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Houston Marathon- Race Report

Houston Marathon- Race Report
Houston Marathon- Race Report

There is nothing easy about running a marathon.  It is hard, hard work.  As I sit here and type my race recount I am completely exhausted.  My legs are unbelievably sore.  I have two toenails I’m honestly afraid to look at and one blister on each foot.  My body is aching but I have to say- it is ALL WORTH IT!!  I am so completely thrilled and satisfied with how everything went yesterday. Thank you, God!!

Pre-race:
The day began at 5:10 when my alarm went off.  I dressed quickly and tried not to wake Ashton.  I woke up John to tell him good-bye and I also asked him to get one before the marathon picture.

Yeah, it was early… I prefer to be sleeping at 5:40!

At 5:45 I met another runner staying in my hotel and we shared a cab over to the Hilton by the race start. I was not able to find Tish (my local running friend also doing the marathon) amongst the thousands of other runners crammed in the Hilton lobby so I headed over to Corral A by myself.  I used the Port-a-potty and I told myself I would be fine without using a bathroom again for several more hours.  Then I made my way up towards the front but not too close.  I saw the 3:20 pace group and I distanced myself behind them.
(I will be writing a post in a few days about pacing strategy and pace groups.)

The race:
When the gun went off at 7 am there was a sea of people.  The race itself did not seem to start too fast.  The Half Marathoners started on the next side street and I was very thankful they were not in the mix as well.  My first mile was slower than my goal pace. When my watch beeped and I saw a 7:49 I was pleased.  I did not want to start too fast but I didn’t want it to read 8 anything either.  Overall, I knew I HAD to average a 7:36 on my watch if I was going to break 3:20.  I prefer to start off on the slow end of the spectrum and negative split.  I do not race well when I start too fast.

By mile two I was in the groove and feeling right on pace.  Mile two beeped and I saw that I ran a 7:34.  Perfect.  Just 24 miles to go… Yes, I really did think this.  I was getting hot and so shed my gloves.  During mile two the half marathoners were added into the course so it felt a little crowded.  For the next few miles I felt good.  I still didn’t know if today had the makings for a great race but so far so good!  I wasn’t 100% sure how I would feel by mile 20 so I was doing my best to stay positive and optimistic about my goal. There isn’t much to during a marathon except to run and think.  I had a lot of time to do both.

I decided to race again with my Ipod.  It was my first time to use my new Ipod shuffle that John got me for my birthday.  It worked great! I was able to clip it on my spi belt and my hands were free. The music helped keep me stay centered and focused.
Mile 3- 7:37
Mile 4- 7:38
At mile 4 I had my first GU.  Chocolate Outrage GU is my absolute favorite. 🙂 I tried timing my GU with the water stations.  I wanted to eat but wash it down with water so it would digest better.  I planned to fuel at miles: 4,8,12,16,22 and 24. I do not like to carry a water bottle with me when I run so I just use the water aid stations.  Water and GatorAid was nearly every two miles so it worked out well.
Mile 5- 7:33
Mile 6- 7:34. Got a quick sip or two of water. 
Mile 7- 7:32
Mile 8- 7:30. During this mile I had some more water and Chomps.
Mile 9- 7:34. During this mile the Half Marathoners split off.  It was about time.  I was glad to see them go.  I have nothing against half marathoners (it’s one of my favorite races) but the race crowd got a lot smaller and I could focus better.
Mile 10- 7:33.  Around this time I realized I might have to stop to pee.  I have never had to go in a race before but maybe it was all the water I drank… I wasn’t desperate or anything but I knew I still had two hours of running ahead. I just kept on running.  A little later during this mile my friend Tish’s husband and kids were stationed on the side cheering.  I was surprised to see them (first familiar faces I had seen since I left the hotel at 5:45) and it gave me a little boost of energy.

