Third time’s the charm? | The Cowtown Marathon : Race Weekend Recap

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.


I could dance around it, but I might as well come out with it already. I didn’t run a sub-5 hour marathon in Fort Worth.

First, I thought it was disappointing. That would be justified, right? I have every right to be disappointed that I set a goal for myself and didn’t reach it.

Then, I thought maybe it was bittersweet. After all, I did RUN A MARATHON. And I soundly beat my previous personal record.

But then I realized. It’s not disappointing, or bittersweet — it’s a marathon. And maybe I’m starting to learn how to run marathons.  Patience, focus, flexibility, strength. I can control my training, and my attitude. But I can’t control the wind or the weather or the way my body will react to things. In the past week, as I’ve thought about my race, I’ve repeatedly had to remind myself of two things: I should be proud of what I’ve accomplished and there will be other races.

And I certainly don’t mean to act like not hitting the sub-5 ruined my entire race or the entire weekend — so maybe I should bury you in race photos to prove we really, truly, actually had a great time. Ready? Good.

We got to town Saturday in time to hand The Boy over to my parents for the afternoon and meet up with my sister Laura and her husband Leo — so the four of us could head to the expo. After several of these, Jeff and I have developed a game out of race expos. The two of us circulate through the vendor booths and try to gather enough free samples to off-set the race registration fee.  Sometimes we hit our favorite booths repeatedly — I’m lookin’ at you, 5 hr Energy! And with Laura and Leo to help, it didn’t take nearly as many rotations! Ha!

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After the expo, we headed for the hotel for a quick check-in and freshen-up. Then dinner! I am kicking myself for not forcing everyone at dinner to pose for a group photo, but we had A CROWD. Jeff, Colt, and me + Jennifer and Luke + Laura and Leo (they live in Dallas) + Mamaw and Papaw (in from San Antonio) + Kent and Karen (longtime family friends – they live in the DFW area) + Alex and Courtney (Kent and Karen’s son and his wife – they live in the DFW area) + Jenny (Kent and Karen’s daughter – lives in the DFW area). Table for 14, please! We had a great dinner of catching up — then it was back to the hotel for some good, solid sleep.

Wake up call – 5a.m.! We had a pretty good handle on where to park for the 7a.m. race, so we didn’t have to wake up terribly early. Clothes, shoes, breakfast – out the door to meet Jennifer and Luke in the lobby.


I picked this race very intentionally. February in Texas – should be perfect marathon weather. And it WAS. That morning was chilly, but we knew it would be perfect as we started running.


The boys were at the start line to see us off and we weren’t entirely sure when we’d get to see them again. Races in Fayetteville have spoiled us — the boys know the town and know the trails well enough that we’ve come to expect them to check-in several times during the day. Fort Worth was a different story. We couldn’t count on seeing them at any specific checkpoint so we had to be prepared to wear what we had on and eat what we were carrying.

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And just like that, we were off! Marathon #3 for each of us.

The plan was simple. 11 minute miles for as long as we could hold on, building up a bit of a time cushion to hit the overall 11:26/mile pace we needed for a 5 hour race. We’d done more long training runs than ever, and we were ready. Pushing through the last 10 miles is always the biggest challenge and we had specifically trained for that. 5 hours, here we come.


So far, so good. The race offered Facebook, Twitter and text updates throughout the morning — and I loved knowing friends and family were cheering for us.


Still dead-on our pace through the 10K mark. We both felt great and the weather was perfect.



Around mile 10 I started to feel my stomach rumbling, but put it out of my mind. And about that time, we saw the boys!

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No time to chat, just a quick wave and a few words of encouragement. We had a pace to keep — and we knew we weren’t likely to see them again until the finish line.

And not long after that, the stomach rumbling became impossible to ignore. I started looking for a porta-potty and told Jennifer, “I have bad news.”  I’ll save you the gory details, but it’s just one of those things. Running sometimes does funny things to your system — and despite eating all the right things and making all the right preparations, my system was rebelling.

