Sunday, January 19, 2014

Houston Chevron Marathon

Detour from my journey.......ok, a "long" detour
along my journey.

So........I decided to figure out just how far 26.2 miles really is.

“Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic.” - Tim Noakes
My logic was sound.  Run a marathon to get a feel for the distance before having to go that full distance at the end of Ironman Texas (  But then my "Holiday" genes kicked in, and it slowly turned from "run it and get a feel for it" to "throw everything you have at it".

26.2 miles is really far.  Admittedly, my conditioning for this distance was lacking severely.  After all, I was only going to "get a feel" for this distance originally.

Pre Race

Everything went smoothly.  Got up at 4:00 AM and got a ride down to Houston after my sister in-law told me in no uncertain terms that she was not waking up at 4/4:30 to be at the Houston Convention Center at 5:00 AM (I think the terms she used was "Hell, to the NO").  She's pretty awesome.

Drove down with a buddy of mine from work who is a marathon guru.  He's ran a lot.  No, even more than the number you are thinking of.  No, even more than the new number you are thinking of.  At least now, you are kinda close to his actual number of marathons ran.  Since this was my first marathon, it was good getting a couple pre-race pointers (bag check, corral layout, insider tips, etc).

(obviously this is a post race picture)
After using the above group's secret bathrooms (which was life saving), we headed out to the starting corrals.  I should mention I only know two guys in the picture above.  It is really of their running group, but since I tagged along with my buddy, they let me sit in for the picture. :)

Once in the starting corrals, we waited a few minutes before the National Anthem, which is how every sporting event, everywhere should start........truly amazing the sacrifices that are made for our country.

My running buddy gave me a tip to bring a "throw away" long sleeve t-shirt to keep warm while waiting in the corral before the start of the race..........he is an alumni of UT (Texas), so guess what shirt I brought as a "throw away" shirt?  Yep. :)

There is one strong advantage for triathlon pre races compared to marathon pre races.  Even though I use the restroom several times before both pre races, I always have pre start, right before the gun gitters, and usually have to go one more time........all I'm saying, is that when competing in a triathlon, that is not a problem in the least.  Yep.

Miles 1 - 20
These miles went great.  Felt great, felt strong.  Didn't go out too fast, held a steady pace (about 8:00 min/miles).  Took my GUs and first salt tablets as planned.........mile 8 GU pack, mile 10 salt tablets, mile 13 GU again, and mile 20 should have been salt tablets again.  You wouldn't believe how many times I went over that in my head.  Over and over and over.

But as I hit mile 20 (which mind you is the furthest I've actually ever ran), I felt great.  In fact, I distinctly remember thinking in my mind, "I only have 6 miles left, that's just a 10K, I've got this, I'm going to crush my goal time."  Thus, I decided to hold off on my salt pills a little longer.  Idiot.

Miles 21 - 23

 This is when I ran into my awesome support crew (Jamie, Sam, Alayna, Peyton, Mike, and Gayla - Jamie's parents).  They also were cheering for "Deesh" who was running the half marathon (she did awesome). A much needed pick me up, and fortunately before I completely fell apart.
I started to slow down a little, could feel the pace escaping me, so I put my salt tablets and a GU in right around mile 22.  Too late.  When I hit mile 23, I remember thinking, "You're in trouble, you have a whole 5K left, and this aint looking good."  I couldn't believe how quick I went from feeling "great" to "you're in trouble".  I've done a few half Ironmans before, and have had some issues cramping, and with fatigue, but they came on gradually........this time it seemed to go from "yeah, I'm a little tired and fatigued" to "Uh oh" in abut half a mile.

The frustrating part is that your lungs, heart, and mind are all fine.  Each of them feel as though they could go on forever, but your legs just seize up, start cramping, and you can't get them to do exactly what you want them to do.  You just manage the pain and fatigue through stride cadence and try not to aggravate anything from completely cramping up.  Extremely frustrating.

Mile 24 and 25
 These were some dark miles.  We have a reference in our family about the "bear" coming to get you during running events.  Usually it is used by us when referring to the last 100 meters of a 400 meter run, or the last 200 meters of an 800 meter run.  But it always refers to that moment when you just feel completely exhausted, and the going has gotten real tough, but you have to push through and carry on to the end........even if you have to carry the bear on your back to the finish line.

Well the bear I encountered was not this guy:

No, no........he looked a lot more like this! Scary mofo (can anyone name the movie?).

Mile 26
 By this time my nutrition and salt pills were flowing through my system, and my cadence management had alleviated the potential cramping......still had sore legs, but was able to pick up my pace and finish the last mile relatively strong.  And that finish line, was a great sight, and had quite the atmosphere around it ( was pretty neat to take in.

Post Race
(total time 3 hours 43 minutes about 8:33 min/mile pace)

Medals of course.......for those who could stand.  Deesh (Michelle, Jamie's sister with whom I was going to stay until she found out what time I wanted to arrive at the marathon) and me.  She ran the half marathon and did great!  Even with IT band issues leading up to the race week, she still crushed it!

 I am starting to hear rumblings of another possible marathon, with some unlikely characters, which would be really awesome..........stay tuned!  ;)