When I signed up for the Cowtown 2013
in September 2012 I had it on my 2013 race calendar as an “A” race. I had every
intention to train to break my 3:04 PR by running a sub 3 hour Marathon. I was running strong and completed my first 50K
trail run in January in the Hill Country of Bandera, TX. I felt training was on
target and I was going to have a solid shot at a PR.
Four weeks before Cowtown I suffered a lower left rib injury which left me unable to run for two and ½ weeks. My ribs could not take the ground pounding of a run so I was forced to aqua jog. I’ve used this training method in the past so I was not too concerned about missing my running workouts. What concerned me was the inability to get in my tempo, pressure or pace work in. It’s just not something one can do in the pool during an aqua jog session.
I knew early on that time would heal the injury and it would probably be best if I stopped all training to allow it to heal quicker. I decided to roll the dice and continue my training knowing that I would take longer to heal. A week and a half prior to Cowtown I was finally able to run on a treadmill. I got two treadmill sessions in and though I could still feel my ribs it wasn’t painful enough to prohibit me from running. I was also able to cycle without any issues. Swimming was another story. I was unable to get through a swim session without having to stop and regroup. The reach and stretch of my left arm and the pushing off the wall would aggravate my rib injury.
One week prior to Cowtown I raced in a Duathlon. Good news was the ribs on the run were a non issue. Bad news was my legs felt really off. I was now one week away from running Cowtown and there was a huge unknown going on in my head.
The training set back combined with how my legs felt when a did the duathlon made me change my Cowtown Marathon goals. Instead of an “A” raced I was going to approach it as a gauge to see where I was with my marathon for Ironman
I already convinced myself that I was going to be happy just to finish and
collect my 5th finisher medal. Texas
On race day I found myself driving to
still with the uncertainty of what
my legs would feel like on the run. After parking I did some dynamics and got a
short jog in. It was pretty cold that morning and I did not want to stand
around for too long waiting for the race to start. I waited until there was 15
minutes to the start time before heading to the starting line. Fort Worth
I jogged up to corral 1 and I hopped over the fence to get onto the course. I ran into several friends of mine and I had a couple quick conversations wishing them well. I also ran into
, a good friend of mine, and an
excellent runner, triathlete and coach. Madison
was also running the marathon so I decided that I would stick with him for as
long as my legs would allow it. I had no expectations for this race I would
listen to my legs and let them dictate the race pace for me. Madison
The gun goes off and we are running. Madison and I ran together through 5 miles and had a casual conversation along the way. The running weather was perfect and my legs were feeling good. Around mile 5
ran along side of us
and decided to join us. Logan
was running the ultra marathon and looked real solid. Logan
I felt honored to be running along side with two great athletes. I stuck with them until about mile 13. It was then I realized that I was moving a bit quicker than I had originally planed prior to my injury. At the time we were averaging about a 6:10 to 6:15 pace. I wanted to be sure I had some legs left for the end of the race so I decided to back off their pace so I wished
Madison and well and told them I was going to sit
At this point of the race I was really in no man’s land. There wasn’t anyone to run with nor where there people cheering you on. My run motivation at that time was to get to the next aid station so I could hear someone cheering. Somewhere between miles 13 and 15 I was passed by a couple runners. It looked like they were working together. I wished them good luck as they passed me by. Between mile 15 and 19 there are a few hilly areas that will sneak up on you if you are not careful. I knew the course would eventually flatten out so I was conservative and patient. I pushed up the hill and let the gravity of the down slope carry me.
My legs felt good and I was holding my pace between 6:30 and 6:50. I set a goal for myself to keep my pace under 7 a minute mile for the rest of the race. My legs were comfortable and so was I. It felt like a training day at
Somewhere between miles 21 and 23 I caught the two guys that had passed me. They were no longer together and were about a ½ mile apart from each other. When I made my pass on each of them I made sure I did it quickly to appear that I was running strong. I did not want them to latch onto my pace and try to run with me. Both were laboring when I passed them on by and they made no attempt to stick with me. I was relieved that I would not have to potentially have a gut check with these guys towards the end of the race.
I pushed on and approached mile 24. In the distance I saw a runner and a cyclist. It was my friend Madison. From a distance I could tell he was hurting. His stride looked off. I knew he was suffering from an injury prior to running the race and he wasn’t sure how it would affect him. I’m not sure if the injury caught up with him, but by the time I reached him he had stopped to walk. I asked him if he was okay. He said he was fine and wished me well. I didn’t want to pass my friend this way but, I knew he wouldn’t have wanted me to stop either.
At this point I had two miles left to get to the finish line and I had a bike escort. The person on the bike said to me, “Hey your back”. I reply, “I guess I am, lets see if we can finish this.” I knew I was now the 3rd male overall marathon runner. I thought having the bike escort was really cool. What was even cooler than that is back in November I ran a ½ marathon that overlaid mile 25 of the Cowtown Marathon so I knew it was going to be a slight down hill run with wind at my back. At this point I knew that if I held pace I had a real solid chance at securing the 3rd male overall place.
The last 1.2 miles were tough as there was a slight climb to the finish line. The marathon course merged onto the ½ marathon course. I was now escorted by three cyclists who all worked really hard to clear a path for me. Once cyclist was yelling “Lead runner coming through please move right”, while another cyclist was blowing this really loud whistle. To my surprised there were four to five people who did not move right. Those runners were wearing ear phones. As I weaved through them I was thinking how loud could the music be to not to be able to the whistle or people yelling at them to move left.
My left calf was starting to cramp and I had to mentally shut off that cramp signal. There was absolutely no way I was going to stop and stretch if I got a cramp. I was so close to the finish line and I was going to get this done. I pushed through and crossed the finish line.
Raul with RunFAR came up to congratulate me on my finish. I thanked him and looked at my watch. I had just beat my PR by 12 minutes with a time of 2:51:28. I was excited, ecstatic, in shock and disbelief. That finishing time was completely unexpected, but most certainly welcomed.
I spoke with a few friends to try and piece together what just happened. I went into a race with no expectations and ended up hitting goals I had originally set up for this race pre injury.
Here are my thoughts on why I had a good race.
- Running Base - I had a huge running base leading up to my 50K trail run in Bandera, so finishing Cowtown was not going to be a problem.
- Adjustment to Training Plan - The time I spend aqua jogging during my injury helped maintain my base.
- Extra Taper - Due to my rib injury I had an unplanned four week taper for Cowtown. During those four weeks I had only one hard run push which was my Duathlon one week prior to Cowtown.
- Weather - The race day the weather was perfect for a marathon. The temperature was right and the wind was not an issue.
- Patience - Finally I think knowing my limits and being patience throughout the race was key. If I had not slowed down at the 13 mile mark I’m pretty sure it would have affected my finishing time.
Thank you for reading this blog entry. As always feel free to email me any questions or comments you may have.