Fort Worth Marathon 20-miler Race Report

Let's rewind to how I came to sign up for the Fort Worth Marathon...  If you've been reading my blog awhile, you might remember my Hottest Half race report.  Mid-August Texas half marathon.  That should say it all.  It was, by far, the most miserable race of my existance.  After the half marathon, I was really dehydrated and started to have massive shin cramps (I didn't even know you could cramp in your shin).  It was something I never felt before.  Over came Steve Looney who offered to help my shins with a sports massage.  He only spent maybe 3 or 4 minutes on them, but I felt tons better once the shin cramps were gone.  Then he introduced himself as the race director for the Fort Worth Marathon.  OK, I'm listening, but I already have a marathon on my schedule for December 5th.  Then he let's me in on what is possibly the most brilliant race marketing scheme ever - he tells me there is a 20-mile option and his race falls exactly 3 weeks prior to Dallas White Rock Marathon (the most popular race in the area).  So, let's get this straight... 3 weeks before my marathon, when I have to run 20 miles anyhow, I can run it on a pre-mapped, supported course, AND get some more bling?  SCORE.  Between that and the shin massage, I was sold!

OK, now we can fast forward back to yesterday.  I was strangely nervous all week, but not nervous when I woke up yesterday.  Not at all.  I was just read to get it done.  After not sleeping at all and answering a "mommy, I need to pee-pee" call at 3am, I officially got out of bed at 5am.  I took my time getting dressed and eating my chocolate chip/oat Clif bar and downing some water.  At 5:45am, I was ready to hop in the car... so I did what every good blogger does, and tried to master the self-portrait...  Nuu-muu with capri's under and jacket and hat. 
I headed to Elaine's house and hopped in the car with her, her husband, and her dad.  It was about an hour drive over to Fort Worth, and I was so thankful to not have to make that trek by myself.  We arrived just after 7, and it felt really cold outside.  We got our bibs and packets and then immediately made a bathroom stop.  Ahhhh...
Then we headed to the start line around 7:30am to watch my friend, Robin, start her marathon.  We then took a quick run to the car to decide what layers we would keep and what layers to get rid of and to drop off our packets.  We took a few before-race, oh-I'm-so-cold, photos... then we headed back to the start area, where we decided to hit the bathrooms again.  At first I wasn't going to go because it was only 5 minutes before the start, but I'm glad I decided to go anyhow... As soon as we hopped out, it was time to start.  98 runners doing the 20-miler.
And we're off... everyone starts going, and I say to the girl next to me "I assume the people in front of us know where they are going???"  There wasn't anything marking the first few turns of the course, but apparently the majority of the runners were familiar with the course (there WERE people on these turns coming back).  I went out a little fast and as I pulled back I noticed the large majority of people were passing me and moving way out ahead.  While I'm a mid-to-back-of-pack runner, it was a weird feeling when 82 out of 98 runners were leaving me in the dust.  It was a bit lonely.  (This was the first time I ever pulled out the camera while running, and honestly, I don't know how some of you do it!!!  Took way too much focus.)
Mile 1 -- 10:45
I should say here that my goal for this race was 11:15s, which is what I hope to run my marathon at.  Obviously, I noticed that the first mile was too fast, plus I continuously reminded myself that this is not the race I care about, take it easy.  So I pulled back... maybe a little too much.
Mile 2 -- 11:33
Mile 3 -- 11:47
Mile 4 -- 11:40
About here, I caught up to a couple other 20-milers (only because they had to take a potty stop) and told them I was going to try to hang on at their pace for awhile.  As you can see in the photo, the course was very pretty (next to the Trinity River), but was generally a straight path along the edge of the river.  It was flat (except a couple of bridges)... so not much change for the duration of the race.  I was also getting a little thirsty at this point... there was a water/gatorade station at mile 1 and 2, but then the water stations at 3 and 4 had jugs of water and no cups... so the volunteers were just sitting around. 
Anyhow, when I caught up to the other runners, I was able to push the pace back to where I wanted it...
Mile 5 -- 11:26
Mile 6 -- 11:21
I saw Elaine's husband and dad and managed to hand them my jacket since I was getting warm.
Mile 7 -- 11:13
Still no water... nada... nothing... so thirsty.  AND there were some pebbles in my shoe from spending some time on the parallel path that was dirt and pebbles (hoping it would give my knees a little relief).  They were annoying but bearable... but once again I reminded myself that this is not the race I'm preparing for... I need to take care of myself.  So somewhere during mile 8, I stopped, sat down, and took my left shoe off to dump out the pebbles.  As soon as I got back up, I naturally kicked it up to catch up to the 2 runners I had been pacing...
Mile 8 -- 11:42 (shockingly fast considering I spent at least 90 seconds on the ground dealing with my shoe)
Mile 9 -- 10:40 (apparently the pace felt good, and I kept going - probably not wise)
And finally a water stop, but no cups... but WAIT, someone was pulling up with cups, so I stopped and waited for a few seconds.
At about mile 9.5, something happened that has never happened to me in a race EVER.  A sign with my name on it???  What???  I have never had a sign during a race.  Monika and I used to work together about 6 years ago, and I probably haven't seen her in 3 years, but we facebook often, and I just let her know I'd be out near her neighborhood on Sunday morning.  Monika just had her first baby and is getting back into running shape (she is a marathoner!).  Anyhow, she made me a sign!!!  I was so stinkin' excited (AND she happened to be standing right next to my friend Robin's husband... so I got double cheers).  As I passed by, she threw down the sign and the keys and came out to run with me.  Another first, for me.  So I went super-blogger and snapped a professional quality action shot!!!
I know, I should be hired as a sports photographer.  And no, it's not just the camera angle, we really do have that much height difference.  That really was a nice pick-me-up for the turn-around (which, by the way, was nothing more than a green arrow on the ground that said "20-miler turn-around").  Per the director, there should've been someone there, but there wasn't.  Anyhow, I was blazing through that mile, and as soon as we got back to Monika's sign (about a mile later), she peeled off and said good-bye.  Woo-hoo.  What a great energy boost.
Mile 10 -- 10:22
Mile 11 -- 10:39
And then finally settled back in...
Mile 12 -- 11:29
Then the thirst started to hit heavy again and once again... complete lack of water stops from 12-16.  I count on water stops not only for hydration, but for the 15 second walk that just gives my legs a quick refresh.  My body started to really drag...
Mile 13 -- 12:04
Mile 14 -- 12:04
Mile 15 -- 12:07
Water!!!  Mmmmmm good
Mile 16 -- 11:58
Right after this, I passed a spectator offering water bottles... Um, YES.  I didn't really need water that second, but didn't know how the stops would be the rest of the way.  It was annoying to run with the bottle, but again, this is not the race I'm training for... this is a training run.  I needed to relax and preserve my body.
Mile 17 -- 12:10

