Cowtown Marathon Weekend 2018

After a crazy week of basketball last week (who knew that a playoff tournament for 6th grade basketball was a thing?) I’m finally catching up my blog. It was a busy weekend for the 40th Cowtown Marathon, and I’ve got a lot of info to pack into a post. It may end up looking more like a short story so my apologies, and hang on!

I had big plans going into race week of relaxing, keeping my stress levels down, eating right, and getting extra sleep.

The best laid plans….

It started that Monday, with some stuff going on with one of my kids. I couldn’t do anything about it, except worry. I’m really good at worrying. Then the crazy weather moved in and didn’t leave. A couple of runs were pushed to the treadmill. I can do cold (it was just above freezing) and I can do rain.  But I will not do cold and rain – especially on race week.

The more it rained, the more I worried. We have an area under our home that floods when we get heavy rain, and until we redo the drainage in our yard, I will worry every time it rains. When I worry, I also stress eat. So there’s that. I also had two children sniffling and sneezing all over the place.

Race week was not going well so far.

On Friday, I volunteered at the expo handing out packets. It’s interesting to be on the other side of the racing scene, always giving me a better appreciation of what goes into a race. While I was handing out 5k packets, I had a man ask me a question. The woman next to him jumped in and said, “Well, she’s a volunteer so she wouldn’t know, but I’m a runner. So let me tell you what to do…” Bless her heart!


Early Saturday morning, after a night of little sleep, my friend Leda and I headed down to run the 5k as part of the Cowtown Challenge. We took another friend with us, so she could go to the expo and pick up her packet. I’ve never run a Saturday race for Cowtown, and I got pulled in by the fun extras. My dad was running the 10k, and with the weather delay, our races started at the same time.

We got lucky with a break in the weather. The 5k was rain free. I took it nice and easy, just like my coach told me to. We did a few pickups here and there, and ran alongside someone who was doing her first 5k in ten years after having five kids. We encouraged her, and Leda picked up the pace to pull her in to the finish. I watched the 10k winner finish right in front of me, which was humbling – and just like my first 5k. I guess I ran slow enough. I saw my dad after he finished his race, and then we got poured on walking back to the car.

My goal for the rest of the day was rest. I was sleep deprived and emotional from the week, and wasn’t the easiest person to get along with. I tried to take a nap. No dice. I ate an early dinner, and then we left for the Percussion Concert for my son. I enjoyed the concert, but it was 10 p.m. before I got into bed. With a 3 a.m. wakeup the next morning, it wasn’t ideal, but you do what you have to do as a parent. It’s the only time I’ve slept solid all night before a marathon.


Race morning was off to a great start! Temps were in the 40s and it was going to be sunny. No rain. Yay! I rode in with running friends and we met up with others from our group.

Texoma Runners take on Cowtown

I made my way over to where RunRelated was meeting for a group picture, and met up with my coach (who was running Cowtown as well).

How did I feel?

Tired, but ready. I didn’t have time to obsess over the race due to the craziness of the week. But I did try to spend some time visualizing my goal. I had “carbed up” more than I did for Dallas (wanted to avoid medical this time) and was well hydrated. I just hoped I didn’t swing the pendulum too far the other direction.

It was time to take on 26.2

The three of us who have been training together started together. We had planned to run the first half together.

Photo credit: Brian Luenser (sent to me by Kevin Whitley on twitter)

After the third mile, I noticed my friends pulling ahead and my pace was right where I was supposed to be. I knew if I ran faster than I was supposed to, I would pay for it later. I had a plan to follow. Nothing faster than 9:45 in the first half. So I held back and ran my own race.

I made my way up the monster hill that so many hate at mile 9. Strong and steady, still feeling like I was holding back. That had to be a good sign! I was still watching my splits, and I only dipped under once with a 9:36.

After the split and a turn, I heard a runner behind me yell, “Is this whole city uphill?” I laughed, because I knew there were more to come.

