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Houston Marathon - RunMarathon

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Houston, Texas
United States
50F / 10C
Total Time = 3h 57m 48s
Overall Rank = 1416/5347
Age Group = M45-49
Age Group Rank = 179/533
Pre-race routine:

Woke at 5:00 after a fitful sleep. For such a "nice" hotel, it had a crappy mattress, plus the live band at the club across the street, the sirens, and the traffic didn't help any. Despite it all, I actually felt rested.

Wasn't very hungry, but ate a huge energy bar (400 cals) with a cup of coffee. Drank a Gatorade and ate some Sport Beans later on.

The weather forecasts had been all over the place. One said T-storms and 35°, another said drizzle and 50°. What to wear was just a guess. I went with shorts, and two tech shirts; a short-sleeve over a long-sleeve. It ended up being just about right. By race end, I was sweaty, but not overheated.
Event warmup:

The hotel had a car that was ferrying racers over to the start area, so I didn't even get in a real walk. Not much really, did a little stretching. I figured the slow shuffle & jog at the start would be warmup enough. After all, it's a Marathon.

Walked around the convention center getting my stuff squared away. Snapped a couple of pre-race pics and kissed my wife goodbye. One visit to the porta-can and made my way to the start corral.

Tried to find the BT'ers but didn't have any luck, just too many people.
  • 3h 57m 48s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 05s  min/mile

I felt like I had trained pretty well for the race and all my data indicated I might have a shot at 3:30, but I was confident in a sub-4 for sure. My plan was to hook up with the 3:30 pace group and hang on as long as I could. I couldn't find them at the start, so I got as close as I could to the front of the second corral and would look for them later.

They had the full & half runners starting on separate streets, so the crowd wasn't too bad. It took me less than a minute to get to the start line after the gun fired. I was weaving through the crowd, and up to speed looking for the 3:30 group as the runners thinned out. I wasn't paying any attention to my watch, but I was still clicking off the mile splits.

Felt good and was just clipping along when a guy came up behind me at about mile 6 and we started talking. I was wearing a small bib with 3:30 on the back of the shirt that had me tagged for that group and he wanted to run a 3:30, also. This was his 14th Marathon and he could run faster, but was going to take this one "easy".

I told him they were up ahead and I was trying to catch them. He said no they weren't, they're about a minute and a half BEHIND us. He said we were running about 7:50 miles at that point. I checked my watch closely; dang, he was right! Wow, what a good feeling. 3:30 here we come.

We ran and chatted for about 6 miles at a 8:00 pace while he gave me some good tips about the course and race strategy. He said he needed to speed up because he was meeting up with someone along the course and needed the extra time for his stop. At that, he sped up and was gone.

I was in a groove and the miles were passing by. The crowds were cool with the typical bands, folks cheering, with costumes and themes. It was between miles 12 & 14 that the mental aspects of maintaining the pace and listening to my body started being a factor. Wasn't paying too much attention to the scenery or the details, just kept my head down and grinding out the steps.

I started the race carrying 6 gels to be taken about every 3 miles starting at mile 7. I got water/Gatorade at every other aid station. I was following my nutrition/hydration plan, and everything was fine.

I was starting to slow just a little at mile 16 the pace was down to 8:05 and the 3:30 group was lurking behind me. Between miles 16 and 18 I ran with them without much problem. I was fading a little, but my early, fast pace had provided me with some time buffer towards my goals.

Everything was good until mile 18.75 and then... Boom! I got my first cramp. Seemingly out of nowhere, my left hamstring started locking up. I stopped for a few seconds to rub it out. Now I'm scared; what the heck do I do now? Is it going to get worse?

Walked a little bit and rubbed, now the other leg was starting to cramp. I just took it easy and alternated between shuffling, walking, running, and rubbing. By now my pace down to about 8:30 and the 3:30 group was gone.

The next 4 miles through Memorial Park and Allen Parkway were tough. I was looking at the med tents and wondering: Would I wind up in one, laid out on a stretcher? No! Not if I could still stand up and walk. It would have been "easy" to just stop and make it all end. The mental games were starting to be played at a higher level now.

