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.

 

 

 

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Getting Ready for Cowtown

This statement resonated with me as I dealt with my disappointment from Houston. I went from being okay, to a post-race meltdown with tears, to being fired up for the next one in just a matter of days.

So I took some time to really evaluate my goals, and find a way to still challenge myself in a new way (more on that part at a later date).

I eased back into the running after a good recovery week, but I’ve also added some new things to shake things up – like yoga classes and indoor rowing.

I went to my first yoga class a few weeks ago, and it was awkward. I can’t touch my toes, and stretching is something I’m not real consistent about. But I can see how this will be helpful for me to continue. So I’m going to keep at it.

I think we had one Saturday long run where I wore shorts and short sleeves. It was humid, but I was happy without all the extra gear.

I’m also making sure to not let my goal chasing consume me. Yes my running goals are important, but it’s also important to take a breather and relax in between.

So we took my son to a Dallas Mavericks game one Sunday evening. He had been looking forward to it for months, and it was a great game to watch. The hardest part was staying out past 9 p.m. 😉 Actually, the hard part was that the world’s most obnoxious fan was right behind me.

 

I also volunteered at a local area trail run this past weekend with one of my friends. We worked an aid station 2.5 miles from the start/finish and the theme was the Love Shack. It was freezing cold, but we had fun. It was interesting to see so many different types of runners on the trail. You have some that are completely focused on getting to the finish, and then some that are out there just for the experience. I made a lot of pb&j, and it was just like the good old days when I made my kids’ lunches.

I think volunteering is important for runners to do. Without volunteers, there are no races. I encourage you to find a way to help out a local race. Some of them have perks for volunteering (free race entries, free shirt), but some of them just need your time.

This week I’m tapering for Cowtown, with extra rest and a little bit of running. I’ll be at the expo handing out t-shirts on Friday, so if you’re there early come say hi! Then on Sunday, I’ll run my 19th marathon. It’s time to complete my medal set!

 

 

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!

SATURDAY 5K:

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.

SUNDAY RACE DAY:

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. 🙂

Marathoners!

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.

 

 

 

 

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. 🙂

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?

Marathon Training, An Announcement, and a 10K

I can’t believe it’s been this long since I’ve updated my blog. A lot has happened in my running world, and there’s so much to tell you! I’ll do my best to catch up without turning this post into a book.

I just finished up week four of training for the Dallas Marathon. I’m using the Simple Marathon Training book by Jay Johnson. My friend and I decided we would do this together, which makes it so much better. It’s a 20 week plan, which I haven’t done one that long since my first marathon, but I like the way the training is laid out. The day training started, I was finishing up my last day of camp in Glorieta, New Mexico with our youth. The cooler temperatures (55-60 degrees) and low humidity in the mornings were amazing for running, the 7500 feet of elevation and hills – not so much.

Then Texas welcomed me back with its wonderful high humidity and temperatures.

The training has been going well so far, with one hard workout during the week and the long run being the hardest parts of the week. The rest of the running is done at an easy pace. I’ve been working on slowing down my easy runs, and I think by meeting my friend each day that is helping me. I run a little bit faster pace than she does, so it allows me to slow down as we chat the miles away. School started this week, so the early mornings have become just a tad earlier. My main focus this year is sleep and nutrition. I figure the running part takes care of itself, because I don’t struggle with consistency or getting my miles done. It’s the discipline in the kitchen and getting to bed early enough. If I don’t gain back the five pounds I lost over the spring and summer, I’ll be happy with that.

Somewhere in the midst of my marathon training, I found out some good news. I’m going to be an ambassador for the Cowtown Marathon for their 40th anniversary. I’ve run this race every year since 2013 and I’m excited about this opportunity! Expect to hear more about this race that’s coming up in February.

This past Saturday, the training had a 5k race on the schedule. It worked out perfectly because there’s a local race I’ve done every year since I started running. The United Way Hustle for Health 5k/10k was my first 5k in 2010. The past several years, I’ve opted to do the challenging 10k instead of the 5k. The purpose of the 5k race on week four was to get an estimate with a race calculator for my race goal. I figured a hilly 10k in August would be even more accurate, since I tend to run the shorter distances faster. 🙂 There was a good sized group from our running group with a mixture of 5 and 10k runners. Also, two of my kids ran the 5k together. To me, racing is much more fun when you know other people there.

