Runderful: Houston Marathon Training Wk 3

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Believe it or not, we had a chilly week here in TX as much of the rest of the country. The “deep freeze” as they called it in the local paper was one day of temps in the 30s overnight. Brrrr. Yes, I am officially a cold wimp. Hard to believe that after 40+ years of¬†East Coast winters, I shiver when it’s in the 50s. ūüôā But, it’s been fun to un-earth all my cold weather running gear that just a month ago I thought I would have to donate.

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I also registered for another half in February. They had bonanza registration open up at 6 am on Friday starting at $1. So….yes, I had to jump on that. I got in for a $1!!!!

Around here it’s Christmas central as I finally got my holiday decorations up both inside and outside with the hubby’s help. It’s the most wonderful time of year. The kids are excited about the holiday and all my family is coming to visit.

My week of running was pretty good as well. After my 20 miler last Sunday, I woke up on Monday with two sore feet. My PF has been acting up on one foot (same foot as before), and my other foot has developed some tendonitis. I decided to take the day off, and I felt better. I’m still feeling sore with both feet, but it’s manageable. I’m just hoping to get to the Houston marathon in January healthy.

Here’s my week of running:

Monday: off

Tuesday: 1000 m intervals. Was able to hit 6:45/min for some of these, and 7:00 for the others.

Wednesday: yoga

Thursday: 6 miles

Friday: 5 miles

Saturday: 3~ish miles

Sunday: BCS Half marathon

Total miles: 37.5

Sunday was the highlight of my week. The BCS (Bryan College Station) Marathon and Half Marathon is the local race in town that benefits a couple of charities including Mercy Project, an organization that rescues children from slavery in Ghana. Racers get a tech shirt at packet pickup and a finisher’s jacket this year (specific to half or full) plus a nice spread of food (tacos, pizza rolls, strawberry pastries, frozen margaritas, local craft beer, chocolate milk, Gatorade, and more). I really wasn’t that excited about it at first because I’ve been so focused on Houston and how my miles have not been what they should.

But, I got more excited as the week went on about running my last half of the year (#6 this year) and because there were several people in my running group running their first marathon.

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Here’s my BRF and I at the start!
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These are some of the people in my group! A bunch of awesome dedicated runners.

I saw a couple of my friends out on the course cheering for their relatives. I love this picture.

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Temps started in the 50s with a slight breeze and a little drizzle. Not bad at all.¬†My BRF and I weren’t running together because she ran 5 miles before the race to get a long run done. But I ran the race with another friend (above in yellow) who is usually much, MUCH¬†faster than me but is coming back from being injured. We agreed that although a PR would be nice for me, we were just going to have fun. We talked and laughed the whole race.

I had a pretty good¬†race. ¬†I ended with a 1:47. A few minutes off a PR, which I was really hoping for, but it didn’t come together. I still managed to get 2nd place AG.

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After the half marathoners finished, we freshened up a bit and jumped in the car to find our full marathoners we could cheer for. We had a great time and ran with them along various parts of the course. There’s not a lot of cheer support on this course, so every single person cheering helps!

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It was so much fun! Getting to see people reach their goals after all their hard work is the best feeling. I got teary eyed several times just watching all these amazing people.

How are you getting ready for the holidays?

I’m linking with¬†Holly¬†and¬†Tricia¬†for the Weekly Wrap-up!

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NYC Marathon Race Recap

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Hard to believe this race is in the rearview mirror!

First and foremost, thanks to everyone for all the messages, texts, well wishes during the training and the race. Knowing that I have the love and support of so many people means so much to me. I also want to thank my training group, the Brazos Valley Runegades, and my BRF, Lesley, for training with me during a very, very long 20 week training cycle in what was one of the hottest summers in Texas in a while. During this training cycle, I logged 821 miles of running. And I couldn’t have done it without God’s¬†blessings of health, family and friendship.

