Monday, February 25, 2013

THAT JUST HAPPENED! (Cowtown Half Marathon Recap Part 2)

(If you missed the prequel of this delightful two parter, you can read about the pre-race-day weekend happenings here.)

The Cowtown had a 7am start time, so I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed (total JK) at 4:30 to be ready to leave the house by 5:40ish. I was really really surprised at how easily I fell asleep. I definitely had pre-race jitters, but I was also exhausted, so I guess that helped. My stomach was in major butterlies, so I stuck with my generic breakfast of an english muffin and a banana. After I ate the majority of the butterflies went away.

Because I'm as type A as they come, I set out all of my race day gear on Saturday so that I could wake up and have it all ready to go the next morning. I'm obsessed with knowing all the details about people's run gear so I'm sharing for those of you that may care:


Clothes: Nike tempo shorts, Old Navy Active sports bra and GoDRY running top


Accessories: favorite Experia black running socks, ProCompression marathon calf sleeves, FuelBelt 22oz palm holder pocket water bottle, Yurbuds (aka best headphones EVER, they never fall out!), Cytomax Energy Drops (AKA best fuel ever!), BodyGlide, cheap Iphone band from TJ Maxx, and cheap black headband that I've had for a million years. 

Back in December I was talking to Taylor's friend Tyler about how I was planning on running the half. He mentioned that he ran it last year and by the end of our chat he decided that he'd sign up again this year. We ran together once over Christmas vacation (he kicked my ass and forced me to run an 8:00 pace the entire time) and before we could meet up for another run, he broke his collar bone on a ski trip. Can you say OWW? To top it off, by the time his collar bone healed up, he came down with a bad case of runner's knee. So I was honest to God shocked when he texted me this week all ready to go, acting like he hadn't already been injured TWICE in 2013. I mean, seriously. Insane. So around 5:45, Taylor, Alli, Tyler, and I all piled into my car and headed over to the race. 

When we left the house it was a cold 38 degrees. I had to keep reminding myself to suck it up and that the forecast predicted it would be warming up to a nice 70 degree day. But still, BRR. We headed inside the expo area of Will Rogers and hung out, stayed warm and tried to stay loose. 


That's my bossy face.


While we were hanging out inside my sweet friend Madysen showed up with this awesome sign!


We hung out inside until about 6:30, when we headed out to hit up the porta potties and wait at the start line. 





 Once we got outside and into our corrals, the nerves subsided and I was just ready to run. Right after 7, the gun went off and we headed out! 

The half marathon, marathon, and ultra all started at the same time, so there were a TON of people, which made it congested for the first few miles (which was expected) but it also kept the energy so high! I wanted to wait awhile before I started my playlist, because the energy and the spectators were so awesome at the beginning of the race that I really wanted to soak it in. Going into the race, I told myself I would really really really really like to come in around the 2 hour mark, and would be ecstatic if I could come in at 1:58. I told Tyler and he agreed that we would try to stick with a solid 9 minute pace, and really pick it up in the last couple of miles. To be totally honest, miles 1-3 absolutely flew by and I hardly remember them at all. I kept thinking holy crap, this is going by so quickly. Around mile 3, Tyler turned to me and said he was plugging in his ipod, and so I did the same. My race day playlist was AWESOME. I put it on shuffle and the first song that played was Young and the Giant's "My Body." Can you say perfect? YES. 

Around the 5.5 mile mark, we hit the first big hill. It was a steep, but short hill that was difficult for about 30 seconds and then it was done. That's my kind of hill y'all. My kind of hill. I was feeling really good and really strong and knew I was keeping up a sub 9 minute pace and really just felt like I was flying. I knew that somewhere between mile 6 and 7 I would get to see my awesome cheerleaders BFFs and I was SO excited for that. That awesome hot pink sign gave me something to keep an eye out for, so when we ran through the Stockyards and I saw them, I started jumping up and down and waving like a crazy person and almost tripped Tyler. Oops. 


We did not love running on that cobblestone. 


Running through the Stockyards was my favorite point of the race. It was right in the middle, mileage wise, and there were so many people screaming and cheering and I got to see my friends and the Stockyards  are so cool and scenic and MAN. It was so awesome. My adrenaline was at an all time high as we ran through there. I knew that our last couple miles had been right around 8:30-8:40 and I just felt like I was flying. 

I started munching on my Cytomax drops as right as we began running through the stockyards, and was sipping on my water about every half mile. I always carry my own water when I run, because I get crazy thirsty and I just really suck at hydration stations. Me running, reaching for a cup and trying to drink always results in me being 100% soaked and 0% hydrated. I'm simply not that coordinated. 

Around mile 8, I started to get a little tired. I knew all too well the hill of death that awaited us at mile 9 and I was genuinely terrified. Up until then the hills we'd encountered had been a challenging, but quick, which I can handle. The hill at mile 9 was a half mile long constant incline. 

