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Houston Half Marathon - RunHalf Marathon

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Houston, Texas
United States
Houston Marathon Committee
59F / 15C
Total Time = 2h 09m 47s
Overall Rank = 2765/8425
Age Group = M 50-54
Age Group Rank = 170/380
Pre-race routine:

We registered for this race back in May as Angel wanted to get her Texas marathon, since she chose not to come with me when I did Austin. Back when we registered, I really had just started running again and getting my mileage up some, so I set this half as my goal race for the winter. I was following Pfitzinger-Douglas' plan and going well, reaching fifty miles a week, when I was hit by shin splints. Took a week off then resumed training at a more moderate level.

Then, last sunday, at mile 3 of a planned ten-miler, I tweaked my calf. Not sure how to describe this injury, but it's happened before, kind of like a slight pull or an internal bruising? Anyway, in the past it's been like a three-week recovery, so I took the past week off running, staying with the elliptical and hoping for the best.

Got to Houston about mid-afternoon Saturday, went straight to the expo where we met some old friends, a couple that we knew when we lived in Morgan City and then New Orleans. The wife was doing her first marathon, and was going to walk with Angel.

After the expo we checked into the hotel eight blocks from the start and very nice for the price, a very recent conversion of an older downtown building. Just hung out with the friends to catch up, then around 6pm met Janelle (runnergirl) and John to go eat. Hour wait at the Spaghetti Warehouse, but the food was good as was the company. We were joined there by another couple of old friends (and Dylan's godmother) who live in Houston. Good time, and we were still able to get back, get our stuff together, and get in bed around 9pm.

Up at 4am. Left bagels in car, so had some of Dylan's Strawberry Poptarts. Coffee, shower, dressed, eight-block walk to convention center. made our way to the second floor and found restrooms with very short lines, so spent the rest of our pre-race time around there.
Event warmup:

Walk to corral.

Started making my way to get closer to the front, or at least to my wave. They announced the singing of the national anthem, so I stopped, still a few blocks from the start. The guy standing next to me said "John?" and turned out to be a guy I went to high school with. Out of 30,000 or so people. Go figure.

The gun went off and we didn't move for six or seven minutes. As we approached the start, I saw the portapotty lines were short so I made one final stop. By the time I got to the start, the second wave had started and fifteen minutes had passed on the official clock. Chip-timed race, so no problem or concern.
  • 2h 09m 47s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 09m 55s  min/mile

Houston is one of the more congested starts I've ever experienced, similar to the Crescent City Classic 10K but on a grander scale. Of course, both times I've done this I was toward the back of the pack, maybe it thins out quicker toward the front. I probably ran as fast as the crowd allowed for the first mile, clocking an eleven-minute mile. Really, I was into Mile Four before I actually had room to run.

Calf felt good at the start with the easy pace, but a half-mile in, on the first overpass, I felt it "pop" and knew it was gone for the day. Pain was manageable, and I was reasonably sure it wouldn't cause permanent damage, so I sucked it up and kept running at basically my long-run training pace.

Even when it thinned the pack was still mostly shoulder-to-shoulder, and the entire race was a challenge to get around walkers, those taking walk breaks, and slower runners. The half is a good course, not as flat as they would have you believe, that goes through some older neighborhoods and shopping districts. Great crowd support throughout except for a stretch right before you get back to downtown.

About mile 7 you can see the HM folks returning from the turnaround, which is right before Mile 9. At the turnaround I felt OK despite the calf pain. so I picked it up a little. When I got to downtown picked it up a little more. About four blocks from the finish the street narrows; it was so crowded here that you couldn't pass if you wanted to, so my kick was limited. Got across the finish line and into the GRB, saw Dylan's bright yellow hat about a dozen people in front of me.
What would you do differently?:

Not get hurt so I can train and race properly.
Post race
Warm down:

Caught Dylan, went to medical tent to get ice, stood in line to get my finisher's shirt, then went eat. Walked back to hotel, took shower, one-hour nap, checked out, then went look for Angel on the course. She had a rough time in the later miles but finished in 6:09 to get her medal, mug, and finisher's shirt.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Frigging nagging little injuries.

Event comments:

Houston puts on a great race for its size, everything is well-organized and convenient, starting gun went off at exactly 7am. Tons of volunteers, well-stocked water stations, nice, fairly scenic urban course. Amenities include two shirts, including a cool-max finisher's shirt, medal, great expo and goody bag, hot breakfast at the finish, pretty much everything you'd need or want.

Last updated: 2008-09-26 12:00 AM
02:09:47 | 13.1 miles | 09m 55s  min/mile
Age Group: 170/380
Overall: 2765/8425
Performance: Below average
Course: Start line is in front of Minute Maid Park, just north of the George R. Brown Convention Center. Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon participants start on separate start lines, merging at mile 2. From downtown, participants run through the Heights and Montrose neighborhoods. At approximately mile 9, runners in the half marathon split off and return to finish at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2009-01-19 8:36 AM

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Resident Curmudgeon
The Road Back
Gold member
Subject: Houston Half Marathon

Splits per Garmin via SportsTracks:

TimeDistanceSplit timeSplit distanceSplit paceElev. chg.

Edited by the bear 2009-01-19 8:42 AM

2009-01-19 8:58 AM
in reply to: #1915945

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Subject: RE: Houston Half Marathon

Glad you were able to race.

Sad to hear you had another minor injury.


2009-01-19 10:02 AM
in reply to: #1915945

Subject: RE: Houston Half Marathon

Great job out there.  The crowds were very heavy this year and it really never did clear out for us either.  Sorry to hear about the calf. I too suffered from a nagging training issue that just took me out at 11.5 miles, walked it in.

Take care and recover well.

2009-01-19 10:59 AM
in reply to: #1915945

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Subject: RE: Houston Half Marathon
Great pacing! I had the same crowd issue with this race last year, you have to push more to the front of the pack than you think before it thins out.
2009-01-19 7:19 PM
in reply to: #1915945

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Subject: RE: Houston Half Marathon

Hey, too bad I wasn't there this year, I coulda been one of those slow people in your way. 


Congrats on your race John!

2009-01-19 10:16 PM
in reply to: #1915945

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Keller, Texas
Subject: RE: Houston Half Marathon
Great job John!

2009-01-20 7:18 AM
in reply to: #1915945

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Waller County, TX
Subject: RE: Houston Half Marathon
It sucks when things go "pop", especially when it's your muscle.

Still pulled down a solid pace and managing to work through the crowds.

Good job hanging in there and enjoying the day and another visit to the big city.
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