2020 Cowtown Marathon

This is not my favorite type of race report to write, and sometimes it takes me a little while to relive not meeting my race day goal. But it’s important for me to get it written, so I can remember and learn from my experience. Here I go…

Cowtown was not my day.

Wait. Let me rephrase that statement.

If judging solely on my finish time, Cowtown was not my day, but there were some great (hard) moments to remember too.

The forecast for race day was steadily ticking upward throughout the week, so much in fact, that the race sent an email on Saturday afternoon addressing the high temperatures predicted for Sunday. Yuck. It’s no secret that I typically don’t perform at my best with temperatures over 60 – especially in a marathon. My silver lining was hoping the wind and clouds would keep it cooler for a while.

Even though I felt like I got plenty of rest throughout the week, my weekend was super busy. Saturday, I tried to sleep in but I was wide awake by 4:30. After a shakeout run and a quick trip to the grocery store, I plopped myself on the couch to watch the Olympic marathon trials. Those runners were so inspiring to watch, and even though none of my favorites made the team, I’m excited to see the ones who will represent USA in the marathon.

As soon as the races were over, I took my son to the park for his first day of games as a soccer referee, and stayed for moral support. Halfway through his games, I dashed home, heated my dinner in the microwave, and then took my daughter to work. By the time my son and I got home from the soccer games, it was after 7 p.m. and I still didn’t have my gear together. Fortunately, I had already decided what to wear, and the big time issue was getting all my nutrition ready. A quick nap before it was time to pick my daughter up from work, and then I finally got to bed for good around 11:00. Whew! This was bad timing for my husband to be out of town for work, but I won’t always have kids to chauffeur around. It is okay.

Looking back, I do think part of my race was affected by Saturday’s schedule. Normally when I wake up on race day, I am wired and ready to go. But when my alarm went off Sunday, I was just tired. It took me 10 minutes to drag myself out of bed to the coffeepot. I was glad my friend had offered to drive to the race. Once at the race, we met up with our other friend. This is one of my favorite things about race day – being with my friends.

I also managed to grab a quick picture with some of our RunRelated team, and then we headed to the corrals. My race day plan was to run with the 4:20 group, and pull ahead in the last few miles. All training indicated I should be able to run 4:12-4:15, but I wanted to play it safe. When the weather changed things, I decided to still stay with the pace group and see how I felt later on. I knew one of the pacers, Letty, who I met through social media years ago, and her pacing is solid.

Letty is awesome.

The starting temp was mid 50s, cloudy and breezy. I was a little chilly at the start in my tank and shorts, but by the second mile I was warm. I stayed with the pace group as planned. A few miles in, I pulled ahead and then I would have to reel myself back. The taper had worked. The big hill that everyone talks about is the Main Street Bridge – around mile 9. All the races are still together at this point. As I climbed the hill, I could see the pace group pulling away ahead of me, but I didn’t want to deplete my energy so I held back. By the top of the hill I was breathing way too hard for this early in the race. I let them go and worked on trying to settle back into a comfortable pace. It wasn’t happening.

I started to get in my head. “Oh great, just like the last one.” “Here you go again.” “Another mess up.” Then I switched gears. “No, it’s not over.” “Keep going.” “You’re fine.” Back and forth. Devil on one shoulder, angel on the other. I would walk to catch my breath and then try to pick up the pace again. Then the sun came out from behind the clouds and stayed out.

My phone rang at mile 14. Let me tell you, if I ever call or text in the middle of a race, it is not a good sign. It was my husband so I answered, and then I fell apart. Here I am halfway through a marathon, crying on the phone telling him I can’t keep doing this. “I’m tired of letting myself down. I should just stick to the half,” I blubbered. He asked me if I was hurt, did I need to stop. No, I would keep going and finish because “I’m stupid stubborn.” He told me, “No one is grading your performance. You’re out there doing what most people won’t even try.” So I dried my tears, took a deep breath, told him I loved him, and started to run again.

Then something great happened. At mile 16, I recognized another runner from the pace group. We had kind of been leap frogging for a while, and we chatted about how tough of a day we were having. We had both lost the pacers going up the same hill. With 10 miles to go, we decided to finish together. We ran and walked together, walking up the hills and through aid stations, taking cold towels when needed to handle the heat because it was heating up. When my run pace got a little carried away, I walked to keep the gap from getting too big. When I needed to stop at a porta-potty, she walked for me to catch up. We celebrated little milestones along the way too: single digits remaining, a 10k, a 5k, and finally the last mile! We finished together and high-fived. We had made it.

Now for the fun part – medal, food, finisher shirt. Cowtown is an excellent race, and I have never been disappointed at the finish. The shirts are top notch, and the marathon finisher shirts make up most of my supply of long sleeve shirts. The medal was huge, and there is plenty of post race food. I had a couple of bags of snacks, a cup of chicken noodle soup and some chocolate Blue Bell ice cream.

