My wife and I left for Houston early Saturday morning. I missed the trials because I thought for some reason they were going to be in the afternoon. I guess they were televised in the afternoon so that is what probably threw me off. When we got there, I ran my 20 minutes shake out and then ate Vietnamese food with my parents in Chinatown. There are so many bad drivers in that area. I do not know if it is the stereotype or what, but it gave me a little bit of anxiety. I wanted to get out of there as fast as possible and headed to our hotel to check in. We stayed at the Double Tree downtown. For some reason, I thought it was going to be a little bit closer to the expo/starting line, but it was over a mile away.
We drove to the expo and picked up my packet. I was assigned to the open corral. There were two corrals, A and open. When I registered for the lottery, I put down that I was going to run a 4:30 race. Training went well, and I was going to beat that time easily. I was a little nervous that I was going to run into slow runners when the race started. Ruth told us to avoid spending a lot of time at the expo. We were supposed to relax and get off our feet. I heeded her words and spent some time picking up the free stuff and not shop for any running gear. We stopped by HEB closest to downtown and picked up some waters and milk/cereal for my breakfast. We went ahead and went to dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse at around 5. I avoided beef all week, but ended up eating lasagna with meat sauce with chicken parm. I was stuffed, and we headed back to the hotel room. We caught the end of the Saints/49ers game which had a crazy ending, and then the first half of the Patriots/Broncos game. I hate Tim Tebow with a passion and was glad the Broncos were now out of the playoffs.
I went to bed just before nine. I slept terrible the night before. I woke up every hour. This night was no different. It took me at least an hour to fall asleep, and I kept waking up. I did get to a point where I was able to sleep three hours straight. On the Saturday long runs, I normally get about 5 hours of sleep so it was not that much different. The alarm was supposed to go off at 4:50, but I was up before than because of Mother Nature. I was off to a good start already. I ate my usual bowl of cereal, and also a granola bar for a little bit more fuel. I left the hotel and headed for the convention center. I gave myself about 25 minutes to walk that mile. It was a cooler morning so I had some throwaway gloves I got at the expo and some arm warmers. I met up with another Rogue in my training group, Cassundra and headed to the starting line. Mother Nature called again, and I was hoping this was not going to be reoccurring theme. Was it nerves or something I ate the night before? I had a GU while we were waiting. I had the strawberry banana one. Is there a GU out there that tastes good? Every time I have one, I feel like I am going to puke.
After 30 minutes or so, there were some cheering, and we were off. For some reason I did not recall hearing a gun. It was packed the first few miles. There were a lot of slow runners in the left lane. I even saw some walkers in the marathon lane. I guess some of the half marathoners crossed the median and were on our side. I was zigzagging around slower runners and bursting through creases like a running back. I probably did it more than I should. I ran with a water bottle the first 9 miles or so of the race so I did not have to deal with crowded water stops. I started eating energy blocks every mile starting around mile 6, something I learned and mentioned in my previous post. I did finish all of my water right around where the half marathoners turned back. That is also the point where both of us could not hold our bladder any longer, so we had to make our only pit stop the entire race. I normally stop 2-3 times during our long run. Ruth gave us a pace band before the race, and we were on pace or slightly ahead at every split. After the half marathoners split off, crowd support was not as thick and the energy of the race dropped a level.
I ran without any music. This was my first marathon, and I wanted to take in the whole experience. I saw plenty of funny signs that brought laughter or a smile to my face. Some were “Run a better race than Perry” and “You trained for this race longer than Kim Kardashian was married.” The crowd was amazing. I was wearing a Team Beef shirt, and people were yelling beef or my name. The crowd was very supportive especially when I needed it in the end. Our pace band had us running negative splits to make sure we do not go out too hard. We crossed the half point at 1:51:19 which meant I PR’ed the first 13.1. Starting in the back is not always a bad thing. We passed everyone and no one was passing us. It was a confidence booster. We saw Ruth and Steve around the Rice Campus so that was a pleasant surprise, also perfect for me to unload unnecessary items. Right around mile 14 we had to run up a bridge over some train tracks. I thought Houston was supposed to be flat? Thank god we train in Austin.
