Cowtown Half Marathon Recap


For the past 3 winters that I’ve lived in New York, I’ve said February is the perfect time to go home and visit my parents. The weather is perfect in Texas right now and brutally cold in New York. This year I decided to go home for a nice relaxing and warm weekend. I lined up my trip with my hometown race as a fun way to get in a long run and do another big city race.

Training-wise, the last few weeks had been going really well but there wasn’t much training leading up to this race. Between recovering from Philly and then getting the flu I had about 6 weeks of speed work under my belt and one run over 12 miles. I had a peak week of 50 miles followed by 49 the week before race week. It was a very condensed “training cycle”.

Race week I was looking at this more of a rust buster than an all out, give it everything race. I got a late start to training so Brooklyn Half was my goal (still is!) race. I opted for a mini taper. I lowered my mileage race week and only did a Tuesday workout, leaving Thursday to just be a fun run. I also took an extra rest day. Tuesday I did 3×2 miles at my goal half pace-ish, these averaged around 7:10 and honestly it felt HARD. If I was going to hit 1:35 at Brooklyn, I had my work cut out for me. I followed this up with a legs-focused weights session at the gym (I aim to make my hard days really hard, easy-easy).

I was excited to head home for a nice, relaxing weekend and the race was sort of an after thought but something I was really excited for anyways – I really love races, I’m able to push myself so much better in this kind of setting than anywhere else and that’s feels good regardless of the result.

When I got on the plane Friday I was worried, my legs were STILL a bit sore from Tuesday. This was not a good sign. I spent the entire flight reading, forgot about my legs, and just relaxed. After an hour and a half delay and having not eaten much – I was more than ready for Tex Mex. My mom picked me up and we hopped around to a few restaurants, finally “settling” on a taco place for dinner – I had an entire bowl of queso and felt quite satisfied. We hung out for a bit, then got Joe from the airport around midnight.

Saturday we did a quick 4 mile shakeout run and I felt okay. I still didn’t have the usual calm and confidence that accompanies a good race for me. I felt flat, still. We headed to the expo to pick up our bibs and for me to register. If I can, I always register last minute for a race – you never know what may come up before the race; injury, illness and even just feeling crappy. I accidentally registered for the full marathon and for a split second I considered it but realized I’ve done ZERO distance training and that’d be a horrendous idea. I joked about it to Joe later who was not at all shocked when I came up and said, “so I registered for the full”.

We shopped around at the expo, got dinner with my parents then went back home to relax and prep for the race.


Joe and I talked about our race plans some but didn’t really study the course map or do too much planning. I was in the corral behind him and we weren’t planning to run similar paces at all so we decided to run separately. I figured I didn’t have much to lose here so I’d go out a bit faster than 7:15, then reign it in on the hills and just see how long I could hold on. I planned a pretty big positive split knowing that there were a couple downhills in the beginning and a boat load of massive uphills at the end (why?!).

Race morning I still felt eh but also pretty uptight and a little nervous. I had my usual clif bar and coffee (which did NOT help with the things it’s supposed to help with). I put on my lucky leggings and socks along with the rest of my gear, rolled out a bit, did my makeup, drank more coffee and then spent way too long in the bathroom trying to make things happen.

We all loaded up in the car, I had some water and munched on Pumpkin Spice cereal. Once we were near the start my mom dropped the three of us off and I dashed towards a porta potty with high hopes which were quickly dashed. This should be interesting, I thought. Time to just hope and pray because I don’t have the best track record here.

Joe and I finished our warm up and made our way to our respective corrals. I told him to just go for it. I quickly found the 3:10 marathon pacer and jumped in beside him. I felt eh the entire time I waited. None of the usual excitement or happy anxiety. I was mentally fatigued already.

At the start I flew past the 3:10 pacer as planned, downhills are an area I’m strong on and I needed to take advantage of this one. Mile one: 6:50. Faster than planned, but I felt fine. I reigned it in for the next mile. I still felt like I was struggling mentally but I faked a big smile and started genuinely enjoying myself until the first hill at mile 4. 7:19. Not bad, I thought. Let’s buckle up, run fast and hold on. I was on track for at least a 10k PR, I knew I needed that because then I could relax. As we approached the end of mile 5, we headed into the Stockyards. Admittedly a cool part of the race, but running on cobblestones for a mile was not something I was looking forward to. I first focused on flying to 6.2, I poured some more gas out of the tank. 6.2; 43:50 – I used the excitement from this to help me keep up the pace.

