Monday, February 25, 2013

The Cowtown Marathon 2013

Race Report:

Must start at the very beginning of the weekend when Stacie and I attended the marathon expo at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum. Putzed around, got my race packet, bought some stuff, and back home we came. I had wanted to sign up for the challenge that Cowtown offers, but this was the last year of the 5 year challenge that started in 2009. Ooops.. big messup with the communication from the staff, so I wound with a plaque to only place one medal in it. So, I'm now in the process of turning it back in and starting over with the new challenge beginning next year and ending in 2016. I've already seen a preview of what the bling(s) and plaque will look like, and I like it. Can't wait to run this challenge again.

Like I said, we didn't really stay long for the expo, just long enough to get my packet and buy a few things. Gu, bumper stickers, you know, basic stuff..

Me driving us to the expo. I figured since this was western style setting kinda of run, I thought I'd break out the old lid and rock it for the day.
When in Texas.....
Me standing outside the expo stand. Yes, to my Houston peeps, I'm wearing a Bucee's shirt
Cowboy Up!!

Stacie next to the Cowgirl hall of fame statue
I may be a city slicker for the most part, but deep down, I am a Texan, and I do have some country/cowboy in me. I've ridden a horse or two in my day, and I've worked a ranch before. Good times
Me and Stacie out by the water fountain by the museum

And here we are striking poses!!
and now...
Race Day!
After all of the training, tapering, and even carb loading, I felt deep down that I was confident in the way I was going to handle this marathon. Surprisingly, I was able to get to bed early enough on Saturday night at around 8:30, thanks to a benadryl and a hot shower to help me relax. I got up at 4am sharp, because I had told Stacie that I wanted to go to the Sunrise service that the Cowtown peeps had organized. I got up, let the dogs out, fed them, the usual with them. After all of our morning routines in the past and after getting ready for races in the past, we were able to get going by 5am. Traffic heading into Fort Worth, Texas was should I say, easy... Compared to all of the times I have driven out to Dallas for races out there, this was a much better, less stressful kind of morning getting to the race. I love Fort Worth!! I was able to get FREE parking at the Farrington Field parking lot, which was across the street from the Will Rogers Plaza where the race was held. Stacie and I felt somewhat spoiled by that. Crossed the street and over to the Round up inn room for the Sunrise service. There, I met up with some dailymile friends, Barbi and Darrell. My other DM friend Gary, was onstage leading worship with the Redeemer Church and Travis Avenue Baptist church as put on one great morning of worship and music....Awesome. Great words of encouragement as I meditated on what got me to this point and how God has shown me how great he is. Mostly, how I have learned throughout my training how I have to sometimes "persevere" and go beyond my own limits, as in my comfort zone when it comes to just my ordinary training. My other favorite word was used during the service, and that was "endurance", same thing as perseverance... which I just happen to have Hebrews 12:1 tattooed on my right calf... Let us RUN with perseverance the race marked for us... I got that tattoo two years ago when I PR'd in my 2nd half marathon by 20 minutes. It has been my go to verse, not just in running, but in life.
I confess, lately, I have been struggling with my own personal faith, and it has spilled over into my everyday life. Maybe even in my training. I do know one thing, I can be forgiven as I strengthen my relationship with God, and his son Jesus Christ.
Sunrise service!! There's Gary up on stage playing the guitar

Left pic, me and Barbi, and me and Gary on the right. I didn't get a chance to get a pic with Darrell, Barbi's running buddy, but he's an awesome runner as well and finished the half in 2:40. This run, in fact was Barbi's first half marathon to date, so she was a little nervouse about it. Through encouragement from myself and other DM friends along the way, Barbi made it with a stellar 2:56, and Gary completed the full marathon with a new PR in 4:06. Wtg guys

Once sunrise let out, I was waiting out by the area where the expo was held, trying to get a spot in line for the restroom. My morning concoction of a banana, gatorade, and a hot tea was kicking in. While waiting, my boy Clay aka, "The Nite Train" showed up and we said our hellos and chatted for a bit. He was nervous as he was in full pursuit of that sub 4 hour marathon. He made it in 4:30, and he was a little discouraged. He still did a great job running his 3rd marathon. Someday, Nite Train, you'll hit the streets of Boston.. I have faith in that, my friend.