I wasn’t sure what to expect on my time. The race didn’t start until 8:30, so it was warm. My goal was to run the first half by effort, second half (which is the flat and fast 5k course) faster, and run under 55 minutes. I hit the first mile split in 8:24 and the second in 8:13. Oops. Usually when I run this race, I don’t really start pushing until the turnaround of the second 5k. When I came to that point though, I was feeling the heat from the sun. At every water stop after the first half, I would sip a little and pour the rest of the water over my head. Normally I just stop once in a 10k. According to my Garmin data, it was 81 degrees and 79% humidity, and the sun was blazing. No wonder I felt hot. I got a little nauseous in the last mile so I didn’t drop my pace like I wanted to. It was slowest mile (8:50), and I focused on not throwing up. My husband was riding alongside me for the last couple of miles which helped. There is a nice little downhill right before the finish line so I was able to finish fast with a time of 54:18 and an age group win. I’m satisfied with my effort.

My kids ran together. My daughter wanted to encourage my son who hasn’t run much lately. She told him if he finished under a certain time, she would take him for ice cream. He missed it by a little over a minute. But he has a goal for the next race in September.

 

Our group had a great turnout, and this isn’t everyone. Almost all of us placed in our age group in either the 5 or 10k. 

The race certainly energized my training, and next month we have another local 5k race. I’m not sure how I’ll work it into my training, but I’ll get it done.

 

 

Cowtown Marathon 2017

Normally I like to write up my race recaps the week immediately following the race, but to be honest early bedtimes won out last week. I’ve noticed that I tend to get a headache the day after a marathon. So last Monday (with my head pounding) I told the kids they were on their own to get into bed on time, and my light was out before 8:30 p.m. That kind of went along with how the previous week went. After my post about Cowtown, I focused on sleep and nutrition. I went to bed early as much as I could, ran slowly without looking at my watch, and ate all the healthy stuff. I received encouragement and supportive comments from several who read that post, and it all made a difference.

As race week continued, I began to get excited. My husband and I went to the expo Saturday morning – and so I could see my dad after he finished the 10k.

I was happy to get 3 new tubes of chap-stick (which works great for preventing chafing) a Kind bar, and a free tank from the Dallas Athletes booth. If you didn’t know, I love free stuff! Especially right now since we have some financial goals we’re trying to reach. Free is good.

I had decided not to do a traditional carbo-load this time because I had gained enough weight, and it wasn’t like I was going to PR, so I ate a couple of Clif bars and some Swedish Fish and called it good on excess carbs. Then I set about getting everything ready for the race. I pretty much knew what I was going to wear, as did my running buddy who sent this text:

She knows me well.

I added arm warmers just in case the wind made it too cold for me.

I rode in to the race with friends who were running the half. My husband had planned to go to work before I got back, and even though I enjoy him being there, I’m in a lot better shape after a race than I was five years ago. Riding in with my friends helped build my excitement for the race. Neither one of them had ever run Cowtown. For one, it was her 2nd half, so we talked about the course, the hills, and the size of the race. Then we met up with my other friend when we got there. She and I were both doing the full marathon. We also had others from our group we saw beforehand who were doing the ultra.

Ready to Run! Am I in a different climate?

The race start didn’t disappoint. Cowtown’s corrals are organized and efficient. I never felt bunched up. I had decided beforehand to run on effort and just do whatever – probably not an advisable plan, but I was there to have a fun race. I glanced down at my Garmin occassionally when the splits beeped, but didn’t let that determine my speed.

I felt good. Really good. Light on my feet like I hadn’t felt in weeks. Looking back at my splits, the first several miles surprised me. Then I made a quick dart into a porta-potty in the 8th mile. I didn’t get my last minute trip out of the way before the race. But since I was running for fun it didn’t matter.

