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. πŸ™‚

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.Β  πŸ™‚

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.

 

 

Fort Worth Marathon

“Tell me about your worst marathon.”

It was an effort to take the focus off of how I felt, and to also know that I’m not alone in having bad races.

I was running my 20th marathon this past Sunday, and having another bad day. It feels like it’s becoming more of the norm the past few years, somewhat of a streak: not having the result on race day of what I’m capable of running, of what I’ve trained for.

There have been races where I knew exactly what went wrong. Dallas 2012 – too hot and humid, and I didn’t adjust my goal. Houston 2015 – plantar fasciitis. Dallas 2017 – warmed up too fast. Days I went out too fast, days my nutrition was off, etc, etc…Same song and dance, different day.

But I didn’t have any of that this year. In fact,Β  I still can’t pinpoint the issue from Sunday. I kind of felt the same in Houston in January.

So here’s my recap of the Fort Worth Marathon: the good, the bad, and everything in between.

RACE WEEK

I found out earlier in the week that one of my running friends, who originally was going to run the 20 miler, signed up for the marathon. She said we were running together. My first thought was that I didn’t want to hold her back. She’s a lot faster than me. In fact, I’ve set my 5k and 10k PRs chasing her in local races. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized I would do the same thing. So my plan for race day was not to look at my Garmin and let her lead the way. I told her my goal times for the race, and I wanted to start off slower. My A goal was 4:20 or better, B goal was to beat my Cowtown time from February (4:29), and my C goal was to finish with a smile.

We didn’t have a lot of kid activities during the week, so I was able to take time to relax and enjoy no concession stand duty, games, or swim meets. I was able to go to bed early every night except Friday. It was a nice calm week compared to what we’ve had the past few months. I ate most of my meals at home where I could control what went into my food. The only exception was lunch on Saturday when we ate out. I pulled my gear together early Saturday evening, and went to bed early.

RACE DAY

I felt okay race morning when I got up. Not great, but okay. I wasn’t too nervous, but I was ready to run. My friend and I drove down that morning and picked up our packets. Small race perk! For my previous marathons, I’ve only done four different races (Dallas, Cowtown, Houston, OKC). This was a new one for me, and I decided to do it because I’d heard good things about it. My friend had run the half and the 20 miler in previous years.

Race Ready

The temperature was 50 degrees and there was a slight breeze. I had hoped for a little cooler weather, but it was manageable. We met up at the start with a couple of other runners from our group, but once we started they were gone. We’d see them a couple other times throughout and wave. For the marathon, the course was out and back, 2 laps.

The first few miles we settled into a rhythm. I didn’t feel like we were going too fast, but I remember saying that my legs hadn’t joined the party yet. I don’t know if it was the concrete trail or what. Finally around mile 7 or 8, I felt like I had a little spring in my step, but it didn’t last long. We made the turn at the halfway point (lap 1) and I said, “I just feel flat.” Our half time was somewhere around 2:10. I should have been perfectly fine. I had just paced a 2:10 in October and felt wonderful running at that pace.

We took a couple of walk breaks, and I kept apologizing. I felt so bad. I tried to convince her to go on without me and she wasn’t having it. She said “No, we’re running together.” In later miles, when I felt worse, we would pick markers along the trail to take walk breaks. Anytime I could go past those markers it felt like a little victory. I asked her about her worst marathon, and then talked about mine (which wasn’t even this race). Then we talked about our best races, our favorite ones for whatever reason, and how it’s so hard fitting in marathons when we both run better with cooler weather. We saw other runners struggling, and tried to encourage those around us. At a couple of the aid stations we had the best orange slices and some Coke. Oh, and the volunteers were so great!

At mile marker 23, she said “Ok, just a 5k” and while it sounded short, I knew it wasn’t going to be quick. At mile 24, I was so ready to be done, but unable to run as much as I wanted to. I looked down at my Garmin which I had set on the time of day. I was pushing the 5 hr mark if I slowed down any more. After mile 25, I switched over to distance. My watch had been beeping the splits just before the mile markers so I knew I was pretty close. We had 16 minutes to make it 1.2 miles. It was going to be close at the rate I had been going. There were a few first time marathoners around us, and I put my energy into cheering them on. “You’re awesome! Almost there.” Did you know it’s only acceptable to say you’re almost there in a marathon in the last half mile? I think that taking the focus off of myself helped me get through the last bit. I was able to run most of the last mile, which was probably the fastest one of the second half. We finished with a strong push for the last .2. Then I stopped my Garmin and dashed behind a fence where I almost threw up. Thankfully I didn’t and avoided that embarrassment. We had made it under 5 hours.

We finished just in time to get our numbers in for the prize drawings. I thought it was pretty cool that they do cash drawings for each race distance. How cool to win $1000 just for finishing a marathon! They also did cash prizes for the half and 20 mile races as well as other gifts.

We didn’t win, but I did get this great medal/belt buckle for finishing!

My friend and I learned a lot more about each other along the way too. She got to see a different side of me through the race. Thankfully, I never made it to the cussing stage. πŸ˜‰

On the drive home after the race, we had already started planning the next one. Hers for a BQ, mine to have a better day.

 

There will be a next time for me, because I’m a bit of a stubborn runner. The thing is, I know I can run a smart, faster marathon.

Because I have!

So I’m not giving up. It’s there. Somewhere.

 

 

Catching Up

It’s the final week before my next marathon, and I realized that my blogging kind of went to the wayside for a few months. School activities – mostly football and marching band, have taken up a lot of my evenings and Saturdays. With early morning training, on my free nights, I chose sleep. In all honesty, I knew it wasn’t the best idea to train for a marathon date that was so close to the end of football/band. I knew I would be tired. I knew marching season would take up a lot of my time. What I didn’t factor in, was how the Thursday night concession stand would wear on me. That was new for me this year, because in the past I’ve done either a couple of nights or every other week. I’ve been pacing myself as a band mom. But since I’m in my 7th year of band, I figured it was my turn to help out more. Also, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time when they needed someone to take Thursdays. πŸ˜‰ But even with all of this, I tried to limit the amount of frito pies and nachos I ate, and I set up my rest days for Fridays. That was a good plan.

 

Those are some of the things I could control.

The stuff that was out of my control with this training was the weather, plumbing problems, late night band pickups, early Saturday morning drop-offs, husband’s work schedule, and did I mention the weather?

18 miles in the summer that wouldn’t end.

While my training hasn’t been full of knock out workouts and fast long runs, I’ve settled with the fact that it’s been good enough. Flexibility has been the overall theme. My tune up half to test my fitness had a 9 am start and temps in the high 70s. That was a bust. The weather cooled off a week later. Of course.

A couple of my long runs in the past month had to be switched around at the last minute, including the longest one. But I do feel like they were decent enough for me to go into the race hopeful to hit some of my goals. I also tried to keep my sense of humor, even when the distance didn’t pan out.

JAWS!

 

As I wrote on one of my Instagram posts, training is rarely perfectly smooth – kind of like life. It’s important to remember that running is just a part of my life; it’s not my entire life.

So I set my A, B, and C goals for this marathon coming up Sunday. I’m ready.

 

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. πŸ™‚

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.

 

 

 

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. πŸ˜‰

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 DimityΒ 

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 ofΒ RunRelated TeamΒ 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 myΒ  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. πŸ™‚

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. 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.