Timmaay and the Nite Train roll again
I didn't want to wait forever for the line to use the restroom indoors, so I settled for the porta potty outside. Before heading out the door, I ran into another DM couple, Mike aka "America Mike" and his wife Kathleen. They are inspiring, as Kathleen herself has made it a mission to run a half marathon every month for the entire year of her current age. She's rocking it 13.1 miles at a time. Once I was done handling business in the porta john, the gun had gone off for the elites and fasties to take off first. I was in corral 4, so it took a while for the group I was with to take off. Not to panic, I had plenty of time to get to my corral and start. One thing I love about Cowtown compared to White Rock, the lines went through a lot easier and not so much of a push and shove. I got to my corral and gave Stacie a smooch and was inching my way to the starting line. Just my luck, I ran into yet another DM couple that I met a couple of years ago at another race I did. I heard my name being called out and it was Chris B. and his wife Anne. Same Chris that I've ran into at just about every race since last year, and the same Chris that is training for Western States. I met this great couple back in Labor Day of 2011. Another inspiring couple as well. I have to say, yesterday's race was a blessing being able to meet a lot of DM friends, some I've grown to know as my second family.
Here I am in the corral as we were moving forward. There's me in the doorag and shades. Chris is standing in front of me while Anne is off to my left in the light blue top.
My last pose and time I saw Stacie before I took off for the run. Felt good, and was ready to roll
and now, I'm off
As my corral finally got up close to start and was going, I felt cool, calm, and relaxed about this race. The fact that I was running a marathon was in the back of my mind, and that I could do this. I kept the strategy simple: Start out slow, and work my way up to a comfortable speed and then slow it back down towards the end, gain my second wind, and finish strong. No matter the distance, that's how I've always trained for every race. Given that it was a marathon, I wanted to stay at a comfortable pace, then gradually hit those negative splits. So, to start, I had chatted with Chris and Anne, then we all wished each other luck and went our own ways. Anne nailed a sub 2 in the half, and Chris nailed a 4:30 something in the 50k. Wtg Barnwell's. As they took off, I was in my own little zone until I came behind yet my other DM brother, Bal aka MoFo. As we always do in races, I gave him a smack on his butt, and he hollered out "wooohh" and then returned the favor. We had a good chat, then I took off as he stopped for his walk session of his run. Bal's training has paid off as he set another PR in 2:41 in the half. Wtg Mofo...
I was still running comfortably in my warming up phase, I met up with a gentlman named Ken, who was the 4:55 pace leader. My thought was to stay with him for a couple of miles, then take off as I felt the urge to. After a couple of miles and a series of hills, I felt warmed up enough to take off and go a little. My first split was at the 5k mark. I made it there by 34:14 (11:01 pace). To me, I felt like I was warming up, and my legs were adapting to the hills, and even some speed. By then, I was about 5 to 10 minutes ahead of Ken and was feeling comfortable with my pace and time. My goal was a 4:40-45 finish. Given the pace I was at, I was predicted at having a solid 4:50 finish. With that in my favor, I thought it was paying off for me to gradually step my game up and pick up speed. Sure enough, it slowly did as my next split was at the 10k mark where I reached it at 1:06:39 (10:43 pace). I felt good with that pace as I was passing people up and wasn't being passed in return. At mile just as the course was leading into the stockyards, I witnessed the first fall of the day. An older gentleman tripped himself up and hit the pavement face first. He suffered a busted forehead. Me and a couple of other runners helped him up and flagged a police officer down to bring in