Didn't know what to do except shoot another gel and drink more fluids. Started walking the aid stations drinking cups of water and Gatorade. The fans beside the course were great, cheering me on and all. One of the official race pics is going to show me in a full, stiff-legged grimace.

Miles 23 & 24 were the hardest. I was getting close, but it still seemed like a long time to get through them. The slight hills along this part of the course make it all the more challenging. I was going to make it and my goal was still achievable, but there would be little margin for slacking off.

By the time I got to miles 25 & 26 I was maintaining a steady run by sheer will-power on through the finish. No sprint at the end, but I knew I was sub-4 for sure.

First Marathon done.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing that I can think of. How do you predict cramps?

If hydration/electrolytes were a factor, maybe drink more or try some Endurolyte pill-type products.

Went as hard as my body allowed. Starting a little slower might have made a difference, but being my first Marathon, I had nothing to compare it to. If you have a goal and a plan, you execute that plan and make adjustments along the way.

I have not regreted any of the decisions I've made in my races so far and there are no regrets here. I made the best decisions I could at the time of the situation.
Post race
Warm down:

Walked around, got my medal, backpack of stuff, finisher's shirt and mug. Found my wife and took it easy for a few minutes. Couldn't sit or bend my legs because anything but straight, would bring on the cramping sensation.

Got a little bit to eat and drink, and overall was feeling good. Walked (slowly) the 10 blocks back to the hotel. Showered and checked out.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

General ability and leg cramps. My aerobic capacity was never challenged or a limiting factor.

Event comments:

Very good organization and volunteers. Everything was well marked and there was plenty of room, so the crowding was not bad at all.

Last updated: 2006-11-10 12:00 AM
03:57:48 | 26.2 miles | 09m 05s  min/mile
Age Group: 179/533
Overall: 1416/5347
Performance: Good
1)8:29 2)7:40 3)7:23 4)7:31 5)7:52 6)7:41 7)7:58 8)7:51 9)7:52 10)8:02 11)8:04 12)8:04 13)8:06 14)8:03 15)8:31 16)8:29 17)8:39 18)9:20 19)9:24 20)10:00 21)10:43 22)11:37 23)12:10 24)12:40 25)11:40 26.2)12:54
Course: Generally flat, some slight ups and downs with the overpasses and underpasses. Streets were blocked off very well.
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

2007-01-15 2:13 PM

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Waller County, TX
Subject: Houston Marathon

2007-01-15 3:12 PM
in reply to: #655250

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Houston, TX
Subject: RE: Chevron Houston Marathon
Great job on your first full mary! You toughed it out when the going got rough!
2007-01-15 5:53 PM
in reply to: #655250

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Resident Curmudgeon
The Road Back
Gold member
Subject: RE: Chevron Houston Marathon
Great job going sub-four on your first marathon, I see lot faster times on your horizon. You'll work out that cramping thing, hard to believe it was electrolytes on such a cool, overcast day like you had, but who knows?
2007-01-15 8:45 PM
in reply to: #655250

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Carencro, Louisiana
Subject: RE: Chevron Houston Marathon
Congratulations on a job well done!  It was a fun race!  Sorry we missed you!
2007-01-16 9:07 AM
in reply to: #655250

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Dallas, TX
Subject: RE: Houston Marathon
Great race report!

WOW! Those cramps sound *rough*! Great job on pushing through and still pulling off a 9 minute mile pace at the end.

I can't even keep that kind of pace... WITHOUT CRAMPS. Very impressive stuff!

2007-01-16 1:55 PM
in reply to: #655250

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Frisco, Texas
Subject: RE: Houston Marathon

Congratulations on a great run in your first marathon.  Sub 4 hours is fantastic. 


2007-01-16 6:15 PM
in reply to: #655250

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Subject: RE: Houston Marathon
What a great run and way to stick with it at the end. Sub 4hr is a great accomplishment, I see some serious time improvements down the road as well. Great job.
2007-01-17 1:11 PM
in reply to: #655250

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Katy, TX (West of Houston)
Subject: RE: Houston Marathon

Very nice job!

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