Thursday, March 1, 2012

Running for two: The Cowtown Marathon

I'll try to be organized with my thought, but I can't promise anything.

Let's start from the beginning, how I ended up running a marathon pregnant.  I'm a little self conscious about it because I know that there are people who think what I did could be reckless and irresponsible.  I ran Chicago in October and my dad ran White Rock (Dallas) in December, both of us coming just shy of our sub 5 hour goals.  So for Christmas he surprised me with the registration for Cowtown two months away.  I opened a box with my registration confirmation and a tech shirt that says "Training for Cowtown 2012".  Only moments after that, my dad and step mom opened a card from me saying "Surprise! You're getting a 6th grandchild!".  Double  whammy!  My training wasn't hard core.  Just a couple short runs during the week and some long, slow, unimpressive long runs on the weekends.  I basically maintained my base, still left over from Chicago and The New Years Double, but nothing more.  Everything felt fine in terms of pregnancy.  The only issues I had through training were within my head.  Motivation is hard when you're not gunning for a specific goal.

Coming up to race day I was getting nervous.  I thought a couple of times about dropping down to the half, but then I reminded myself that everything has felt just fine.  No matter how great I felt I was not going to be aggressive, and I already completed one marathon on zero training (eh-hem, Chicago 2010).  Pregnant or not, I was in a far better place with conditioning than I was back then.  And if I didn't feel right, or just couldn't take anymore, I had no reservations about taking my first DNF.  Everyone has to get one at some point, right?

On Saturday I was feeling surprisingly optimistic.  I had my mind right.  A new Ifitness belt from the expo didn't hurt either.  I had also purchased a new pair of shoes a few weeks earlier that have more padding than my Minimus.  For some reason my feet hadn't been holding up as well as they had in the past.

Finally it was race day!  I had some cereal, a banana, a muffin, and some coffee in the hotel lobby.  I decided on capris with my Hugh Jass shirt and some cut off tube socks for arm warmers.  I HATE to be cold and the temps were probably warm enough for shorts, but like I said, I hate cold.
Dad, me, Johnsa, and Matt at the start
I used the port-a-potty before the start.  My dad was still going for his sub 5 and I was definitely not.  We wanted to get a picture together in the stock yards where my step mom would be and we thought we worked out a brilliant plan  for it.  Dad had me move up a corral so that I could have a head start.  I was doing a 4/1min run/walk and on my first walk break I hear dad saying "well, that didn't work out" as he was passing me.  Fail.  I could have held his pace for 6 miles, the distance to the stock yards, but I wan't taking any chances on bonking at the end.

I was feeling really good, taking my time, but I did feel like I needed the port-a-potty again.  I passed the first with a long line, the second, and then the third set. Finally I had to stop at the fourth set somewhere around 5 1/2 miles.  The line was still really long and when the door in front of me opened up, there was a chocolate rage doll laid up on the back of that port-a-potty seat!  How shitty is that (<pun)?!  I turned it down and some dude went in.  The very next door to open up I zipped in.  Then I took a minute to stretch and I was back on the road.  Can you tell I'm in a huge hurry? (sarcasm)

The Stockyards were really cool, and honestly can't say that I've ever been there before.  Maybe when I was a little kid?  After the Stockyards, you curve around and head up Main St straight toward the County Courthouse.  It's a really long bridge, uphill all the way.  I was really proud of myself at this point.  All these people who spend all their time training on the flat roads of Texas (which I guess is me again now) stopped to walk up this hill.  I must have passed 30 people on this stretch.  Hill?  What hill?  I've been running around North Carolina for 2 1/2 years.  I kept telling myself  "it's not half as bad as Mallard Creek Rd" a road that was on my regular long run route in Charlotte.
Jazz hands in the stockyards

crappy internet picture
We went through the big buildings in downtown for a bit where the half marathoners split off.  I always hate losing the halfers.  It gets so quiet and lonely.  After we left the halfers we hit the neighborhoods which only added to the quiet and boredom.  There were very few spectators and other runners were either way behind me or way in front of me.  Brad had called and said he would be waiting at mile 13 with the kids so I had that to look forward to.
Somewhere in a neighborhood or something
Seeing Brad and kids perked me up a bit.  I stopped to give hugs and chat, then I was back on the road.  Oh, and I forgot to mention I had another port-a-potty stop somewhere around 10 or 11.

There may not have been a ton of spectators out, but the ones that were there were really good ones.  Everyone was giving out stuff to eat and drink, and I was partaking in all of it.  Between 13 and 19 I had an orange, some liquorish (<sucky speller), and a bite sized snickers.  A little after I saw the fam I started losing motivation again (see how easy it happens).  I hadn't seen a mile marker since 13 and had no idea how far I had gone.  Finally a marker popped up and I was pleasantly surprised to see the number 16 on it.  I was thinking I had only made it to 15!  Motivation back!