At mile 20, I still felt strong, and was just over 10:00 pace. I had refilled my bottle a few times at aid stations, dropping Nuun in as I went. My Garmin was set to only show my current mile. I had no idea how what my total time was. My splits were off from the mile markers though, and I was running a half mile over so far.

Then at mile 21, I went up a hill and a turn to go up another one. At the top, I couldn’t recover my breathing. My energy level was zapped, and my pace dropped. But I was still running.

At mile 24, one of my friends who ran the half, came alongside me for over a mile, encouraging me. I told her to go on back and run with the other two, that I would be fine. She said, “No, I’m going to take you to the corner first” and that’s exactly what she did.

When I came around to the finish, I was reminded again of why I love this race. You have people cheering on both sides of the fencing, and the announcer calls out your name. I always see someone I recognize when I’m finishing. I was also impressed with the medical team. One stepped up to walk alongside me. “Are you okay?” I nodded. “I’m good.” Then he stepped off and another one picked up to walk with me. “Really, I’m fine.”

Then I saw my coach and for the first time, I switched screens on my Garmin to see my overall time. 4:35. My initial reaction was disappointment, but then I thought about how I felt through the race: how strong I felt at mile 20, how I probably needed more calories for the last 10k, how I ran up ALL the hills. I also thought about how I felt during Dallas (starting at mile 14) and just feeling defeated for the last 10 miles as I plodded through that race. Then my trip to medical after I finished…

I didn’t feel that way this time, and even though I didn’t hit my time goal, I feel like I ran a strong race. I didn’t fall apart at mile 16 like I have for my last 3 marathons, and I ran a little faster – and a lot smarter – than I did at Cowtown last year. I’m working my way back, baby! One step at a time.

Huge thanks to my coach Tim with RunRelated!

Cowtown Challenge and my 17th marathon finish!

I’m also super proud of my running friends. The one in the middle ran her first full marathon at Cowtown, and Leda had hurt her knee after Hot Chocolate, missing almost two weeks of training. We weren’t even sure she was going to make it to Cowtown. I’m so thankful I have them to run with. ๐Ÿ™‚


If you made it this far in the post, thank you for taking the time to read this. I am grateful I had the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for Cowtown. I look forward to returning next year to complete my medal series. It’ll be the full marathon again. You know, so they all match.






Hot Chocolate 15k 2018

This past Saturday, I ran my second Hot Chocolate 15k in Dallas. I regretted not running it last year, but I had cut back on my races for several reasons. This year so many of my friends were going, I wasn’t going to miss it! So I made sure I registered early to get the most for my money.

The only drawback to running a 15k race three weeks before Cowtown, was how to get the long run done. My coach gave me two options, since this was the 20 miler week. We decided to do the Saturday race and a Sunday long/tempo run to simulate the running on fatigued legs.

More on that later.

The weather was great on Saturday, temperature wise. It was a little on the windy side, but the sun was out and that helped. My friends from my running group made fun of me in my shorts. I had brought my capris just in case, but with temperatures in the 40s I knew shorts were best for me even with the wind.

We warmed up – leg swings, lunges – and made our way to the corral. When the race started, I smiled as we all spaced out into our individual speeds. I could see a couple of my friends ahead of me, but I was not going to try to stay with them. I was following my coach’s advice of running a smart race. 9.3 miles is a long way to go if you blow it all in the first half. Plus, there were hills coming.

I did feel like I was holding back for about the first three miles. I kept a check on my pace periodically, but didn’t obsessively check my Garmin. I ran the first mile in 8:42 and that felt good. I went into my usual mode of thanking volunteers and officers (so many police officers) and I was happy to hear so many other runners around me thanking them as well. Grateful is the best attitude to have when running. The race had Nuun on course, but I was carrying my bottle with Lime Energy so I wouldn’t need to stop.

I focused on effort going up the hills, while trying to keep my pace under 9:00. I knew I wasn’t going to PR, because that’s not where I am in my journey, but I wanted to run a strong, solid race and gauge progress. By mile 7, I was so glad I was almost done. It’s funny how 2 miles seems like a short way now.

