Dallas Allstate 13.1 Race Report
by Lana Britt
Thanks to Moms Run This Town – Rockwall, I was able to run the Allstate 13.1 in Dallas on October 23, 2012 and achieve my goals of not walking during the race and obtaining a sub-2 hour finish. Rather than focus on a review of the wonderfully flat course and beautiful cool weather, I want to instead report on what running this race meant to me. There is a really accurate, detailed description of the course at http://danerunsalot.blogspot.com/2012/10/allstate-life-insurance-131-dallas.html.
To show you how meaningful this was, I have to give you a little background on my history as a runner. I was a dancer growing up but did not consider myself athletic. I have always exercised to control my weight but did not pick up running until after the birth of my first child. I ran once or twice per week for the next several years, with interruptions to add two more children. After completing my first half-marathon in May 2010 (with not nearly enough training!), I was hooked and upped my running to 3-4 times per week, increasing the distance gradually. My second half-marathon time improved by 7 minutes, and my third half-marathon time was a totally unexpected sub-2 hour finish. I thought for sure that I was making major breakthroughs and was going to continue to realize remarkable improvements if I just kept doing what I was doing.
Unfortunately, that was further from the truth! Each half-marathon time seemed to get worse. I was running more, including various workouts to improve endurance and strength. I was crosstraining and lifting weights to augment my ‘running muscles’. Three more disappointing half-marathons passed, and I also completed a full marathon, far surpassing the goal finishing time I had set for myself. I suffered a stress fracture in my left foot in the week following the marathon, and I was tested mentally, emotionally, and physically as I endured six days per week of pool running without my running buddies for 2 full months!
Getting back on the road was an ordeal, as I had to balance training and injury avoidance. Two more half-marathons passed with lackluster finishing times despite concentrated efforts to improve. As the prototypical type-A overachiever, I just could not understand why I could run so much faster in my training runs and then not be able to duplicate it on race day. I am restricted on both my running and racing budgets ss a mostly stay-at-home mom of three young children. There were many days I struggled with whether the financial and time costs of running were for me and my family.
The opportunity to run the Allstate 13.1 Dallas on a free entry from MRTT presented itself, and I hesitated both before and after indicating my interest. I am fortunate to have some great running partners through the Rockwall Running Club, and it has also been an opportunity to grow in my faith. Time spent running, whether alone or with friends, can be a wonderful time to connect with God, give thanks, and discuss scripture relevant to problems we are experiencing. My running partner Sonya Johnson knew how much I struggled with disappointment from these races, and we began praying for the outcome weeks in advance. We planned out every detail as to how I would run and rest that final week before the race.
The night before the race I laid out all my race clothes, my shoes, my fuel, my water bottle, and even my coffee cup, so that the early morning routine would flow smoothly. I went to bed that evening, praying about the race and my anxiety until I fell asleep. As is usual for me the night before a race, I woke almost every hour to make sure I hadn’t overslept! When I finally decided to get out of bed at 3:52 (despite the need to leave at 5:40), I immediately thought to myself, “The mistake I have made all these races is that “I” have relied on myself for the outcome. It was all how “I” would pace myself; it was all how “I” had done specific workouts; and it was all how “I” planned every detail of the race.” And that hadn’t worked. I declared at the moment of that realization, “Jesus, I trust you for the outcome of this race. I know that you are going to be with me, that you will help me set my pace, and you will protect me from the negative thoughts that tell me to stop, to walk, and to give up. I know these are not from you. I am going to be pleased with whatever the outcome of this race is because I know that you are with me from start to finish.”
Honestly, this has to be one of the best races I have run. I did not feel my standard pre-race anxiety that sends me to the portalets multiple times before the start. It was a chilly morning, so I shivered with everyone else as we waited to start and placed myself squarely in the middle of the crowd for added warmth! As the gun went off, I picked a comfortably hard pace, knowing I had 13.1 miles ahead of me. I focused on not wasting energy to pass runners in my way but instead moved forward in as straight a line as possible. I was also careful to run the tangents. I was amazed that, even though I knew my legs were working hard and moving faster than usual, they weren’t fatigued. I ran without a watch, so the only indicators of my pace were the clock at each mile marker (and my math while running is not that accurate). Occasionally, I would think “This is usually about where I would want to stop and walk” or “Maybe I should slow down, or I won’t make it”, but the mantra I repeated to myself throughout the race whenever it felt hard or endless was “I trust you Jesus”. And that honestly got me through the race.
The course was relatively flat, went through some beautiful neighborhoods, incorporated the Katy Trail, and started and finished in the arts district. The toughest part of the course was at mile 12, a hill on Ross Avenue. It was probably not as brutal as Summit Ridge in Rockwall, but it felt that way that late in the race! I crossed the finish line in 1:55:02, and I was absolutely thrilled. The time is 8 seconds off my PR SIX half marathons ago, but I am not disappointed in missing it at all. I give all the glory to God for being with me through the race and giving me His armor to protect against all the negative things Satan would like me to believe about myself and my ability to run. Hitting this time again has shown me what I am capable of and has renewed my confidence. I can’t say that I discovered a new racing tool but rather that I realized what I had all along and where I needed to put my trust for every aspect of my life, not just my running. Thanks again to MRTT for the opportunity to reach this milestone!