A picture with my friend who came with me, and she killed it like always! We clinked in our medals (which are also bells) all the way back to the car while we talked about how the hills got us like always, how hot it was, and how we would be back again next year because we love this race. 🙂

And the best part: all the texts and messages from my friends who were tracking me and knew how hard of a day I had. The support and encouragement I have is something I don’t take for granted. I can be pretty hard on myself, but I had so many reminders to give myself some grace and be proud of what I accomplished.

Marathon number 21 is complete.

Ready for Cowtown!

It’s race week! Sunday will be my 21st marathon and my 8th time running the Cowtown Marathon. I love this race!

I first ran it in 2013, and have gone back every year. This course, even with all its hills, has my 2nd and 4th fastest marathon times. My dad has also participated in this race for several years, running the 5k, 10k, and his first and second half marathon.

2016 with my dad (his 2nd half)

Both of my parents are from Fort Worth, so there is some nostalgia. But I think a big part of why I keep going back is that it’s a big city race that doesn’t feel like it. I feel like the runners are valued, and when you come in to the finish there’s still a lot of activity and support. The race shirts are great – you get a short sleeve race shirt, and then a long sleeve finisher’s shirt. You can see a lot of past years’ shirts just scrolling through my Instagram feed, because they make up most of my winter running gear.  🙂

I’m feeling pretty good about my training this time around. I’ve done more hill work earlier in the training, and pushed myself on some long runs. Overall, my weekly mileage is higher than it was in the fall for the Fort Worth Marathon. It helps that this is my best weather to train in too. My longest run was 22 miles with 10 at marathon pace, and it went well. I know that’s a longer run than most people do or need, but it helps me with my mental wall on race day.

Then last week, I had my last hard workout with 800s, and I was happy to see that I still have some leg speed.

The hard work is done, and I have my race day plan. Now if the weather would cooperate, that would be great. I’m not letting that deter my goals though.

 

 

Cowtown Marathon 2019

Unlike the Houston Marathon post, my Cowtown recap has been a slow go just because of all the activity we’ve had and that I’ve inflicted upon myself.

I have a lot to write about, and I really had a great time running the Cowtown again this year. (***foreshadowing***)

I had the chance again this year to participate as a Cowtown Ambassador, and was grateful for the opportunity. I do love this race for so many reasons, and I think it’s a must do especially if you live in the North Texas area.

I started my race weekend on Friday at the expo, handing out race shirts.

You would not believe how hard it can be to pull those little tabs off the bibs. 🙂

Since I took care of the expo that Friday, that meant I could focus on rest and relaxation on Saturday. My energy was a little high though. I kept wanting to clean, but I forced myself to stay off my feet as much as possible. Tough job, but I managed it well.

Sunday morning, very early, my friend and I headed to Fort Worth. We would meet others from our group at the race. Some were running the half, and some the full marathon. The weather was perfect – for me! Chilly enough to need a jacket beforehand, but it would warm up enough to run in a tank and shorts.

I just settled into a comfortable pace from the start. No time goal, but I wanted it to be better than Houston. My miles ticked off in the range of 9:00-9:30s. I felt good. I felt strong running up the hills – even the one in mile 9!

Tackling the hill on the Main Street bridge

My first 10 minute mile was at the halfway point, to refill my bottle. I was cruising along. It was sunny, but not hot, and I was comfortable. Around mile 17, though, I passed a makeshift aid station – you know where the people who live in the neighborhoods cheer and hand out stuff. I spotted a table with a tub of Vaseline and shouted out “God bless you” as I ran over to it. They all laughed. It was a necessary stop. My arms hadn’t been in a tank top in a while, and it was starting to get painful. It may have cost me some time, but it saved my skin!

I got back on pace, and at mile 20 I was still holding my miles around the 10 minute pace, and I felt good. Such a contrast to how I felt in Houston when I was slogging through 11 minute miles after mile 10. Then the hills got me. Those last 4 miles of Cowtown whoop me every time. Those hills are tough! But I continued to smile and focus on getting it done. A walk break near the end of mile 22 and a dash into a porta-potty cost me a little bit of time, but then it was into the park for the final miles. Then my favorite part – the finish!

 

I accomplished three time goals at Cowtown:

  1. Faster than Houston (on a tougher course)
  2. Faster than last year’s Cowtown (I may be a year older, but I’m not slowing down)
  3. Under 4:30

A close look at my last several marathons shows steady, small improvements each time. They’re not big chunks of time, but it’s progress. I’m not giving up!

 

My 19th Marathon

Hanging with friends after the race

3 year medal series – complete.