Day536 Cowtown Marathon / 50K

I flew into Dallas/Fort Worth last week. I was primarily there to run the Cowtown Marathon. This trip was in planning over a year. I had my eyes to cross out Texas as one of the 50 states marathon. I have been to Texas in 2021, doing the Rocky Raccoon 100. I do not believe it would replace a marathon, so I decided to go back to run a proper marathon.

Texas is one of the states (like California or Florida) where you have many choices to choose. I considered Austin Marathon, San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston Marathon. Cowtown won out for me. I wanted to go to an interesting place, and Fort Worth was pretty cool.

I arrived late Friday night. Did not do much but checked in at the hotel and had a good night rest. Fort Worth was as cold as Virginia when I landed. All I wanted was to snuggle under a blanket.

On Saturday, I attended the convention. They had two 5k events and a 10k event that morning. Traffic was bad. Google Map kept directing me to turn into closed streets. I think I circled the area for an hour before finding a place to park. There were no signage that the university parking lots were available for convention goers. In the end, I parked on one of the side streets. Not complaining. The race was staged at an university, where parking was plenty but all were restricted. Better signage might help.

I got to say, I have done some big marathons, like Duluth and Marine Corps. The organization for this one was amazing. We had corrals and each one was fenced off. I think there were 20,000 people. The race kicked off at 7:00 am Sunday.

I was there like at 4:30 am, to take a free parking spot. I don’t know how the rest of the people get parking. There were paid parking decks. I didn’t want to pay for parking. By 6:00, our lot was full. I slept in the car until it was near start time. I followed the people out to the main plaza.

Most people went toward the covention hall. It is a big place. They had a morning worship. This was the first marathon I attended where a worship service was held. Texans love their Faith.

Temperature for the morning was fine around 50 F (maybe like 10-12C). It was a perfect temperature for running. I would like to have a light jacket on, but I went with a t-shirt and shorts. I was a bit cold though I could stand it. Huddling in the convention hall was good, till they told us to get to our corrals.

I was assigned to Corral 6 but after getting there and checking around, I felt I should be in one higher (Corral 7), for the slower people. My pacers were in Corral 7 too.

We joked around saying we are like cows being herd together. Indeed, this was Cowtown and they do herd livestocks through their city.

The race got underway. We were mixed in with the half marathoners and the full marathoners. There were only about 200 runners running the ultra (50k). I originally wanted to sign up for the full marathon, but finding out they offered an ultra, I couldn’t resist of not running it as an ultra runner.

The half marathoners were a pretty slow crowd in our corral, running at 2:40 finishing time or slower. The marathon pace was about average at 5:05 finishing, and we, doing the ultra, were aiming for a 6 hour finishing, which was a little bit under 12 min pace. It was well done, at least at my pace, we were not too packed together, unlike at the Marine Corps Marathon. The pace was just right. I did not pass too many people and not too many passed me. Of course, we doing the ultra had to run a bit faster because we had more distance to cover.

The first 5k was uneventful. I felt fresh and it was easy. It was on a downhill. We would be coming back on this. What I feared at the time was mile 9 because from previous day, I met a runner who warned me of the steep climb at mile 9.

Soon we arrived at mile 9, where we entered into downtown. The climb was on an overpass/bridge. To me and our ultra group, it was nothing. I chewed it. There were my many other people walking up. I think we offended some people for being maybe a bit too loud. A lady gave me a disgusted look and said, not everyone can run at your pace.

OK. We upset some people. But pretty soon, I think at mile 11 the half marathoners went off toward their finishing stretch. We, with the marathoners continued on. We quickly noticed we no longer had the whole road to run on. Aid stations, while still plentiful became farther apart. And there are less crowd cheering. This was where the real running began.

A fellow runner started peeling off. I slowed down and ran with him for a bit. It was his first time doing a 50K. His goal was to just finish. He asked if it was my first time. I told him it was probably my 4th or 5th at a 50k. My longest training run was last weekend when I ran 32 miles. I ran even longer distances and told him my 100 miles. But I said, this is different, being a road race is many times faster and so, it is harder. When my friend began to go slower still, I left him, and told him I will see him at the finish.

Many were running a 50k the first time. And our pace was unsustainable to them. After each aid station, there were fewer of us and fewer runners left that were able to keep pace with the pacers. Even I eventually couldn’t keep up by around mile 20.