So somewhere during mile 11, I stopped. STOPPED. And waited behind two other people at a porta-potty. And stared at my watch as every second of the time cushion we’d built just ticked away. To say the least, I was frustrated. But we kept moving.



At the halfway mark, we had no cushion. It would be a battle to hit 5 hours at that pace in the second half, but we were up to the challenge. But then – more bad news. During mile 14, Jennifer stopped to walk. Over my shoulder, I saw the look on her face and saw her pointing at her foot. She was hurt. And she made me keep going without her. I made her promise to find a medic and get help, and with a foot injury — she was out for the day.

OK, marathon. Stomach issues, foot injury. That’s it, right? Smooth sailing from here?


I tried to settle in after splitting from Jennifer, but my stomach was still giving me fits. I made it to mile 16 before I had to stop again — and that meant I was officially behind. 5 hours wasn’t looking realistic, but I knew I had a marathon to finish.

I’m not gonna lie – miles 16 through 26 weren’t fun or easy or particularly inspiring. I knew I was off my pace and I was frustrated that my body hadn’t cooperated in what would have been a perfectly beautiful day for a 5-hour marathon. But I kept moving. I had trained hard and I wasn’t about to waste all those early mornings and all those miles on a bad attitude.



By the time my 20-mile update posted to Facebook, Jeff had already received the text update and he knew I was off my pace — and that 5 hours wasn’t going to happen that day. From mile 18 through the end, I actually felt OK. I was running and the weather was perfect and I just settled in and pushed through the hardest part of the race.

This smile is 100% fake. I saw a photographer and forced a grin. Can’t you see right through it?

Around mile 25, I saw my family! I hadn’t expected to see them until the finish line, but there they were! All of them!

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Leo, Kent, Mom, Laura, Karen — hi guys!!
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Keeping TIME at the race! {}

I had tried to warn them that marathons aren’t exactly a spectator sport, but they all trekked out to mile 25 to cheer me in to the finish! It meant the world to see all of them.

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Running for a minute with Colt and Papaw.
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Jeff snagged this photo of Luke waiting at mile 25. The boys were worn out, too! They’d been walking all day just for the chance to meet us on the course.

As I ran by the group, Jeff ran with me for a minute to see how I was doing. My first question was, “where’s Jennifer?” I assumed she’d have found them by now. He looked at me with a dumb look, as if to say, “uh, she’s supposed to be with YOU.” I told him what happened and that I hadn’t seen her in two hours. He said he’d talk to Luke and they’d go back and find her. MY next stop was the finish line.

I swear the distance between the 26 mile marker and the finish line gets longer every time.

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And while I didn’t hit my 5-hour goal, I chopped 30 MINUTES off my previous personal record. A new PR! A big one! And I crossed that finish line with a smile on my face.

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The finishers’ area was like Fort Knox — I couldn’t get from the finish line to Jeff without going through the food, water, medals, and finishers’ shirts. And no spectators allowed in there.


I got some water, some chocolate milk, and some snacks, made my way inside for a finisher’s shirt, and said hello to my family. About that time, we got a text from Luke. He had found Jennifer and she was still in the race! I couldn’t believe it. Crazy girl!

So we went back to the finish line to wait for her.

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A full hour after we had PLANNED to cross that line – Jennifer finished. I was so incredibly proud of her.

And immediately — we ended up here…

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I love this picture. Jennifer is smiling AND wearing her medal – while a medic works on her calf. Grit, people.

It didn’t go as planned, but we both finished. Big.

The Cowtown threw us some curveballs, for sure, but we finished Marathon #3 with a smile.

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I found this guy at the finish line and seeing as he obviously had a sense of humor about all things COW – I made him pose for a picture. I couldn’t help myself.

3 thoughts on “Third time’s the charm? | The Cowtown Marathon : Race Weekend Recap

  1. Wow, I’m impressed! I think you your time is awesome! My son has been training for his first marathon in April, so I read your account with great interest. So glad you had all the family support.

    1. Thanks, Anita! Best of luck to your boy — it’s quite an experience!

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