Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Houston Marathon {Race Recap}

Where to even begin in regards to recapping this crazy, awesome, ridiculous weekend, with a terrible, not-so-good, very bad race thrown in?

I suppose a good place to start with be with a little background regarding this group of internet strangers I actually spent the weekend with (yes, you heard that right... I flew half way across the country to stay with people I met on the internet!). A few years ago it would've seemed crazy. Now, not so much. You see, it all started on a little website you may have heard of: MyFitnessPal. Back when I first started getting into running, I didn't know anyone else who ran... so I turned to a running forum on MyFitnessPal for general running advice. Fast forward a year or so later and I had gotten acquainted with quite a few of the regulars in the group. Fast forward another year and we had formed a Facebook group to more easily connect, and thus pretty much knew everyone's complete life stories! So, needless to say, by this point in time, 3+ years later, it didn't sound so weird. I also took solace in the fact that I had met 5 of the group members at various races, who had also met others in the group at races, so I had a pretty good feeling there weren't any axe murderers residing among our little community!

Since a few of them live in the Houston area, in 2016, they had the first official Houston Marathon meetup. I wasn't able to attend, and immediately after seeing all of the posts about it, had serious FOMO.... so I knew I had to make it in 2017! Therefore, when registration opened in May, I signed up for the Marathon and the rest was history!

Now, onto race weekend (and then, eventually, I MIGHT get to recapping the actual race? maybe...).

On Friday I headed out and made my way to Texas, going straight from the airport to one of the group members houses for the first night of shenanigans. As one of the last people to arrive, walking into the festivities was one of the craziest, most surreal moments - here were ALL these people I've known online for years, in real life. It was like I knew them all, but didn't. It was weird, but awesome! Everyone was just as I had imagined from the internet! As overwhelming, and sometimes frustrating, our world of technology can feel, it is also a seriously awesome way to communicate and meet people! Here I was walking into a room with 30 "friends" who I was just meeting in person for the first time!

Friday night was spent meeting everyone and catching up. The next morning, we all met up again for the annual Brolympus 5K Marathon. I honestly don't even know how to describe this awesome event, other than to just say you need to check out Brolympus for yourself! We ran the 5K Marathon (which also happened to be more of a shake-out run for most of us prior to the next days races - but don't tell that to Brolympus though, he wouldn't support not running this at Face Pace!), and then had a seriously awesome brunch, complete with tons of carb loading!

Everyone's a winner at the Brolympus 5K Marathon!

Fun after the 5K!

After the Brolympus 5K Marathon, a few of us went and hit the expo, where I got to meet Meb - one of my running role models - a 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist and winner of the 2009 NYC Marathon and 2014 Boston Marathon, and outspoken Christian! It was awesome, and he signed his book that I brought with me:

A few of us stayed downtown the night before the race and all had dinner before heading to bed before the big race! We were up the next morning just before 5:00am, so we could meet up with the whole crew at 6:00am for a group picture.

The whole group - it's pretty impressive how many of us there were!

Those of us who stayed downtown the night before the race!
Getting ready to start the race!

There was a group of about 6 of us who had decided to try for a 3:45 (my original goal had been to try for a PR - around 3:40 (8:23 pace), but the weather was HOT - 70's with over 95% humidity! So we were "adjusting" our pace, per race recommendations...little did I know that I should've adjusted my pace WAY more than that with this type of weather!), so we all walked over to the corrals together to get ready for the start. The original plan was to start off running around 8:45 miles and then pick up the pace later into the 8:30's. Sounded doable (at the time). The first 3-4 miles went fine (8:42, 8:47, 8:26, 8:46), other than the fact that I was drenched in sweat from the get-go. Around Mile 4, I could tell that they had already picked the pace up into the 8:30's. At an aid station I slipped back a little, but still kept them in my sights for the next several miles (8:33, 8:33, 8:27, 8:34). Around Mile 8-9 though I realized I was putting WAY too much energy into the race for this early on. After finishing Mile 9 in 8:25, I decided that I had better pull my pace back to try and salvage the race.

Miles 10 & 11 were 8:55, 8:58. During these two miles, I realized not only was a 3:45 out of the question, but I was beginning to worry that even a sub-4:00 was out of the question. Those 8:50 miles felt just as hard as the faster miles I had done earlier. Uh Oh... This was not going to be good. I felt way too exhausted and I wasn't even to the half-way point yet! Not good AT ALL.

So I continued to slow it down even more, running 12 and 13 in 9:15 and 9:25, finishing the first half in 1:55:50. Then...I kind of had a post-half-way-done let down for Miles 13-16. I just felt completely and utterly exhausted and was ONLY half-way done. These few miles were spent in a bit of a state of depression. I ran 9:24, 9:34, 10:16. I was just generally bummed that I had put a lot of work into training for this and here I was miserable with 13 more miles to go.

