The Cowtown Marathon: I Choose Joy!

The 38th Cowtown Marathon 2016


Downtown Fort Worth, Texas

On February 28th, 8,344 individuals participated in the 38th half, full , or ultra marathon in my newest home town . . . Fort Worth (aka Cowtown). Although I have participated in this race before and I have had the joy of running in a race with my adult children who have caught the running addiction, this one race felt different!

Three things made this race special. 1. It was the 38th annual Cowtown Marathon and the 38th year of me running personally. 2.  I choose to feel joy throughout the race to honor a special young woman who showed us all that joy can exist in every circumstance (

 3. Getting to share the love of running with my daughter, MacKenzie. As is often the case, our children far exceed their parent’s accomplishments. MacKenzie finished 6th in her speedy division of 20 to 24 year olds with a 1:38.07. MacKenzie also helped me with several coaching points for the race . . . eat something carb loaded at mile 7, take a few tums before the race . . . thank you Kenzie!


MacKenzie’s running view while living in Paris, France . . . not bad! Please note the French key to her apartment.

For me, running  for the past 38 years has been a part of my life sorta like brushing your teeth. In 1978, I took a running class at Cal State Fullerton learning that I could run over three miles and enjoy that sense of accomplishment. Along side my fellow classmates, I ran my first 5K in what then were considered appropriate running shoes. Sports bras (or as originally called Jog bras) were non-existent. Check out my blog “When Weirdness Becomes Welcome” to get the scoop on the history of the current sports bra. Even the first women marathon winner in the Olympics did not wear a sports bra!

If you already have a running base, it takes about 8 weeks to prepare for a half marathon which is probably the furthest I will ever run again. So I prepared somewhat diligently but not too seriously . . . I knew I could finish. As you age, somewhere in your brain you believe you can still perform the way you once did. But as C. S. Lewis says: ‘experience is the most brutal of teachers, but we learn, God we learn!’.  So I too have learned to adjust my expectations and have a reasonable hope for a finishing time. For me, anything under a 2:10 for the half marathon  would be fine with me and anything under a 2:06 time for the half would be a pleasant surprise.

But this race, as I said earlier was different. I enjoyed every single moment of the race. Fort Worth residents lined the streets cheering every runner on. Bands reflecting the cultural diversity of Cowtown motivated me and others throughout the race. Each friendly volunteer who handed me a cup of water, cool towel or held out their hand for a high five meant so much . . . I felt truly connected to each one. Thank you to all of the volunteers!

Remembering the influential life of Taylor Helland ( brought a sense of joy as tears fell down my face throughout the race. When I felt discomfort, I thought this is nothing compared to what many go through during treatment for cancer. . . this is nothing! Somehow Taylor’s mantra “I choose joy” lifted me to a finishing time I could have never imagined . . 2:02:36. . . significantly faster than planned. I finished 7th in my old lady division; the “super master group”of 55 to 59 year old women. RUN COWTOWN IN 2017!


2015 Half Marathon Finisher Medal

I will end with one of my favorite verses.

“So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” Psalms 90:12

Everyday we each have a choice of what our focus will be . . . I choose to find JOY in the small things.


About HelenHThomas

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I am honored to work at Cook Children's Medical Center as a Clinical Therapist providing supportive counseling for the parents of our tiniest patients in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I feel infinitely thankful to share my life with my best friend and life partner, Dr. Charles R. Thomas (Chuck). Spending time with my wildly fantastic adult children, their spouses and our exceptionally wonderful friends makes my life complete. Life is good!
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2 Responses to The Cowtown Marathon: I Choose Joy!

  1. Rob and Helen Fielding says:

    Dear Helen, It’s great to read your news. Well done for the marathon (half marathon?) – either way it’s great that you’ve made a come back after your knee injury. I’m doing a short run every morning before work – down from my flat to the lake, along to Pully Port, up through the vineyards and back past your house before taking a shower and heading out again to catch the train at 4 minutes to 8. For rob’s birthday we bought him a place on a 3 day initiation to trail running in the mountains. Time has flown and it doesn’t seem a year since you left. How was the wedding? I’m loving my new job but don’t seem to have time for much else at the moment – especially in the evenings. I’m hoping my energy levels will continue to increase. I’ve just spent 3 days in Geneva as part of my coaching course. I’m already able to put what I’m learning into practice as I’m seeing students with problems most days – I’e been thinking of you as it would be great to share experiences about helping young adults. Miss you! Lots of love, Helen

    Date: Sun, 6 Mar 2016 02:43:55 +0000 To:

    • HelenHThomas says:

      Hi sweet Helen! Email me about your new job as it seems very interesting. I love the age group you are working with . . . young adults. My job is quite challenging but primarily is a positive way. I believe that we may be able to make some real changes for our most needy students who are living in quite extreme poverty and experiencing complex trauma.
      I ran the half marathon and richly enjoyed the race! I miss beautiful Switzerland! Our flat has a great view of the Trinity river but it is to the same as Lake Geneva! I see beautiful cardinals, eastern bluebirds and red tailed hawks on my runs instead of swans! It sounds like you are feeling fit and full of life!! May God’s Amazing Grace wrap you up each and every day!

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