 

In the second half of the race, I was still running. One of the runners I knew doing the ultra blew by me around mile 10. I briefly thought about trying to keep up with her for a bit, but decided I was good. I started slowing down, but I was still running. There was one small walk break near mile 19 when I was on the lookout for a porta-potty. Again. I continued running. Feeling ok, not great, but not anywhere near how I felt in Dallas after mile 16. Because I was still running – albeit slower, but it was still running! About mile 22, the marathon pain set in. I was hurting, but continued running, even up every hill! I continued thanking officers, volunteers, and smiled at spectators. Oh, and I scored 3 Gu Energy gels along the course. My ROI was getting better. Ha!

Somewhere near the final miles a spectator told me, “Team Chocolate Milk, I’ve seen you at several races and you always inspire me.” That meant so much to me!

I ran out of Nuun near mile 20, so I walked through some water stops in the final miles. Other than that, I was still running. I made a decision to stop at another porta-potty with a mile to go. My stomach wasn’t as happy as my heart was. :0

When I came into the finish area, I started searching for my friends. Then I spotted my husband! I was so surprised, and happy, to see him.

 

 

My official time for marathon number 15 was 4:40:50. It was one of my slower marathons, but the fact that I approached it with a different attitude changed everything about it. I was hurting, yes, but I was happy. I’m pleased with the fact that I ran all the hills. The strength and mobility work is paying off.

Oh, and I did PR in porta-potty stops!

It’s a great race and of course I’ll do it again next year. I have to get the next two medals in the series. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Cowtown Ready?

This post is going to be a little hard to write, but since my first race of the year is Sunday, here goes…

I don’t know if I every really recovered from the 21 miler that was such a struggle. Running has been…difficult. My pace is barely below 10:00 for every run and last Friday I didn’t even get up for my easy run. Missing motivation, mood swings, and general apathy in other areas. I first thought it was hormonal, but after three days of unexplainable shifts in my mood (and the tears that followed), I wasn’t sure what was going on. My poor husband.

I hoped the extra day of not running (Friday) would give me some energy for the long run on Saturday. My friend and I planned to do 12-13 as our taper for Cowtown. It’s no secret that we like to get our long runs started earlier, because our group usually meets at 7:00. Another runner messaged me on Friday and asked if she could join us. To my delight, when I got to our meeting place, there were five of us. It was nice to have the different conversations going, and it helped with my funk a little. We did five miles and then met up with the rest of the group.

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We all headed back out with the others getting a total of 10 done.

It was the last couple of miles that the lack of energy reared its ugly head. My friend, who has been dealing with injury and low weekly mileage, was having some of the same issues – like I’m hitting a wall during every run. We slowed down and even walked a little.

We have decided Cowtown is not going to be a fast marathon for us.

On Sunday, I got out to run another few miles and see how I felt. Also, since I missed Friday’s run, my weekly mileage was a little low. (I know, I know.) It was a little warm out, but I managed 4 miles just under 10:00 average pace.

A few hours later I still was a little out of breath. I looked up the symptoms of overtraining, and I start to wonder if that’s what I’ve got going on.

Mood swings, depression, inability to focus, elevated heart rate, inability to sleep, weight loss. But I didn’t have the weight loss. I’ve actually gained about 5 pounds in the past two months.

But all the other symptoms point to overtraining. Looking back, I don’t really think it was as much overtraining, as it was the toll of everything else going on in my life. I just didn’t realize how it was affecting my body. The week before the 21 miler, I had a great week with some swimming added in. My nutrition was on track. Then I guess everything went haywire the following week and did me in.

So my goal for this week, as I get ready to run a marathon on Sunday, is to get extra sleep and eat right. The Cowtown Marathon will be my 15th marathon, and I want to finish with a smile.

Today a coworker asked me about the weather for Sunday and I said, “Oh, it doesn’t matter.” He said, “Come on now. Be positive.” My response, “I’m positive it doesn’t matter.” 🙂

I’ve come to terms that it will not be my sub four hour marathon. There will be other races for that. It’s disappointing, but not the end of the world.

My question for you: How do you motivate yourself to get excited about a race when you don’t expect to run well?