But, then just before 16, I had an epiphany. Well not really an epiphany, more of a "suck-it-up-buttercup" moment. I realized, there was absolutely NO POINT in being upset with myself. Yes, I was disappointed not to have a fast time (especially since I had actually trained with speedwork this time around!), but really what good would come from being upset about it? No one was going to care and it was just going to ruin my day. I came out here to have a good time and meet friends, so why not just just try to enjoy what was left of the race? So...that's exactly what I did!

I ended up getting on "facebook live" for part of the race, taking a few pictures (not as many as I would've liked - I missed some of the prettier sections earlier in the course), and stopping for some of the fun "un-official" aid stations along the course - for fruit, donuts, and beer. Miles 17-20 were slow ones, but fun ones, running 10:19, 10:02, 10:55, 11:39.

Around Mile 21 it started pouring down rain for a few minutes, so I stopped to put my phone in a plastic bag for a bit, and then continued on, doing my best to hi-five kids along the course and just keep at it, enjoying what I could. The next few miles continued to be slow at 11:18, 12:11, 10:06, 11:12, 10:15. Finally for the last mile and a half I tried to really pick things up - running 26 in 9:38 (yes, that was "really picking it up" for me at this point in the race!), and the last 1/2 mile (my garmin ran long) was at a 7:56 pace as I really tried to sprint in to the finish as soon as we got back into the downtown area!

Race: Chevron Houston Marathon
Location: Houston, Texas (Racing State #8 for me)
Distance: Marathon (26.2 Miles - my garmin clocked it at 26.5, but most everyone else was pretty accurate)
Date: 01/15/2017
Elevation: 149' Gain
Bib Number: A2909
Weather: Horrible - 70's and 95% Humidity
Gun Time: 4:19:20
Chip Time: 4:14:39
Average Pace: 9:43 per mile
Overall Rank: 2327 of 7134
Gender Rank: 688 of 2817
Division Rank (F25-29): 120 of 379

It was definitely an interesting race, to say the least... I have NEVER ran in humidity like that, especially for this length. It was weird because it didn't feel "that" hot, and yet, it did. It was also strange how I felt like I went from feeling pretty good, to just kind of dead rather quickly around that Mile 9 mark. Nevertheless, I still got it done and finished with the exact same medal that I would've gotten had I finished faster...As disappointing as missing a goal time can sometimes feel, I am truly just thankful that I can be out running, and that I am physically fit enough to do stuff like this!

After I got done, I headed into the convention center to try and find people from our group who were still around (most of the Half-Marathoners had finished hours earlier and had left already). There were quite a few enjoying the post-race breakfast (they have a complete breakfast post-race!), so I went and joined everyone, expecting to hear stories about everyone's amazing race times... but much to my surprise, a good chunk of everyone also really struggled with the heat - so at least I wasn't the only one!

Later after the race, we spent one last evening celebrating before we all left the next day!

Sunday night festivities!
As for race specifics, here's a little recap on things I liked and didn't like on this one:

  • Very well organized race considering they have about 30,000 people (much more in the Half Marathon, than full - but both races start together).
  • SWAG - you get a cotton participant shirt and a tech finishers shirt, along with nice medal, and the Marathoners get a Beer Glass as well!
  • Full Breakfast post-race. I didn't stick around long enough to get hungry enough to eat a ton, but it's always nice when big races actually have a decent amount of food!
  • Flat and Fast Course - I wasn't really able to take advantage of this after I bonked at Mile 9, but it did seem like a very flat course - there was only one hill I remember and it was short and steep, around Mile 10 or so.
  • Course Support / Crowds - there were TONS of fans along the race route to keep things interesting which was a lot of fun. A lot of those people also brought out various snacks and drinks too, which was awesome!
  • Lots of fun meeting up with friends! (This doesn't have anything to do with the race specifically, but it was a lot of fun! I enjoyed the weekend!).
  • SO. MUCH. CONCRETE. It seemed like a lot of the roads here were concrete, as opposed to asphalt, which always feels like it beats me up more. It was really bugging one of my knees by the end, and is still having some pain now, two weeks later :( 
  • For a marathon this big, their logo is just ugly. I know that doesn't concern most people, but I'm weird about these things - their shoe logo just looks dated and ugly, in my opinion.
  • The Weather - this is unpredictable, of course though - it is typically cooler than this year.
  • Course Scenery, or lack thereof. Granted, most road marathons that go through cities aren't that exciting, but it was a little bit of a boring course...but the "flat and fast" thing makes up for this - had I been going for time the entire race, I probably wouldn't have noticed! Also, the large crowds help make up for this as well!

So overall... this was an AWESOME weekend. No, my race performance was not one I'm super happy with, but that was not really the point in me coming to this race anyways, so I'm okay with it! I had a blast meeting so many of my "online running friends" and hope to see more of everyone in the future!

1 comment:

  1. What an incredibly fun weekend despite the heat during the marathon. You made the best of a tough race and it sounds like the meet up with all of those awesome running friends made it worth it anyways. Plus you rocked that awesome print! Nice job!


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