It only took 5 years but I’ve finally improved upon my 2008 Houston Half Marathon performance! In less than ideal conditions, I surprised myself (in a good way) and held on for the PR!!
Going into this race, I wasn’t thinking about a PR. While I knew I was in better shape than I’ve been in a long time, I also knew that I really hadn’t trained for a PR. After OilMan in November, I had some time off and then the holidays were upon us. I was training but nothing crazy. Going into Sunday, my goal was to have a good race and focus on execution. For me, that meant I needed to start out slow and build into my pace. While I was thrilled with a PR, I was way more pleased that I was able to descend each of my 5k splits.
The weather yesterday stunk. It was very cold in the morning (low 40’s), rainy and windy. Keith rode down with me and we parked in the EY building and I got to use a “real” restroom versus a porta-pottie. Score! I headed to the start line at about 6:30ish as they said the corral would close at 6:40am. I found some shelter under an awning at Minute Maid Park and just tried to hide behind bigger people. The rain started down and more folks squeezed into our hiding spot. The gun went off at 7am and nearly 20 minutes later, I was crossing the start line, and getting my morning going.
Not long after the race officially started, the rain started. At first, it wasn’t bad but then it just came down. I started to laugh. A guy next to me asked me what I was laughing at like he was annoyed or something. I just looked at him and smiled and told him that I was laughing at the conditions and just happy to be out running. He clearly thought I was a nut. The first few miles were uneventful. I tried not to get caught up with the frenzy of the crowd and reminded myself to start easy. Of course, I needed to also to remember to dodge the giant puddles that were growing by the minute. Oh, and dodge the flying clothes that folks were ditching. Before I knew it, I was between 3-4 miles and I got to see Keith who was out on his bike, cheering me along the course. What a trooper!!! Oh, and many props to the spectators who still came out to cheer for all of us crazy people. It was so fun!!!
So I’ll spare you the details of how I felt at every mile marker and fast forward to the good stuff. At around mile 7, I got to see Keith again. I like this area b/c he can stay with me until I cross Allen Pkwy and then he waits at the corner of Studemont and Allen Pkwy until I come back to make my turn to the finish. As he was riding alongside me (on the other side of the median), he was telling me how well I was doing and how I had a great pace going. I smiled and just kept on moving. Then he said, “seriously, you look better than I’ve ever seen you look”. When he said this, I was intrigued and decided now would be a good time to look at my Garmin and see what I was doing. I know, crazy that I hadn’t done so yet right? Well, I was watching the course clocks and knew I was executing fine but wasn’t exactly sure since I didn’t know what time I crossed the start mat. When I looked at my Garmin, I did a quick calculation and then looked at Keith and mouthed, “oh shit”. I looked again, tilted my head, ran some numbers in my head and then smiled. I was about to enter the part of the race that has always been mentally challenging for me for some reason and had the push I needed to change that.
As I headed towards Richmond Avenue, I kept the pressure on. No walking. When I came upon an aid station, I grabbed the cup and just kept going. I didn’t walk through any aid stations!! Before I knew it, I could see the turnaround and was super excited. Within a few minutes, I was at mile 10, did a math re-check and knew it was going to be close. I glanced at my watch and I was maintaining a pace below 10min miles which is what I would need to do to get my PR. My body felt good so I pushed more.
|Headed towards the turnaround. Thanks to Bill Dwyer for getting this pic!|
Am I having fun or what?!?!
As I approached the turn on to Allen Pkwy, I spotted Keith and I think I smiled again. I don’t really know. I’m pretty sure I wanted to at least. While miles 8-10 were always the tough ones for me in the past, this section was always my favorite…even if I wasn’t running well. This is the section where you get to see the lead marathoners come by if you’re lucky. I had missed the first guy but made it to Allen Pkwy to see what I think was 2nd – 6th…maybe. The Lululemon tent was blasting one of my favorite songs, It’s Tricky and I soooo wanted to stop and dance but decided to keep running. Before I knew it, I was at mile 12 and still on pace for a modest PR. I decided to just go as hard as I could and so I hit the gas. I could see the GRB in front of me and looked at my watch….2:06ish. Hmmm, how close am I? Oh, there’s the ½ mile sign. Ok, do the math. Ooh, this is going to be close. Run harder. Do you want a PR? Umm, of course I do! Ok, run just a little harder. ¼ mile. I’m almost done. Just a little longer. There’s the finish. Ok, arms in the air and smile for the camera!
I stopped my Garmin as I crossed the timing mats. I looked down and saw 2:09 and change. I did it!!!!!! I was so excited and honestly, a little shocked. I didn’t expect a PR yesterday. I wasn’t shooting for one…it just happened. For me, I think the biggest factor was mental. I don’t know if you call it perspective or attitude or confidence. In my head, I just went into this for fun. And when I say that, I don’t mean that I wasn’t trying, I just mean that I had no expectations. I was going to enjoy the morning and be grateful that I have the ability to run, slow or not.
So, just how well did I do at the end of the race? Well, allow me to brag a little. According to the official results and the CHM website, I passed 418 people over the last 4 miles of the race (while only being passed by 32). Really?!?! That is one cool stat!
So that’s it! I had an awesome race in really cruddy conditions. I’ve got an awesome coach who has helped me figure out what I need to do differently to improve and I’ve got an awesome man who is so supportive of me. Keith rode around the course on his bike in terrible conditions…not many folks would do that!
There you have it. A blog update and race report all rolled into one package! Happy Monday! And to answer your question, yes, I REALLY want to break that 2hr mark now. :)