Second, I’m really blessed to have gotten into the NYC Marathon through the lottery on my first try. I was kind of stunned when I got in, fully expecting to not get in and then thinking, oh crap, I guess I have to run. lol. I’m so thankful that I didn’t give in to the worry, anxiety, butterflies that plagued me much of the training cycle.

I left on Friday morning for NYC. After I arrived at the airport, I went to the bathroom and when I turned the corner. I saw a man using the stall with the door open! Thankfully for me, he was facing the wall. I quickly did a double take questioning whether I was in the right place. I walked back to the restroom entrance, saw the “WOMAN” sign and then walked back into the bathroom as the man was using the sink. And no, he wasn’t transgender… He was embarrassed as he realized his mistake and I just chuckled. But, I thought, I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.

I whizzed through security and waited for the little puddle jumper to take me to Houston. The incoming flight was delayed which meant I was going to miss my connecting flight to NYC since I only had 45 minutes between each flight. The airline employee told me there was a chance I could still catch my flight because they could make up the time, so not to worry. After a smooth flight, we landed with 20 minutes to spare before the next flight. It was in another terminal, but I got my sprinting face on and was ready to bolt. Except, they had to move the plane back one foot from the gate because they had miscalculated. After correcting for that, I still had 10 minutes to spare. I dashed out of the plane, trying very hard to fight the urge to push people out of the way. The other plane had left on time. But, I was put on the next flight to NYC arriving at 9 pm, about 4 hours later than planned. No worries.

I met my sister at the airport, had a nice dinner at their place and went to bed much later than usual but got a pretty good’s night sleep.

Saturday, we headed to the expo. I was so excited and had a checklist of things I wanted to do. I picked up by bib and shirt, made a custom back bib, and walked around all of the booths. I wanted to buy every.single.thing, but I really wanted to show some restraint for things I would really use. I heard a talk on race strategy from the race organizers, met with some of the pace team leaders. For a few seconds, got photos with Shalane Flanagan as she dashed between appearances she had to make at various booths. And got a Bartie with Bart Yasso (such a nice guy!). I splurged on a pair of 2XU recovery compression leggings that aren’t even available online yet. It’s part of a new recovery line they’re launching. These are dreamy. And I got a free shirt with purchase! I love this shirt.

I tried to stay on top of nutrition and hydration all day, and for the rest of the day, we just chilled at my sister’s place relaxing. We had a nice dinner at her house. My parents came in town from Maryland to surprise me. This was the first time they’ve cheered for me during a race, so it was a big deal. I know they worry A LOT about me running, particularly a marathon, so it meant a lot to have them there. Everyone had a pow wow about marathon signs to make for the race.

Saturday night, I was getting nervous and overwhelmed with the thought of getting to the starting line on time. I didn’t get much sleep (as I usually don’t before a race day) and woke up at 3:45 to eat a small meal and have a cup of coffee. After a short subway ride, I got to the NY Public Library at 5:30 am to catch the bus. Everything moved very efficiently and in about 10 minutes I was on my way to Ft. Wadsworth. We got there at about 6:30 am, got through the security screening, and got in my corral. I settled in for the long wait until 10:15. I spent the time chatting up other runners, eating more and drinking my water and some hot tea.

We got in our corral late because they Wave 1¬†(I was in Wave 2) left later than planned. But, we got started right on time. From the corral, you walk quite a way just to get to the start line. And then, it was wall to wall people. I positioned myself as close as possible between 3:40 and 3:45 paces groups so I could get a good pace and not get stuck behind people. There were people elbowing, and tripping each other accidentally it was soo hard to stick with the pace group. I stuck with them until mile 11 or 12 and then hit a bottleneck and when I navigated that, they were gone. ūüė¶ Not the ideal, but I settled into a comfortable pace and kept going. I had my phone with me (as I always do during races) and my headphones. The weather was perfect. I didn’t put my headphones in because I wanted to enjoy the crowds and cheering. I’m so glad I ran without music because it was hard enough to navigate the mass of runners. Also, why I didn’t take any pictures. During the first 11 miles, I fought hard to stay at my pace and not trip or be tripped by people passing me, slower runners, etc.

