It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

May 14, 2013

Running With The Cows!!!

You might remember a few weeks ago I was debating whether or not to run The Running with the Cows Half Marathon since it was only 7 days after the Indy half.

Me & a cow........
After my bike wreck, and realizing about all I can do right now is run, I decided to go for it.  Plus I talked my friend Michelle into doing it too!  Who can resist those cows???

We signed up at registration and were given women's cut technical tees...nice touch!!!  Registration was small, but the volunteers were great and for such a small race they had lots of logo products, like t-shirts, magnets, and even running shorts you could buy.

The volunteers were trying to warn us about last minute parking changes.  The race is literally out in the country.  We were supposed to park in some fields, but due to lots of rain over the past few days they had to make last minute changes.  Literally just two days before the race they arranged for buses to pick us up from multiple locations and bus us to and from the start.  It went off seamlessly...I was pretty shocked.

Me & Michelle with a very unhappy cow
Race morning arrived and it was 60 degrees with 5 mph winds...perfect...but the winds would pick up and be up to 30 mph before the end of the race.  It was crazy.  The course was an out and back so I was hoping maybe we'd get a nice tail wind for the return 6.5 miles.

Last April I set my half marathon PR of 2:23 and I seem to have gotten progressively slower since then.  This would be my 5th half of 2013, and the previous 4 had been between 2:35 and 2:39 (slowest one at Indy after my wreck).  They had pacers for this race so I decided I would go with the 2:30 pacers.  I wasn't sure if I could do 2:30, but I wanted to push myself a little and also thought the pacers would keep me from doing my typical run the first two miles the fastest routine. 

My goal was try as hard as I could to keep with them for 11 miles...if I had something left maybe I'd run ahead, if not, I'd slow down and finish the best I could.

The course is pretty deceptive.  You would think it's Kansas so it's flat...and there were no major hills.  But there were plenty of slow, gradual climbs, but you of course, also got slow, gradual declines, which is nice.  These are the types of hills I prefer.  We still managed over 1200 feet of elevation gain over the course of the half.

You can see it was pretty much up and down the whole time, with some bigger hills

I got in line with the 2:30 pace group, and I have to say they seemed to struggle a bit with getting those first few miles right.  Mile 1 (according to the pace chart) was supposed to be an 11:56, but was 11:15 and mile 3 was a 10:52 - we weren't supposed to do any 10 min miles.  So, I didn't warm up quite as slowly as I had hoped, but I didn't seem to be struggling at all.

Being with a pace group helped, but I loved those negative splits at the end

I've found with most races I struggle a bit with the first few miles, just getting warmed up and into a rhythm, then I hit those middle miles and feel like I can run for days - I always all of sudden think I can PR or something....I just feel fantastic, but somewhere between 8 and 10 I die...and it's a struggle to finish.  This was about the same.  I felt strong for the 1st 10, but I had to work for those last few miles.  I had hope maybe, just maybe to pull ahead of the 2:30 group at mile 11, but I knew I'd be lucky to just keep up with them.  They had slowed down some in those middle miles, and actually had to pick the pace up at the end to get in under 2:30.  I was able to keep with them though, which felt good.  And other than the random 10:52 at mile 3, I actually negative split this race which was a first in a long time!  It was hurting a lot more at the end, but I was able to keep my pace in spite of the nasty crosswind!  Luckily we did get some tailwind, but the course was a lot of turns, so we had a lot of crosswind on the way back...and then just as you turned into the finish you had the headwind!!  That part sucked, but you were so close to the finish line at that point you didn't care.

In the end I finished in 2:29:50 (officially).  It was my fastest half of 2013 and I was super happy!!  Maybe there is hope for me to work on my speed this year.

I crossed the finish line and found my friend Michelle.  We then got in line to eat.  You have NEVER, and I promise you NEVER seen food like this after a race.  The race is put on by Queen of the Holy Rosary School and they had the post food in their cafeteria.  There were tables upon tables of homemade foods - meatballs, enchiladas, cupcakes, cookies, etc, etc.....  The lines were long, but they also had people walking around passing out blueberry muffins, chocolate milk and Subway sandwiches.

