With a little encouragement from Chasen, Isaac thought of a way to go with me to Texas. NOT!
My travel to DFW was uneventful. My guys dropped me off at the airport after I made us a homemade buttermilk pancake breakfast (something I normally like to do pre-church on Sundays, when we can). The flight was smooth and before I knew it I was in the Lone Star State. Now, I have to admit something here. I am NOT a fan of Texas. There's no good reason other than the fact that I am from Arkansas - aka God's Country. I even got upset after finding out that Chasen the Oklahoman was BORN in Texas, which he chose to wait and disclose after I was head over heels. Oh well! Being that I want to run a marathon in all 50 states, I had to get there eventually. Might as well be now!
I got my rental car and headed to the expo. I am not a huge fan of expo's, either. You've seen one, you've seen them all. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. After a bit of a wait at my hotel, I got to check in. Within a half hour or so I headed out to run three pre-race easy miles. The desk clerk directed me to a local park. There was a safe, concrete trail about a mile long. Three loops sans water (doh! no water bottle!) and I was heading back to the hotel.
A little background info: I chose this race because A) my frequent flier miles would cooperate, and B) a friend from high school lives in the DFW area. So on Saturday night I was going to be able to see my friend Sonya for the first time in 8 years. We last met up at our 10-year reunion (in case you're trying to do the math, I am 36 and she is nearly 36). She came to my hotel and we went to the IHOP around the corner for pancakes and about two hours of catching up and laughing our heads off. GOOD TIMES!
I got back to my room with the chance to get 8 hours of sleep. Holy Cowtown! Because I couldn't get right to sleep (go figure) it ended up being right at 7 hours. Wonderful! The front desk called to wake me at 4:45 AM (a cool 5 minutes before I asked them to). I ate my oatmeal and got showered and ready to go. I left about 15 minutes before I intended to, which turned out to be a great thing because traffic was heavy and I just HAD to find a restroom.
Read to run! To the restroom! Move it, thousands of people! I gotta go! (cool freebie green reflector)
It was about 65 degrees when I arrived "on the scene." The humidity was *gasp* 89%. Ouch. The heat would rise to 75 degrees by the time I finished. The announcer was cautioning everyone to be conservative out there and warning everyone that it was "probably not the day to PR." I didn't like the sound of that, but I knew it was true.
I was in corral 5, waaaaaay near the back. I was cool as a cucumber, mentally, because I KNEW that I was going to do well. Training had gone fantastically, and I knew this was my day. Well, minus the hills, heat, humidity and wind...
Here I am, ready and waiting. Get in the Zone!!! (Chasen's St. Jude Half jersey - way cool)
I love the printing on the ribbon. Too cool!
Finally I got to run! It was ON! Look out, Texas! People were just flying already, but I kept it conservative. I knew I had many hills ahead of me. Not to mention heat, wind and humidity.
The course was gorgeous. It mostly consisted of residential streets and parks. You couldn't ask for much more beauty (but they could have flattened it all before I arrived if they had any manners). And the historic stockyard area was my favorite part. Just awesome!
The entire first half, minus some challenging hills, was pretty successful. The splits were like this.
Mile 1) 12:07
Mile 2) 12:38
Mile 3) 12:37
Mile 4) 12:25
Mile 5) 12:53
Mile 6) 12:30
Mile 7) 12:16
Mile 8) 12:26
Mile 9) 13:05
Mile 10) 13:33
Mile 11) 13:45
Mile 12) 13:28
Mile 13) 13:10
When Chasen called me at mile 13.66 I proclaimed to him "I am going to set a post-baby PR!!!" I had run the first half in about 2:49, and I thought for sure that I could break my 5:59:58 post-baby PR.
At this point I was focused on getting to mile 20. I can't say that I was feeling fabulous, physically, but I was doing very well mentally (a first for me at this point of a race). I was psyched! The water stops, located about each mile and a half, seemed to appear quickly. I was walking a bit more than before, but the heat was rising and so were the hills.
