The Cowtown was my second every Half Marathon. The first being the Dallas White Rock. This race was marked by significant improvement. I knocked about six minutes off my previous time, and kept a very consistent pace throughout the entire course. My previous half had a very sporadic pace, but this one was pretty even across the board. This of course is assuming the data that RunKeeper gave me was accurate. Below is the elevation profile of the course (in green) along with my pace (in blue). And below that are my splits for the run.
Notice I briefly ran 44.5 mph, that felt great
My goal going into this race was to finish with a time of 1:50. I was also fortunate enough to be able to start off my run with an awesome runner named Erika from New York who I had meet the night before at our DFW Runner’s Tweetup at Button’s in Fort Worth. She had come down to run the race, and visited friends and family. I actually don’t think I would have run so well if it hadn’t been for her. We started off running together, but she expected me to break away at any minute. Erika even asked me when I was going to speed up, I felt as though I needed to and planned on kicking up the pace up around mile two.
So, after crossing the mile-two marker I made my break, but not to long after that Erika was right there with me again. After talking to her later after the race she had felt I was going slow and wasn’t going to be able to make my pace, but little did she know we were at an 8:30 pace. But after running with my new friend a bit longer I speed off again but soon found myself gradually slowing down without realizing it, or Erika just kicked it into high gear, because soon after I found her in front of me sometime after mile four (it was probably Erika speeding up though as my pace in mile 4 was the fastest at 8:17. Determined to not let her fall out of sight, I kept up pace just a few strides behind and was back by her side again around mile five.
We probably stuck together again for about .75 miles until we hit a nice steady down hill and one of my favorite running songs came on through my headphones, so I kicked it back into high gear and began a passing frenzy. It was also around this time the raw energy bites and gel I had been consuming kicked in and gave me my second wind. It wasn’t until just after mile eight that I saw Erika again on the other side of a switchback waving and smiling as we passed each other.
Throughout this run, I was experiencing a lack of motivation from the spectators that I had enjoyed during the Dallas White Rock Marathon. Only on occasion would you see a small group of people standing and cheering you on. The highlight of the run was the Thriller Dancers (dressed as the dead from the famous Michael Jackson video) along mile 10 or 11. I have realized one of the biggest parts of these runs is having fun. So, seeing characters like this brings a smile to my face, and I was grinning from ear to ear while giving them hand slaps as I ran by.
But just before seeing these friendly dead guys I was attempting to reference my GPS, which was in my back cycling jersey pocket, and in doing so I pulled out my fuel bites, dropping them on the course, but rather than pick them up I kept going. Around mile 10 I was wishing I still had the fuel bites, as I was nearly out of my raw energy drink. I had even taken water from a few aid stations this time, something I only did once during the White Rock.
Despite being a bit energy depleted I was determined to finish strong in the last three miles. So, I gave myself two goals; one, let as few runners pass me as possible, and two focus one one runner ahead of me at a time and then pass them. This proved to be pretty effective, as I continued to maintain a steady pace. It helped keep my mind of things like side cramps that would occasionally hit, dehydration, shoulder pain and fatigue.
The final 1.1 miles was perhaps the most brutal of the day. I opted to pass up water at the last aid station so I could keep up my pace. I had about two squirts of energy drink left at this point and finished them off pretty soon after passing the aid station up. I also thought I still had a chance of making my 1:50 goal as well.
With about .75 miles left to go I checked the GPS again, only to see that I was probably not going to quite meet my goal. I was still determined to try thought and did my best to kick up the pace a bit, but the effort to do so felt futile. No matter how hard I tried, it felt like I wasn’t going any faster. But as I rounded the last corner I had .20 miles left to go and began to pick up the pace even more.
Once I hit the 13 mile mark I put forth my best effort of a sprint. Crossing over the finish line I nearly tripped over a kid that decided it would be a great idea to just stop as soon as he crossed the line. Thankfully I had already crossed the chip check point so I wasn’t slowed down any, but I did stumble over him. After my near fall I checked my GPS to find I ran exactly 13.1 miles! You laugh, but you may remember I ended up running 13.27 in the White Rock Half Marathon. My finish time was 1:51:55, official chip time was 1:51:54 making this a personal record. Feels kind of weird saying that, considering I have only run two half marathons so far.
Even thought I didn’t meet my goal, I was still very happy with my time. I shave more than six minutes off my previous half marathon time. I guess the bright side of this is that I can keep my goal time at 1:50 for my next half marathon, but if I happen to beat that then all the better. After grabbing my finishers metal and a cup of water I waited for Erika to cross the line because I knew she wouldn’t be far behind.
And sure enough, she crossed soon after and we congratulated each other on a great run. We also had another friends near by that had run in the 10K race, so after talking to them a bit we grabbed our race shirts , goodie bags and food and checked into the expo tent where more race friend were hanging out. This was definitely a better race in terms of having support from other fellow runners. The last race I only really had one other friend running, but now because of Twitter, I have a whole slew of friends running races and providing encouragement. As stupid as it sounds, social networking really is amazing. It has allowed me to meet so many new people.
After we were done hanging out in the Expo tent Kris, Melissa and I (also friends from Twitter) headed down to the original Fuzzy’s Tacos on the campus of TCU for a great post race meal. I had a couple of black bean tacos along with tortilla chips, guacamole, salsa and queso.
I capped off my day with an afternoon of slacklining with some climbing friends at a park in Richardson. The weather was gorgeous, it was so nice to be outdoors barefoot in shorts and a t-shirt. I think I really wore myself out that day, but it was worth it.
p.s. next race I will try to remember to take some iPhone camera photos. I intended to do that at the start of the race and at the finish, but totally forgot.