I didn’t take any pictures because it was too dangerous to do so without getting injured.

Miles 1-13 Started on the Verrazano Bridge and ran through Brooklyn. Running on the bridge wasn’t as bad as I thought and I kept to my pace. The crowds in Brooklyn were electric and this section is largely flat. My biggest problem was sticking with the pace leader and trying to keep him in sight.

Miles 13-15: The bridge into Queens was steeper than I had expected so I slowed down a bit on the incline not to burn it all and stay steady. My sister, brother in-law and parents were in Queens cheering at mile 15, which was awesome to see them. I was so worried I wouldn’t catch them, but then I did and waved. I wish I stopped¬†to get a hug, but my brain wasn’t working to backtrack a little bit to get over to them. I almost wiped out several times, and being short and at elbow level of many runners, I was convinced my face would be covered in bruises. Not intentional at all, but hard to navigate.

Miles 16-20 through Manhattan and into the Bronx. Two more bridges and this section wasn’t bad. My pace slowed down a bit and I knew I wasn’t going to hit anywhere near 3:45, but I still wanted to get under 4 hours if possible.

Miles 21-24 were the hardest. Back into Manhattan and a steady incline up 5th Avenue. I was dragging. I was stopping at all the water stops and guzzling water and Gatorade.

Miles 24-26.2: I was ready to finish. I buckled down as best I could and ran through the soreness that had developed all over. I pushed through and finished in 4:01.

Favorite things about the race: NYC. Simply the most diverse and eclectic group of people around.¬†The crowds, the scenery and the organization. The people are energizing. Random people shouting your name? That’s awesome. Through every marathon I’ve run, and this one no different, I’m really struck by the physical and mental obstacles that many have to overcome to run this race. I saw one elderly man with a stooped posture walking with a sign on his back that said 87 marathons and counting!!! It was inspiring and emotional to see the Achilles team runners overcoming blindness and other challenges to crush a race like this. Simply amazing! And as I encountered each of these runners, when the voices in my head were starting to get to me about feeling tired, I thought if they can do it, I can too. And I can!

The challenges of the races?¬†People talk a lot about the bridges and how hard they are, but I actually didn’t find them too bad. The Pulaski Bridge from Brooklyn to Queens was one of the hardest because of the incline grade. But, I had trained to run on hills so it wasn’t a big deal. What I wasn’t expecting was the grind of 5th avenue from miles 21-26 when mentally I’m not all there to remember my mantras and verses. And then in Central Park, because of the small hills at the finish, you can’t see the mile markers, so I¬†just had¬†to push to keep going.

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Then, I walked 15 blocks to get my heat sheet and race poncho (which is absolutely lovely and warm) and then 15 blocks south to meet my family. THAT was painful, but I’m glad I did that to keep moving and not stiffen up. Walking up and down flights of stairs to take the subway right after the race was also not fun, but necessary.

NYC, my third marathon in less than one year, was by far the hardest course ever. I was a little disappointed that with each marathon I’ve gotten a little slower instead of improving. But, I’m so thankful for the ability to run, and to run another marathon, a blessing I don’t take lightly. and experience this awesome race–truly once in a lifetime.

 

NYC Marathon Training Week #18

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What an exciting week of training! I’m really behind on blogging after a whirlwind weekend and playing catchup yesterday. I really enjoyed my first week of taper…maybe a little too much! I ran 30 miles and biked 12 miles this week. A far cry from the previous week of 57 miles! No taper crazies…yet. The reality of NYC Marathon being less than 2 weeks away is settling in!

Months ago, I had registered for the Marathon 2 Marathon half marathon in Marathon, TX, which was on Saturday. That’s a mouthful! My BRF had signed up for the full so that we could train together since I had gotten into NYC through the lottery. We had booked our hotels, lined everything up for the weekend, training was going outstanding for her, and we were pumped, especially because the weather was looking beautiful for race day.¬†And then….my BRF had a family emergency come up and couldn’t race. Everything was ok in the end, but she decided not to run the race (understandably). So…what was I going to do?

