Based upon a great low airfare, Chuck Sohaskey and I decided to try out the Cowtown Marathon. You have probably not heard of the Cowtown Marathon, because it is in Fort Worth, Texas.
The reason for running this particular marathon was three-fold: 1. Chuck’s and my parents live nearby; 2. Chuck and I are Mad Cows – Moo!; 3. My sister has won it twice, so I thought we’d get special treatment!
I flew out the day before (the marathon’s on Saturday, so you can have fun and recover before you go home) and my mom was very late picking me up from the airport. Dallas was getting its first rain in 6 months and there were lots of accidents on the road. In fact, there was so much rain, that the night before the marathon, I hardly slept, it was so loud! Chuck and I briefly talked on the phone, talking about how we would find each other in the morning and other sundry details.
On race morning, my mom, dad, and youngest sister, Marisa piled into the car for the 30 mile drive to Fort Worth. Again, with the accidents, we were forced off the highway, trying to navigate around a particularly horrible smash-up. Being as that none of us know the Fort Worth outskirts very well (my parents have lived there less than a year), I was grateful that there was an in-car GPs, but nervous, because I still hadn’t picked up my packet and the race was starting in 20 minutes. (Mom countered with “Well, you just get your stuff and go, right?” I guess.)
Once into Fort Worth proper, there were no signs directing where cars could go. We had a map from the website that showed the layout, and from the blocked streets, it looked like I had about 8 blocks to get to the check-in tent… and it was pouring. So, I said goodbyes and starting jogging to the tent. No signs anywhere, not even in the tent, but helpful volunteers pointed me in the right direction… through endless puddles (yep, even under the tent).
The race number and my shirt were there, but where was my chip (10 minutes to start)? I was informed that it was an RFID (Radio Frequency ID) tag on the number. Now where was bag check-in? By that BIG puddle over there, with 2 people handling a HUGE line. OK, 5 minutes to go. Where’s the start? No one seems to know. I followed the general crowd (except that there is a half marathon, 10K and 5K that all start around the same time and some at different locations!).
Now, where is Chuck? The website touts 14,000 participants, but I suspect that this is kids in the 5K/10K. It’s windy and rainy and the pre-race announcement says, “No lightning…yet.” I calm the people next to me, saying “Don’t worry. I’ll be struck first!” And, right on the dot of 7:30, we’re off… downhill. Running water, puddles, potholes, the works.
I am somewhat familiar with the area, as at Christmas, we drove all over town trying to find the Ft. Worth Stockyards. This is the non-descript road there. I feel pretty good, despite the weather and crank out a few 7:45 to 8:00 minute miles. I even push it on the uphills, since that is my strength.
I see my family a few times and they see how well I am doing… despite the fact that my longest training run was 6.2 miles. Let’s see what happens when I get to TWICE that! (note: not recommended training).
Just before halfway, I hear a familiar bovine, “MOO!” shouts Chuck. “You’re… behind… me?” Yep. He was 30 minutes late to the start… stuck behind the accident. We both reach the halfway point in about 1:48 (on pace for 3:36…right…)
At about 15 miles, I start having some issues with my knees and with my breathing. Plus, it’s raining more, and the half marathoners have split off, slowing the overall pace. There’s also zero crowd support, except for the lone hasher with watery beer at mile 21.
As I continue to deal with walking and running, I am ticking off time possibilities I will not get. My hope was to run 4:10 and place in the top 10 in Big (200 lbs. +). That earlier pace is gone, but I feel I could break 4:00 if I maintain 12 minute miles, but I can’t really tell how slow I am going.
The rain continues to pick up and the course is getting worse (more potholes, more puddles – later, we learned that race day they discovered a portion of the course was 3 feet under water, so they had to move it and thus increased the total distance by 0.3 miles). The thought in my mind as I see my folks at mile 24, is “Oh, Foch.” (The worst flooded street.)
The majority of the last stretch is uphill and then finishes on brick streets. I stride across in 4:09:22, but do not know my division or overall place.
I find my fam and Chuck fairly quickly. Again, no signs, so we wander around for a while before finding the food tent. Later, after we left, the website indicated a finisher’s T-shirt pickup area and other post-race events. I am pretty weary now though.
By the time I leave Dallas on Sunday, they have still not posted the results (chip-timed!), because they didn’t realize that the electrical equipment would short out in the rain! The following Wednesday I learned I came in THIRD in Big. Last week, after reviewing videotape, I came in 4th.
Despite the errors, this is a fun race to do (cuz I get to see my family), lots of runners (but few marathoners) and I would do it again (club event maybe?).