I got to say, near mile twenty, a private home offered a good aid stop, with fruits, chips, candies, and everything you might find in an ultra. Our official ultra aid station where they offered real food besides water and gels, was not available until at mile 27 (serving freshly grilled burgers), of course by then, we were half dead.

The Marathoners separated from us after mile 24. We had an out-and-back section before joining back in at the same location.

I have done a 50K with the Marine Corps Marathon. I believe Fort Worth did it better by putting the 50K split near the end of the marathon course instead of the beginning. This way, when the 50K runners merge back onto the course, we do not feel overwhelmed or crowded by the marathoners. When I ran the Marine Corps 50K, the split and merge back was at the beginning of the marathon course, and by the time we merged back, we were put in the rear (1 hour behind) the general marathon crowds it felt like running into a wall against the slower crowd. And we had to fight our way up front. It was very hectic to squeeze through the crowd because the average pace for 50K runers was generally faster than the marathoners at the merge point (it was very tricky for the race organization to plan the pace of two groups of runners merging in). Fort Worth did it better. While, we were faster, but there was only a mile to run before the finish, and most marathoners already done, so there were not many runners we encountered after the merge in.

I reached mile 26 in 5 hours (we were with the 5:05 marathon pacer throughout the run.) We had about a 2 mile of out and back, turning around at mile 27. I stopped for a cheeseburger. The service was excellent, except as mentioned I was bonking hard by then. I could only take a bite or so before continueing on my run. If I did not care about time, I would have stopped to eat my fill. We had four miles left. I love the intention of giving us good food, however, being a race, we couldn’t stay for long to enjoy.

Mile 29 was the hardest for me. I was glad to join back with the marathoners after the out and back section. These now were the 6 hour marathoners. They went at a much slower pace, which was perfect for me. I needed their encouragement to get the moving again. There were a group of 4-5 older runners. They were doing run-walk as I joined back into the course. Their first run-walk got me to mile 30.

By then I got my groove back and I was able to run away from them. This was an unhill portion. I was not sure if the course is long, in my mind I planned for running a 32 mile 50k (expecting a longer course). I kept on hammering at my pace and caught up to a fellow ultra runner. We pushed each other onward, not letting either of us to slow to a walk. I told him the finish line is just up ahead. He asked where. I kind of lied to him, and said see, we reached the spectators section. They had lined the street with metal fences, so that the crowd would not interfere with runners. But now the spectators were gone, there were a few people left, but it was no longer a crowd. I think the crowd had cleared out couple hours ago, probwbly at the 4 hour finishes. The runner next to me surged on ahead. He had the kick. We still had quarter mile to go. I reminded him, quarter mile is still a long way off. But we were close.

We made a turn and now truly the finishing arch was in sight. We ran. I had no strength left to sprint it in as I usually do. I kept my steady pace and was able to cross the finishing line with a time of 6:03:36.

A fellow runner, whom I met around mile 10 said he would utilized the full course time available of 7:29:59. He came in at 7:28 (race clock, technically he still had 30-ish minutes more with bib time, since our group started 30 mins after gun time). Good for him. I waited until he crossed the finish line before heading home.

Race overall was great. I had a good pace group. The two pacers at first were a bit annoying, but they became extremely helpful to me. They were incredible, having run the Austin Marathon a week before and will run the San Antonio Marathon the following weekend. They are doing 3 marathons back to back.

The woman who paced 5:05 group, she fell 3-4 times, face first on the concrete, but she got back up each time and continued on. There was a loud sound of her smacking on the pavement. She scraped her knees pretty bad. She gave us quite a scare. Our group went and helped her. Some ran on ahead to get first aid. Some medical teams were running on the course as well, so aid were never too far away. I believe she did finish her race.

I did not fall during the race. I did trip over a curb after finishing. It was embarrasing. I with my ultra trail running skill was able to keep my balance, but both of my calf musles freezed up and started cramping due to the sudden movement. Also various muscles too started contracting, going haywired. The only safe position was to drop to the ground.