Mile 11- 7:27. During this mile I saw John and Ashton and it made me so happy!! I gave him a big thumbs up and told him I was right on track. He already knew this because he was getting text updates and tracking me on the Houston Marathon App but he smiled and told me I could do it. It was so encouraging seeing John.

Mile 11- SO happy to see John!
 

Mile 12- 7:36.  During this mile I had some Clif Shot Bloks and water.  Also around this time I stopped needing to go to the bathroom.  I never thought about it the rest of the race.  One less thing to worry about!
Mile 13- 7:30.  By this mile I had caught up with the 3:20 pace group.  I had researched this pace group on the Houston Marathon website.  I knew one of the leaders was a women who had run a 2:55.  She and another man were leading this group of about 30- 35 people.  I didn’t want to just jump right in and make a commitment so I stayed behind them for a bit.  When I had run 13.1 miles I looked at my watch to see my half marathon time.  I don’t remember the exact numbers but it was a 1:39 something. 
Mile 14- 7:30. Still hanging behind the pace group but a little closer. Also had a few quick sips of water.
Mile 15- 7:22. We went over a bridge and the only major uphill of the race.  The downhill was great and I just coasted through following the pace group. 
Mile 16- 7:33.  Ok, I must admit, by this point I was a full fledged member of  the 3:20 pace group!  I had found a nice spot right behind the pacer lady and told myself just 10 miles to go.  I also had some more Chomps and water.
Mile 17- 7:23.  John and Ashton were also at this mile.  Once again, I was SO happy to see them and he saw that I was nestled right in with the 3:20 group.

Mile 17
Ashton cheering for me.  How sweet is this boy?!!

Mile 18- 7:37.  Drank a few fast sips of Gator Aid and kept plugging along with the pace group.  I started noticing that with every mile the pace group lost a few more people.  We never really added anyone.  When we passed someone they just let us go.
Mile 19- 7:35. My quads were in some serious pain.  They had been aching since mile 15 and I knew they were going to be really sore the next day! I could also feel blisters forming on each foot.
Mile 20- 7:30.  I had another chocolate GU and some water.  I had to slow down a little to get my cup and drink.  When I finished I had to sprint for a few seconds to catch the pace group.  It was then that I realized I was starting to fade.  Catching up with the pace group (and I was only a few seconds behind) took a lot of energy.  I did not want to catch back up with them again.
Mile 21- 7:28.  John was at this mile too!! I was very happy to see him but he could tell I was starting to get tired. John said that he noticed the biggest change for everyone in the group was between miles 17 and 21.  By mile 21 just about everyone in our group was getting worn down…with the exception of the ever spunky pace group leaders.

Mile 21

Mile 22- 7:35.  Grabbed a quick cup of water to take a few sips and managed to stay with my pace girl.  I kept listening to my music.  I had no energy to talk to anyone.  I just liked knowing she was there keeping the pace steady. Just four more miles. HOLD ON TIA!!!
Mile 23- 7:37.  Knowing I only had a 5K left should have made me happy but I was getting so tired. I didn’t just want to slow down- I wanted to stop all together.  Running this pace was all I knew.  It was either continue or stop and I knew stopping wasn’t an option. 
Mile 24- 7:31.  When will I ever stop running?!?? I started to let a little doubt creep in.  Could I actually hang with it and stay with the 3:20 group?  I had come so far.  I told myself to suck it up and keep going.  I knew I would be so mad at myself if I didn’t stay with the 3:20 group.  I was so close I could taste it.  I just needed to stay with it a little longer. At this point our pace group had dwindled down to maybe 5 people.  I also had my last GU.  I didn’t really want it but my fuel schedule had mile 24 as the last fuel mile and I needed all the help I could get!
Mile 25- 7:40.  At the very end of this mile I felt the pace group slow down or maybe it was me wanting to just be finished.  Whatever the reason I pulled ahead as my watch beeped my split and I decided to go for it. I just did not want the pace group to catch up and pass me.

