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. πŸ™‚

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.

 

 

 

 

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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. 

Week 17 and Time to Taper

I just finished up week 17 of Dallas Marathon training, and I’m excited to get some of my Saturday time back. With the 18s and 20s, I forgot what it’s like to come home and eat breakfast after a long run. πŸ™‚

We had a few cool days last week, or at least Chloe thought so.

But for the long run on Saturday, it was warm and windy.Β  The workout for the day called for a 16 mile run: 7 easy, 8 at marathon pace, 1 cool down. The marathon pace wasn’t happening. Temperatures were in the high 60s and the wind was up to 20 mph. Our plan was to do the long run as planned, then head over to the local Turkey Trot and have fun with it. I was going to run it with my kids (which would be a trot/walk/trot/walk).

Even though the marathon pace was a struggle, I felt like I put in marathon effort. At least we got to see a beautiful sunrise as we ran. I was short on time to get the kids and get to the race, so I stopped at 15.

I was frustrated that I didn’t have time to finish, but I figured I’d make up for it in the 5k. We had several from our group running the race, and I always enjoy local races with my running friends.

 

My son wanted to run with his friend, so I started the race with my daughter. She hasn’t been running, but I figured swimming and marching band kept up her fitness enough. About half a mile in, after our second walk break, she took off running and tripped on the railroad tracks. She face-planted and that was the end of our 5k. I gave her a hard time about giving me my first DNF.

After we got home from breakfast after the race, I did my strength and mobility work I should have done immediately after the long run. I got up on Sunday to walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes, and I felt pretty good. No sore muscles.

There are just three weeks of training to go! The second half of this 20 week training has flown by! This is the point of the training where I start to get anxious wondering if I’ve done enough. It’s time to trust the training.

 

Some Long Runs

The past month has been a blur of Friday night football games with late night pickups, Saturday marching band contests, and the first few swim meets. Oh, and there were a few really long runs to get ready for Dallas Marathon thrown in there too.

Training has been different this year, since we usually have at least 1-2 others with us for the long run, and that’s a good thing. We had some cold weather the day of the 20 miler.

Even Chloe was happy we turned on the heater at home.

On the week we ran 22, we had several others with us for most of the run. It wasn’t very cold that day.

This past Saturday my friend was out of town for Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas, so I was hoping to have some company for most of the 18 miler. It turned out that almost everyone was out of town or somewhere else that day. We had a small group and more guys than girls, and they were faster than me. After mile 3, I was flying solo. Fortunately, my husband came out on his bike to keep me company. He joined me around mile 5, and stayed with me to the end, not once complaining about riding a slow 6-6.5 mph. It was nice having that time together, because this is the point of the training cycle when I feel selfish. No matter how hard I try, my Saturdays are consumed by running when the mileage ranges from 18-22. Not only am I running until almost lunch time, but I’m too wiped out in the evening to be much fun. Especially after a Friday night football game. This past week, I was asleep by 9 pm! Having that time together on the road was nice.

I was pretty happy with my pace for the run too. It was my fastest 18 miler of the cycle (out of the 3 I’ve done), but my quads were sore the next day. But now we start backing the long runs down. Less than 4 weeks to race day!

 

 

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. πŸ™‚

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?

Halfway to Dallas!

This past Sunday marked the halfway point of my 20 week training for Dallas Marathon. It really is going fast. Now that the long runs are getting longer (and the midweek runs are pretty darn early) it helps immensely having someone to run with. I know I mentioned that we are doing the Simple Marathon Training plan, but I don’t know if I talked much about the ancillary work that goes with it.

A couple of things have been different about this training:

1. Running by feel.

2. LMLS and SAM work.

Running by feel has taken a little getting used to. Most of the runs are done by minutes, not miles. Easy runs have no prescribed pace. So it’s been a little bit of an adjustment, but I’m learning to not look at my Garmin so much and enjoy the run more. These are the times I’ve focused more on conversations with my running friend.

The LMLS (lunge matrix, leg swings) and SAM (strength and mobility) work are a part of every run day. This is definitely new. LMLS is done right before every run (about 5 minutes of work), and SAM immediately follows every run. You can find the videosΒ here. When I first started doing this routine, I did have some soreness. I really started on this part about a year ago, but wasn’t faithful with it. When we started with week one, we committed to do this part of the training. The yoga mat stays in the trunk of the car, and it’s a regular part of the morning routine. I can see where it’s paying off.

Last week, our 10th week of consistent LMLS and SAM work, we had two pretty intense runs.

On Tuesday, we ran Yasso 800s. Nine of them! I was excited about nailing that workout, and I didn’t get the jelly leg feeling I usually do after a hard track session. But the biggest surprise was the next day for the easy run, I didn’t feel beat up like I expected to after speed work. It wasn’t a short run the next day either – a little over 6 miles. I would say maybe I didn’t run hard enough for the 800s, but I know that was not the case! Of course I celebrated chocolate milk day on Wednesday after that 6 miles!

 

Then on Saturday, we ran our first 20 miler of the season. It was a beautiful morning!

I wanted to try to keep my mile splits all under 10:00, and for the most part I did. I think there were two that were just over 10:00. It was kind of rough for the last few miles as the sun started to zap my energy, but it was nice pounding out the remainder of that long run with my friend after the rest of our group peeled off. I ended up with a 9:47 average and just a few stops for water, etc.

I struggled through the SAM work afterward, and then went through my usual recovery routine once I got home (chocolate milk, compression socks, grocery shopping…) Other than being really tired and thirsty all day, I felt pretty good. I did wake up in the middle of night with some stiffness, but once I was up on Sunday morning I just dealt with some mild soreness. I did some pool walking that afternoon while my daughter worked on some stuff at the gym.

I really encourage you to check out the videos and try it out. It’s a good way to add strength to your training without taking an entire day/workout to get it done.

We have several more long runs in the 18-22 mile range in the next couple of months, and Showdown half on October 14th.

I’m excited to see how this plan plays out. I’m working from where I am, and that’s all I can do. πŸ™‚

 

 

 

Dallas Training Continues

This past week wrapped up week 7 of 20 for Dallas Marathon training. It’s been a pretty good couple of weeks.

We had one of our largest Saturday groups (in week 6) that I’ve seen in the 5 years I’ve been a part of Texoma Runners:

A decent 16 mile run with some nice weather:

Week 7 included

a #RunforTexas 10k for Harvey relief:

A second 16 mile run with a good-sized group surrounding us the whole time:


 

It was nice to have so many with us as we went into the double digits, since usually it’s just my friend and I finishing our long run by ourselves (during marathon training). Because of the way this run worked out, we had an early group and a later group keep us company. πŸ™‚ The weather was absolutely wonderful for an early September run in Texas. We also had another runner join us for all of both 16 milers, as she is prepping for her first half next week. I think she’ll be ready.

I have been working on my fueling for long runs, and it looks like Ucan is going to be my go-to. I used it the last two weeks, as well as a few other times, and it seems to be working well. I also supplement my hydration/electrolytes with Nuun of course.

This coming Saturday is a local 5k. I would say it’s the biggest one all year. We have tried to figure out how we’re going to work in our 18 miler, but it looks like we’re going to abbreviate it and run the 5k in there somewhere. It won’t be the fastest I can run, but I need to look at the big picture. Marathon.