Around mile 19, my legs started to cramp. Oh no! Holding on to the water bottle was a bad idea. I probably needed to drink more water in the beginning, but I wanted to avoid the bathroom, a catch-22. I could have made up time if I had to make an extra pit stop. We only lost 30 seconds when we went, so it was probably better than losing 20 seconds or so every mile. The zigzagging was also finally catching up to me. Next time I will seed myself higher so I can be in the first corral.
Our splits were still consistent, but I could see Cassundra was starting to give a little bit of gas. She would get a few strides ahead. I felt like I was holding her so I told her to go. She hesitated and said we were running the pace she wanted to, but a few moments later, she was gone. Her leaving me in her dust was probably good thing as much as I wanted to keep up. I sped up a little and tried to keep her in sight, but once I got to Memorial park, my attempt was futile. The park was hard because there were hardly any spectators, and other runners were slowing down or walking. It was mentally challenging. I also saw people stopping and getting beer- interesting. I sucked down a Power Bar energy gel- it was a little bit better, not as thick and had a little caffeine. That gave me a little boost. After the park, it was a lot smoother.
The crowd picked up as I left the park. The smallest things can push you along. I saw Ruth and Steve again around mile 22, and they said I was on pace still. Whoever put the two Allen Parkway underpasses on the course sucks at life. It almost got me. You had to run down and back up around mile 24 and 25. Running into downtown was neat, but a little bit of windy. My legs were finally getting tired and sore, so I eased off a little. I was still passing people, and the crowd was still cheering along the route. It was such an incredible feeling and view. Am I about to join .1 percent? I got emotional towards the end and started to cry. With about half a mile left, I started to sprint which meant I had more in the tank- I just do not know how much. I was surprised to see my wife right before the finish. We were supposed to meet inside afterwards. I waved at her, turned the corner, and dead sprinted for the finish line. When I crossed the line, I looked at my watch. 3:35 and some change? WTF? That cannot be right. I started this journey 6 months ago and logged over 800 miles. I missed only 2 weeks of running at the beginning of training because I had strep. I was running beginner’s mileage and was trying to run my first under 4 hours. I guess everything Rogue made me do, paid off. Ruth gave me a pace band of 3:40 before the race, and I sort of laughed at that. There is no way I could run that. I think the best way I can sum it up would be- it was an awesome accomplishment. I am a pessimist so I keep thinking about things I could have done better. I just need to accept what I did and move on to the next race. All in all, it did feel like a normal Saturday run with a little bit of pace. That’s a testament to what Rogue does.
I picked up my finishing medal, grabbed a little bit of food which was not best considering HEB provided it, and then got my beer mug and finishing shirt. I met my wife and headed back to the hotel. I avoided doing ice baths the whole time during training. I felt like today would be the perfect time to try. I think that might have been the hardest thing I had to do all day, sit in ice for 15 minutes. We checked out of the hotel and went to Goode Company BBQ to load up on beef. That place used to be awesome when I was growing up in Houston. I would say it was borderline terrible. I guess we are spoiled by living in the Hill Country with all of the awesome BBQ around us. We grabbed some beignets, went shopping at Katy Mills Mall, and got some Mexican food with my parents and then headed home. When we got home, we celebrated with a glass of champagne.
This is the perfect section to do this. Also I am sorry if this race report is like a novel, but hey it is my first marathon, so I took in everything I could. I would like to thank my wife, Amber. Without her support and understanding, I probably would have never run the marathon and would be divorced right now. Next up would be my Rogue coach, Ruth. She busted my butt and made run like I have never run before. I got to where I am today as a runner because of her. I like to give a shout out to my winter marathon group (Team Veggie) for being Awesome. I would also like to thank my Rogue running buddies, Manny and Cassundra. They got me through the long runs and the workouts. I feel like I was taken under their wings. I especially would like to thank Cassundra. She rocked the marathon. 45 seconds faster than I was at every mile, over the last 7 miles? Wow! Without her in the first 19 miles, I have no idea what the results would have been like. I am also thankful for the Rogue family. What a great supportive group! Running the marathon was the 2nd best thing I have ever done. It was an amazing experience. I would recommend everyone try to run one if you can.
Until next time, happy running.