Pre-race preparation: We had an extremely busy day on Saturday. Woke up around 7 a.m. to get to the Olympic Trials, and then went straight to the Expo. After that, I went dress shopping with my fiance’s mom and one of their family friends. We came home to relax for about an hour.
We then had dinner at Chipotle. I skipped lunch that day (ate two granola bars), which may not have been the best decision. I went to bed around 10 p.m. and was exhausted — which worked out well since I actually got a good night’s sleep.
On race day, I woke up at 5:11 a.m. and had two pancakes with peanut butter and syrup for breakfast. We were out the door by about 5:35 a.m., and I reached the start area by 6:05 a.m. I immediately headed for my corral and stretched. I did have throw away clothes on so it wasn’t too chilly, but I think the temperatures were in the high 30s.
Actual race: The race started on time, but it took me a minute and a half to get across the start line, which was kind of weird. Anyways, the first few miles were packed because the roadways were a little narrow so it reminded me of running Chicago or NYC. I wore arm warmers, but by mile three, was really hot so rolled them down and later tied them to my SPI Belt.
Took a gel at mile 5, and at mile 6 I had a crazy bad side ache. Ugh. I spent the next two miles trying to work through it with breathing and focusing on moving my arms. I saw my fiance and his family at mile 8, where I finally handed off the arm warmers.
Once I got rid of those things, my side ache went away. But it came back around mile 10. Ugh. I told myself I had to run through the pain, and worked this one out a few miles later. I took another gel around mile 11 and again right before mile 16.
Luckily, I saw my fiance and family at mile 16 so it gave me a brief uplift.
This was a fun part of the race because it was in the Galleria area of Houston, which is the part I know best since we come here a lot. From there, we went into some really cool neighborhoods that I didn’t even know existed in Houston — a lot of them reminded me of areas of Minneapolis.
Then came mile 20. Oh, the wall. I’ve never really hit the wall before, but oh did I during Houston. At mile 21, I was exhausted and just wanted to curl up on the side of the road for a nap. I took another gel, and that helped briefly. Then the 3:30 pace group ran by me. I tried to stick with them, but when I heard him say “Allen Parkway is up ahead, and it has a lot of rolling hills — there are uphills, but there are downhills,” I was like “WHAT? What happened to the flat course?” I pushed through…
At mile 24.5-ish, I saw my family again and my fiance said I was not looking good at all. He said I looked like one of those runners that had to put a lot of effort into moving forward. That is how I felt.
I didn’t even give them a thumbs up or anything. I think I glared at them briefly. I saw the last mile marker, and was excited that we were near the finish. Although that last mile took forever. Finally, it was two quick turns and the finish line was in sight… I crossed at 3:33.44, which my chip time ended up being 3:32.19. I’ll take it!
I’ve never felt so horrible at the finish. I wasn’t sure if I should walk to get my medal, or go off to the side to puke. I ended up grabbing my medal. And then, when I was walking through the convention center to grab all my goodies (finisher t-shirt and mug, score!), I tripped over a rug or something and my calf cramped up something awful. Another runner helped me stay standing, but it HURT. So the first thing I did when I saw my fiance and his family was burst into tears.
Of course, they thought I was bummed about my time, but I really wasn’t. I knew I wasn’t feeling well throughout the race, and I’m very happy with a BQ time. My dream goal was to qualify for New York, but I knew that was a dream. So once the pain in my calf went away, I was back to feeling happy about my time.
Most of all, I wouldn’t change the way I ran the race. I feel like I gave it my all, and am proud of myself for battling through my side aches while running less than an 8 minute mile.
What I loved: There were a lot of things I loved about this race. For one, I loved that it started so early. The weather was perfect! I loved the scenery of the course. Unlike Chicago (sorry to keep dogging on Chicago, but I really didn’t like that race), I felt like they found the best streets of Houston to showcase. I saw the part of Houston that people who live there fall in love with. I was surprised by how much of it reminded me of Minneapolis. I loved that there were pockets of crowds that cheered like crazy, and there were areas where you could focus and enjoy the course on your own. Everyone was super nice, and I felt like the race was extremely well organized. I don’t have any complaints from this race, well, minus the side aches, but that’s not something that Houston Marathon organizers can control… or can they?
Overall rating (5 out of 5 ups):
Loved this race, loved this weekend, loved everything. I feel like the race organization was superb, loved the shwag, loved the course. I would run this again in a heartbeat.
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