I knew a fellow blogger might be there spectating... and there she was... so for a 2 second high-five, I got to meet Corina!

Mile 18 -- 12:08
Another water stop here, so I threw out the water bottle to preserve every ounce of energy.  Here's where I started to hallucinate.  Seriously, my right knee and right hip were hurting... I hadn't walked at all except for the 5 or so water stops, and even then, only for 10-15 seconds.  I was trying to listen to Tall Mom and "get out of my head."  I was trying to think of words that were written in my marathon motivation from my favorite bloggin' marathoners.  I could visualize Marcia on the side cheering me on as if it were her own race.  EMZ, however, was running backwards in front of me (cause she's cool like that), yelling at me... You. Have. Got. This.   Then Beth was on the side and as I ran by, she hit me in the butt with her crutch.  I'm sure you think I'm kidding, or I was delirious, but I was willing to distract myself in anyway possible... and creating a scenario with some fun bloggy personalities got me from mile 18-19.5.
Mile 19 -- 12:13
Definitely tired with some aches, but the slightest incline was agony on my right hip.  Ouch.  But I'm at mile 19... kick it up and get this over with, so I did...
Mile 20 -- 11:15
Official time 3:51:12.  (The course measured right on... 20.05 per my Garmin.)
Post-race, I had a few minutes to talk to the Race Director, Steve Looney.  He was very concerned about the racers and quite upset about the water stations not being set up properly, as well as there not being a volunteer at the turn around.  I'm confident that next year, these issues will be remedied.
Despite the water stop issues, I like the ease of the course (and the flatness).  The weather was perfect upper 40s to upper 50s (too perfect, after 4 hours sleeveless, I got a nasty sunburn).  It was a nice run for my final 20-miler.

I'm liking the tech shirt!!!  And who doesn't like bling...

But it's not just any bling... because the ribbon velcros...
And then you have... A BUCKLE ...

Suh-weet!

I actually felt quite good post-race.  I iced my knees and my right hip and kept my compression socks on all yesterday and today (they're probably getting stinky!).  I walked on the treadmill for 3 miles today and felt only minimal aches in my knees... very minor.  I feel good.  I wish I had kept a slightly better pace mile 13-19, but I am glad that I just held the pace that felt right so I didn't tax my body too much pre-marathon. 

Wanna know what was most shocking to me?  It wasn't the distance... I remember 3-4 years ago when I'd go to the gym and my workout was 15 minutes walking - 15 minutes running - 15 minutes walking.  That was a good, sweat-inducing workout that was enough for me.  I had a friend who would often be next to me running solid for that 45 minutes, and I thought she was crazy.  Forget the miles, yesterday I ran without stopping (except for five 10-15 second water breaks) for 3 hours and 51 minutes.  Seriously?  Rock on. 

Wanna see how cute my medal looks on my Sporthook?

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