We were really ready, I think. I just felt all week leading up to the race that it was going to be a good one...despite the following facts:
1. We ran the Cowtown on 2-27 and my time was the worst I'd ever run...I believe due to the fact that I ran a PR on the treadmill for a 5K the week before and my legs were fried - but that's just me. I also think Rick's surgery had a little to do with it...he was only 10 days into recovery!
2. We ran the Allen Eagle run on 3-6 and both posted decent times - no PR for me, but I wasn't expecting one that race.
3. We worked out on Monday, then couldn't work out on Tuesday because we were so sore from working out on Monday! THAT hasn't happened in quite a while!
4. I had to work late both Wednesday and Thursday evenings for school activities - which meant NO workouts of any kind for me...again, hasn't happened in a while.
5. We took Friday off (planned) to rest our legs for the race - although I hadn't run since the Saturday before!
I still I felt this would be a good race...I just FELT good!
We got up Saturday morning and picked up Cotton to go to the EXPO. You are required to go there to pick up your bib, t-shirt, and goodie bag - no race day pick-ups...soooooo off we went. It was a really good EXPO. Well laid out and well organized. We found our "corral" and picked up our bibs quickly. Cotton was in Corral #1, we were in Corral #8. You are placed there according to your estimated finish time. I was just hoping that the 2:20 time I had put for Rick and I wasn't overly ambitious after my 2:32 time just 2 weeks before! Oh well, time would tell, right?
After getting our bibs we were directed over to the t-shirt table where we picked up our race shirts. They were REALLY nice! Black dry weave technical shirts...NIIIICE. Then off to another table to pick up the "goodie bags". These were also the official "gear bags" that would be used on race day to check in our gear. Once we got these we were at the entrance to the EXPO area, so we walked on in.
The EXPO was a lot of fun. We picked up some cool luggage tags right away. They have the Dallas RNR logo and we felt like there wouldn't be so many of those floating around when we had luggage to go anywhere - at least we hoped not! We saw some amazing new racing gear, training gear, etc. We walked from booth to booth, enjoying the comaradare. I picked up some samples of olive oil and basalmic vinegar at one booth, and some of a new sports drink called CYTOMAX at another. This was the drink that they would be giving out during the race. Cotton found some recovery tights he had been looking for, and they actually had his size there, so he got them as well. We found the GU booth and I bought a box of my favorite - chocolate. Since I bought an entire box, they threw in 2 free packs and a pair of cold weather GU gloves! As we were walking from booth to booth we turned a corner and I saw --- MY SHIRT! During the Cowtown race I had seen a couple of people wearing a shirt that said "TEAM 413" on the front and a copy of Philippians 4:13 on the back. That is my personal Bible verse...I've had it with me at work for years, I tied a keychain with the verse to the laces of my shoes to help me through my first marathon, and Cotton and Angel gave me a plaque with the saying for Christmas last year. It 'fits' me and I refer to it daily. Here they were - selling the shirts at the EXPO. I picked a white shirt with purple lettering for me, and Rick got a blue sleeveless with yellow lettering for himself. Now I was SURE it was going to be a great race! After looking at all the booths - and picking up more free stuff - we were ready to head home.
Race morning was beautiful. A little cool, but no clouds and not much wind at all. We picked up Cotton about 5:45 and we were off. Travel went quickly until the turnoff to get to Fair Park...the finish line of the race - and the place to park and catch the buses to the start line. Traffic was backed up like you wouldn't believe. It took us over 20 minutes to get to the parking area! This was honestly the only snag in the entire weekend. I hope they look into fixing this before next year's race - some kind of traffic direction or even Dart buses or Trains for transportation would be better.
We got to the start area and walked around a bit trying to find the gear drop off. We passed tables that had bananas, water, and bagels - so we picked up a quick and healthy breakfast. Just enough to stave off hunger and give us a few carbs to get us going. We found the corrals we would be starting from and headed back to "race village". On the way back we saw some buses with numbers in the windows. Sure enough, these were the gear drop off zones. There was an entire line of buses! They were set up so you dropped your gear off at the bus that had the sign for the first letter of your last name. We found ours - but decided to wait a bit before we dropped off our nice, warm, wind suits! We found a sheltered area and sat to wait. At about 7:30 we went ahead and packed up the gear, dropped it off at the buses, and headed back to the start line again. Now all we could do was wait for the start!