As we left the Stockyards, I welcomed the paved road again but was greeted with another big hill. I kept going, didn’t look at my watch and focused on making it up to the flat section. I could see the 8 mile marker ahead and at this point I was fading a lot mentally. I looked down once we hit that mile marker and saw that 1:32 was in reach if I could run 7 min miles the entire way home. It wasn’t realistic but I needed something to perk me up.

I could see *THE* hill in the distance. The mile 9 marker was a quarter of the way up that hill. At this point I was running mostly alone, save for a couple of guys here and there. I could see and feel the entirety of the hill. I found a good song and vowed to only look at my watch at the 9 mile mark, then not again until the hill was over. The climb was brutal, my glutes were exhausted already and by the end I wasn’t sure how much they had left.


At this point, I should have taken a gel but I didn’t trust my stomach. There weren’t quite enough port-a-potties for me to feel comfortable doing this.

We made the turn into downtown where there were a few spectators and it started to feel like the home stretch. I looked down at my watch and thought I could slow to 8 min miles and have a PR if I want to quit, and I really wanted to. I was mentally spent. I kept going strong knowing the spot my mom had picked out to look for us was coming up. I climbed up the last big hill and saw her there, I ran harder wanting to at least look like I was still doing okay. I had faded harder mentally and was counting down.

I let the energy from that carry me a little more. I had 2 miles left. My stomach grumbled at me. I had made the right choice not to take a gel. I pushed comfortably hard. Mile 12, it was time to kick it in. This mile was uphill but it didn’t matter, I was almost there.

My favorite part of any race is the finisher shoot. It’s the part where, no matter how tired or how exhausted I am, I find a second wind, a very fast second wind. With half a mile to go I started finding that wind. 1:33 is possible, you’ve got this – give it every last bit of energy. I thought of how I ran 6:50 pace for the last half mile of Philly – I sped up, glanced at my watch – sub-7, keep going, progressively speed up. I turned the last corner, saw the finish line and bolted.


1:33:34 isn’t a time I expected to see any time this year. I’d been training towards 1:35 in May. This was the first race, I’d really poured everything into. And it wasn’t an easy race. With almost 400 ft of elevation gain, most of which is in the back half, it’s the most challenging course I’ve raced.

img_3118-1With that said, it’s time to set goals for the year but at the same time I don’t want to hold myself to any number; I’ve found letting go of the numbers and just running works best for me. I went into 2019 not ready to set any goals but ready to work hard.

That said, this year I want to get into NYCM 2020 by time. I’ve run hundreds of miles through this city. It’s my new hometown race – I may not have grown up here, but I did grow up a lot here. The streets feel like home to me. I love the chaos of running through Chinatown, the solace of the Manhattan bridge, the energy during training season or a nice day on the West Side Highway, and the electricity of Central Park during Marathon week. What better way to embrace all the parts of this city than running 26.2 miles through it.


2018: A Year in Review & 2019 Goal Setting

2018 began with strong goals and an incredible sense of overconfidence.

I went from out of shape, wheezing after a few miles to 3:41 marathon – I thought all I needed to do was just work my ass off again and I’d have it all.

I learned this isn’t true but I keep at it for the love of the work.

There have been a lot of obstacles. I kept showing up. When I was injured, I let it get me down mentally, but I never let it keep me from doing anything I could to feel strong; I kept showing up.



2018. Nothing good, running-wise, happened for 6 months. A year of patience. I cheered my friends on from the sidelines, watched PR after PR and limped home afterwards. I love cheering others on, but it’s hard when you’re not able to chase any of your goals at the time.

2018 was a lot of grinding, a lot of injury and time off and a lot of just doing it but not seeing results yet. By the time I was healthy enough and strong enough to see results – it was summer. Not exactly PR season.

There’s not a long list of things to review. There’s 2 races I’m proud of and thoroughly happy with. The Boston 10k and Philly. I worked hard and I did things I didn’t think I could do. I had one incredible race – that’s more than enough for me.



Initially, I thought I didn’t deserve 3:26. I still don’t believe I deserve a spot at Boston 2020 but I put in a lot of work. Over 3,400 miles and an average of 9+ hours in the gym or on the road every week for the past year in pursuit of a moonshot. Some weeks 15 hours. I didn’t know what I was working towards, other than being the strongest I could be.

It wasn’t my dream to get here, I didn’t think it was possible. I eventually stopped saying no and started saying I don’t know what’s possible.

2018 taught me patience. #KeepShowingUp

I’m unsure of meaningful goals for 2019 (that would be reasonable). I’ve felt a bit lost after Philly. I accomplished my big goal and everything else I want to chase is out of reach (for now). I’m a goal-oriented person, I like having a concrete goal.