I would check distance on my watch, but rarely look at the pace. I was in all out effort mode. Somewhere in the last mile, we made a turn into the wind and went up a nice big hill. Then it became all about the chocolate.

I told myself “don’t step off the coals now!”ย  I had set a time goal of under 1:23:00 and it looked like I was going to make it! I powered up the big hill, made a turn, and another turn, and then I was crossing the finish!

I was excited with my time, but mostly because I knew I ran hard and didn’t give up on myself. I said I was done settling, and this race helped solidify that mindset.

Of course my Garmin had a faster pace because of the 9.44 distance…


I heard my name, and was looking around for the friends I knew finished before me, but it was Leda who finished just seconds behind me. She ran a slower beginning and negative split her second half. She almost caught me!

Then I saw Chris (fellow Cowtown ambassador) at the finish. He set a pretty great PR!

All of us from our group finished within a few minutes of each other, so we headed over to get our finisher mugs, and enjoyed the treats while we recapped the race. That was a lot of fun, and the chocolate was worth that final push up the hill.

And since there’s a big marathon coming up at the end of this month, I ran 10 miles on Sunday with some marathon pace in the second half. Once I got a few miles in, the soreness from the 15k worked itself out, and I felt decent. Tired, but manageable.

I feel like I’m in a much better place this year mentally and physically, than I was a year ago when my running legs went MIA.ย ย Cowtownย weekend is in just two weeks, and it’s going to be great!

Dallas Marathon 2017

Oh goodness, how I hate to love this race! I’ve written in the past about my love/hate relationship with the Dallas Marathon, but each year I grow to love it even more. 

It was my first half marathon in 2010, my first full marathon in 2011, and  my slowest marathon in 2012. I’ve planned to run this race (the marathon) every year since, even though it’s not always the best time of year for me. 

I miss my goal more often than not, but the experience for the runner has improved a lot from my first time in 2011. 

This year, my friend and I signed up for the (inaugural) Weekend Series, which included a race on Saturday and Sunday. By completing the series, we would get some nice bonuses, namely a jacket.  

I went to the expo early on Friday, and was excited that I had the chance to meet Shalane Flanagan. I mean, it’s not every day you get to meet an Olympian who also happened to win the NYC marathon last month. 

I picked up my race bibs for the 5k and marathon, my two race shirts, and for being part of the weekend series – a poster and socks. Not a bad haul so far. 

I stocked up on more Nuun at the expo, and found my name on the car. 

Then I stopped by to check out the Cowtown table. 

Saturday, Leda and I went together to the 5k. Our goal was to run easy and have fun. If we finished under 30 minutes that meant we ran too hard. My goal was to not look at my Garmin and enjoy the run. It was cold! Our time was around 31:00, and I never looked at our pace. Yay me! We kept it easy and had fun. Mission accomplished!

Sunday for the marathon, the weather started off nice and cold. Temps were in the mid 30s but it was supposed to warm up to high 60s for the day. I used my Cowtown disposable jacket to stay warm at the start (and tossed it by mile 3).

 Leda and I had our race plan. We were going to run it together. My job was to hold her back. Her job was to keep me from settling for lesser goals. One of the runners from our group ran past us at mile 10 and yelled hello. He was running his first marathon. Then at mile 12, we saw three other friends from our group on the course cheering and taking pictures. It was great! 

By mile 13, Leda started pulling ahead and I didn’t feel like I could hold that pace. My stomach was feeling off, and I ducked into a porta potty somewhere during mile 15. She was too far ahead for me to call out, so I knew we were probably done running together. I was on my own. 

I held it close to race pace for a couple more miles, then made another stop close to mile 20. I had also refilled my handheld bottle a few times since that first stop. I used my Nuun tablets just like always. 