Three guys ran toward me to help. One was a random stranger, he started helping me do calf stretch while I was still on the ground and it helped tremendously. He pushed my foot in and that stretched the calf while I was on my back. The two others who came to my aid were my pacers. They used their cold drinks to cool the muscles. One then got out his Bio Freeze gel and rub it on the back of my legs. First time I have bio freeze in real life. I read about them before and saw them used in sports, like soccer or football. Another offered me couple of salt tablets. That helped. I needed some salt to reduce the cramping. This reminded me to buy some and keep them for my next long races.

I would say, by now marathons have gotten easier. I enjoy the traveling. Unfortunately while in Fort Worth, I didn’t try their angus steaks. I sought out my soul food, pho. I ate plenty there. There were so many Vietnamese restaurants.

Did I do anything else? I was feeling lazy on Saturday, so after the convention, I went back to my hotel. I slept early around 8 ish, which was pretty early. Sunday was the race. There were very little time to sight-see. The race kind of took us to all the important places. Unlike previous trips, I did not try to run on my own while I was there to explore some of local trails.

starting corrals before they were filled with runners. Most people were still in the convention hall
The course map. I did not do much map study before the race. A runner got lost (ended in the spectator section) and blamed the race of not having enough signs. I did not have that problem
The Stock Exchange – I finally made the connection why there’s a bull statue outside the stock exchange. This was probably the only city in the US still have live animals. Must be a sight to see when cows are auctioned off.

Oh finally stuff about the race, these are not what I seek in a good marathon race, but some people value these a lot. Swag: There were plenty. You could buy all kinds of merchandise at the convention. We received a race t-shirt, plus a finisher shirt. The medal was ok. Aid stations were plentiful, at about one per mile. Finishing food was ok (biscuits, fruit cups, ice cream, and two pints of beer). I like the beer and ice cream. The acid from the preservatives in the fruit cups kind of hurt my tongue so I couldn’t eat them.

The rest of the day was spent getting to the airport. My flight was in the evening. I was pleased with the race. There were a lot of friendly people. Even at the parking lot, people was asking how my race went, etc. People were more chill and friendly in Texas. If I count this 50k as a marathon, it would be my 12th state of 50 states marathon quest.

3 responses to “Day536 Cowtown Marathon / 50K”

  1. Glad to hear your mom doing well! Hopefully you visit from time to time ❤️

    Yeah the traffic mixed with construction is nuts!!

    Hahaha the car complained about your driving? That is hilarious 😄😄 it probably wouldn’t like me either lol

    Yes Texas is a different culture that’s for sure lol

    I always feel safe there and my family is there ❤️ so also love the area

    And the stockyards are soooo amazing!

    That race is always done really well my sister in law said … she loves that race and is sad she didn’t get to do this year – she is also marathon runner person lol ❤️✌️


  2. Thanks for reading! My mom is in good health and is doing fine

    I was in Fort Worth for a very short time

    Not a lot of time, though should be enough too to do some sight-seeing.

    I did not do the normal city exploring I would like because most of the time I was cold and tired, so I ended up hunkered in the hotel most of Saturday. I didn’t have the energy I used to have

    You are right about the roads. I wanted to say so much about the traffic, streetlights and also my rental car in the post.

    The driver assisted features of my rental car confused me a bit. I thought that was interesting. I have driven one before, but this car was a bit more demanding. It complained a lot about my driving. Later, I found out it was set on “sport”. I then disabled it.

    This was my second time in Texas, so I was not as being culture shock as the first time.

    I did feel safe while in Fort Worth, unlike some other marathons I did.

    Overall, I am just happy to finally finish a marathon in Texas. I might still go back for another one

    Liked by 1 person

  3. HEY!!! I’ve been there many times – the stockyards ❤️❤️ I have gone to the rodeo there

    My brother and my mom live in suburb of Ft Worth

    I recognized right away!! ❤️

    Yes they do proudly match the longhorns down the street there lol … it’s pretty cool and quite the sight

    Their highways are always construction and crappy

    My brother & sister in law have that fast pass for the good lane lol 😘

    It’s so nice to hear the brilliant first aide you received from a random person and your pacers ❤️ that is awesome the care they give you ❤️

    So you did get to kinda see stuff ? It’s pretty awesome little city ❤️

    My sister in law did that race last year – but this year she could not

    Excited to see on your post ❤️ I miss you!!

    How is your mom?

    Liked by 1 person

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