This is the story of my second marathon. If you remember correctly, my first one wasn’t much to covet. Need some refreshing? Go read about the disaster on this page: Race Recap: My first marathon. Got it? Let’s just keep that in our memory bank, mkay.
So my second marathon. I entered the lottery for the Chevron Houston Marathon waaaay back in June. Crossed my fingers, and luckily got picked. Woohoo, I’m going to run a marathon… again.
I originally signed up to train with my old running group but found my old complaints were the same and typically found myself training by myself. (I was actually training for the Nike Women’s Marathon, which technically should have been my second marathon but that’s another story that probably won’t ever get told cause nobody really cares.) <<– hello, rambler So what’s a girl to do? Facebook stalk a new group and then do the scariest thing, be socially awkward and go run with the new group. This new group was worlds apart from my first experience. Amazing is the adjective that comes to mind.
I’m the one in orange. Bonus points if you can find me.
Anyways, I found two wonderful ladies to run and chat with every Saturday morning (and occassionally Monday nights and Thursday mornings).
This is after the Houston Half in October. Now, that was a perfect day.
We go through training, do lots of long runs including one 18 miler, one 20 miler, and one 22 miler. Then comes race week…. We live in Texas, rain isn’t a typical occurance, it happens occassionally but race week, damn, it rained all the time. We got a soggy cold wet 8 miles in the week before the marathon, all the time hoping we wouldn’t have to deal with these conditions come race morning… ummm….
So let’s set the scene. January 13th, 2013
- 6 am downtown Houston
- cold – low 50s
- lots and lots of runners in trashbags, ponchos, and disposable rain jackets
Are we thinking this race is going my way? I know what you are thinking, you are thinking cranky pessimistic Tara is going to complain all about how her second marathon was a suckfest and how she hated it.
I loved it. I loved every single water soaked minute of the first 6 miles. I loved the crazy loud sections when the halfers turned around to go to the finish line. I loved the quiet sections after the split where we didn’t have a lot of spectators. I loved the “Wall” where the belly dancers jostled around looking way too cold. I LOVED LOVED LOVED mile 24 when I got to see my babies. And I loved the finish, of course, I loved the finish. I “almost” didn’t want the race to end. (Almost because, come on, it was cold and windy and we’d been out there for half the day and I was tired of eating ShotBloks.)
That is the short story. You want to hear the rest? Continue at your own risk. It’s one week past the event and I’m still major highing off it.
Saturday before the BIG race… I ran my FIRST 5k. Yes, you read that correctly. My first 5k. Cause I’m downright crazy like that. Who’s heard of couch to 5k? I kinda did the couch to half marathon thing. So… Houston is now offering the 5k the day before the race in order to get more runners (I assume that’s the reason) and they offered an extra medal for anyone that did both the 5k and their respective race on Sunday. You know that suckered me in… more medals.
I have to say, I need to do more 5ks. I sure like my standing more in this race than Sunday. Then me and my friend hit up the expo and proceeded to take everything they’d let us. Also, I updated my car sticker. I made sure to pick up something manly, to make sure that my husband wasn’t embarrassed when he drove my already girly car. Ran into Rachael, told her she was going to PR.
I’m pretty sure that’s not too embarassing right. (ha)
Day of the race, we sheltered in place. We took lots of pictures.
Tara on the left, Tara on the right, Tara in the middle. I lost count how many pictures we took, guess those photographers loved the girls in orange. Look how happy and smiley we are.
I also ran into Heidi. I have no photographic proof but she’ll vouch for me. (and I just tried to link to her site and got something weird….Heidi??)
We depart for the start line around 6:45 or so. Being in “open” corral means we have no time cutoffs and can get in whenever. We knew we wouldn’t be crossing the start mat for a while so we stayed inside as long as possible. Once we got into the corral the weather didn’t seem so bad, probably because we were all crammed in there like sardines. Other people were blocking the wind, the hand warmers had kicked in, and the ponchos were effectively blocking the rain.
We finally crossed the start line around 7:15. Since mile 1 is a Houston hill, of course, the clouds decided it’d be a good time to dump down on us. Pouring. My feet and socks were soaked only 10 minutes in. Woooweee, this is going to suck. (I bet that lady that ditched her poncho at the start line was regretting that decision.) We had planned to walk all the water stations and run in between. Water stations were about 1.5 miles apart. Not too bad since we had been practicing the 2 mile run, .25 mile walk during our longer runs.
I felt very badly for the volunteers on the first few water stops. They seemed understaffed, overwhelmed and wet. The weather was very nasty for the first hour and those people at the earlier water stops were really getting the brunt of the weather. There are no pictures of us on the course during this time. We were all bundled up and probably had our bibs covered. This might also explain why the marathon app wasn’t tracking us properly.
Whoops, I lied. Here’s a picture all bundled. Hot right? I lost my hat somewhere on the course
Finally at mile 13ish we shed our jackets and gloves and ran with only rain gear.
Look, still happy faces. I knew things were going to be good if I got to the half mark and felt good. Right around this time, somewhere between miles 13 and miles 15, we lost a runner. She was experiencing some cramping and kinda slipped behind us and we didn’t realize she was gone until it was too late. (sounds so dramatic right?). Me and other friend grappled with what to do… we felt badly for continuing.
Still trucking along, keeping up with our run/walk strategy, we make it to mile 18 which is where you turn and make the long trek “home”. I knew at this time that I would be seeing my babies in about an hour and I honestly think the idea of them being out there is what sealed my race. I was so excited to be able to see them, even if for just a few seconds.
This was around mile 23. I was still way too peppy for being on mile 23. My babies were less than 1 mile ahead. Still rocking that rain gear. Wasn’t giving that up until the very end.
And then we come up on the finish.
I seriously can’t wait to do it again. The Houston marathon is definately on my must do for next year as well and hopefully for many years to come.
Now, let’s just figure out how to get me to the finish line a little faster huh? Still, a PR is a PR and I took nearly 40 minutes off my last marathon. Still, I’m pretty sure I have a faster time in me.
P.S. My friend that had leg cramps finished. So proud of her for pushing through and getting it done!
What’s next? CHICAGO! (with lots of smaller races in between) Anyone else doing Chicago?