Monday, January 26, 2015

Houston Half Marathon, 2015

This past Saturday, Roger and I flew to Houston to run the half marathon. This year we actually made it in time to visit the Expo and check out various vendors. (Last time we barely made it to pick up the packets!) A group of us wandered around checking out shoes, running stuff, and sampling all kinds of great treats. Afterwards, we drove the course...which I think actually took almost as long as running it. There was SO much traffic!!! I'm glad we drove the course because I missed so much of it along the run. (Yes, I was that focused...on the ground and making sure I didn't trip!)

L-R: Courtney, Roger, and Jason...picking up packets at the Expo.

Since we had been up early (4:00 a.m.) that morning to fly out, it wasn't a problem to go to bed at 8:00 that evening.  It wasn't long and the alarm was going off to get up and around for the race....yes, you guessed it, at 4:00 a.m. again. We met up with fellow runners around 6:00 and headed over to the convention center to drop off our bag. Closing time for the corrals was 6:30, so we had a brief jog over (and a few warm up drills) along the way.

Check out the cool signs Jason's family made for all of us!! Thanks Shanna, Keri, and Mason!

I had not really 100% decided what I wanted to try and run. I knew I wanted to beat my previous half marathon time at Route 66 in Tulsa, which was 1:49. Roger said I should line up and run with the 3:20 pace group. I kinda thought he was joking, but the thought stuck with me. (That's a 1:40 half finish time, which I've done before, but not in several years.)

When it was 5 minutes till start time, I left behind my "toss away" top that was keeping me warm till we started. The temp was perfect for running, about 50 degrees, but a little chilly for just standing around! It didn't take long to warm up, maybe less than a mile, and I was tossing off my old gloves too. The 3:20 group ran alongside me and their pace didn't seem too I just kept running with them.  I thought, "Why not?" I decided I would just give it my all and run with them for as long as I could. It was tough during the water stops because they just kept going and I had to slow down to get water, then really speed up to catch up again. (Water stops were very organized, but MAJOR congestion moving through them.) Right around mile 5-6 I started feeling it, I was getting tired. I had trained for a little slower pace than what they were running and could tell that I wouldn't be able to keep it up for the rest of the way. I decided that I slow down a little and just pay attention to doing what I could the remainder of the run. The marathoners ended up splitting off not too long after that point and the crowd was not so packed, which was nice!

Roger and I after the run....I'm looking and feeling super tired!
Glad to be finished and headed towards breakfast.

It wasn't too long before I reached mile 10. This is where we had seen the baby sized "CITGO" sign when we were driving the course. We had been joking about it and comparing the little sign to the giant one you see along the course in the Boston Marathon. I was thinking, "Just one more 5K and I'm done!" I was really feeling tired, but tried to keep my thinking positive. (Each step I take is another step towards the finish line!) Even so, that last 5K seemed to go on FOREVER! Somewhere towards the end I started running with a guy that was going a decent pace, so I was able to pick it up a bit, but that didn't last long.

Our friends who had come to watch had made signs with each of our names and were cheering along the last 1/2 mile of the course, but I totally missed them! :( I was really focused on finding that finish line and completing the run. I was even able to run harder once I saw it as I was trying hard to break that minute mark! I ended up with a 1:42:56, which is not a PR but a great accomplishment after many half marathons with mental blocks and other stuff going on. I needed that mental boost and confidence that I have lost over the last couple of years. I was also really glad that I didn't have that pukey feeling at the end. Almost every time I've run a challenging race, my body wants to puke at the finish line. Not this time. Awesome.

Roger and Jason after the run. They also ran well...must have been those
neon orange shoes! 

After the run, we were all directed inside the convention center to pick up our t-shirts and have a tasty breakfast (eggs, biscuits and gravy, and ice cream sandwiches). Sounds like a balanced breakfast, right? We visited with some other runners from Florida and Texas and then made our way out to meet with friends. The sun had come out and it had turned it to a beautiful day. We spent quite a bit of time just hanging out in a grassy area and walking around the booths outside of the convention center.

Time to eat!!
It was a quick trip and all of us enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend this event as it is well organized, has a great course (very flat!), and excellent crowd support along the way. I would also recommend staying at the host hotel, Hilton Americas, as it is very close to the start and finish line.
Registration for next year has already opened up! If you think you might be interested, check it out at the Houston Marathon website.

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