Cowtown Marathon Recap

On Sunday, I completed my fourth (and fastest to date) marathon. This was my first time running the Cowtown Marathon and I will do what I can to come back again next year. I had a great race experience, and it started by following my plan. It also helped that I had great support and encouragement along the way. My dad, my husband, and my Ironman friend were there at the start, along the course, and at the finish. What a difference that made!

The size of the race was ideal for me with almost 1500 finishers in the marathon. At this stage in my running, I need the support of other runners around me. Even in the first ten miles before the half marathon split off, the course didn’t feel crowded. The temperature was nice enough for this easily overheated runner to wear short sleeves and shorts. My $1 throwaway gloves were off by the second mile and tucked in the back of my iFitness belt. I put my earbuds in place, my playlist on shuffle (a first for me), and I was ready to go.

Focused and ready to run!

Focused and ready to run!

I stuck close to my pacing plan (five miles at a time) and it went smoothly until miles 17-20 when the wind started to affect my pace. My plan was to run negative splits up until mile 20, when I would use whatever I had left in the tank to finish. It was pretty close, but the last 10k did take its toll on my body. There were a few more hills than I expected, but fortunately I train on hills, so my legs powered up on autopilot. A fun little bonus was when I reached the top of the big hill around mile 9, the theme song from Rocky came on. I couldn’t have planned it any better.

While I didn’t quite make my time goal, I did take ten minutes off of my PR from Oklahoma City last April. Also, for the first time I completed a marathon without walking at all. I knew that if I stopped once, then it would be easier to stop again and that would impact my finish. No tears were shed, and I even managed smiles at the finish. My friend and husband both agreed the throwaway gloves needed to be thrown away, so I guess it’s time to hit the clearance to stock up some more.

My splits:

5k – 30:56 (pace 9:57)

10k – 1:01:14 (pace 9:51)

Half – 2:09:02 (pace 9:51)

20 mile – 3:16:40 (pace 9:50)

Finish 4:22:12 (pace 10:00)

Proud of my 4:22:12

Proud of my 4:22:12

How to Make a Long Run Shorter

Okay, I’ll admit the title here may be a little confusing. Especially since I’m writing about my first run longer than 13.1 miles since the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in April.

There are several ways to break up the monotony of a long run. I’ve tried tips such as run a new route, or mentally break it into chunks (5k, 10k, and so on). I also make water stops at my car or refuel at a park along my route. No matter what I’ve tried, though, a training run over 12 miles for me can get boring.

Saturday, I stumbled onto something new, and it made a huge difference.

It was a rainy morning, so I wasn’t looking forward to a 14 mile soaker, but I knew I’d have a little company. I’ve been running with a local group on Saturday mornings, and this has helped the miles go faster. I started earlier to knock out a few miles and have time to refuel before meeting the group.

The next leg of my run was with two other runners in the group. One only needed to run five and the other was up for “whatever.” The three of us ran five miles together, and then stopped back at the meeting place. I refueled again. The “whatever” distance runner asked me how much I still had left – about four miles – so she headed out with me to finish. She runs at a slightly faster pace than I do, so I used this as my negative split training.

By the time I finished my 3rd leg of the run, I had done about 5 miles at a warm up pace, another five at a steady conversational pace, and 4 at catch-my-breath pace. Even though I had been running about 2 1/2 hours, it sure didn’t feel like it. My legs sure felt it though, and reminded me the rest of the day and all the next.

After two years of training and completing long runs on my own, it sure was nice to have some company and different ways to make it seem shorter.

What tips do you have for making a long run feel shorter?

My Answers to 10 Running Questions

I know I’m throwing a curve ball by posting more than once in the same week, but as a mother runner, I had to jump in on this one. In response to a post on Another Mother Runner, I’ve jumped in with my get-to-know-me better post for 10 Running Questions.

1. Best run ever: In January, I made my first solid attempt to break two hours in the half. I held back in the first seven miles, then ran negative splits. It was the first race I ran a faster second half, and I ended up with an 8:30 pace for the final mile! My time – 1:59:58.

2. Three words that describe my running: Structured, purposeful, intentional

3. My go-to running outfit is: New Balance shoes, Nike shorts, and any tech top I have that is clean and fits. In the summer, I always don a hat and sunglasses.

4. Quirky habit while running: This mother of four never ventures too far from a restroom during training runs, but on race days, I make enough stops beforehand (you know, get right back in line), that way I’m good through the race and even a few hours after.

5. Morning, midday, evening: I always run in the morning after I drop the kids off at school. On the weekends, I try to start before anyone else gets out of bed. It helps with my eating throughout the day if I’ve already burned off my breakfast.

6. I won’t run outside when it’s: a drenching rain. It’s about the only time I use the treadmill at the gym. I also don’t run if it’s icy, but in Texas I don’t have to worry about that too often.

7. Worst injury – and how I got over it: Dare I say it? In two years of running, I haven’t been injured yet.

8. I felt most like a bad mother runner when: I finished my first marathon (where it poured down rain the entire time, was around 40 degrees, and North wind blowing about 15-20 mph). Even though I was proud of getting through it, the picture of me right after the race looks pretty rough.

9. Next race is: Tyler Rose half marathon on October 7th, which will prep me for the Dallas Marathon December 9th.

10. Potential running goal for 2013: Break four hours for the marathon. I want to qualify for Boston in the next two years. There, I said it. Now you can hold me to it.

Now that you know a little more about me, let me hear from you. What would your ten answers be?

Sherman Education Foundation 10K

When I was training for my first marathon last year, I discovered 18 weeks was a long time to try to go without a race. As I set up my schedule this year, I made sure to include two local races and a half marathon in my training plan.

The Sherman Education Foundation has an annual run in conjunction with the Sherman Arts Fest. I ran the 5k the past two years, and even placed 2nd in my age group last year. In the past, they have also had a 15k run, but this year they did a 10k instead. The distance fit into my training plan nicely, I just substituted the 10k for 6 miles of hills. I figured the few hills and the speed wouldn’t short change my training. Plus, I still have three more weeks of running hills in this phase of my training schedule.

A friend of mine asked me what my goal was. I just wanted to break my PR of 53:10 which I set on Memorial Day. She told me to shoot for 50:00. I laughed.  I tried a few excuses: I have only run a few 10k races, my confidence was a little shaken from my last 5k (I went out too fast), I ran my long run on Wednesday. She wasn’t having any of that. “Trust your training,” she told me.

I just wanted to better my time without killing my legs.

Saturday morning’s weather was wonderful. It was cool, a little chilly for my family/spectators, but great for running. I took off with a couple of members in the running group, and we ran an 8:23 first mile. I thought that was a little fast, but as I pushed on, I tried to hang on to that pace. My legs felt strong, my breathing was steady, and I found that I was steadily moving past runners.

Completing the fifth mile, I still felt strong – even after a small, but brutal, hill. I bumped it up through the last mile, and finished strong. It was the best I’ve felt during a race in a long time.

My Unofficial PR (official time was 4 seconds faster)

Not only did I set a new PR in the 10k, but I blew the old one out of the water by a whole minute and a half. My mile splits were: 8:25, 8:27, 8:19, 8:09, 8:13, and 8:03. Negative splits! What a confidence booster for me! When I sent this picture to my friend, her response was, “I knew you could do it!”

Do you have someone like that in your running? Someone to push you, drive out your excuses, boost your confidence, and cheer you on? It has made a difference in my training and performance, knowing I have someone else checking on me.

Receiving my 1st place age group medal (photo courtesy of my 6 year old)