Mile 14) 12:57
Mile 15) 13:53
Mile 16) 14:16
Mile 17) 14:49
Mile 18) 14:29
Mile 19) 14:53
Mile 20) 14:47
Happy day! I was there! Just 6.2 to go and I still had not technically hit the wall. Party time! Due to the heat, hills, humidity and wind (that was ALWAYS blowing in my face, mind you) I began a Galloway-style method of walking .05 and running .20 and there for a while I was on top of the world. You see, I had done a bit of a calculation in my head and determined that if I could maintain 15 minute miles I could set a post-baby PR for sure. Surely I could do 15 minutes, right?
Miles 21 and 22 were great. I was so happy (yes, that late in a race - a true first for me).
Mile 21) 13:41
Mile 22) 14:05
I was doing it. Whoo hoo! Mile 23 was mentally tough, but physically I guess I still had what it took, barely.
Mile 23) 14:51
By mile 24 I just wanted to sit down and throw in the towel. That was not going to happen, but that's how I felt. I could barely move.
Mile 24) 17:15
I did another calculation in my head and realized that unless I could pull sub-12 miles, a true impossibility at that point, the post-baby PR was going to have to stay at Rocket City. That was a tough pill to swallow, but given the hills, heat, humidity and wind (gee, I'm a broken record!) I considered it a victory to have done what I had done so far. So I forged ahead. Up more hills. With dead legs.
Mile 25) 15:46
Mile 26) 15:15
The finish line was one that you can hear for a long time but takes forever to see. After what felt like a million turns I made the "final ascent" UP the long, spectator filled chute. The announcer called my name and told everyone that I had come "all the way from Mississippi." Ha! I joyously crossed the mat in 6:05:33. People in camo fatigues had been manning the course, and there was a fellow about 10 feet ahead of me waiting to give me my gorgeous medal. I said "I'll get there tomorrow" because my legs were sooooo tired. He chuckled. I finally got to him, and he also handed me a bottle of water with the cap already removed. Smart thinking!
Because of the very efficient runner tracking system, Chasen received a text message and knew I had finished and called me mere steps past the finish like. That was lovely!
Being that the start and finish took place at the historic Will Rogers Convention Center area, the post-race food was located in a cattle barn. Ha!
I was then directed by a tiny, hand-written sign to go to the poultry barn for my finisher's shirt, which I had completely forgotten about. There were no chickens. :)
Here's where the true misery began. I had to figure out how to get back to my rental car. I had no "oomph" in my legs and had no idea where I had parked, as I was out of my element, exhausted, and I had arrived when it was still dark. Luckily, some nice fellow runners offered to drive me to it. They said "We'll find it." That was the first in my life that I have ever hitch-hiked. But the nice Fort Worth folks had me there in mere minutes. Runners are always nice. Thank heavens!
Lucky for me, sweet Sonya said I could come to her house and take my ice bath. Once I got on the expressway, I called Chasen and gave him the full race story. I stopped to get a bag of ice and Whataburger (which Chasen loves) to fill my empty belly.
After I took the ice bath and then got all cleaned up, Sonya and I were able to visit for about another hour and a half. That was a pleasure! She is so funny, smart and friendly. Birds of a feather, you know. HA!
Here is my loot. Much love to Fort Worth!
I love the printing on the ribbon. Too cool!
Beautiful medal that did not pose a problem to airport security, thank heavens.
The total package: pink finisher's shirt, white entrant's shirt, medal and race bib.
The trip back home was indeed eventful. Yuck. I was exhausted, as I had gotten up at 4:45 AM and ran 26.2 miles, and we had to deplane and go all the way to a different terminal because of an aircraft problem. So I didn't get home until past 11 PM. *yawn*
And now, the day after, I have only a bit of soreness, yet a lot of tiredness. But this boy keeps me hopping, so there is no time for the marathon blues:
I feel so, so fortunate to have had some many people tracking me and sending me positive, supportive Facebook, Twitter and text messages. I am a very lucky girl! Cowtown may have been a bit slower than I had originally planned, but it was my most successful race yet. To have a positive attitude into the 20's and not hit the wall until mile 24 is a huge, huge victory for me. Mooooooo!