a medic. He was able to rest in a nearby SUV who's driver had the back gate open and he could sit there while he was putting ice on his head. He assured that he was fine. I was so close to withdrawing my race just to make sure he did do any serious damage. He told me he was fine and that I needed to go, so I did. As I took off, I met up with a lady who witnessed it as well and asked me if he was ok. I told her he was fine and she herself almost tripped over a pot hole in the road. I reached my arm out to grab her, and she regained her balance. We chatted and off we went. She paced with me until she gained her pace back and pretty much flew through the stock yards.
Right after the stock yards was the first big hill, which was a bridge. It was over by the Stock yards, and I can't remember the name of the bridge or street, but it lead into downtown Fort Worth, and over to LaGrave field, home of the Ft Worth Cats. That bridge lead was mile mark 9 going into 10. At that point, my left started to bother me. For once, it wasn't my PF, but the top of my foot. I was happy with my time as I was pacing at around 10:30-11, and climbed yet another hill. For the most part, the Cowtown course was flat. Some hills, but not as hilly as some of the races I've done in Dallas. Just before mile 10,  as we were going into downtown and taking that scenic tour, I witnessed yet another falling in the course. That person was yours truly, as I was trucking along, I didn't see that huge orange cane standing right in front of me. So, we collided and I fell over an slide a couple of feet. I think my hands were the first to catch myself on the ground and thought I had scraped them. Lucky for me, it was on the smoothest part of the pavement that I fell on. I just happened to be next to a DJ stand as he yell out on his mic "man down, man down".. Needless to say, I was a little embarrassed about it. Thank you to the kind runners that helped me back up. Surprisingly, with just the feeling of my hands being on fire, I was able to bounce right back and run at the pace I was going. Around the next corner leading to the Fort Worth Convention center, the Half Marathon runners split off from the Marathon and Ultra runners. On my way to the split, I hollered out to the half marathoners "good luck halfies, this is your race"! One runner high 5ed me and wish the full and ultras good luck as well.
Going into mile 11, I was clocked at 1:57, based off my watch, so a 10:30, almost 11 minute pace was just right for me. Mile 12 was a bit of a blur as the runners out on the course was thinning out some. I realized I was running in the back of the pack, which I didn't have a problem with, I was just blessed to be running yet another marathon, and I was feeling confident that I was going to get a PR one way or another. My next split was at the half marathon (mile 13.1) mark at 2:19:38 (10:39 pace). I say in all confidence, not bragging, but the first half of the race felt easy. Not that I'm being over confident, or cocky, but I can run a half marathon given a certain time frame, and without hesitation. Since my next big race is a half marathon, and I will be one of the 2:20 pacers, I wanted to alse get a feel for how I could pace my group in may. To me, it was a success. The next 7 miles, were yet another blur to me. Most of it was flat, and by then the course went from going through downtown Fort Worth and into the suburbs. I do recall at around mile 19, my left leg was feeling uncomfortable. I couldn't tell if it was a cramp, or if my IT band was acting up, I had to stop and stretch for a brief moment. I felt a little discomfort in my left hamstring when I tried to stretch it. I had made it to another area just before mile 20 and asked where the nearest medical tent was to see about my leg. Not only was my leg bothering me, but so was my foot from when I was had that difficulty at mile 9. Stupid me ignored the pain and kept moving. I regretted that decision, because at that point, I was walk, jog, hobble mode. I also couldn't tell if it was the PF or my feet being sore from breaking into my new shoes I got recently. All of that showed in my next split at mile 20, which was the last split before the finishline. I made it there in 3:44:18 with an 11:13 pace. Ok, so a 4:55 finish would still give me a PR. Just my luck, Ken, the 4:55 pacer passed me up, and I felt discouraged from that point on. As much I wanted to run, my left leg was not cooperating.
