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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Houston Marathon 2019

A little over a week ago, I ran my fastest marathon this year.

Ha ha.

Yes, I’m aware it’s only January, but I’m pulling out all the positives from the marathon that I can find. 😉

It’s really easy for me to write up a race recap when the race goes well, when I run my goal time, or when I completely blow my expectations away. But then there are the races that don’t quite turn out like I expected (or hoped) they would. Those recaps are harder to put into words. If you’ve run several races, you’re probably familiar with that feeling. I think the hardest part for me is putting in months of work and then falling short on race day.

If anything, though, I’m stubborn. So regardless of the time on the clock, I will not give up.

Now, about race weekend:

Houston was great. The race was just as well supported as I remembered from 2014 and 2015. From the expo to the finish area, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

When I originally planned the trip, I intended for it to be a family trip. Then we got my younger daughter’s swim meet schedule in the fall, and realized the district meet was the Saturday before the race. So only my oldest daughter went with me, and we had a fun mother-daughter trip.

We left Sherman early Saturday morning, because I wanted to go to the Another Mother Runner live podcast at the expo. I’ve been following them (blogs, podcasts, books) for several years, and I was looking forward to it. After a quick stop for lunch, we made it to Houston and the expo with a little time to spare before the podcast.

 

Sarah and Dimity 

I got a nice bag of goodies for attending, with some of my favorite brands.

 

After the podcast, I got my packet, found my name on the wall, and then met up with the members of RunRelated Team and my coach who were running Houston as well.

This made the expo even better.

Then my daughter and I met my running friend and her husband for an early dinner, and headed back to the hotel to relax. I laid out all my gear on the chair, fuel and all, so I wouldn’t forget anything.

The weather for race day had calmed down from earlier forecasts, and I went with long sleeves and shorts. I honestly have never run a marathon in long sleeves, so I was excited about the cooler weather. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know my body doesn’t agree with warmer or humid weather.

I got up early to eat and relax. I didn’t want to wake my daughter, so I used the light from my phone to get ready. She did wake up to ask me if I had eaten. That meant a lot, that she was checking on me.

When I was finally ready, I met my friend in our hotel lobby and we headed over to the convention center.

 

We were in separate corrals, so I made my way over to mine. I had on sweat pants and a heat sheet to stay warm until we got closer to the start. The best thing I noticed about Houston was the large amount of porta-potties in the convention center, the corrals, and there was even a last minute stop closer to the start line. As my corral moved forward, I saw those and made a decision to make one last stop. I kid you not, as I went into the porta potty, the DJ played Dexy’s Midnight Runner. I laughed at the timing, because I was trying to hurry and all I could hear was “Come on Eileen.”

I made it to the start line and I felt okay. The wind was a little chilly, but I had my ears and hands covered so I felt fine. I didn’t worry about the pace in the first few miles. It can get a little congested, and I didn’t want to waste energy trying to get around people. Because of where I started with the corral, I was a little slower than I wanted to be but I knew it would open up a little later. Also, my coach wanted me to start a little slower than goal pace. By the 3rd mile, my pace was getting closer to my goal pace. I felt fine as I went through those miles, taking in the scenery, watching the runners around me. I had a few slower miles in there, but around mile 11, I needed to refill my bottle. This is where things started to go south. I couldn’t get the volunteers at the water station to understand I just wanted them to pour water in from the pitcher, they kept trying to hand me cups. Then I dropped my cap on the ground, and because my  fingers were a little numb from the cold, I couldn’t get my Nuun tablet in the bottle either. I was flustered, but I should have been able to recover from that and get back on pace. I put my gloves back on to warm my hands up, because the shady parts of the course were still cold to me.

I checked my overall time at the halfway point – 2:07. Okay, I could still pull out a 4:15 and be content.

My Garmin buzzed early for mile 15 (through some buildings) so I knew my mileage would be off after that. Then my race slowed even more. I’m still trying to figure this out. I kept up with my fuel, took my gels on time, and stayed hydrated with my electrolytes. But my pace had gone from 9s to 10s to 11s. I was running, just much slower. I didn’t feel sick, didn’t feel like I hit the wall, and I took very few walk breaks (mostly to take a gel or refill my drink). In the last 5k, I was passing people and felt like I was running strong. Then I looked at my Garmin and saw 11:36 pace for that mile. Oh, man is that humbling!

I finally switched my Garmin over to see the total time in the last mile. I was really hoping to be under 4:30.

Sigh.

I crossed the finish line with an official time of 4:33. It was a finish, and I got the best out of myself on that day. So I was okay with it. I was happy to finally stop moving, and get my chocolate milk.

When I got back to my hotel room, I saw my bag of anti-fatigue capsules on the chair where I laid out my race stuff. Oops.

I’ve used those capsules before every long run and half marathon leading up to the race. Now that I’ve had time to think through things, maybe I didn’t have enough calories beforehand either. I ate a banana with a little bit of peanut butter three hours before, and then applesauce an hour before.

Those are easy fixes for the next race – which is not very far away.

Even though I didn’t run the race I planned for, I enjoyed my time in Houston. And spending the weekend with my daughter really was the best part of the trip. 🙂

After a couple of days, the post race meltdown crept up and caught me off guard. I then resolved to do whatever I need to do. I’ll keep chasing my goals and not give up.

So up next, Cowtown!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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. 🙂

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.  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. 🙂

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?