Last mile! Almost there…

 Mile 26- 7:35.  No more pace group.  It was just me and my mission to find the finish line. I started counting down laps on the track in my head.  Finally I knew I had less than one lap to go.  I could do this!!
Mile 26.4- 2.42 (6:38 pace).  I gave it all I had.  I saw the clock and I knew the 3:19 was mine. It felt SO GOOD to cross that finish line!!

My official time: 3:19:18 (7:36 avg. mile)

Post Race:
Within about 20 seconds of me crossing the line I turned around and saw the pace group leaders.  I gave the pace girl a hug and said thank you.  I told them both that they’d helped me PR by over 15 minutes.

I made my way into the expo to get water, a banana, my finisher shirt, a finisher mug and most importantly- to find John!  The family reunion area was set up inside.  Within a few minutes I found John and Ashton.  Ashton looked happy to see me but I couldn’t hold him right away.  I needed some more water and I wanted to sit down before carrying him. Once we got outside and I had some more water and sat for a while and I felt a little better.  I was just so happy to be done running! (Now there’s something I don’t usually say!)  I was also especially happy that I’d accomplished my goal and pushed through the pain.

After race pics:

There’s my little man!
Ashton must have liked my salty taste.  I had to pull him off of me! Then we found him an orange to eat!
My boys

Me with Tish after the marathon.  Tish also PR’d and broke the 3:40’s with a 3:38!!
Our celebratory dinner after the race.

Upcoming Posts: The Olympic Trials 2012, Fueling During a Marathon and Pacing Strategy/ Running with a Pace Group

16 Comments

  1. Wow!!! I am just thrilled for your amazing race! It was a wonderful day in Houston, no doubt!! How are you walking today? I really am looking forward to your insight on fueling and pace groups. Learned a lot on both subjects during my own run!! Again, CONGRATS!!!

  2. So stinking happy for you!! What an inspiration!! I want to know more about your fueling. How many chomps did you take each time? So 3 Gus total? I think of things in how many laps I have left too. Bravo Tia!!!

  3. Back for a second read this morning, and let me tell you I AM EXCITED FOR YOU! Such a great strategy here. SO well executed!

    I can’t wait to read your post on pace groups. I think we share some opinions here. Eugene uses cliff team pacers 🙂 Loved the photo of you and the pace groups- you are the only female I see, besides the pacer!

  4. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! OMG. This post was amazing…I felt like I was there running each mile with you! You ran a perfectly executed race! I definitely got teary-eyed reading about your hubby and son and seeing the pics of your son cheering for you and giving you kisses after. SOO cute!
    Congrats, again on a fantastic race!!

  5. What an incredible job! I’m so impressed that you had something left to push at the end… you clearly trained well. What an amazing time! I didn’t know to watch for you, but I would have seen you finish, and maybe even yelled out your name. 🙂 I’m hoping to run my next marathon around 3:30ish, so I’ll have a lot to learn from you if that’s going to happen!

  6. Tia, I am so proud of you! I cried reading this! I could feel your pain and determination in those last few miles. you conquered!!! Both mind and body and spirit, you CONQUERED! you showed your body that it CAN keep going! you WILLED it to keep going! such an inspiration girl!!! thanks for inspiring ME!!! Love ya girl, way to go! I am on CLOUD 9 for you!!! WOOHOOOOOO!!!! Sub 3:20 marathoner!! xx

  7. Thanks!! You are right Nicole- the last few miles were on pure will and determination!

    Hi Tina! It seemed like a lot of gels when I did it the first time but it really does help! I don’t take nearly as many in long runs. For a 20 miler I may take 2-3… Not sure what everyone else does for 20 miles.

  8. Oh my gosh – congratulations!! What an awesome race!! I loved reading your recap and running virtually with you each mile. Your race strategy and determination were both so impressive. I hope you’re still riding your marathon high and celebrating your 15 minute PR. So amazing! Congrats!!

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