My husband wasn’t crazy about me driving hours (8 hours to be exact) by myself for a race, running by myself and then turn around and drive myself home. But, this was my third half marathon in October, and I had gotten it in my head that I was going to run three halfs this month. My husband knew there was no talking me out of it. ūüôā

So, I took the day off running Friday to prepare for a long day of driving ahead.

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The race was in way, way west Texas, close to Big Bend National Park. I had hoped to get to the park, but there were bear warnings the week before the race and some parts of the park were closed because of it. So, I thought it best to avoid wildlife encounters.

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Marathon, Tx is a tiny town and has only two hotels and a bed and breakfast, all of which were quickly booked up months before race day. So, I had booked my hotel an 55 miles¬†away (the closest biggest town they had suggested). No problem. I checked into the hotel, dropped off my stuff, drove 55 miles for packet pickup in Marathon. Registration included a free pasta dinner for all runners at two locations: The Gage Hotel Restaurant (right next to packet pickup) and the Historic Ft. Stockton Visitor Center. I had chosen the Ft. Stockton location because that’s where my hotel was, but when I saw this menu and the runners already eating, I was disappointed with my choice.

I went to the visitor’s center where it was a little homier. They offered pasta, crockpots with three sauces and garlic bread. It was fine and I was happy for the hospitality and free meal. I didn’t need that whiskey marshmallow anyway….

Then, I drove 55 miles back to my hotel. ugh.

Race day morning was gorgeous! I took the sunrise picture (above) on my way down to the start in Marathon.¬†¬†img_2524I got to Marathon in great time and got on the bus to the start line. The starting line is 13 miles away from Marathon on the highway that leads to Ft. Stockton. I was excited about the race¬†and was talking to the person next to me. She wasn’t really chatty, though. She probably kept thinking, please stop asking me questions and talking to me.
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We got to the starting line a little later than expected around 8:20 am. There were four races going on with staggered start. The full marathon started at 7:30 am and the half started at 8:30 am. Despite the cold temps, I knew it would warm up quickly because there is no shade at all out there. I ran in a singlet and skirt and I also used arm sleeves for the first time. I figured I could take them off when I needed to.

There wasn’t much to the start line. No loud music. No DJ spinning tunes. No MC. Just three port-a-potties and lines more than a dozen deep. I got in line to use the facilities, but as the clock was ticking, I realized there was no time to use the potty before the start. The guy in charge said with a chip start there was no worry because the time at the end would reflect our start and if we needed to stay in line, we could. But, I thought. That just messes with your head having start after so many people. So, I jumped out of line just in time for them to start. I broke out of the pack pretty soon with some guys and was first woman, soon to be passed another woman going at a good pace. I was hoping to beat my PR of 1:44 for this race, so I was trying to maintain a good pace. The course is pretty flat, but there is a large hill around mile 8-10. It doesn’t look big on the elevation chart, but believe me. It’s a big long hill.

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I settled into a brisk¬†pace for me and tried¬†to keep the woman in my sight the whole time just so I could try to get my PR not to pass her. She was going pretty fast, and I didn’t want to burn out in the first few miles knowing that the hill was coming up. Around mile 5 she slowed down and then she completed stopped at a water stop. I kept going, and was now the lead woman in the race. The whole time I kept thinking, this is weird. I’ve never been the lead woman. Someone is going to pass me, for sure! And if not, the chip time will definitely show that I haven’t won. I have gotten second overall woman in a race, but to be the lead…that’s another thing. There were plenty of men in front of me, so I just chugged along, knowing that once the chip times came in, I might¬†do well in my age group.

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The finish line was in sight!