At mile 19 we left the neighborhoods for just a bit and went into a really pretty park.  I don't mind being lonely so long as I have something nice to look at.  Then at 20 we were back in the neighborhoods and I felt the urge to pee.  I felt like I had to pee most of the race and that's the only pregnancy "problem" that I've had when running.  This time it was bad and I couldn't ignore it.  I was praying for a port-a-potty at every turn.  I walked almost all of miles 20 and 21 until I finally found the pisser at the mile 21 aid station.  Also, I grabbed a couple more GU's  and Snickers that were being handed out by spectators close to the aid station.  More GU, and an empty bladder.  I was back in!

At mile 22 there were some folks handing out little shots of beer.  Like I said, I was taking advantage of everything being offered  on the course.

Brad and the kids were waiting for me again at mile 23 and ran almost the rest of the way with me.  My legs were getting really tight as they typically do toward the end.  Every time I picked up my run interval, I repeated "good form" to myself.  It's when you get sloppy with your form under fatigue that it starts to hurt.
Look at all that effort!
I hit a huge wall at mile 24.  Just past the 24 mile marker you can see the road to the finishing chute.  However you don't get to go that way.  You still have to complete the mile long loop in the park and you can see the entire thing.  It's demoralizing.  I guess when I get use to running in Texas again, maybe seeing all my miles laid out in front of me wont bother me so much, but right now I hate it.  In Charlotte, your course in concealed by tall trees and rolling hills.  Brad did his best to keep my mind right.  I was going so slow though, we let my daughter out to run beside me.  She loved that.

Again, look at all that effort!  Had I known I was being filmed, I would have given the impression of effort.

My finish time was 6:06 and despite everything, I actually felt really good all the way through this race.  Taking it slow and easy was the right way to go.  I even recovered faster than I ever have before.  Sunday I was doing the waddle.  Monday I was feeling a little sore and by Tuesday there was nothing.  I took an ice bath and used my stick on Sunday evening. I don't know if that is what did the trick.

Some other honorable mentions of the weekend are:

My husband, Brad, who ran the 10k on Saturday.  He got there late (of course) and ran straight out of the car across the start line.  He finished in 1:06.  I thought that was a very impressive time for his first ever race.

And deer ole Dad smashed his previous PR of 5:06 and got that sub 5 with a 4:49!  He says he's done with marathons... unless I beat that time.  Guess this mean I'll be shooting for a 4:30 when I get this baby out.
Look!  He's wearing a Charlotte shirt!
My two step brother's in law ran the half marathon and rudely broke me and dad's 2:11 PR.  Matt came in at 2:07 and Johnsa came in at 2:06

Also I receive my very own honorable mention for awesome race photobomb!

The race in general

I think the course is a nice one.  I'm really picky about scenery, so I didn't like being in the neighborhoods so much, but you also go through the historic Stockyards, downtown, and some nice parks.

The medals are nice.  If you run the race multiple years, the medals come together and make a star.  AND they give out finisher shirts.  I love getting a bonus shirt for finishing!  They had two different ones for men and women.  I gotta say, I like the men's shirt better.  Who doesn't love black?

The finish corral was sub par in my opinion.  After I crossed the finish line, I had to seek out the teenagers who were handing out the medals.  Usually they are right there putting it around your neck before you even realize what you've just done.  Also, the snacks and finisher shirts were inside the convention center and it wasn't well marked.  I had met up with Brad and gone to sit down.  We were about to leave when my dad called me back and asked if I had gotten my shirt and snacks.  He had to explain to me where it was.  It should be more clear.

I think I would do this race again.  Maybe next time I'll make it an Ultra!  I know it can get really cold this time of year, but the weather this past weekend was the best I've experienced in 4 marathons.  It was perfect.  Sunny, 70 degrees, a little windy but that's Texas.

It was a great race that I'm so proud to have finished, but now I'm looking forward to relaxation.  Some short runs during the week, maybe some nice trail running here and there, and nothing more than 6-8 miles if I do get the urge to do a long run.

-Hugh Jass


  1. You did great! And so happy for your dad!

    AND your race pics aren't bad at all!

  2. You did awesome!! Great recap. You look fantastic too!

  3. I really enjoyed reading this! Plus, I still think you are a badass for running a marathon preggo.

  4. Thanks Victoria! It really wasn't so hard. I have really easy pregnancies by most women's standards.

  5. Way to go again Alecia...

    The previous day during the 10K, I was passed by Brad and a women wearing a prosthetic leg (not kidding).

  6. Brad looks like he had the "Eye of the Tiger" face on or maybe some Rocky music.

  7. Great job Alecia! Maybe...just day we can go for that 4:30 together. But it will have to be the Hawaii marathon.

  8. Great recap!! I am so impressed that you finished the marathon - and I don't think it's irresponsible at all. It's not like you were 38 weeks. You a) look awesome and b)kicked so much ass. It is weird to say that reading this convinced me that I can have a 3rd and not give up my hobby?? Much to my husband's chagrin reading this really made me want to have another baby.

  9. Man you really did pull something out there! Great photobomb, congrats to your dad & hubby too. I hate it when you can see the finish line and still have a ways to go. Happened to me in charleston this year where you could see the finish line in mile 21 before a long out and back stretch.