I’m happy to see the work that was a year in the making pay off, but I’m not sure where to go next. One thing I do know, is that I love the work. I don’t need a goal to keep showing up.

Going into 2019, I have no set goals.

I want to improve. I want to chip away at bigger goals. I want to keep showing up. I want to keep working smart. I want to stay injury-free. I want to help others reach their goals.

What’re your goals for next year?

Philly Marathon: The Impossible

3:26:36. 15 minute PR. 26.5 miles of smiles.

Headed into Sunday, I didn’t want to obsess over a certain number or qualifying times. I had an idea of what a good day could look like. I had a moonshot goal that I floated through my mind in daydreams and on long runs. I had a pace I practiced in my long runs and workouts. Based on a recent best half officially at 1:40:XX, my moonshot wasn’t realistic. But it wouldn’t be a moonshot if it was.

My wildest dream was 3:25. Something even Joe said, hmmm, probably not. Minus a porty a potty stop (1:23, longer than the mile 16 proposal at NYCM 😂) and I would have had it.

Gel 1
Gels – Thief of 1:23 of my time in Philly

Earlier this year I scrapped goal after goal, DNS’d race after race following a, seemingly, never ending slew of injuries. In hindsight, I had done everything wrong – I had the work ethic to chase down crazy goals but not the restraint or knowledge of how to do so. I was stubborn, overconfident and greedy. Philly 2017 made me greedy.

Philly 2017 – 3:41

I ran Philly in 2017. I was proud of myself. I’d just started consistently* running a few months prior, but felt I could do more than 3:41 with a massive positive split. I jumped back into training 2 weeks later. Too much, too soon, and mostly too fast. I was convinced that I could do it all; I was convinced that my body was invincible.

*consistently, as in not just a few miles here and there to lose weight.



I broke my body down for the first few months of the year – from an IT Band injury to a hamstring strain that turned into a tear – everything hurt. I kept running on the torn hamstring and ultimately strained my quad and had unbearable pain in my hip. It was hard to sleep or stand on that leg. On my commute to work, I was limping. Eventually, I was forced to take a month off. It was hard. As much as I love seeing others succeed and accomplish their goals, I was sad to be unable to chase any of my own. It felt unfair. I worked hard, I put in so many hours.

I logged as many hours as I could cross training. I was a stickler for doing my PT exercises. I worked to fix the problem spots and learned how to keep my body strong.

First run back from injury in May

In May I was able to run 2 pain free miles, I was elated. But when I started a marathon plan in July, it proved to be too soon. I decided to spend the next 4-5 weeks running slow when I could; even stopping to let my body heal when I needed. To compensate I found the hottest parts of the day, knowing I could run slowly while reaping the benefits of my HR skyrocketing in the heat. I stayed dedicated to strength training, cross training and PT exercises.


Early fall, I decided to train until I felt ready but knew Philly would likely be my best option. I also didn’t tell anyone my plans, not even Joe knew until 2 weeks prior – I wanted to put my head down and work without distraction or pressure. The last few weeks I worked my ass off, logging 15 hours a week of various training. I threw everything I could at doing well.

The week before the race, I was excited but antsy. I raced 2 halfs during my training and wasn’t particular happy with my time, I almost started to doubt how I’d do. I focused on the workouts that left me feeling confident and on wanting to race strong. I spent a majority of the week anxiously checking the weather, hoping we wouldn’t get assaulted with 40 mph winds this time. Wind is the one element I’m weak against. I didn’t really think much about the actual race itself. I planned a few outfit choices, brought a variety of gels and decided what to wear and “eat” the night before.

The day before the race, I did a shakeout run to cheer on my friends running the half. I loved seeing my friends happy and accomplishing their goals. Afterwards we spent most of Saturday hanging out with friends and relaxing – some nerves started to creep in but I didn’t have much time to think about them. We had a quiet dinner and headed back to the hotel so I could get ready.


Getting ready consisted of perfecting my playlist, painting my nails and rolling out a bit of nagging calf tightness I had been having.

Sunday I woke up around 3 AM. After an hour laying in bed I got up to get ready. I spent a decent chunk of this time scrolling through cute animals on Instagram, and sipping my coffee. It’s a simple mindless activity but it was distracting, fun and cheerful.

Pre-race coffee is must. Also these pumpkin spice clif bars. In the past year, every single race I’ve done – I eat this beforehand. I buy several boxes of these to ensure I don’t run out.


The security line was fairly long to get into the start area and I had left a little late. At bag check there were more really long lines. With 5 minutes to go, I still hadn’t checked my bag. This is when the anxiety set in. I also had to pee. Thankfully I was able to check my bag, dart to my corral, climb over the barricades and into my corral before the gun went off.

