Thursday, February 07, 2013

Aramco Houston 1/2 Marathon - Race Report

Well, race day had finally arrived.  We had all been watching the weather forecast all week and it wasn't improving - the prediction was for temps in the high 40s with about a 70% chance of rain (possibly thunderstorms).  Not exactly what you want to hear when you know you will be running for over 2 hours.  I felt bad for the folks running the full!

But, it is what it is - totally out of our control!

I woke up and had my usual egg whites and steel cut oats for breakfast.  Since I had a better than expected performance at the RunGirl relay the month before after taking an Emergen-C before the race, I decided to take another packet.  Couldn't hurt! 

I had set out my clothes the night before, but really...what does one wear in this type of weather?  You know it will be chilly, you know it will be raining and you can't exactly wrap yourself in plastic from head to toe. 

Well, I guess you could...

I decided to wear a running skirt (instead of my capris), a short sleeve shirt, and arm warmers (so I could remove if needed).  At the last minute, I threw the "nothing new on race day" rule out the window and decided to wear my cute pink compression calf sleeves.  Yes, I've had them for almost a year, but no I've never run in them.  Do as I say ya'll, not as I do!!!  And, I packet my bag for check-in with an entire dry set of clothes...even the shoes!

I arrived Downtown around 5:30 am and found a parking spot in a nearby parking garage.  The garage I had used in the past was closed for some reason.  The minute I began to walk toward the GRB, it started raining.  I opened rain poncho #1 and put it on - no sense in getting soaked before the race even started!  When I made it to the GRB, the rain had slowed down.  I went to our group's meeting spot and found that I was one of the first ones to arrive.  As people began to get there, the main topic of conversation was the weather and what to wear...leave on a warmer layer or take it off?  Wear a trash bag or a rain poncho?  Some of headed over to drop off our bags and made one last trip to the porta potties, then took a quick picture of anyone who was still standing seemed like some of us were in no hurry to head outside!  I had an extra rain poncho, but managed to drop it going to the bag check-in.

Some of the group before the race

Finally, we began to head to the start.  It was drizzly, but not too bad. I went ahead and put on my sexy, $1 store rain poncho and discovered that it already had a tear down the front.  Yeah, it would have been nice to have that extra one.  Doh!  For some reason, I had to pee again...fortunately, there was a long row of porta potties on the way to our corral.  I was in corral 2, so I would be starting 10 minutes after the official start...I had plenty of time.  Much to my surprise, I managed to find my peeps afterwards.  Amazing thing, considering the masses!  About that time, the rain really started coming down.  And with the wind, my rain poncho ripped even more.  As we started walking closer to the start, I spotted a volunteer picking up trash...and she was holding big, clear trash bags!!!  I walked over to the fence and asked her if I could have a trash bag and she was nice enough to give me one.  Poor lady, because after that, she was bombarded with other runners asking for them.  I ditched the ripped poncho and tried to tear a hole for my head and arms, while trying to move forward to the start at the same time. I managed to get the bag on and we crossed the start!  I discovered that the bag was so large, that it actually went all the way down to my shins!  I didn't care, I was just happy to have some protection from the rain and wind.

The rain was at its worst when we crossed the Elysian Viaduct...this is an uphill/downhill/uphill/downhill section and it was pouring rain!  This was one of the few times in my lifetime where I've wished I was wearing a baseball cap.  I seriously thought I was going to lose a contact!  I was running with one eye open, lol.  Fortunately, the rain slowed down to a tolerable drizzle pretty quickly and it stayed that way for the next few miles.  By mile 3, I had ditched the trash bag.  At mile 5, I was wishing I had kept the darn thing, because the hard rain started up again.  Luckily, it stopped after than and didn't ever really start up again.

So you've read my previous post, so you know the thoughts going through my head throughout the race.  Here are a few things I noticed that I didn't mention before:
  • There were a heck of a lot of spectators, especially considering the less than ideal weather conditions! And, I have to give a HUGE shout out to Bible Days Revival Church for being out there cheering...I have to say it was an amazing feeling to run past the crowds there. 
  • The volunteers were awesomely friendly...I heard so many words of encouragement along the way!
  • Lady holding the oranges on Studemont, I thank you!  I know we're not supposed to take food from strangers, but that orange was exactly what I needed!
  • I swear I had a tail wind through I the only one who felt this?  I felt like I was soaring (although my splits may say otherwise...I haven't looked).
  • Thank you to the men and women of the military who volunteered to hand out medals!  You guys were actually congratulating me and telling me I was awesome...ummm, no...YOU are the one who is awesome!
I went into this race without too many expectations.  I wasn't even going to look at my watch.  But then I noticed something crazy...every time I looked down, my pace was getting a little bit faster.  I thought I had a chance of a PR by mile 8.  By mile, 10 I was pretty sure it was going to happen.  At mile 11, I noticed that my pace was at my 2011 pace and I was almost positive I'd PR.  Then, somewhere in there I saw my average pace go below my 2011 pace and I knew.  I don't think I've ever had the ability to speed up when I've reached downtown or even in the chute, but this time I did.  As I was approaching the last turn near the finish, I caught up with one of the women in my group.  I said hi and kept going, lol!  I even chicked a couple of guys.  Crazy. 

After the race, I waited for the woman I had passed and we congratulated each other and headed into the GRB.  We grabbed breakfast and swapped race stories.  Can I just say that the warm coffee was the BEST EVER????  After breakfast, I saw a couple of folks I knew and I finally decided to get out of my wet clothes...obviously my desire for food was greater than my desire to be dry!!  Having a nice, warm, dry set of clothes was probably the smartest decision of the weekend...they felt great!

I waited around for a little while to see if I could find my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.  This was their first 1/2 marathon, so I wanted to congratulate them and give them both hugs.  I finally decided that I must have missed them, so I headed to the car.  As I started to leave downtown, I received a text from my sister-in-law.  "Did I get my extra medal?", she asked.  We were supposed to pick up our extra medal for completing the 5K on Saturday and the 1/2 on Saturday.

Oh shit!

I parked my car and walked back toward the GRB.  Luckily, the tent where you pick them up was outside the GRB, so I didn't have far to go.  I picked up my medal and was off! 

My bling!  I love the new "Houston Double"!

It felt great to be doing this race again!  I still need to get my redemption for having to DNS the marathon in 2012...and I WILL get my redemption.  But this year was the year of getting back to where I was before the hip injury.  I think that I have proven that I am there.  Next time, I will be ready to tackle the 26.2 in Houston again!

What was stupid about the whole thing is that even though I kept seeing my average pace get lower and lower, I kept reminding myself that I hadn't trained for a PR...I need to work on this with a little more positive thinking. I mean, so what if I hadn't trained for PR? I was going to PR...I was capable of doing more than I thought. The body achieves what the mind's time to start believing that I can run a 2-hour half marathon and a 4:30 marathon! ;-)


Lisa said...

Congrats on your race & gutting it out in the cold rain. I have never run in cold rain just warm rain.
We did our 20 miler in rain but it was 66 degrees that morning last month. Crazy weather!

Teamarcia said...

Wow CONGRATS! I am thrilled that you're running so well post injury! And under tough conditions too. Here's to sweet redemption!

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