This past Sunday I had the awesome experience of running the Cowtown Half marathon! Not only did I get to run it, I ran it with one of my best girl friends, Amanda Brewer. She is such a talented runner and she opted to run it by my side and I’m so grateful to her for sticking by me when she could have gone ahead! We had such a great race and honestly ran faster than I thought we would have run given my training of late with my acute kidney failure and lack of speed training. I am so thankful to Muscle Milk for their sponsorship and for the ability to represent Team Maddie and raise awareness for organ donorship.
Amanda, her son Canaan, myself and Parker went to the Expo at Will Rogers Friday during the day. We had lunch and picked up our packets. We tried to make it fun for the boys and who am I kidding … ourselves! Hydration is important before races, right?
There were tons of vendors as this is a large race and we even got some free goodies from the Nite Beam booth because we were a walking advertisement. The boys loved that! Seeing as we needed nothing, we chatted with a few friends we saw and headed to the park on the way home (for the boys) … not sure why I just felt the need to clarify that … and made our way back to the burbs.
The Night Before
Dustin wanted to do something besides talk about races and running so we went to our best friends’ house for some grilling and fun times Saturday evening. And as per the usual, me before a race, is a ball of fun! I kid, I kid. I didn’t drink and was thinking about how many hours I was going to get to sleep. 🙂
We left about 8:30 pm and I went home and got my outfit ready for the morning and set my alarm for 4:45 am. I was supposed to pick Amanda up at 5:30 am. I figured we’d be golden.
Race day started bright and early at 4:45AM… and looked a little something like this:
I woke, ate some toast with peanut butter, had a cup of coffee, got dressed and put a little makeup on (don’t judge, I always want to look decent in pics and my albino lashes are scary) and did a double check on all my things. I waited on Miles to go potty and got pissed because I couldn’t go myself (TMI) but knew I’d have a portapotty opportunity at the race.
I picked Amanda up at 5:35 am and realized en route that oh shit, my gas tank is on empty. Such is my life. I mean the race didn’t start til 7:30 am so no biggie to stop in Westlake on the way for $10, right??? I asked Amanda if that was okay, and she was like, “sure if that makes you feel better.” We pulled into Fort Worth to the line of parking chaos at 6:17 am. I felt fine. The normal nerves I felt during races weren’t there because we were running for fun, not racing.
We turned onto Currie St. into our parking area at 6:32! Still fine. It took a little time to get to the start area because we were a few blocks away but by 6:40 we were in the portapotty lines. 6:44 and we were done. Amanda still needed to check our bag so we headed that way (we had no idea where checked bags were) and we started asking people. People seemed to be going the opposite way we were heading. I texted Melissa from Muscle Milk and said we’d also come by to take a picture and looked at Amanda and she said “are you sure we have time?” I said, “ya over 30 minutes, right?”
Just then I heard the MC say there was 5 minutes til the start and a panicked look took over my face!!! Haha, the race started at 7, not 7:30. That’s when we started hauling. The rest happened in a blur. Somehow we managed to get our bag checked, unfortunately did not make it to Muscle Milk prerace, but did make it into our Corral (2) before Corral 3 opened! We were two of the last people in but we got in and as we hit the start line we laughed about it saying it was our warm up! I felt terrible but thankfully Amanda didn’t seem to mind! Ugh I felt like such a flake!!!
It was 42 degrees at the start and cloudy so I had gloves on because my Raynaud’s was kicking! Remember I love gloves and shorts – it’s a thing! I actually never took them off. Amanda was fine with no gloves and tights. If you aren’t familiar with the Cowtown course it’s a large but organized race with moderate hills and lots of turns. The day proved pretty windy but you couldn’t have served up better weather as far as temperature and luckily where there are headwinds, there are tailwinds. The race takes you through downtown Ft. Worth through the Stockyards and has a reputation for the dreaded “mile 9 hill.” It’s not that bad, just gradual and long. There were aid stations about every two miles with water and Powerade and plenty of volunteers.
