First of all, I freaking LOVE this community!! The texts, tweets, emails leading up to the race, during it and then after…oh the after. I can’t tell you how much all your words and encouragement meant to my slightly broken heart on Sunday morning! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
After a rather unconventional training cycle, I had decided to just run and see what happened. The results are both impressive and depressing.
Sunday morning was wet, rainy, windy and cold—all as predicted. Why is race morning the 1 time the weathermen in Houston get it right?? Batch and I met up with our good friend Mark, ran into Laura and Kelli, grumbled about the weather, stood in line to drop off our bags then headed to the start line. As we’re walking to the corral, the bottom falls out of the sky. Seriously, Houston? Given the weather, I was wearing a black contractor size garbage bag—let me just say, I may do this for EVERY race going forward. No need to stand in line for the porta potty- score one for public urination in a not so public way.
Start (~Miles 1-5)
The first 1.5 miles of the race take you over a viaduct. It’s not a steep bridge, but it’s wide open and the cross winds were making the left side of my face go numb. I was extremely thankful to take my first step off that bridge and finally try to find a decent stride. Batch, Mark and I were all discussing stopping at our friend’s house just 2 miles ahead. We were cold, wet and felt like it just wasn’t our day. Thankfully these feelings passed and we just had fun giving hi-fives and getting some personal cheers when we passed our friends.
Heights/Montrose (~Miles 6-9)
I was so glad people braved the weather to come support the runners! Mile 8 (well, I think it’s technically 8.5 or so) is the split- half runners turn back toward downtown and the full continues toward the Med Center and Rice University. Around mile 9, Mark makes the (self proclaimed) bone head comment that this is not so bad (cue ominous music). I remind him we’re traveling south- hello tail wind. Enjoy it, but know it ends when we make the turn onto University.
Med Center/Rice University/West University (~Miles 10-14)
And end it did…but it was still manageable. Mile 11 was my mile for Page– go read her blog for the full story, but I reminded myself throughout this mile that running is a privilege. It literally flew by! My mom was between mile 11-12 and had bottles of Nuun for us. We spent the next 1/2 mile rehydrating without choking (I’m a race cup drinking dunce). We saw more friends through this section and cleared the 1/2 way mark. There were race clocks at each mile, but I was trying not to pay attention (yet). I had a general idea (actually I thought we were slower than we were) but trusted Batch and Mark to set the pace.
Galleria/Tanglewood (~Miles 15-19)
My DNF last year came in this section of the race. Batch kept reminding me with each mile past 15 that I was beating last year. My hip started to hurt at this point, but I REFUSED to give in. I put pressure on my trigger point and kept pushing forward. My pace was slowing but I wasn’t giving up. Around mile 17.5, my body demanded a pit stop. I tried to ignore it (passing a set of porta potties), but quickly regretted that decision. Thankfully, there was a lone porta potty just steps ahead- and it was unoccupied. I hated to do it, but I knew there wasn’t a choice (#dontshityourpants). It was a quick stop and I felt SOOO much better afterwards and didn’t have any more trouble the rest of the race.
Memorial Park/Allen Pkwy (~Miles 20-25)
They had a faux wall set up at Mile 20, but it was a different kind of wall for me. For me, passing the 20 mile mark meant I was going to finish. I was going to erase last year’s DNF. I was hurting. I was tired. My hands were numb (Batch was getting gels out of my pocket for me). I tried…desperately tried…to “find the next gear” throughout this section of the race. Batch, as he told me later, was quietly trying to figure out how to get me to speed up. He knew we were close time-wise (to a BQ). My brain was telling my legs to pick it up. My legs were just not responding. The 3:40 pacer caught up to us around mile 25. I kept telling myself to stick with her, but she was “flying” (I think she finished in 3:38) and my legs couldn’t hang on.
Finish (Miles 25.5-26.2+)
We made the turn into downtown and the winds were seriously swirling. For a second they would be at your back and literally push you down the street. Then they would shift and it was like hitting a brick wall. Over and over. Batch kept trying to push me and shockingly I didn’t yell or cuss him. When we finally made the last turn in front of the GRB, I could see the clock. I knew just how close we were cutting it. I put my head down and gave it literally everything I had left. I almost wish there was a picture of it because it would be pure comic relief. I know my form was awful and my arms were just trying to keep my body upright. I almost shoved a guy out of my way as we crossed the timing mat (I managed the side step).
We stopped running and I just held onto Batch’s shoulders and shuffled out of the chute. Mark was waiting for us (he went ahead during my pit stop), and we took a picture then headed inside for some much needed warmth.
Here’s the thing about running sans watch. I didn’t know what my finishing time was. Batch had a technical issue mid race so his watch wasn’t exactly right. It wasn’t until we were inside and collected our bags that I pulled up the results online. And promptly started crying.
Prelim results were 3:40:03…yes, folks, that’s 3 SECONDS too slow for a BQ.
At that time, I couldn’t “just be happy” with my PR. I was tired, hurting and emotional! Thankfully time does heal all wounds, and I’m now able to just appreciate what I did accomplish out there. I took 14+ minutes off my marathon PR. After the initial “I’m going to throw up” moment passed, I felt better after a marathon than I ever have. I finally feel like I didn’t blow up during a marathon! It’s the first one I’ve done with NO miles over 9:00/mile. Amazingly enough, I’m not even what if-ing the race. I know I gave it everything I had on Sunday. Yes, it was just short of my A goal, BUT I did get both my B and C goals.
Look out NOLA, I’m coming for you…5.5 weeks to go!