Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2010 Houston Half Marathon Race Report

I arrived with my peeps downtown at dark thirty…it was chilly, but not the freezing cold we’ve been having over the past few weeks. I’ll be honest, I was liking that freezing cold for my runs…temps warming into the 60s is not my idea of good running weather, but at least it wasn’t raining. :-)

Here I am with the peeps - Dawn, Erica, Katie, me, Kelly and Lacy - they are the best!

I got to see some of my other running buds all over the GRB…some from previous jobs, some from previous running groups, even a few people from high school. Crazy. I checked my bag, ate my oranges and made one last visit to the porta-pottie. Since my friends were all doing the full for the 1st time, they had already headed out. I made my way out to the starting corrals alone and quickly realized I was in the very back of my wave. I did manage to get more to the middle of the pack, but I was not where I wanted to be…more on that later.

This is my good friend and former co-worker, Donyail, who was running her 1st 1/2...she did great! I'm so proud of her!

Before I knew it, the gun sounded. My wave still had another 10 minutes before starting. When we were finally on our way, I was ANNOYED to find people walking all around me….seriously people – if you’re going to walk right from the start, get in the BACK of your corral!!!

Miles 1 & 2:
These were the most frustrating miles ever. I knew they’d be slow, but the best I could do in the crowd was keep an 11-minute pace. Grrrr…. As I expected, I warmed up really fast and before I hit the 2nd mile marker had already thrown away the arm sleeve thingies and my gloves. I actually dropped one of the sleeves on accident, but it was too crowded to pick it up…I said “screw it” and tossed the other one.

Miles 3 – 6:
These miles were GREAT! There were great spectators and bands that really helped keep motivation high. There was the Beatles-type band, the trio in beehives doing a 50’s tune, a heavy metal band and a dude playing a guitar and singing….seriously, it was better than the San Antonio RnR that touts tons of bands on the course. I didn’t seem to look around much, but hearing the different music was fun. My only complaints here were the small “hills” and the slanted street. (Yes, I need hill training!) Lots of people still and my pace was very inconsistent…I’d be running a 10 minute pace, then look at my watch and be running a 10:40 pace. Ack! The entire time, my watch was showing an average pace of 10:38 and I felt like I was trying to make up for lost time.

Miles 7 – 9:
Again, great crowds. It seemed like the crowds grew thicker at every intersection and they were loud. This area is nice and flat, but the streets were congested at some of the water stops which made for some weaving. I did talk to a guy with a Texas A&M Corp of Cadets shirt on…hey, it’s my alma matter and I recruit from the school for work. I thought maybe, just maybe, he was a Construction Science major….

The one person who stood out in this area was a dude who had music playing and was singing “keep runnin’, runnin’…keep runnin’, runnin’….keep runnin’, runnin’…” over and over. This part of the course was also where the ½ marathon folks turn around and the full marathon folks keep going, so I got to hear that little tune twice. The 1st time, I thought it was a recorded song, only when I passed the guy again did I realize he was actually singing it…I wondered if he’d been doing that from the start and if that was the only thing he was going to sing, lol! I had every intention of looking for my friends on the other side of the road when I turned around, but I couldn’t. It felt like it was taking too much effort to turn my head – I wanted to look forward only and focus on the task at hand. Weird…I am usually all about looking at the other people on the course. I was down to a 10:37 average pace.

Mile 10 – 12:
At mile 10, I got out my ipod shuffle, put the ear buds in and listened to one song. That was it. The music was too distracting. Maybe I really am a “zen runner”, because at that point in time, I only wanted to hear the sounds of the music on the course and the crowds.

This is also where we made the turn onto Allen Parkway – the lonely stretch that takes you into downtown. I wasn’t too far along when I saw the male marathon leader run past with the media cars in front of him and police motorcycles escorting him. AMAZING! Nothing like seeing someone run so well to make you wanna speed up a little. There were a few other guys who followed not too far behind. Before I knew it, the female leader was coming. Again, AMAZING! I looked at my watch – 10:36 pace. Ugh!

The final mile + .1:
After looking at my watched again, I realized I was not going to make my goal. At first I was pissed at myself, but then I decided that it was what it was...I had to at least get in before 2:20. I turned the corner onto Rusk (the final turn) and there was a DJ playing the Black Eyed Peas “I got a feeling”, which was exactly what I needed to put a little pep in my step. I could finally see the balloon arch of the finish line, but it looked so freaking far!!! But, I kicked it up a little…which wasn’t much, but it was something. I must have been really focused on those freaking balloons, because my friend’s husband was calling my name and I didn’t even hear it at first…I didn’t realize it until I had already passed him. I looked back and gave a quick wave and kept on going. I felt like I sped up a little more in those final couple of blocks, but who knows. I finally made it to the finish! I looked up at the clock, raised up my hands for a second and then stopped the Garmin – I had come in right under 2:20! Yay!

More post race thoughts to come...


Julie said...

I just got home from work and thought that I would take a quick look to see if you had your race report up!!! I love race reports and when bloggers are specific about the miles...what they see and hear, how they feel, and just their thoughts in general! Awesome race, good job!! Next time start up with the earlier wave and just see how you do...you might surprise yourself:) Way to rock it:)

l.borrego said...

The random DJ downtown might have been my favorite. I was struggling at that point, but he was great and made me smile...and then I saw the end! So.Happy.

Running Diva Mom said...

Sounds like a great race. Thanks for the race report. You should be proud of your time. You look awesome!

Meg said...

Nice job! It sounds like you had a fun race and I liked it when you mentioned you didn't want to look around too much, just focus. I remember loving that realization; that I didn't have to look at everything and everyone the whole time!!

saroy said...

The crowds really were awful. I made the mistake of starting towards the back of wave 2, and never really escaped until the turnaround. Our first 2 miles were 12:00, and we'd have been hard pressed to move any faster. I don't have a problem with people walking, but 1) move to the edge of the road, 2) check behind you before you stop abruptly, and 3) don't walk 6 people abreast!!

Staci Dombroski said...

Great race report! It sounds like it was an exciting atmosphere and you could feed off the energy!! Thanks for sharing :-)

Tricia said...

Great recap!

I'm looking at the RnR San Antonio as my first full.

Jamoosh said...

Great race - weather was perfect!

That Pink Girl said...

Congrats on making your goal time! I love it when the music kicks in with just the right song at just the right time! WTG!!!