TCS NYC Marathon. 

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Clarissa! Good luck to you and everybody on Team Flatwater at the TCS New York Marathon!!!

80’s 8k Race Recap

Sonja and Melissa were kind enough to share their story with us on an earlier blog, and agreed to let us follow along as they #DareTheDistance with us this season! 

What were you excited about the most for the first race in our series? 

Melissa: I was excited to have Sonja there to help push me along the way. I wore a bright neon shirt for fun. 

Sonja: I love the 80’s 8K and the fun atmosphere. Being a young girl who was going through the ages of 10-19 during the 80’s made a big impression on me.  I mean what other decade has such amazing music, big hair, and parachute pants!  I get to relive some of my younger days by dressing up and listening to 80’s music. It is much better than going to an 80’s band concert now a days because everyone is over the age of 40 and the band members are not as hot as they use to be, except Rick Springfield who has aged pretty darn well and still wants Ricky’s Girl.

How did you feel before, during, and after the 80s 8k?

Melissa: I felt like “wow I’m about to run this” before the race. I felt great during because I was pacing myself really well during the race. I also felt great after because I accomplished the 80s 8k. I am really proud of accomplishing the race.

Sonja: Well before the race I was a little nervous for Melissa just because this was the very first race of the distance challenge and she had not been running much for almost 6 or 7 weeks due to a knee injury. I was concerned that we may have to walk a good portion of it and be fighting the clock to finish on time.  During the race I was amazed at how well she was doing for not having very much training prior to the race. I did keep wondering if it would last for the whole 8K. Afterwards I just was ecstatic for her and her friend Bonnie who both just completed their first Distance Challenge race and both are members of Kayleigh’s Club. After we hugged and I knew Melissa was steady on her feet from her sprinting in to the finish line I jogged back about a mile to run in with Kayleigh, her mother, Sandy, and Art from Run Lab.  Kayleigh was the last one to finish the 80’s 8K but she did it her way with lots of style.  Personally I think she knew that in the end the police escort her back to very end of the race.  So at each intersection she would have a police car blocking the road for her to cross and then slowly going up the road with her.  Not a bad way to get some men in uniform to notice you.  After the race was over for everyone I just felt refreshed and happy and hungry.

What were your goals, if any, for the 80s 8k to start off the distance challenge series? 

Melissa: My goals were to pace myself throughout the race and to complete the race in about an hour.

Me: My goal was to keep Melissa having fun, not to think negative thoughts that can come into anyone’s head when they are tired and just to help keep her motivated to reach her goal.

What was the most memorable moment during the event?

Melissa: My most memorable moment was getting pictures with and without Sonja. 

Sonja: Seeing another runner in front of us on a hill and realizing that she might be in distress. I told Melissa to keep going and I stopped next to the woman and asked her if she was alright. She had been standing in the road and holding her head and looking up. She stated that she had vertigo and was dizzy but that she really wanted to conquer this race due to running it the year before and not doing what she wanted. I asked her if I could hold her elbow and walk with her until she felt better and she agreed. She ended up running the majority of the remainder of the race with me and Melissa, kind of back and forth of we were in front of her and then she was in front of us. I know she finished really close to us. Later on Strava she thanked me and that surprised me that she was able to connect with me through the app. Nothing huge but just grateful that I was able to help another runner. 

What are you looking forward to for the next race?

Melissa: I am looking forward to getting my second piece of the magnet puzzle and eating breakfast tacos afterwards.

Sonja: Run for the Water is such an amazing race. Mr. Gilbert who host the race just inspires me to run with joy and this race helps people in Burundi Africa to get access to clean water much closer to their homes. Such a win/win for everyone involved. And just like Melissa I enjoy seeing my Distance Challenge magnet puzzle slowly becoming complete.  

How will you be training until the next race?

Melissa: I will be working out with The Warriors Fitness Club on Monday mornings. I will also be working out with the Ship of Fools on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I will also swim twice a week as well.