This is a really really crappy internet picture that does NOT do it justice. It was MASSIVE.
If you don't believe me  then you came come to Fort Worth and run it with me. Any takers?
Oh and just when you think you're at the top, it goes up AGAIN.  What was even worse is that mile 8 was so straight and flat that the entire time you're running it you are literally staring into the distance at the beast of a hill that's about to kick your ass. Talk about intimidating. As we started up it, I told myself I was just going to slow down, lean into it, and not look up. Well after about a minute and half I had to look. BAD idea. We were not even close to the end. At one point I seriously considered throwing myself off of that bridge but decided to keep going instead because I'd heard there was ice cream at the finish. Once we got to the top I seriously felt like I was crawling. I kept staring at my shadow on the ground and thinking, "Am I even moving???" I was, but it definitely didn't feel like it. 

I finally started to get my energy back around the 10.5 mile mark, where Tyler decided he'd had enough of my slow pokeness and ditched me. I didn't realize how much it helped to be running next to a friend until he was gone. Those last three miles seemed like an eternity. More hills kept sneaking in and made me want to curl up into a ball and die. When I reached twelve miles,  my mindset switched from "Tell my mom I love her!" to "HELL yes only one more mile until I get to see my friends!!" (I'm just going to go ahead and say, I have no idea how people get through these longer races without people there to cheer them on. No idea. That requires some type of inner mental strength that I simply do not possess. So to sum up, I love my friends.) The last half mile had some of the best spectators EVER, and it was also where I saw my FAVORITE sign of the event:


Brilliant.

Once the finish line was in sight, I started frantically searching the crowd for my awesome hot pink sign and all of my favorite people. I was feeling SO emotional and did not want to miss out on seeing them as I crossed the finish line. I also had an awesome surprise when I heard someone shouting my name as I neared the finish line and I looked and saw my sweet roommate! Reason number 373948173298 why she is awesome. Right after I gave her my giant dork wave, I realized I was just a few strides away from the finish and that's when I saw that AWESOME PINK SIGN!


Hallelujah hands!


video

Final chip time was 1:53:28!


The Cowtown was awesome because the second you crossed the finish line people were shoving all kinds of goodies in your face. I mean fruit, power bars, ice cream, bagels- RIDICULOUS amounts of food. I took one of everything (even though the ice cream was the only thing that sounded good to me at the time), and now I don't have to go grocery shopping for the rest of the week. After I grabbed my medal I headed inside to find my family. Earlier this week I'd signed pretty much everyone I know up for live text that would alert them of my time at different mile points during the race. I had no idea what my final time was and so as soon as I heard Taylor say, "You made it, you did that in 1:53!" I started jumping up and down with excitement. 

And then we took some pictures. Duh.

That's great, Mom. Now can we sit down please??

Trying to steal my ice cream. RUDE!
Once we sat down I didn't waste any time filling everyone in on every single detail of every single step. They are sweet and pretended to be super interested. 


We also found Tyler and turns out I wasn't as far behind him as I thought! He finished in 1:52:52.


After I'd finished the ice cream, we figured maybe a real breakfast was in order, so we all headed over to Einsteins for some victory bagel sammiches. YUM. 


And the rest of the day consisted of this... 


+ french fries + naps.

All in all, my first half marathon was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Running just makes me feel so strong. And running while surrounded by that kind of energy is just so unbelievable. 

It's funny to me how during a race you tell yourself you're absolutely insane and that you will never again put your body through so much pain and agony and then approximately 4 seconds after your cross the finish line you're already thinking of the next race you can sign up for. Kindove ridiculous. My next race is the Lone Star 10k on March 23, and I'm already thinking of ways to kill my last 10k time. And of course, I'm getting hyped up for my next half in June. But I'm really looking forward of taking the next two weeks to run just for the fun of it. I'm going to try my best not to set any mileage goals or pay attention to my time and just enjoy it. 

I'd like to take this time to apologize to those of you who don't give a rat's ass about running. My bad. But if you come back tomorrow I promise to delight you with all kinds of talk about the Bachelor and what I had for lunch. I'm keepin' it real y'all. 

MAJORLOVE&HUGS,

Natalie

4 comments:

  1. I just found your blog and I'm obsessed. You are adorable. I've been reading your blog like a book. CONGRATS LADY!

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    1. Thanks SO much! I had so so much fun. And I'm glad you think my craziness is adorable :)

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  2. Congrats! You rocked that half! This has me really wanting to register for a race now :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! Hey major congrats on your engagement and all your plannin progress! And yes, it really stinks that your half marathon got canceled! I'm signed up for a bunch of little races before my next half just to keep that competitive motivation. Have you found another half you want to do yet?

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