After the monster hill I walked up  in mile 20, I tried to pick up the pace. But whenever I pushed, I had to back off due to nausea. I continued drinking from my bottle, and settled into a run/walk for as long as it took. I’d either feel better, or I would just finish for the jacket. I did notice for the last few miles that I was very thirsty. I probably refilled my bottle 4 times in the second half of the race, but my mouth was still dry.  I also noticed that my top wasn’t drench in sweat like it was earlier in the race. When I made it to mile 25, I mustered enough energy to run a slow final mile. I crossed the finish, smiled at my friends cheering, and picked up my jacket. Then I worked my way to where my husband, Leda, and her husband were waiting for me. 

When I finally stopped moving, my face started feeling funny. A tingle and a wave of nausea had me headed to the nearest trash can. Then both of my arms started tingling, feeling numb. My stomach was still upset, so we walked over to the porta potties. When I came out, we were right by the medical tent and Leda asked me to get checked out. She said this wasn’t normal for me. I explained what was going on, and the nice guys had me take a seat. They checked my blood sugar, pulse, blood pressure, etc. They had me stay until my numbers came closer to normal and I was feeling more like myself.

 Really, I just wanted some pancakes, but IHOP had packed up long before. 

When I felt steady, we searched for a good place to take a picture, and ran across Meb. He graciously signed our bibs and took a picture with us. It was great!

Then we got our picture together, tying a bow on our 20 weeks of training together. Leda did get a PR by a couple of minutes, and I’m so glad she had a good race. 

Me, I’m going to work on my nutrition. I didn’t carb up and hydrate enough in the days leading up to the race. I think that definitely played a part in my race. I’ve heard from several people how fast it warmed up, and I guess I just didn’t notice it.

I was happy with all the goodies from race day. Two medals, a finisher shirt, and a jacket just for finishing Sunday’s race. I loved the medal this year too. You can flip the top back and make it stand. Dallas has done a good job improving the runner experience each year. I liked the course layout this year, even with the monster uphill. 

If you made it this far in the post, thank you for reading! I felt so much support and encouragement going into this race. I will keep pushing, and one day I’ll get to run the race I trained for. 


Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio 2017

What a fast, fun weekend I had running Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio.ย  My friend and I went together for the third year in a row to run the half marathon. This is one of my Chocolate Milk sponsored races, and it’s a fun way to cap offย  marathon training – using a race as the last long run before Dallas Marathon. No worries about weather or time goals, but just to have fun.

We left Saturday morning, and made a stop in Austin to see my daughter. She works at a pizza place right off campus, and it was perfect timing for lunch.

The weather was beautiful (80 degrees!) and there were a lot of people out. For dinner, we managed to get in to Joe’s Crab Shack without a wait, but when we left there were a lot of people waiting. The Riverwalk is so pretty with all the Christmas decorations and lights. We walked over to the Alamo to see a little more of the city at night.

Then just like two party animals, we went back to the hotel and were asleep before 10 pm.

Race morning was foggy and humid. I know if I’m standing in the corral in a tank and I’m comfortable, it’s not a great sign.

We found our friends from our running group!

Then we made our way to our corral. I really wanted to run under 2 hours, because I hadn’t been able to do that this year. I knew it may be harder with the warmer weather, but I didn’t want to leave all my goals for the marathon. So I tucked that in my head as my A goal, and just decided to see how it went. The first mile was slower than I wanted, but it was so crowded. We were weaving around people just trying to get a good pace. It’s hard to do that solo. It’s even harder trying to keep up with another person. Somehow we stayed together for about 5 miles, but Leda would pull ahead, and then I’d get stuck trying to get around someone, and surge to try to catch up. We have an agreement that if one of us feels good, we will go on. I didn’t want to hold her back because her training has been going so well. I looked at my Garmin, and decided I was okay at that pace, and told her to go on. I could see her just ahead of me for the next mile, and then the rain started. At first it was a light rain, and the next thing I knew it was dripping off of my visor and I was soaked. On the positive side, it was just what I needed to cool me off. I think it saved my race.