I crossed as the first female with¬†a¬†time of¬†1:47. Not a PR, and I was a little disappointed, but I felt I ran well. My lungs were burning afterward, and it was a little¬†hard to breathe after I got my finisher’s medal. I¬†stood around stretching, keeping an eye on the monitors and saw that I was first in my age group. yay! But, as I looked at all the other times, I saw that my time was indeed the fastest. Doh!

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And sure enough, they called my name as overall female winner. I collected my award: a giant belt buckle, and drove 8 hours¬†home. ūüôā I know that will probably be my last overall win, and I’m savoring it!

I’m linking with¬†Holly¬†and¬†Tricia¬†for the Weekly Wrap-up and with¬†Patty,¬†Erika, and¬†Marcia¬†for Tuesdays on the Run.

Race Recap: Republic of Texas Half Marathon

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This week’s running was not the best. I was dragging throughout every run, for some reason. I didn’t get anywhere close to any of my paces (even my old paces) for my intervals or tempo run, which was discouraging, because my effort felt like I was going all out. I didn’t keep up with my core challenge either.

And, I had the Republic of Texas Run at the end of the week. When I signed up for the race months ago, I thought I could¬†try¬†to set a new PR at the half marathon, but after a mediocre week of running, I didn’t have high hopes.

The Republic of Texas Run is a kind of a new half marathon, but really a reboot of the Armadillo Dash Half Marathon that’s existed for a few years. Remember that ugly race shirt I talked about last week with the giant armadillo on the front? Yep, that was from the Armadillo Dash.

Fun fact: From 1836 to 1845, Texas was an independent nation before it became part of the Confederate States. Texas was the only state to enter the union as a sovereign nation.

The race management was the same, but the course was all new, and they had a quarter marathon and a 5K as well. They also had some new sponsors at the post-race party. The start and finish line were next to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

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The post-race food was beer, pickle ice pops (who knew?? I didn’t try them), fruit and barbecued¬†sausages that you could either get on a stick or rolled in a tortilla. Along with brisket, barbecued sausage is a delicacy in Texas. Yum!

I was able to hold¬†a pretty good pace for a first half, but I had gone out too fast in the first two miles, so I paid for it in the end, and I slowed down a lot in the last three miles. My time wasn’t too bad, though, considering, just a minute slower than my fastest time. Somehow I managed to get 1st AG, and my husband got 2nd AG in his quarter marathon. I was really proud of him!

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After a really, really wet week of rainy runs, this weekend brought some gorgeous weather.

On a bike ride with the kids, we stopped to visit with a family of turtles we usually see. It’s been fun to see the babies getting bigger. But, right after we stopped, we spotted this guy, just inches from the path I run on sometimes. Our area has four different poisonous snakes: copperheads, coral snakes, diamondback rattlesnake, and the water moccasin or cotton mouth. I believe this is a water moccasin.

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And, because it’s Meatless Monday link-up, I’m sharing the delicious portobello mushroom lasagna I made based on Ina Garten’s amazing¬†recipe. The recipe is great as is, definitely not low fat, but I changed her recipe to amp up some flavors. I diced a mix of crimini, portobello, and dried mushrooms (that had been soaked in hot water for about 20 minutes) and cooked them in olive oil instead of butter, then I added a teaspoon of fresh chopped rosemary and thyme. Instead of using whole milk, I used low fat. In addition to the parmesan cheese, I added a cup of grated gruyere.

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Linking up with the wonderful Weekly Wrap-up hosts: Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin AND awesome hosts: Deborah of Confessions of a Mother Runner and Sarah of A Whisk and Two Wands for Meatless Monday link-up.

Girls 5K Race Recap

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The Girls Just Want to Have Fun 5K happened Saturday. This race is one of the BCS Marathon races held throughout the year in town. All proceeds from the race benefit the Mercy Project, which works to free children from slavery in Ghana.

The all-girls race is a lot of fun! There’s a costume contest before the race, and there’s always some really creative group and individual costumes. I’ve never dressed in a costume because I don’t want to be uncomfortable while racing. Some of the winning costumes were Breakfast Club and Runaway Brides. Very cute!