Unfortunately for me (or maybe fortunately) while standing in line for food, I suddenly got very nauseous and had to run outside for some air and to find a porta potty.  I asked Michelle to grab me a burger, but even after I couldn't eat it.  I tried a few bites, but just couldn't eat much.  I'm not sure what my new stomach issues are from.  This happened after Rock the Parkway as well.  I just get nauseous and my stomach cramps for hours, but it doesn't start until 30 minutes or so after the race so it's not a HR thing.  It's frustrating.  I've been doing some reading online and sounds like it might be a salt or sugar issue, so I think I need to play around with my nutrition on my long runs again....I've been running 4 years, and not had these issues, it seems odd they've cropped up all of a sudden.

Anyway, the race was seriously FANTASTIC.  The volunteers were amazing!  The course is pretty boring, but it's made up for by the terrific race crew, shirt, medal, and food spread for sure!  You also got a nice cowbell (of course) when you crossed the finish line!

Shirt, cowbell and medal 


  1. Nice job. Sounds like the race was run well. Too bad about the stomach issues, that's not fun not being able to eat after a half!

  2. I'm so glad you ran it and you had a fun time. Great result!

  3. Great job Michael. Super cool medal. The post race food sounds amazing!

  4. Good job! Love the cow bell. Seems we ought to have a cow themed race here in Vermont.

  5. looks like an awesome event - congrats on your new PR for the year! I love the race bling.

    I would LOVE to do a half or 10km while I'm over in the US in June / July, but can't seem to find information on when / where they are in each state - do you know of any good websites?

    Well done again!

  6. Bron -

    Here are a couple of good ones.

    You can search by State, distance, and date.

    This one is mainly for marathons...but many of those include halfs.

    The other option would just be to google races in the city/state you'll be in. Many local running companies post the smaller races in the area. I've found the running in the usa website to be pretty good though.

  7. It would have been so much better if y'all chased a cow for 13 miles. The cow would've probably been pretty smug while he was leading the race. But then when those hungry Kenyans caught him ... they would've BBQ'd his a--. Suddenly he becomes the post-race meal. Who's laughing now brown cow? The Dutch. That's who. But good race anyway.

  8. You know what I just realized? That you guys must live pretty close to friend of mine. He is a police officer in Gardner he was just telling me via Facebook that he was working the that race. He even sent me a picture of the shirt... any how, I thought was pretty cool.

    Glad you ran the race and finished strong. I'm sure you'll have faster runs this year!

  9. YAY!!! Awesome job! I hope you are still glowing with your new PR!

  10. Cool race & race report! Sorry to hear you felt so blah afterwards. Sounds like you're on the right track w/ the salt/sugar/fuel strategy. Good luck :)

  11. Congrats on the race and the PR!!!

    I am not sure if you are already one or have interest, but back to back weekends of half marathons qualifies you as a Half Fanatic!

  12. Congrats on the PR!!!!! Sounds like a great fun race!

  13. So glad the race went well! Awesome swag and a 2013 PR?! That rocks!

  14. I can't believe I wasn't there. Damn. I want that medal.

  15. Great for you! I can never eat after a race. Last weekend, my husband bought me a Frappacino and I almost threw up in the car.

  16. Love the cowbell! That's awesome. Gut issues are the worst, they can be so hard to figure out. Good luck, hopefully it's an easy fix. and nice race!

  17. Great job on your fastest time in 2013. Keep it up! I hope to hear your wrist is better real soon.

  18. Good race--a confidence booster! I'm sorry about the stomach issues. Reading about that food made ME hungry.

  19. You are awesome! Good job! Just curious if you take gu at anytime during your race? You've been racing long enough that I'm sure you know what you need while running half marathons. I know I need them about mile 5 or 6, and I definitely want one with caffeine in it. Then I'm good to go for another few miles. If the race offers another around mile 9 or 10 I will eat another.

    That's very strange about your gi issues, especially since you haven't had that much before. I hope you get that figured out. Nothing worse than cramps and nausea.

    How's the wrist and arm healing up?

  20. Nice race! Congrats on your fastest HM this year! What is up with your stomach? What a pita! I would be super bummed to be missing out on all that awesome food! ;)

  21. Congratulations on the race! It looks like mile 11 had the hardest hill. That's just mean.

    Sounds like a great event. Sorry you had tummy issues and couldn't enjoy the spread. I think post run spreads should be 2 hours later. Just give me some water and a banana right after a race and then let me eat my body weight in yummy food a few hours later. :-)