Monday, January 31, 2011

Houston Marathon - 2:49:14

I was really happy with my race in tough conditions today. The temperature averaged about 65 degrees during the race with light rain and sprinkles and lots of humidity. I finished 9th in my age group, 39th male and 55th overall.

I knew early Sunday morning that with a mid-60's temperature and lots of humidity my 2:45 goal wasn't going to be happening, but I told myself I was going to run a smart race and see how it turned out. Sean had signed me up to be part of the ABB team challenge and the biggest benefit to that was a private port-o-potty area inside the GRB. I guess not that many people knew about it, but it was almost as good as being one of the elite racers. 30 minutes before the start of the race I probably only waited about 30 seconds instead of standing in line behind 20 people.

Before the race with the humid and rainy conditions I decided not to even wear a singlet since I never wear a shirt when I train in these conditions. It would just be added weight and give me additional chafing so I threw it in the bag before I headed to the start line. I only headed out about 20 minutes before the race and got into the starting corral about 10 minutes before the start. I was a little worried I was going to be able to get up near the front because it was packed and I was having to squeeze through the 4 hr marathon pace group, but I finally made it up to the line just before the opening prayer and national anthem.

When the gun went off, my plan was to take it easy the few few miles and not go out any faster than 6:25 pace the first 2 miles and gradually work up to 6:20 pace by the end of the 1st half. I was right on target the first few miles, but really struggled to pick up the pace much. I was pretty consistent with my splits the first part of the race and my first four 5k splits were 20:06, 20:09, 19:57, 19:48 and I hit the halfway point at 1:24:15.

After the 1/2 marathoners turned around just before mile 9, the course got pretty lonely. One guy blew by me between mile 9 and 10, but I don't think any other marathoners passed me from mile 8 on. Between mile 9 and 10 was pretty rough because I was all by myself, I had just gotten passed and I realized I was only about a 1/3 of the way through the race and I started to think about how much I didn't enjoy marathons, and how bad the weather was. Pretty quickly I decided I needed to focus and quit thinking negative thoughts or this would quickly turn into a disaster. I caught a couple of guys before we turned onto Main and gradually started catching a few more people between miles 10 and 13.

I felt really good at the halfway point and could see Andrew and Ryan from the Kenyan Way just ahead of me. I kept picking a few people off, but I was all by myself going up the Westpark bridge. Last year I had seen myself on tv and I looked horrible at that point, but I felt a lot better this year. The race seemed to be going by a lot quicker and was more enjoyable than in the past. Maybe it's because I didn't go out too hard and end up in bad shape midway through. Suzanne and Olivia came out and saw me just before mile 17. Between 17 and 18 I finally caught Andrew and Ryan and went by them on Tanglewood. I think I got a little too excited as I was catching several people and I thought that with about 9 miles to go I could start picking the pace up and hammer it in to the finish and PR. It was a great plan until I got to mile 19 and realized that I probably wasn't going to keep that pace the rest of the way.

I got into Memorial Park and by this point the field had really thinned out and I could see a couple people up ahead, but I wasn't catching many people anymore. I did make it past the medical tent at mile 22 that I had stopped at the last 2 years to get my hamstrings stretched. I didn't even really notice it this year as I was just focused on trying to not fall off pace too much and make it to the next water stop. Running down Allen Parkway was tough, but I caught 1 woman in the middle of Allen Parkway and 2 guys right at mile 25 as we were heading into downtown. My 20k - 30k 5k splits were the fastest part of my race @ 19:37 and 19:28. My 30 - 40k splits were 20:11 and 20:43. I was slowing down, but I don't think I had any miles slower than 6:45 during the race.

The last mile down Lamar seemed like the longest mile ever. I could see the GRB in the distance and it just wasn't getting any closer. The guy ahead of me looked like he was at least 45 seconds ahead and I didn't have a chance of catching him. I could tell that I was kind of dehydrated and on the verge of cramping, but I kept pushing through. Finally I saw the flag that I thought was the mile 26 marker and I planned to really kick it in when I hit that point. The flag was actually the 1/4 mile to go mark and I tried to pick up the pace and immediately I felt a twinge in my left hamstring as it started to cramp, but it went away when I settled back into my pace. With 150 - 200 meters to go, I made the final turn and tried to start kicking it in and was rewarded with cramps in both of my hamstrings and my left calf. I managed to limp through the last bit and finished at 2:49:14. I was a little under 2 minutes off my PR, but considering the weather conditions, I think this was the best marathon I've run.


  1. Awesome account of the race man. I was glad to see your time with these conditions. I think this really showed your strength. Great run and way to bring it home strong man.

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