Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Race Report: Houston Half Marathon

I'm sitting at my desk with my race number starring at me, yet I don't know how to begin.  So, I guess I'll begin at the beginning!

Got out of work early to pick up my packet on Friday. Nothing too exciting there.  I suppose I was expecting "more" from the expo, but it was just ok.  I picked up some new sunglasses and some arm-warmers, so that was cool. 

Saturday I vegged on the couch for most of the day.  Caught up on my TiVo list and played 2 hrs of Super Mario Bros Wii (why is that game so hard???).  Dinner was at the Bull and Bear.  Not the best choice (in hindsight) but I thought I was ok with a grilled chicken philly cheesesteak sammich.  Home, got my race stuff prepped and was in bed by 10 PM.

Sunday morning I was up at 5 AM, out the door by 5:20.  Breakfast consisted of my traditional Coke Zero and protein bar.  Bad news was that I could still feel last night's dinner in my stomach... which was not a good thing!  Got a free parking space ~3/4 mile behind the convention center.  Ended up walking to the convention center (start of the race) with a guy who flew in from Georgia.  Walked in the convention center and whoa.... that's a lot of people.  Decided to hit the porta-john before the lines got go bad.  Wandered over to find my running club, which thankfully had a sign, otherwise I would have been screwed.  Did a bit of stretching, got my stuff ready for the day, wandered over to the bag check in to check my stuff, wandered back to my running club.  Yup, lots 'o wandering.  Then it was time to walk to the race start.  We were in the second wave, probably about in the middle of the crowd.  Even though it was in the mid-40's I wasn't cold.  Partly because of being sandwiched btwn people, partly because of my awesome new arm sleeves.  We heard a big KABOOM and realized that was the gun for the elites.  More standing around, a bit of forward progress as the first wave went, more standing around.  Then another gun and that was the start of our wave.  I thought it was very cool that they were playing Iron Maiden's Run to the Hills at the start of my race.  I was with my coach (Helen) and two other girls (Heather and Tara) who had been in my running group since July.  The goal was to run together until the 9 mile turn-around point and then see what pace we could do after that point.

Lots of shuffling up to the start, then a slow jog.  I haven't checked my Garmin, but given all the people, I'd estimate my pace was somewhere around a 12:30 mile.  More shuffle running, trying to find space.  Up the hill at the Elysian Viaduct.  Helen instructed us to do a slow jog up the hill.  I got confused and went into greyhound mode (I hate having people in front of me) and went a bit too fast.. which Helen promptly yelled "slow down and take it all in".  Which kinda became a running joke when I fell behind later on.  Up over I-10 then downhill into the Heights.  This was the very cool part, since the Half and Full marathoners all merged here and the street was just a sea of people as far as you could see.  Then it was just running with a lot of people.  Lots of weaving around, trying to avoid the walkers, potholes, road patches, etc.  We do a 5:1 run/walk ratio, and I was amazed with how good running felt.  There are times where the 5 mins just drag on and on and on.  For the majority of the race, when my watch beeped (all 4 of us were beeping in unison, it was pretty funny) it was like, already?  time to walk?  ok. *beep* time to run? no problem!

The first oh, hour or so flew by really quickly.  What I remember is weaving through the crowd, chasing Helen (my coach), running past houses with residents outside cheering (some even were blasting music), random people handing out snacks to runners, the guy wearing a full-on furry cow costume, and just how good running felt.  Nothing hurt, pace was good, I was having fun. 

We hit the 10k part, went up a hill then south on Montrose, the one street that had familiar landmarks.  At about oh, 8.5 miles, my digestive system decided it really did not like my dinner the previous night.  It was uncomfortable, but not awful.  No porta-johns in site, plus, I didn't want to lose my running partners.  The GI thing passed, but I was slowing down by that point.  Maybe not so much slowing down as Helen and this other girl got faster.  Tara (who I ran with consistenly since July) and I stayed together, which turned out to be a good thing.  At the turn-around, we lost Helen but trudged on.  At mile 11, we hit Allen Parkway, which has a gradual hill and is the last stretch before you hit downtown.  My GI was being difficult (very annoying) and Tara had a case of "everything hurt".  Now, I don't even know Tara's last name and I'm pretty sure we'd never be friends IRL, but I was so glad to have her for that last part of the race.  I kept her going (only 4 more run segments... we can do it) and she kept me going.  Really, we were what eachother needed.  I really think that if I didn't have her, I would have just said screw it and walked more than I did.  But I didn't and I kept running.

As we approached the finish line, I was really expecting more "hoopla".  I had visions of the last mile being full of noise and spectators.  Really, it was the last 1/4 mile that was like that.  The mile before that was a bit spooky, running through downtown on relatively empty streets (compared to the crowds of the day).  My GI started really being unhappy, and with the finish line in sight I did say "screw it" and walked for a bit, until Coach Scott found me, put his arm around me, and made me run.  Was it fun? no.  But am I glad he did it? yes.  My "realistic" goal was 2:45, my stretch goal was 2:30.  I finished in 2:31 and am very very pleased.  In fact, my 10k - 9 mile split had me running a whole 1 min/mile pace faster than my overall pace.  Pretty cool.  Did an arm pump as I crossed the finish line (mainly so you could see me in the pictures - which failed since I was behind giants and all you can see is my arm).  Then we found our coach, took some pictures, and got our medals.  And then I had a huge asthma attack (why now after I ran 13.1 miles???) and my poor legs transformed into stiff, sore limbs.  That's ok, though, because they didn't hurt when I was running, and that's what matters.

So, in summary:
  • Do not eat at the Bull and Bear before a race.  Your stomach will thank you.
  • KT tape is awesome
  • Running with my training partners and coach was awesome. 
  • I ran just shy of my stretch goal, and exactly at my training pace
  • At no point in time did I think "why am I doing this??? I'm a swimmer, not a runner!".  I guess this means I'm a runner now.... eeps!
  • Even though my legs still hurt (its Wednesday), I still get nothing but good feelings when I think about my race.
  • And I'm looking forward to running this race next year!  Woo!

1 comment:

Paula said...

Congrats, Erin! You should be super proud of yourself, keeping the pace, keeping with a team member, and pushing yourself. :) What a great outcome, and it's great that you showed yourself you are definitely a runner!