February 19, 2013

Fort Worth couple going the extra mile(s)

After running half and full marathons, the couple is running the 31-mile ultra on Sunday.

When the Cowtown Marathon began 35 years ago, Kim Cox’s father braved an ice storm in running the race. He was a marathon runner at a time when distance running for fun meant you were crazy.

Fast forward 35 years, and Kim and her husband Jim Cox of Fort Worth have prepared to join the newest edition of the crazy runner’s club by participating in the Cowtown ultra marathon, a 50-kilometer race that is almost 5 miles longer than the 26.2-mile marathon.

However, it’s really not that crazy anymore.

Jim, 42, and Kim, 37, have been training with groups from the Fort Worth Running Company since they began running for a hobby five years ago. In that time, they’ve created friendships that keep them running 30 to 35 miles a week almost year-round.

So to train for an ultra marathon really isn’t that odd to those close to the couple, especially the 10 to 12 who have been alongside them.

“You have to completely change your life, and our joke with our friends is that we’ll have our life back after Cowtown,” Jim said.

Three days a week the couple jump starts their day with a run at 5 a.m., building up to a weekly running challenge on Saturday morning that pushes their peak distance to a new level each week.

The process for training for the Cowtown begins around September for the couple, as they add a few miles on to their Saturday runs each week, building up to a distance close to what they will run at the Cowtown, whether it be a half, full or ultra marathon.

When most people are waking up to catch ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday, Jim and Kim are tuning in to recover from a 15-mile run.

“You run on Saturdays and you come home and watch GameDay and then take the day off, maybe have a beer and go down to watch the Baylor games. That’s how our Saturdays usually go,” Kim said with a laugh. “Every fall becomes that way.”

In the past five years, the couple completed three Cowtown half marathons and one full marathon, which they ran separately a year apart. As they made the step up in training for the ultra marathon, the camaraderie of training together has made the process even easier, they said.

“Before when we did a full, we didn’t run the same distances,” Jim said. “Kim would have to get a little neurotic in what she ate and drank and I could do whatever I wanted to do. It’s really kept us both on pace.”

Two weekends ago, the couple completed a 25-mile run, 6 miles short of the total they will run for the ultra, but the last miles are run on pure adrenaline anyway, so it is still plenty of preparation, they said.

Over the past couple of years, the Coxes have become experts in marathon training and teach training courses for the Fort Worth Running Company. They work mostly with slower pace groups with members looking to conquer their first half marathon.

“That was really fun because they were all new and we trained them for their first half marathon and that was fun,” Kim said. “Every time they ran that Saturday, that was the longest they’ve run in their life.”

For Jim and Kim, Sunday will mark the longest run of their life as they work to complete their five-year Cowtown medal series. When complete the medals will form a star, with the crown jewel being the ultra marathon medal.

There is no doubt that tears will fill Kim’s eyes when she crosses the finish line, as they said typically happens when she finishes a race. Jim will focus on everything they’ve accomplished over that training season. But for those six or so hours spent on the course, it’s about fighting the weakness of the mind to prove the strength of their bodies.

“I think the ultra marathon, you run to survive,” Kim said. “We just want to finish and feel good at the end.”

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