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The day was gorgeous and sunny with temps around 60 degrees at the start, and the music and all-male volunteers made for a fun atmosphere. At the finish line, there’s Gatorade in champagne flutes, a chocolate fountain with bananas and strawberries, and cookies for post-race snacks.

My absolute FAVORITE part of the race is having fun with my running sisters and cheering them on!

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My running valentines! We always have a great time together chasing down some PRs. Each participant got a long-stemmed rose at the finish.

I didn’t have many expectations for this race, just to run it as best as I could. I wasn’t sure I would be able to best my time from last year when my training was at such a different point. And racing¬†a 5K, which I only do once a year, is a long, hard sprint–so different from the distance racing strategies. I approached the race¬†as a time trial to measure where I am¬†this year and to help me gauge where I need to improve for the rest of the year. It helped take some of the self-imposed pressure I was putting on myself!

The bonus? I managed to get a PR! It was a nice surprise because my lungs were not amused when they screamed for mercy starting at mile 2.

There are many things to love about this race:

LOVE looking at fun costumes, chatting with my running besties, and eating [scarfing down] some cookies.

LOVE seeing little girls running and walking with their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and friends, and continuing the healthy sisterhood legacy their mothers have introduced in their families. It warms my heart! One day, I hope that my daughter will do this race with me. This weekend, with her broken ankle and a virus, we were happy just to have her stay home and recuperate.

LOVE knowing that each person running is helping to save the lives of enslaved children in Africa and re-introduce them to freedom and their families.

Hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day!

Race Recap: Texas 10

 

Last week, I ramped up my mileage as well as days of running back to five. All easy miles, no speed work. It felt good to just run without the pressure of workouts. I ran 25 miles last week and walked another 10 miles because my youngest broke her ankle.

This is our mode of transportation to and from school.

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On a completely unrelated note, earlier last month, (I can’t believe it’s February!!) my husband hung my medals that had been sitting in a precarious pile in my closet. The medals are a nice memento of all the races I’ve done in the past, but we needed a creative way to hang them up. The problem came in when my husband¬†gave me the “Runner” medal hanger from Gone for a Run for my birthday several months ago¬†and¬†it became clear that it wasn’t¬†going to be able hold any of¬†the medals because of the weight. Some of these bad boys are heav-y! So, I took a cue from a friend of mine who had used a curtain rod to hang her medals and the web to pair the two. I bought an inexpensive curtain rod to better support the weight and used the Runner for decoration. What do you think? My husband says we’ll need more rods soon.

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Yesterday, I ran my second race in January–part of the Texas 10 series– and the first race since the Houston Marathon. I was a little nervous about racing so soon, and I came down with a cold early in the week and didn’t get nearly the amount of rest I needed to feel better. Despite taking daily doses of Emergen-C and honey lemon tea, I felt worse every morning.

The Texas 10 is a 5- and 10-mile race throughout several towns in south Texas. There’s also a Florida 10. Anyway, Texas 10 College Station happened yesterday. This race has several cool things. During the year, they open up bonanza pricing when¬†they have a few spots to register for the race at $10, $15, $20, $25, etc. for a couple of hours. Then, you can sign up for the regular price. I got in at $15 several months ago. Bonanza registrants are guaranteed a T-shirt and a visor or hat. Through these races, I got to try the Headsweats visors–they’re comfortable¬†and they stay in place. I like running with a visor if it’s raining or sunny, so this is an added plus. Then, they have cool race medals based on every town.

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The race is well-organized, and bonus, after you run, you put your bib number tab in for a raffle drawing for $50 bills (5 mile) and $100 (10 mile). I’ve never won the raffle, but a few times my friends have. I like to think¬†I’m a winner too because I’m standing next to them when they win. ūüôā

I had registered for the 10 miler months ago, but all week, I kept thinking I needed to switch to the 5 miler, so I did (and I’m so glad!). Race day started out in the low 60s and cloudy. It was pretty humid, but I¬†was excited to race. I knew I wouldn’t go all out on this race because I’m just getting back into it, but I wanted to have a good run. My husband also ran¬†the 5-mile (his first race in a couple of years), and my oldest son ran¬†the 1 mile kids race. I was so proud because he ran so well! He loved his first official race medal, too.