It took about 5 miles to really settle in. Once my feet were no long numb I started to feel really good. I focused on all the times I’d see my friends, when I’d take a gel and most importantly being ridiculously grateful for each time one foot lands in front of the other.

At the 10k mark – I knew it was my day – I’d been waiting 364 days for this

At mile 15.5 the only pain I had started to seep in – my stomach twisted a bit in a familiar way. I focused on finding the next porta-potty and the second I spotted it was one of the happier moments of the day, I gunned it as fast as I could knowing I’d recover a bit during the stop. 1:23 later – I hopped back to it. This left me bit scared to take my next gel but since I was able to pee, I would be able to hydrate more and it would sit a little better. I still only managed to get one more gel down.

I was in a daze until mile 17.50; when I looked at my watch thought only 2.5 miles until it’s time to get to work. At this point I focused on catching up to the people who had passed by during my port a potty stop. I still felt amazing at this point.


When I got to the mile 20 turnaround I knew I’d be close to seeing my friends again. For once, no negative thoughts or doubt beating me up. Instead I thought about other people, people who’ve been inspiring, I thought about how I hoped my other friends running were doing well. I did a lot of math in my head as to what times were possible at this point. I only looked at my watch to countdown how long until I’d see my people again. I’d practiced this pace, I knew it by heart. At mile 20 the plan was to chip down as much as I could but I was feeling really great so I didn’t push a lot. I somewhat regret this, but I had such a great time just enjoying the race; an extra minute wasn’t worth it this time around.



Once I got to mile 24 I started to feel a little tired, but knew I’d see my friends any minute so I didn’t think too much of it. At mile 25, I got the best surprise ever and saw them again. I was starting to think maybe I had missed them or they got held up getting to that point. That was all the boost I needed, I made a pit stop to hug Joe and then it was time to head home.



I pushed the pace, I was still feeling remarkably good (probably too good) so when my watch hit 26, it was time to gun it. I still had half a mile left as I’m really bad at tangents but this was my cue to hit the accelerator. I looked down briefly as I hit the finisher chute, 6:45 pace, I’m going to come in under 3:27, I still have gas in the tank, gun it.

philly-marathon-2018-finish-lineI don’t remember finishing, I  paused my Garmin, and was so overly/oddly emotional that a volunteer hugged me (I think she thought I was upset). Before I grabbed a water or banana or stopped hyperventilating – I called my mom. I don’t even remember what I said or any of the conversation.

Looking down at my phone to see texts from friends the second I finished was incredible. I was so happy to know they were following me along.

Injury after injury, missed races, deferred goals, and sitting on the sidelines – I came with a renewed perspective.

I was the happiest person you could find out on that course. In every picture from the race, you’ll either see a goofy smile, a heart sign or fist pumping. I let the crowds boost me forward, cheering with them, ripped through downhills and didn’t think about the hills – even the one at mile 20.

Made a friend at mile 14. Wore this smile for the entire race. It was a good day.

The best recap of the race was the text I sent Joe after finishing: “I’m so happy. I ran strong and felt great except for the few miles I had to poop. So I stopped to poop”.

What would I do differently/What could I do better? The low hanging fruit would be my diet and time management. I’m going to aim to clean up my eating 8 weeks prior to my next race and look for time in the day to squeeze in a quick gym session where I can – strength is so important! In the beginning I may have modified too many workouts because I wasn’t sure I could do it, next time I want to just give it a try.

What worked? High volume, longer long runs with workouts in them, 20% max at a hard effort, focusing on speedier speedwork in the beginning then reigning it in to just below my moonshot goal pace, STRENGTH TRAINING to prevent injury. 60 miles per week seems to be a sweet spot, while going up to 70 was beneficial – it’s not realistic to hit over and over in a training cycle because of the time it takes. I had zero social life for 8 weeks – or much outside of work and training.

What’s next? I don’t think back to back to back to back marathons are the best idea for me, so I’m focusing on speed and shorter distances. It’s a break from high mileage and a literal change of pace. It’s also something that I’m really excited about trying.


I set a goal that I dreamed up, just out of reach enough to feel impossible but just within reach enough to push me to it. I worked hard, shut out the distractions that I could shut out and truly felt believed in myself for possibly the first time ever. It worked and I’m happy about it.

I’ll be back in the fall for Chicago, then if a 3:2X buffer is enough this year I’ll do Boston in the spring. Feels incredibly strange to say that, it wasn’t even on my radar as possible especially not 2 years ago when I was so out of shape I could barely hang on for a 3 mile jog.

For 364 days, I kept showing up.