The Cowtown Marathon Ultra 50K

First off, a huge thank you to Nate DeMercurio for putting this race on my radar and helping me gain entry into the event! This was a great event all around from the ease of packet pickup to gear check to the volunteers on course to the recovery food after! I will definitely have this race on my schedule next year.

Before the race with Nate
I had no real planned out goal or strategy set in place coming into this race. This was my first road race over Half Marathon in distance and I only had 7 weeks of training with 4 being slow and easy base mile building weeks and 1 week of tapering, so technically I had only 2 weeks of real workouts and no speed work. My mission was to aim for placing in the top 10. I checked the 2013 results and 10th place finished in 3:57:53, an average mile pace of 7:40 which I figured was well within my capabilities. After checking the 2013 results I figured I would start out at 7:50 for the first 10 miles, hit 7:40 for the next 10 and then drop my pace for each mile after that. That strategy went out the window very quickly on race morning!
I didn’t pick up my packet at the Expo on Friday or Saturday so I woke up at 4:30AM on Sunday, race morning, made some oatmeal and ate a banana, grabbed my stuff and drove 40 miles to the race. I parked half a mile away from the start and walked over to pick up my bib and drop off my gear at bag check. When I dropped my items off at bag check I kept the 8 Clif Shots I brought with me, initially trying to stuff them in the zipper in my tights, then opting to just run with them, 4 in each hand. By the time I checked my stuff it was 6:20AM and I headed out for a quick jog to wake my legs up before heading to the starting corral. I spotted Nate and lined up with him while waiting for 7AM, the starting time of the race to roll around. While waiting for the race to start, I noticed the 3:05 and 3:10 marathon pace groups around me and decided to try to stick somewhere in between the two.
Like I said before, after the race started, all my thoughts and plans went out the window. I clicked off my first mile in 7:02 and it felt much easier then I would have expected. My second mile was split in 7:02 as well and I fell in line with the 3:05 Marathon Group Pacer. One great thing about the course was the scenery and atmosphere. The environment changed over the length of the course, going through Downtown Fort Worth to moving through The Fort Worth Stock Yard and running along the Trinity River Trail and the volunteers and support on course were the best I’ve ever experienced. Fully staffed aid stations, thousands of friends and family members of runners along the course and a few bands made the run that much more manageable.
I came through 5k at 22:03, 10k at 43:55 and Half Marathon at 1:32:03. Once I hit Mile 10, everything felt great, so I decided to pick it up and push the pace to under 7:00/mile for as long as I could. I clicked off 16 consecutive sub 7 minute miles from Mile 11 to Mile 26, crossing the Marathon mat in 3:02:46. I didn’t know it at the time, but the Ultra course was a certified Boston Qualifier, so along my Ultra race I had just qualified for the Boston Marathon. Once I hit Mile 26, the heat started creeping in and began to take its toll on me along with a pair of screaming quads. Miles 27-31 were the toughest miles of the race and I gave my all to try to keep my pacing, but unfortunately lost some of my momentum as I clocked a 7:06, 7:11, 7:00, 7:14, and 7:07 to finish my race. At mile 27.5 there was a turnaround so I could see each runner who was in front of me come back as I continued on. Seeing the 3rd place runner only a minute up on me helped me dig in and finish the race strong even though I felt the race taking its toll. I finished in a time of 3:37:37 and in 4th Place Overall!
Just after the Mile 22 Aid Station
I stuck to my nutrition plan the entire race; eat one Clif Vanilla Shot every 30 minutes and drink water and/or Powerade at each aid station. This kept me fresh the entire time and I only had to eat two gels at once around mile 28 when I started to really feel the heat getting to me. Finally nailing down a fuel intake strategy will be very helpful for future races. Finishing a 50k in 3:37 gives me a lot of confidence going into my next race, the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run in Folsom, CA on April 5th. My goal for that race is somewhere around 8:30 average per mile. I plan on taking a week of rest, ramping up and putting in 3 hard training weeks and taking a week of tapering before my 50 Miler. Knowing I can run this quick this early in my season is amazing. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish in 2014!
My attempt at using a GoPro during the event. The memory filled up at mile 12 and the footage is a little shaky, but I tried! Now I know how to improve for the next time I use a GoPro!
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Questions:
  • Who else ran in one of The Cowtown races?
  • Does anyone have any tips for running with a GoPro or other recording device during races?
  • What is the next race on your schedule?
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