Back to racing …
We started off conservatively, something I never do. Hmmm… running with Amanda is good for me! We got to feeling good and were chatting, settling in and warming up. My goal and expectation for this race was simply sub 2 hour. (or about a 9 minute pace) since I just have not been putting in the speed work or miles in the past two months. You reap what you sow, you know? Here were our splits:
Mile 1 – 8:53.6
Mile 2 – 8:42
Mile 3 – 8:27.7
Mile 4 – 8:21.9
Mile 5 – 8:35.9
Mile 6 – 8:32.2
Mile 7 – 8:18.7
Mile 8 – 8:37.6
Mile 9 – 8:43.8
Mile 10 – 9:04.8
Mile 11 – 8:39.5
Mile 12 – 8:38.4
Mile 13 – 8:50.7
Mile 14 – 1:19.3
I slowed on the hill and hto say if Amanda wasn’t running by my side, might have hung back a little. My calf (the one in which I’ve had peroneal tendinitis issues) locked up on me and I started wheezing a bit. Amanda didn’t let up. While we didn’t speed up she tried to hold us steady at about a 8:30 pace. She is a fantastic pacer!!!
Funny thing about Amanda and running with her: she never said it but as we ran, especially in the middle miles (3-10), she would pick a person and pass them. She didn’t waste energy on it either. She stayed steady but just passed them. Then she’d pick another and we’d pass them. It was gradual and it’s not like we passed a million people but she was so funny like a car finding the fastest clearest route. I totally noticed it and commented on it at lunch afterwards. She was very humble about it. It definitely made for a fun game-like running experience! During the last 1/2 mile I was struggling. I was no longer talking and Amanda knew it. It just felt like the uphill wouldn’t end. I remember the 10k feeling the same last year. In my head I was thinking “how in the hell did I run the Cowtown full course sub 4 a few years ago???” See that’s what happens to me at the end of races … something mental …but thankfully I felt Amanda grab for my hand, literally turn around because she was ahead of me, and I heard the cheers of my children and husband to my left and a big smile came over my face and I began running faster and held on to Amanda’s hand as we threw them in the air and crossed the finish line together! 1:53:41 was my official time!
As for how we stacked up results wise, (she finished 1 second before me so she finished one place ahead of me). I finished 55th/514 in my age group and that isn’t too bad! Top 10% … I’ll take it! In my gender I placed 277th/3314 and overall I was 945th/5873. Is it where I’d like to be, no but had I worked hard enough for better? No. It’s also why in mid-late January when I realized I would have to cut back on speed and mileage, I realized adjustments to expectations/goals would have to be made. We all have excuses, we all have circumstances that prevent us from being where we want to be but what I’ve been trying to work on is being happy with myself in the moment I’m in. I want faster for myself but I also want healthy and I want balance in my life.
It was a rare and nice treat to have my kids at the race! We connected with family after grabbing goodies like ice cream, chocolate milk, fruit and Muscle Milk and chatted with a few friends (I even got to meet a few Instagram followers). Amanda and I connected with Melissa of Muscle Milk and hung there and took some photos before we changed and headed to brunch all together.
As of today, my post race soreness is gone, though my quads were crazy sore from all those hills! I’ve run some easy miles over the past few days, walked a lot and stretched. My only nagging problem from the race is a nasty blister on the inside of my left foot, a hotspot area for me. I wore new shoes (a big no no for racing) but I loved them in my short run and figured since I wasn’t technically racing it was no biggie. Word to the wise, do as I say not as I do. This blister is going to take some time…
I did get some super cool pics from this race (yes, I bought them) because how often do you run with one of your besties in a race AND like the photos? Nothing like posting multiple photos from the same race in the same week time period on social media (which is exactly what I’ve done). You guys have been fabulous and supportive and put up with me so I want to thank you for that!
On the topic of thanks, I want to also say thanks to those of you who’ve given me advice, motivated me, inspired me, reached out to me, laughed with me, cried with me and run with me since starting this blog and Instagram account. Thank you, thank you, thank you for following me through my ups and downs and bearing with all of my injuries and bumps in the road! And a huge thanks to my family for putting up with my shenanigans while I’m on the topic.
This was a great start to 2017 and I still have my sights on BQing (hopefully this year) but for this spring I’m setting my sights on shorter races, another half, a trail race and then possibly a full in the late fall…
Goals keep you motivated, right??? What goals are on your horizon?