I'm almost convinced that it was the dreaded WALL I had hit, I don't really know. I do know that I had a race to finish, and I was not about to quit. From that mile mark up to mile 25, I did the walk, jog, hobble mix up. I got to 25 and was ever so thankful to find a medical tent and asked on the nurses to wrap my foot up. By then, I was feeling my left foot on fire, moreso than my right. So I got it wrapped to relieve some of the inflammation, and help with my form some. Lucky for me it did. I had 1.2 miles to and was ready to cross the finish line. I didn't want stop for nothing. By then, I was having trouble getting oxygen into my body and my chest felt congested. So I did the marathon shuffle. I knew where I was at as I was along the trinity trails, seeing the back side of the Will Rogers facility and mile mark "26". I got the encouragement from spectators and other runners that had finished cheering me and the other runners on that the finishline is just around the corner, and not to quit. I made that last right turn and saw the finishline in my sights. So, I had it in me like every runner does, and that was to gun it towards the finish. That I did. I heard a runner ahead me get her name called out that she was from Bedford, Tx (same town I live in), and then as I crossed I heard my name.
After that, I don't remember much except seeing a medic and collapsing before I could get to her. It was a mixture of being emotionally spent from the race, and also my left knee going out from under me. I got helped up by two other medics as one was saying to just keep my legs moving. I was telling them to get my wife because she was on the left of the finish post waiting for me. They said they would get her. Just before the medics moved me to the medical area, I stopped and got my finishers pic, and medal. Made it to the medical area, gave them my name and information, symptoms, etc. I was trying to spell my last out to them, and low and behold, a church friend of mine, Melanie who is a nurse for UNTHSC, which is the group the Cowtown Marathon does charity for. She was able to assist better because she knew me. They quickly got me to a bed, and I told her to call Stacie and get her to the medic area. As they got my vital signs, they were also getting fluids in me and assessing the damage. I told them I had felt a little lightheaded and my left leg from the knee down was sore. I explained to them that I felt it give out as I crossed the line.
After I gained my bearings, Stacie had made it over to my bed, and greeted me with a hug and asked if I was ok. I told her I was fine and that I had gotten a little dizzy and that my leg gave out. I continued to rest some more and get more fluids in me, then a medic noticed that I got the wrong medal. They gave me a half marathon finishers medal before I got my pic taken. Oops. So, they went and got a correct medal. I was offered an IV bag, and I refused it because I felt fine enough to walk and move around, and that I wasn't running anymore. Afterwards, I went through the refreshment area, loaded up on some chocolate milk and a banana. No beer this time because I couldn't find any and to be honest, I didn't really want any. From there, Stacie and I made it to the staging area where the runners reunite with there families. Just my luck, I ran into Chris and Anne again and sat for a bit. I also ran into another DM friend Joshua, another beast of a runner. He nailed a respectable time at the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler a few weeks ago to come to Cowtown and run the 50k. Ultra runners, mad love guys, yall are awesome. Stacie took my bib and went over to the tables and got me my finishers tee, and I love it. I even slept in it last night. LOL
Me and Chris. And I'm rocking the finishers tee.