I focused on even splits and effort for the next few miles. Then I can upon the Wear Blue: Run to Remember section. There was a gallery of photos on each side of the road of service members we’ve lost. So many lives lost. Where the photos stopped, a line of people in blue shirts on each side of the road picked up. Each person was ย holding an American flag and cheering – louldy – for the runners. This is the point of the race where I completely lost myself and became emotional as everyone cheered the runners, waving their flags. It was probably a half a mile of people lined along both sides of the road, and I choked up. I was doing good not to lose it completely.

After a short little climb, I settled back into my pace, weaving around people when necessary. There were some slick spots to watch out for from the rain. I slowed down running over a metal drainage grid that was slippery, and a dirty flat road altered my pace as well. Near mile 10, I spotted my friend up ahead and focused on trying to catch her. I had been watching my splits (and doing math) so I knew I was running steady. There was a little monster of a climb about mile 10.5 and just after the top of that hill, I called out to her. When I caught up with her she was struggling a little. I told her, “We are right at two hours.” She stayed with me, and I picked up the pace a little. As close as I was, I was not going to let that 2 hour goal go! Don’t take your feet off of the coals. I wasn’t running at full race pace for a half, but I was pushing to get that goal. The last two miles, which were slightly downhill, ended up being the fastest with both of them around 8:40. It was also the only time of the race I wasn’t weaving around people and could run straight down the road.

My official finish time was 1:59:40. It was close, but I made it. Correction, we made it. We finished within one second of each other. Both of us had run our fastest half of the year.

I got my chocolate milk at the finish. It was so good!

…and we really did have a lot of fun. The only bad part about it was all the weaving through people for so much of the race. My Garmin distance actually showed 13.42 which is higher than it usually is for a half marathon. So I did run faster than 2 hours, but reaching a goal is such a great feeling nonetheless.

Now, it’s on to the Dallas Marathon this weekend. I’m running the 5k Saturday, and the full marathon Sunday as part of the weekend series. The weather looks promising so far! I’m working on my mental game this week, and trying to get as much rest as I can with band concerts and basketball practices.

Have a great weekend everyone, and if you see me in Dallas please say hi!



Turkey, a long run, and a 10k

I should probably be packing for San Antonio right now, but I decided to update my blog instead. ๐Ÿ™‚

Last week was busy as I wrapped up week 18 of Dallas Marathon training. It seems like it would never get here, and now all of a sudden I can count the remaining runs on both hands. We switched things up a bit with the holiday, taking a cross-training (actually rest) day on Wednesday instead of our usual Thursday.ย We had a group run on Thanksgiving with a nice turnout. It was cold, but halfway through, I took off my mittens and headband.

I just can’t do Thanksgiving without a run. It was six miles on a different route with no plan for time or pace. At the time, I thought we were going to just do our usual Friday easy run before Saturday’s race. My friend Leda had other plans.

She texted me Thursday afternoon, and asked what I thought about doing our 14 mile long run on Friday. I think we both felt like the long run took priority over the 10k. So we headed on Friday morning full of turkey, dressing, and pie. It was a rough run that I dubbed the “Tour de Toilets.” Sorry, TMI? I finally called it done at mile 12.5. I felt sluggish, my legs were tired and heavy. I was over it. Leda felt the same way.

Saturday morning, we headed to McKinney for the Believe 10k. We ran this race together two years ago when it was cold and rainy. The weather Saturday, cool and sunny, was perfect for a 10k. We warmed up for a little over a mile, and then I shed my pullover before the race. I like that this race starts the 10k before the 5k so it’s not as crowded. The first mile was mostly downhill, and I kind of put the brakes on to see how my legs were. Leda went ahead and I could see her, but didn’t try to catch her. I ran based on effort, and would look at my Garmin about every half a mile to see how I was doing. I took a water cup somewhere in mile 4 or 5 and managed one sip at that pace. My legs started to complain about the long run, but I didn’t listen. Then they started complaining about the hills. I still didn’t push 100% because I didn’t want to fizzle out at the end. The last mile climbs back up to the finish (forgot about that part), and I did a quick check to see if I could run under 53:00. I pushed hard up the hill to finish, and managed an official time of 52:57. Not too shabby! My splits from my Garmin were: 8:31, 8:25, 8:17, 8:24, 8:20, 8:36, and 8:24 for the last .2 – uphill. ๐Ÿ™‚

All the Hills!

