The Houston Marathon is a race I always tell others about. I've ran it twice before and both times I've enjoyed the crowds, the volunteers, and how well organized the event has been from beginning to end. So for my third Houston marathon, my 9th full marathon, I knew I would have another great experience.
This year the organizers decided to have the 5k on Saturday so you could get a medal for the 5k, a medal for the marathon, and then you would get the Houston Double medal for doing both. I took my GoPro with me to insure that I took it easy and I had a blast running it with my girlfriend and brother. (You can check out my ABB 5k GoPro Youtube video to the right.)
Later that night I headed over to Birraporetti's for the Beef TEAM pre-race dinner. This was going to be my first race running as part of the Beef TEAM. As many of you know I'm a part of Got Chocolate Milk Team REFUEL so being able to be a part of the Beef TEAM just made for the perfect combo. Beef to fuel you for the finish line and then chocolate milk and beef to refuel you for "your after".
The forecast for Sunday was calling for temps in the 40s with highs in the 50's and rain. I could deal with the temps and actually prefer it but running in the rain was not something I was looking forward to. I run in Vibrams so I don't really have an issue with my shoes getting all squishy from them holding in water but I knew the rain was going to make running the marathon pretty miserable and cold.
Gotta love the Houston Marathon for letting all their runners get ready inside the convention center away from the elements. We arrive at about 5:30 am to go to the Catholic mass that they have for all the runners beforehand. After getting our feet blessed we head over to claim a space to get ready in. I put on my throwaway gloves, t-shirt, and trash bag then we head over to check in our bags.
There is some congestion at the doors leading to the starting line because people are hesitant to go outside into the elements. Once through the doors there is a cold rush of wind and rain. My vibrams are pretty much soaked through with water after the trek to corral A. It's cold but in the corrals it warmer with all the body heat of the other runners and the energy of the corral is high. I need to pee and notice a line of guys by the fence line so I go over and join in on the festivities. LOL. After that they do the countdown and we are off to run the marathon.
While figuring out my racing plan I initially told myself that I could realistically run it in less than 4:30 as I knew my training for this marathon was pretty spotty. My ego got me to input a time of 4:20 which would be a new PR for me. The MARCO Marathon calculator gave me these splits to go by:
Miles 1-2: 10:19
Miles 3-9: 10:05
Miles 10-17: 9:55
Miles 18-26: 9:42
MILES 1-2 (9:51, 9:42)
It was warm in the corral with all the bodies packed close together but once we start running the effect of the wind and rain on the body is really chilling. (Probably shouldn't have thrown away my trash bag poncho after the gun went off.) Although its cold and rainy I didn't think it was too bad for running a marathon. There is congestion at the beginning but even with that I'm going way too fast and knowingly not following my racing plan.
MILES 3-9 (9:49, 9:55, 9:51, 9:36, 9:42, 9:49, 9:37)
One of the reasons I love the Houston Marathon is the crowd support. Its cold and its raining but Houston still comes out to cheer us on in their ponchos and umbrellas. How could I slow down when I see signs that read "Don't stop.... I just farted" or another that read "Go Random Stranger I'm so Very PROUD of you!" Yup I'm running below my prescribed pace throughout these miles because I can't slow myself down, the energy is just electrifying. I told myself and knew that I'd probably pay the price for this speed in my later miles. I take my GU at mile 4 and again at 8 but noticed I've dropped one of my 6 Gu's along the way. NO BUENO! Mile 9 is where the half marathoners turn around at and all the marathoners go straight towards Rice University.
MILES 10-17 (10:08, 9:53, 9:52, 9:47, 9:49, 10:05, 9:56, 9:49)
My ankle starts bothering me after the split from the half marathoners. Its really pretty painful and I try to shake it off but it's not going away. I decide to stop and stretch it out which helps a little bit but not much. Luckily after a couple of miles the pain subsides and I'm running pain free again. About mile 15 I notice I'm being tailgated by another runner who eventually kicks up some water on me and snickers. I look back and its my brother, William, who caught up and was messing with me. He's running strong and eventually passes me when I see an open port-a-john and take a bio-break. Make my way up the little hill on Westpark through to the Galleria area and I'm on my way to mile 18!
MILES 18 - 21 (10:45, 9:58, 10:03, 10:00)
Started to slow down during mile 18 it was probably due to the faster earlier miles finally taking its toll on my body. Around these miles the 4:15 pace group passed me up. Which gave me the motivation to try to keep up with them but they end up keeping their steady pace which was too fast for me. I decided to fall back and run an easier pace.
MILE 22: THE WALL!! (12:11)
UGH!!! My legs said no more! I let myself walk through the water stop and I just kept walking on after the water stop.... My initial goal of a sub 4:20 was not going to happen today. I dwelled on that for a bit before deciding that my original goal was to break 4:30 and that was what I was going to do today! So I picked it back up.
MILES 23-25 (10:57, 11:17, 11:23)
With my new goal in mind I got back into a running form and trudged on. I'm doing good for a bit but then on mile 25 I find myself walking once again. Thats when another runner comes up behind me and tells me that she had been using me as her guide to keep moving forward and to kick it back up and I could follow her. So thats what I did. These miles are what the marathon is about. It's about the heart to move forward when your body is raising the white flag and telling you you're crazy to go on. Gotta love the camaraderie of a race.
MILE 26 - 26.56 (10:36, 8:56)
1.2 more miles to go and I'll be done. I'm looking at my watch and its getting mighty close to my 4:30 goal so I dig deep and start running. I can see the George R Brown convention center and didn't want to kick to early so I wait. I pass up mile marker 26 and start my kick. The crowds are yelling "GO BEEF" and "GO JEREMY". I see the finish line and run a little harder but my left quad is starting to cramp, I ease up a bit and push through to cross the finish line with my hands raised up high. I'm a Marathoner! I cross at 4:29:52! Sub 4:30!
Do you want to join me on the Beef TEAM? Go to this link: http://www.txbeefteam.org and fill out the pre-qualification form.