The corrals were totally organized. There were folks at the gates explaining that the first number on your bib was also your corrall number and helping people find the right place. For the most part people totally cooperated. This lead to one of the best starts of a race I've seen! They got started on time, corrals were released about every 2 minutes and there was plenty of music and encouragement to entertain while you waited for your corral to be released. They even had the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders on stage right at the start line. Finally it was our turn and we took off!
The course was a good one. To me it felt like I spent most of the first half of the race running up hill - although I know there were some flat areas in there too! I stayed up with Rick for the first 3 miles really well despite the fact that at mile 2 we had the greatest increase in elevation of the entire race! Then we hit the first part of the longest elevation change. It was a pretty sharp increase and I struggled a bit. He waited for me there, but immidiately began pulling away again. I ran like the wind and caught him on the flat to let him know I was OK....then he went ahead again. I saw him at the 5 mile water stop, and that was the last time. I love running with him whenever we can - but I'm always so proud when he takes off and runs "his" race. I don't worry about him looking for me and turning an ankle or getting hurt that way - and I know he can run his best time. I'm slowly able to keep up with him for more and more of the race time, but it is harder with my short little legs to keep up with his long ones! Anyway - he was off doing his race, and I was left to run mine. I was determined to do it right!
I chugged along feeling like this race was nothing but one big uphill. Well - for 4 miles it is! Rick left to run his race after the first mile of the longest elevation increase - little did I know I still had 3 miles of an uphill battle to go. At the end of this section there was a small crowd of people shouting encouragement. A man yelled out that we were almost at the top of the hill and it would be downhill from there - I yelled back it better be because it had been all uphill to that point...everyone around laughed and I knew I wasn't alone feeling the struggle!
He was right, once we made the crest of that hill we did start a long elevation decrease - another 3 miles. I think that is what helped my time stay pretty consistent here. At mile 12 there was a very small increase again, and my time slowed to 11:00 minute miles and even though mile 13 was a decrease I hit the wall here and it was all I could do to convince myself that I could keep running. I was pushing as hard as I could, but I just couldn't get it going again. When we went through the gates of Fair park I was so excited...I knew the finish line was close. Then all of sudden the UT band struck up and the crowds thickened. I followed the course and saw ahead of me the yellow fences leading to the finish line - I was close. Someone from the crowd shouted, just around the corner! I picked it up a little....turned the corner...and there was another corner! NOOOOOOOO....oh well - push it, push it, push it....turned that corner and there it was...ANOTHER CORNER! ARRRGGGG! I wasn't going to stop now! I pushed it a little harder and FINALLY there was the finish line. I crossed it and hit my Garmin. I did a double take, my time: 2:20:36 (official time was 2:20:42)! NEW PR! I had met the goal time I set for this race so long ago! As I moved through the group I saw Rick at the back of the runner's area waiting for me. He was so surprised to see me! We walked slowly toward the family meeting area and saw Cotton waiting at the fence for us. We met up to walk to the gear bus together. Cotton told us he had turned his knee at mile 10 and had to run/walk the last 3 miles, but still finished in 1:42:43! Rick had a PR by over 7 minutes of 2:10:36. All in all a great race for all of us!
As we walked to the car after picking up our gear we all agreed that this was one of the best organized races any of us had ever run in, and that we all wanted to run it again next year! The bands were nice, but you really only got to hear snippets as you went by - I feel they were more fot the spectators along the route than for the runners. I really enjoyed the cheer squads, and even more the folks just lined up along the route cheering for everyone.
Several times during the race people yelled out "Go TEAM 413", and others as they saw me (either me passing them or them passing me) would comment that they liked the shirt. It was always at a time when I needed encouragement - and helped me "stay strong". I can't wait to wear it to my next race!!!
Boring race stats follow!