Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Chevron Houston Marathon - Complete!

My most EXCELLENT Marathon experience ever!!!  Granted this was only my 2nd marathon, but it far exceeded the first.  The stars aligned for me for this race; perfect weather, amazing course, awesome support, great training buddies and armed with the knowledge of do's/don'ts from my 1st marathon.  I was primed and ready to go!

Runner Girl nails are ready!

Four of us signed up to run Houston.  Ashley, Dayspring and myself for the full, Amanda for the half.  Unfortunately Amanda moved to Washington and could no longer attend, so her sister Jenna ran in her place and became our awesome sherpa!  Ashley was unable to make it last min.  We left Saturday morning around 10am to drive to Houston (3 hrs away), the weather was nasty; overcast, cold, rainy.  We stopped at Subway for lunch around 1pm and then Starbucks for a quick pit stop.  We arrived at our hotel around 2pm after battling some slight traffic heading into downtown Houston.  Thankfully the Hilton Americas allowed us early check-in, the awesome thing about our hotel was that it had an attached tunnel to the expo/convention center and the parking garage!!  We didn't have to walk outside in the nasty weather.  :)  Another amazing thing was the race started and ended right next to our hotel and expo center, talk about convenient!  After picking up our bibs and shirts we wandered around for a couple hours.  I found myself some black arm warmers, a nice marathon mug and a lulu marathon endorsed tank (cool gold decal)!

mug and lulu crb

expo shenanigans 1/16/2016

Making Instagram memories

We returned to our hotel room around 4:15 pm, giving us maybe 20 mins of down time before Day and I headed to our Team Beef dinner at Salt Grass.  Dinner was yummy as always; salad, bread, center cut filet, green beans and mashed potatoes.  You could buy alcohol but I didn't want to jinx anything.  Dinner started pretty early, by 5 pm, so we were done and back in our rooms by 7 pm.  Jenna found Pitch Perfect on TV, we sang along with the movie as we stretched and prepared ourselves for race morning.  We hit the sack around 10 pm but I was still wide awake at 11 pm (darn nerves!).  I'm so glad I packed Tylenol PM, I was so anxious I had to take 2 of them to knock myself out.

Day and I at the Team Beef dinner 1/16/2016

I woke up at 5:10 am race morning to start my routine. The temp was 40 degrees at 7 am (felt like 36), with 10 mph winds. By the end of the race it would be 52 degrees (noon) but feel like 68.  Weather.com said it would be sunny and clear, perfect race day conditions! I wore lulu shorts with side pockets to stash my Gu's, beef tank, arm warmers, hydration vest, hat and throwaway zip up hoodie. I ate a piece of toast with peanut butter (yes I brought my toaster from home), drank lots of water and used the restroom 3 times before heading out.  Jenna and I left our hotel room by 6:20 am to line up in corral C.  Day had to leave at 6 am for corral A as it closed by 6:40 am.

Team Beef! Pre-race morning 1/17/2016

Jenna - my fabulous sherpa

the 3 amigos

We only waited outside for maybe 20 mins before the race started at 7 am.  We crossed the start line around 7:15 am, and it immediately felt colder (no more huddling around others for body heat), so cold that my hands were freezing!  Around mile 1.5 I had to pick up discarded gloves off the street. I dropped my hoodie around mile 2 and then threw off the gloves at mile 4. I kept my arm warmers on until mile 9. This race was so well supported I was in awe, San Antonio was nothing like this! There were tons of volunteers and bystanders cheering us on the ENTIRE way. The course was mostly flat, with some small hills at miles 12, 13 and 23 (nothing bad). When we ran through the neighborhoods the road was covered by a canopy of trees, beautiful!

Mile 1 - 9:23, Mile 2 - 9:23, Mile 3 - 9:29, Mile 4 - 9:20, Mile 5 - 9:40, Mile 6 - 9:36, Mile 7 - 9:27, Mile 8 - 9:29

Freezing at the start

my attempt at a picture WHILE running

Somewhere around mile 7 I think

My feet started hurting around mile 9 or 10, but I think that's because we were running on concrete instead of asphalt.  Mile 12 was the 1st and only slight hill I really remember, that was also when I felt my first trickle of sweat down my face, though I'm pretty sure I was sweating the entire time.  I felt great passing mile 13, half way done!  I was making good time on my pace until mile 17/18, that's when it started to get hard and my hips/thighs started to burn.  My two middle toes on my right foot were rubbing wrong in my sock and were in distress since mile 15, they were going numb...but I refused to stop.

Mile 9 - 9:30, Mile 10 - 9:30, Mile 11 - 9:21, Mile 12 - 9:48, Mile 13 - 9:37, Mile 14 - 9:44, Mile 15 - 9:37

By mile 20 I could feel my pace dropping, I couldn't sustain under a 10 pace.  My strategy was to run 9:30's until at least mile 15, stay under a 10 pace until mile 20, and then I knew 20+ I would go over a 10 pace but hoped to keep it under an 11 pace.  So far I was correct in how I'd perform and when I hit mile 20 I just kept telling myself to keep moving, sustain, don't stop!  I did get a slight cramp on my right side around mile 21 or 22.  I just had to run through it and eventually it went away.