Sonja: I just gently broke the news to Melissa that we would be doing a lot more steeper hills to help us prepare for all of our next races and she just smiled with joy! She is actually becoming really good at hills and they do so much to help us both get prepared for the next four races of the Distance Challenge. I would like to get some swimming in with Melissa but with my school schedule that may or may not happen. The Ship of Fools have been very good to the both of us and I love their workouts and attitude towards all runners of different abilities. It is a club for those brand new to running to elite runners and everyone in between.  For $30 a year to become a member and discount to many running stores and races it pays for itself quickly. Many people run with us who don’t become members but I quickly became one when I realized I would get a discount to every distance challenge race and I wanted to show my support to an amazing running community. I love that they don’t just give out their races and events but all free runs from all over Austin and other running groups. It really is a community of people who have a passion for becoming better in moving forward.

We’ll all be training on those super steep hills with you! Good luck at Run for the Water – we can’t wait to hear how it goes!!

2017 Board of Directors Elections

It’s that time of the year again–for ARC Members to weigh in on who they’d like to represent them on the Board of Directors. Read below for brief candidate bios, and start thinking about who you’d like to see on next year’s board. (You can descriptions of each Board Member role here.)

A few quick notes on the election rules:

  • Nominations can still be accepted throughout the month of April (email
  • In addition to the candidates listed below, members will also have the option to write-in their preferred candidates on the ballot.
  • Online elections will be held from Sunday April 23rd through Tuesday, May 2nd.
  • There will be two chances to cast your ballot in-person: on Monday, May 1st at a special edition of our weekly Monday run, held at Ready to Run at 6:30PM, and Tuesday, May 2nd at the Ship workout, held at O Henry Middle School at 5:55PM.

Winners will be announced on social media and in our weekly member newsletter once they are determined.

Continue reading »

Austin Half Marathon – Race Report from a Distance Challenge Finisher!

Amber at the Distance Challenge tent

Photo courtesy Amber Wadey

Two years ago I ran my first half marathon right here in Austin. I joined Team LIVESTRONG, created my own training plan, and did everything I could do to prepare, but I remember worrying about everything that was out of my control. What if it’s freezing or pouring rain? What if traffic or road closures make it too hard to park? What if I’m not feeling well, or my alarm doesn’t go off? The beauty of running your 2nd or 3rd (or 7th) half marathon is that eventually those details don’t bother you anymore. I know I can go the distance and I’ve logged miles in every kind of weather. I’ve learned that with a little planning, the logistics always seem to work out.

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Kayleigh’s Distance Challenge

Just over a year ago, Distance Challenge alumni Sandy Williamson submitted her story through our “September to Remember” contest and won two free entries into the Decker Challenge. When Sandy and her daughter Kayleigh decided to Dare the Distance together, nobody could’ve predicted where the journey would take them. With one race to go, Sandy shares their remarkable story with the ARC.

Sandy and Kayleigh

Sandy and Kayleigh
Photo courtesy Sandy Williamson

In April, my daughter and I travelled to Galveston for the Diva 5K. It was our first test to see how Kayleigh would handle a race with a strict cut-off time. She finished under the required time and the next week we started training for her first half marathon. Kayleigh has ITP and Graves’ Disease, and two weeks later her platelets hit a critical low of 15. It was a life threatening level. Even with steroids and a platelet transfusion, they did not increase so the decision was made to remove her spleen. The surgery normally takes 45 minutes to an hour, but in Kayleigh’s case it only took 20 minutes. Normally, they keep a patient for 24 hours, but she was released 5 hours later. That’s when I knew I had Wonder Woman for a daughter.

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3M Half Marathon – Distance Challenge Race Report

Amber Wadey registered for the Distance Challenge after realizing that she perfectly fit the profile for the “average” DC runner. She participated in an ARC member interview earlier this year and we’ve asked her to let us follow along as she runs the series by contributing her race reports to our blog. We hope you enjoy sharing her journey!

Amber's 3M stats

Image courtesy Amber Wadey

This is the first race report I’ve contributed where I don’t feel like a newbie. I ran the 3M last year and came in right at my goal time of 2:05. I registered for this year’s run soon after and told my training partner that next year we’d go even faster; perhaps even break 2 hours! After the Decker Challenge I was feeling strong but had a little more trouble moving from recovery back into training than expected. I blamed the holidays, weather, allergies, work and school for limiting my time and focus. Somehow I managed to stick with my training plan (even when my daughter insisted I could skip) and everything started coming together in the final week leading up to the 3M.

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