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Houston Marathon - RunMarathon

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Houston, Texas
United States
Houston Marathon Committee
42F / 6C
Total Time = 3h 33m 36s
Overall Rank = 714/6670
Age Group = M50-54
Age Group Rank = 75/495
Pre-race routine:

First some background to explain things...

Those who follow my blog know this was "two races" today. It was mainly going to be training day on the way to an ultra in 3 weeks, but to keep things challenging I wanted to try something different.

I've never run a stand-alone half where I went all out, but last year while pacing for a BQ I was 1:39 at the split. So this year I set 1:35 as a goal for the first half. I knew I could run faster, but I needed to save some for the rest of the run.

Then, since I really wanted to build some mental discipline for the ultra, I would slow down and run the second half in 2:00-2:10 as recovery and training. That was the plan anyway.

Coming off a cracked rib from a mountain bike crash in a November adventure race, a bad shin splint in early December and other various physical ailments made these plans dubious at best. By mid-December I was doubting the whole thing, but I finished the month better and things really came together in the last 2 weeks. Confidence restored.

I decided to save the money and not get a downtown hotel room, so it would be an early wake-up and a long drive. Had the alarm set for 0415, but woke at 0230 and never went back to sleep. Would have to run on minimal sleep. Oh well.

Ate my standard pre-race breakfast while driving and got there just at the right time. Not too early, but not rushed either. I'll say it again: running races are so easy to prepare for compared to triathlon; get dressed, tie your shoes, and you're ready. Easy.
Event warmup:

Did some light stretching and also had to jog back to the blue corral to use the portacan because the red corral didn't have any like last year. WTH?

It was pretty chilly and my homemade arm warmers made from old boot socks were just perfect. (Later I would throw them away at mile 6.)
  • 3h 33m 36s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 08m 09s  min/mile

I didn't mess around; I got right up to the front of the corral barricade on the third row of runners, I was going to start fast and there'd be no fighting through thick crowds. At the gun we were off and it was clear sailing as the really fast runners took off. Perfect.

To hit 1:35 I needed to run 7:15s, but I wasn't going to be a slave to my watch, in fact I would rarely look at it all day and keep only one split; the 13.1 point. I know what a 7:15 feels like and what my body can do.

At the mile markers they had volunteers calling out the paces, so that helped confirm what I was doing. First 2 miles were 6:28 and 6:32, but it was time to thottle back and stay under control; today would be all about staying under control.

Not much to comment on other than just kept the cadence up during the middle miles. I had a good rhythym going between striding and breathing, and nothing was hurting. From my days of HRM, I knew I was in a high Z2, and was just cruising. Once the folks doing the half turned off, the road really opened up.

From the volunteers, I knew I was on pace and finally looked at my watch at the 10 mile marker and it was just a 5K now; only 21-22 minutes until I can slow up and take it easy.

I'd been grabbing cups of fluids here and there and shot a gel at mile 6, but skipped the last two stations and gel to concentrate on finishing the first half fast.

I knew I was near the half-way point and when I crossed what looked to be a timing mat, I hit my watch and eased on up. A few strides later I saw the 13.1 marker flag up ahead. Crap! I've got to get back in gear.

Under that flag was yet another timing mat (the real one) and I hit my watch again. I was 1:35:XX. Great, but that little snafu cost me a sub-1:35. Oh well, no harm. At the next aid station I walked through and drank 2 full cups of fluids and slammed a gel. Time to start the "second race".

Now I could go slower and start the recovery portion. I'll be honest, it was hard watching all these runners starting to pass me by and I wanted to keep on pushing, but I know I can't do a 3:15 mary. I know they were probably thinking I'd blown up. Stay under control; run my plan.

The challenge here was go at a ~9-minute pace and stay there. I had to do this strictly by feel because I wasn't focusing on the watch and the volunteers' pace call-outs were skewed because of the fast first half.

Around mile 18 or so, the dull ache in the legs was starting to manifest itself. No cramps or real issues, just the standard long race feelings. During these miles, I spent a lot of time thinking about what is a hundred miles going to feel like? If you've got this at 20, how about 80 more?

The experience from my 50-miler reminded me to forget about time and just concentrate on the task at hand; let the future take care of itself. Just keep pounding away.

There was a race clock at mile 20 and I was still sub-3 hours. So with just a 10K left, I could do the math and know that I could BQ again if I beat 3:35:59. Let's do it.

Walked a couple more aid stations to get plenty of fluids as the temps had risen and the sweat was really flowing; can't make a mistake now. The crowds were really buzzing and I was catching some good motivation from them. I stayed steady and refused to fade.

Just as I approached an underpass near mile 23, speakers were blasting out the good parts of "Take It Easy" and I was reminded of a time, in bar, in Virginia, in '06, when my younger son and I sang this together karaoke-style. Awesome.

Down to just another 5K now and I was bringing it in for a strong finish. Finally; 2 more turns, 1 more turn, and I could see the finish arch straight down the road. Dang, that last 1/2 mile seemed like forever.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I managed to pull it off.

No blisters, no cramps, no injuries; a little stiff, but heck, who isn't after 26.2.

First half = 1:35:11 (7:16/m)
Second half = 1:58:25 (9:00/m)
Post race
Warm down:

Hobbled through the doors of the convention center to get my finisher's stuff and food and checked bag. Met up with my wife, took some pics, and ate.

Walked (slowly) to the parking garage and our truck and headed home.

It had been a long morning.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I guess I'm old, because I'm a grandpa now.

Event comments:

A very well run event. They do a great job flowing thousands of runners through the convention center. H-E-B is the food sponsor and there's tons of foods and drinks of all varieties.

Last updated: 2009-10-01 12:00 AM
03:33:36 | 26.2 miles | 08m 09s  min/mile
Age Group: 75/495
Overall: 714/6670
Performance: Good
Course: Running on closed-off streets from downtown Houston-to-West University Place-to-The Galleria-to-Memorial Park-to-downtown again. Flat with a few minor grade changes at over-passes and under-passes.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
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] 5

2010-01-17 11:10 PM

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Waller County, TX
Subject: Houston Marathon

2010-01-18 5:47 AM
in reply to: #2619113

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Frisco, Texas
Subject: RE: Houston Marathon
Nice.  Congrats on the BQ.  Very well executed plan.
2010-01-18 9:53 AM
in reply to: #2619113

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Subject: RE: Houston Marathon
That's a well executed day!   Very impressive.  Can't wait to read about RR.  Congrats on becoming a grandpa too!
2010-01-19 6:57 AM
in reply to: #2619113

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Chelmsford, Massachusetts
Subject: RE: Houston Marathon
Very well written Jim!  Thanks for sharing the experience.  Way to go on the BQ!  Maybe I'll catch up with you in Boston in April! 
2010-01-19 8:43 AM
in reply to: #2619113

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Subject: RE: Houston Marathon
Jim, awesome race and another great job of executing your plan... oh and another BQ time!
2010-01-19 6:42 PM
in reply to: #2619113

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: Houston Marathon
Great race report!!  Excellent run and great that you met your goals.  Congrats! 

2010-01-21 1:51 PM
in reply to: #2619113

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Atlanta, Georgia
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Houston Marathon
Awesome! I still can't believe you ran 1:35 on the front half of a mary and didn't blow up! Nice...

Congrats on your day.
2010-01-21 7:20 PM
in reply to: #2619113

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Dallas, TX
Subject: RE: Houston Marathon
Great RR!!!! Not sure how YOU dialed it BACK to a 9 minute mile! WOW! That took some discipline for sure!

Great job on the run! Can't wait to see how you do on the 100!!!!

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