Mile 16 - 9:48, Mile 17 - 9:49, Mile 18 - 9:50, Mile 19 - 9:55, Mile 20 - 10:07, Mile 21 - 10:07, Mile 22 - 10:14 

somewhere around mile 23

The last 4 miles were the worst, mentally and physically.  I had trained to 22 miles so I knew I could do it, I just had to stay focused.  I really wanted to walk and had to keep telling myself "NO, I must sustain, do not stop, everyone knows you can do this, everyone's watching you!".  I recognized my surroundings by mile 24 (from the course video) and started to perk up again, I only had 2 more miles to go!  I was ecstatic when I hit mile 25...only 1.2 to go, screw my last Gu! When we got closer to the finish I saw the 1/2 mile marker sign and was elated! So close!! I was picking up speed (just a little bit).  Then I saw a sign for a 1/4 mile, yipee!  We turned a corner and there was the finish!!!  OMG OMG OMG I'm here, I'm home!!

Mile 23 - 10:24, Mile 24 - 10:39, Mile 25 - 10:39, Mile 26 - 10:19, last 0.45 - 4:06 (9:10 pace)

When I crossed that finish line I let all the emotions wash over me. I started to sniffle/cry/sob. Some guy looked over at me all concerned and I told him "it's OK, these are tears of joy"...joy to be finished, joy to hit my goal, joy that the pain of running was over!  Hallelujah, give me my MEDAL!

Houston chip time: 4:18:51 in 26.2 mi (9:52 pace) - PR baby!
My Garmin: 4:18:50 in 26.45 mi (9:47 pace)

Video, it should start at timestamp 3:33:10

The volunteers immediately ushered us into the expo hall where we had our pictures taken, received water and picked up our finisher shirt and mug.  I also went to the free massage area to have my lower back and legs worked on.  I really wasn't hungry so I skipped the free HEB breakfast (eggs, bacon, etc) and just went with the free banana that I worked so hard for...

finish line, 1/17/2016

Official finish picture
Inside the expo, recovering, waiting for my free massage


medal and finishers mug

I'm thrilled about my performance. I totally redeemed my 1st marathon experience and earned myself a 34 min PR!  I was more confident, stronger and better prepared my 2nd time around.

Jenna was amazing.  Not only did she run the half but she was an excellent sherpa for me and Day.  After I finished my massage Jenna met me outside the expo with my flip flops, took off my shoes and sweaty socks, carried all my stuff back to the hotel room and even got me a chocolate milk!  After dropping me off she went back for Day.  Day finished in 3:25, qualifying for Boston.  She was at the expo longer than me as she had to go to the medical tent to put ice on her foot.  After showering and checking out of the hotel we stopped at a little Tex-Mex place just outside of Houston for a celebratory drink and sustenance.  We made it home around 6 pm.

Very late lunch and DRINKS!

I was sore for about 3-4 days, the 2nd day being the worst.  By Thursday I was doing much better and Friday I was able to do a short recovery run with very little tenderness.  My 2 middle toes on my right foot are still a little wonky and tend to go numb when I run over 3 miles.  I also noticed about a week later that the outer upper side of my left foot feels bruised.  Marathons wreck you!  However so far I haven't had any toenails turn black or fall off and no blisters.  Winning!!

Some of my favorite signs I read along the race:
  • 26.2 miles on a bike lasts only 90 mins (yeah yeah rub it in)
  • Your car's being towed (IE run faster!)
  • If you think running's hard try being this cute (held up by tiny cute kids)
  • Chuck Norris never ran a marathon!
  • I do Netflix marathons!
  • Hey girl, I'm waiting for you, run faster (~Ryan Gosling w/o shirt)
  • Power up, hit here (Nintendo Mario star or mushroom)
  • May the course be with you!  (Yeah Star Wars!)
  • I like your stamina call me!
Signs I didn't see but heard about...too funny not to post!:
  • "If you collapse, I'll pause your Garmin"
  • "Keep running or I'll vote for Trump!"
  • "You just burned 2000 extra a calories...hello deep fried Oreo"
  • "I don't do marathons, but I do a marathoner" (I saw this on a shirt at the expo)
  •  "No more early Saturday runs means more Friday sex!" haha, that was solid.  Of course I ran all my long runs Friday morning :)
  • "Are you guys chasing a squirrel?"

Race prep:
What I ate:  I carb loaded 4-5 days before the marathon and tried not to drink any alcohol 2 weeks before (I caved and had 1 drink the Sunday before the race, 1 week before).  I ate lots of waffles and syrup, pasta and baked potatoes.  The day before the race I had subway for lunch, 1 Gatorade and some pretzels for snack. For the Team Beef dinner I ate 1/2 a salad (beware of roughage!), bread, center cut filet, green beans and mashed potatoes.  Breakfast the day of the race was 1 piece of toast with peanut butter and water.  I ate a Gu every 5 miles during the race and one Gu 10 mins before the race started.  I had my hydration vest so I didn't have to stop at any water stops.
What I wore:  Lulu shorts w/ side pockets, beef tank top, stuff your bra (more pockets!), arm warmers (wore for the 1st time), Garmin watch, fitbit, hat, glasses, hydration vest, Brooks Glycerin shoes (sz 9.5), spenco earthbound insoles, wrightsocks double layer and throwaway zip up hoodie.  I should have brought throw away gloves, it was so cold they were needed the first 3-4 miles.  I went up 1/2 a size in my shoe which saved my toes, more room.
Other items I carried:  Cell phone, 7 Gu's, mp3 player, hotel keycard, chapstick (used only at beg of race), small glide (didn't use).

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