Me and the "bite" on my bling.. Yes the full marathon finishers bling

Me and Stacie....and the bling
My finish time was 5:20:38 with a 12:12 pace. Given that it was my second marathon, and that I didn't finish in the time I wanted, I am pleased with the fact that knowing if my mechanics hadn't failed on me, I would have finished in a much better time. I know deep down I could have done it. To prove it, I plan on running this race next year, because I really liked this course, the people, and everyone who volunteered and worked tirelessly at setting this up. I said to myself last night as I was having dinner with my wife and mom, that I will probably settle for just doing half marathons and 10ks from now on. Since the warm weather season is coming back, that will be feasible for me, and I don't have a problem with that. I still like to run the longest distances I possibly can, and will not give up on running full marathons. I feel a lot stronger in this race than I did when I ran my first marathon. Amazing what a year off from being injured can do to a runners spirit as they learn from it. My next race is the Heels and Hills half marathon, and I like I said before, I'll be pacing the 2:20 group. Lots of fun to be had that day.
This is been a great journey yet again. I can't wait to turn the page of yet another chapter.

Just a token of what happened when I fell over that cone that came out of nowhere.
And last the tat. My go to verse before every big race.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pre race stuff. Or, something like that

I've been meaning to post a blog since New Year's Eve. It seems that everyone jumped on the bandwagon and blogged about how good or bad 2012 was for them. Sorry for being late on that, but believe it or not, I had intended to do the same until my computer crashed halfway through my post I was writing and I lost everything I wrote. As semi-buzzed as I was, I was in no mood to restart the damn thing.

In short, 2012 sucked, and I'm so glad it's over. It sucked in my personal day to day life, and even so in my running activities. Somewhere in the mix, those two lives crossed paths and I ended up feeling 20 pounds heavier, more depressed, and most of all, a failure. My resolution was to stop making excuses and just do I did!!

So far, 2013 has been a complete opposite, and I say that with all humbled-ness. January was good to me in the since that I ran my latest PR of 160 miles for the month, beating out my old record of 146 in October of 2011. I've worked up a mixture of combined training plans that adapted well for me. I mixed a bit of how Jeff Galloway's training works for marathon runners, along with some of Hal Higdon's plan. I started out with a base line of 7 miles a day M-Th, rest Friday, and a long run (12 miles and up) on Saturdays. Then as an option, a short 3 mile "recovery" run on Sundays. Overall, the schedule was a success. Not so much for the distance, but for my overall fitness, I wasn't as tired as I was before. I even added speed runs, and doubles on Thursdays, and was excited seeing 40 plus miles on a consistent basis each week. As a footnote, 3 days a week, I've spent time in the gym doing strength training. In the past when I trained for previous races, I hardly ever saw the gym. I made that change. I have to say, it's helped.....quite a bit.

February has been a good month as well. I'm excited about the fact that a week from today, I will embark on yet another 26.2 outing. This time, instead of Dallas, it's on the streets of Ft. Worth, TX at the Cowtown Marathon. I did the 10k run back in 2011, and I loved it. I'm very excited to take this challenge on. I'm also happy to say, that I feel 10x healthier about this race than I did when I ran my first marathon in December of 2011. I had mentioned above that I had gained 20 pounds over the past year, well, I've lost 18 of them. So for now, I am satisfied with the way my training, eating, and overall health is going.

Here's me on Christmas Day chowing on a cinnamon roll as my wonder pooch, Corkie is looking on. Desperately hoping I would drop a crumb or a piece for her. My weight was in the 240's for sure

At my last weigh in, and busting out 18 miles that weekend, I am back down to 222. Not where I want to be, but I am doing the slow and steady approach as my weight is coming off, and staying off.
One thing I've discovered in the world of fitness, is that we are all creatures of habits and mistakes are easy to make. I, once again would like to thank my awesome wife, Stacie for showing me this as she struggled as well this past year. I would post pics of her recent transformation, but she will not give me any pics to share. Totally respect that. I will say, I am 100% proud of her as she herself has lost 16 lbs since January 4. That day, she met up with my PT coach, and has been trained by him ever since. She has also taken up running as a way of working out. Pretty much like I did. Excited as well for the fact that we as a couple are doing a race together in April. The Color Run 5k on Saturday, April 6. She started with the couch to 5k program, and is now up to running a mile at a time without stopping. I smile everytime she posts on facebook about her recent successes with this great sport. I'm always taken back to when and how I first got started in this great sport.
I really meant to post this blog about the ultimate highs I have felt so far this year, I almost don't want to spoil it. Other than to say that I am happy with the ways things are going for me. Not just me, but my wife, friends, and family. 2013 is rocking hard so far, and I don't want it to end. For all of my DailyMile friends that are running Cowtown next weekend, I'll cya there. Look for a goofy guy in a cowboy hat.