Leda set a PR, and we both won our age groups. I was pretty happy with the effort, plus we had a lot of fun. I needed that confidence boost after the crappy (so sorry) run on Friday. ๐Ÿ™‚

The race shirts were great too.

Then my family went to Six Flags, and I enjoyed seeing the kids have fun. It was nice to have my daughter home for several days.

This weekend I’ll be running the half at Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio with Team Chocolate Milk. It’ll be a fun weekend, and the last double digit run until marathon day!

Have a great weekend!







Showdown Half 2017

This past Saturday, I ran the Showdown Half. I sure could’ve used the cold front that blew in Sunday morning on Saturday, because it was sunny and warm. Not my ideal running conditions, but I made the best of it.

There was a group of us that rode to the race together, and that made the race so much more fun. My running friend, her mom (who was doing the 5k), and two others from our running group.

Starting temp was 68 degrees, and of course the humidity was high. The sun shone bright the entire race, but at least there were a few shady places to help out.

My friend and I started between the 2:00 and 2:05 pace groups, and I had my goals in mind. We hadn’t adjusted our training at all for the race. Marathon is the goal. But I was hoping to get back under 2 hours again. Last year on this course I ran a 1:53, and the year before it was 1:54. Of course those were on cooler days. My goals for this year were A) 1:55 B) sub 2 hours or C) fastest half this year.

I was rolling along with around a 1:58 pace until mile 10. That’s when the heat and hills took over. I honestly forgot about the hills. I knew they were there, I just didn’t plan for them. My mile splits went from around 9:00s to 9:30s, and then mile 13 was just painful. My breathing sounded like the last mile of a 5k, and I think this was just due to the heat. I was trying to keep my foot on the gas, but as I came around and spotted the finish, I realized I had no gas left in the tank. There was no fast finish for this race!

I ended up with 2:03:30, so it was my fastest half all year – barely. I’m going to have to be okay with that, because I just don’t know if I could have done any better. I didn’t slow that much in the last four miles, until the last mile when I lost a minute, but it was enough to knock me out of a sub 2:00. But I look at the elevation chart on Strava, and I can tell where it got me. It was hot, it was hilly, it was a half marathon race in the middle of marathon training. At least I had chocolate milk at the finish!

I had such a good time with my friends too, and one of them even set a PR!

Now it’s back to the training plan! I’ve got a marathon to get ready for. ๐Ÿ™‚






Upcoming Races

Since I have a race coming up Saturday, I thought I’d write a post about my upcoming races, and my plan for the next several months.

Saturday, I’m running my only half marathon for this marathon training cycle I’m in. It’ll be Showdown in Fairview, and I’ve done it for a couple of years now. I’m looking forward to it for a few reasons. I’m going to the race with friends. I’ll be using my half marathon time to help set my marathon goal. Although the temperatures won’t be as cool as I’d like, I’ll at least have a general idea. Also, I know they have chocolate milk at the finish.

The first weekend in December, I’ll be running the half at Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio (with Team Chocolate Milk). This is a fun weekend trip that my friend and I have done the past two years, and it’s kind of a celebration of all our hard work marathon training – by running 13 miles. ๐Ÿ™‚

The second weekend in December is the Dallas Marathon.

I’m still working out a few races for January and February, but I’ll probably be running the Hot Chocolate 15k again this year in Dallas. That was a fun race, and it’s early in February.

Then at the end of February, I’ll be running the 40th anniversary of the Cowtown Marathon. This is a great race with all the distances covered over the weekend. 5k, 10k, half, full, ultra. Right now, I’m planning to run the marathon on that Sunday, but I’m considering adding the 5k on Saturday to complete the Cowtown Challenge.

Then in March, I’ll be running the Rock ‘n Roll Dallas half marathon.

That’s what I have so far! Will I see you at any of these races?

How far out do you plan your race calendar?