 

The first mile felt great, and I was chatting with a friend about the race. I ran a 7:17 and felt pretty good, but soon the congestion in my lungs caught up with me, and I slowed down to a 7:55 by the last mile. I was so relieved I switched to the 5-miler because I was very happy to see the finish line after one loop.

Bonus, I placed first in my age group and third woman overall. My friend, Ashley, placed second in our age group.

Houston Marathon Recap

It was an exciting weekend for me. My second marathon in five weeks, and my first big city marathon.

Saturday, I went to the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute EXPO at the Chevron Houston Marathon to pick up my race packet and, of course, check out some good deals. The atmosphere was filled with excitement, seeing all the racers.

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I got a great deal on some new Adidas Energy Boost ESM 2 shoes that I couldn’t pass up. Of course, I didn’t wear them for the race, but they’re exactly like the ones I wore for the race.

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I really enjoy seeing all the fun and funny products they have at expos. This car magnet was one of my favorites!

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Afterward, I relaxed at the hotel and tried to quiet my nerves. The view outside my room was gorgeous. IMG_0638

Race day, I woke¬†up at 2:30 am and had a tough time getting back to sleep. Nerves! I ate a¬†bagel and drank some tea with honey to relax and fuel up. I did some light stretching and read my Bible to get ready. The weather was going to be gorgeous. Starting out at 40 degrees, sunshine and clear, and warming up to 50s mid-race. Ideal race weather. The thing about Texas weather, I’ve learned, is that it’s very unpredictable, especially in the winter.

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I headed to the George R Brown Convention Center to meet my friends before the race. We had signed up for the Bank of Texas Team Challenge specifically for the use of the private port-a-cans before the race (and after as well). We were all thankful that there was NO line for those while the line for the regular port-a-cans was crazy long. ūüôā

We left the convention center to head out for corral A and apparently didn’t leave soon enough because by the time we got there the corral closed one minute earlier. ūüė¶

We scurried over to the next corral and made our way to the front. Not ideal for the start or my mindset, but I was trying to put that disappointment away and move on. My strategy had been to run with the 3:40 pace group, but we found our way to the 3:50 pace group, thinking I would do my best to stay ahead of them.

The race started off smoothly. The crowd support was amazing! I loved seeing all the people, interesting costumes, signs, and even musical groups along the course. Their enthusiasm was contagious. The first half of the course was very flat. I took a Huma every 40 minutes and sipped water every time we passed a water stop. One time I grabbed a cup of Gatorade. I kept up a good pace for that half. Then around mile 14, I hit my first hill of an overpass. Then, a mile later, there was an underpass that went uphill. A few other hills, but the course was really nice and went through some really pretty sections of Houston. Memorial Park was really pretty. I kept sub-8:30 for the first 16 miles, and then started to slow down a little, then slowed down a lot. The weather was ideal, but I could feel the tiredness start to get my legs. My second half was a lot slower, with my final miles in the 10s. I was ready to be done. The picture below was right after I finished. Final time: 3:55. I was happy to get sub-4 for my second and so soon after the first one.

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When I got home, the kids had gotten me flowers! They were so sweet and showered me with hugs and kisses, telling me how proud they were of me.

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The race was a lot of fun. In the future, I won’t do back to back marathons with the idea of racing both, especially around the holidays. It’s too hard on my legs, and I can’t underestimate the time it takes to recover after one. Considering that up until 2015, I SWORE I would never do a marathon and had absolutely no desire to run one much less two marathons, I’m very happy with my results. Some day, I hope to better my PR of 3:48, but for now, I’m resting and relaxing before I get back to running!