Monday, January 19, 2009

In trouble

Uh oh. I've been called out for not writing in my blog. I stopped writing because I basically thought it was a stupid idea. I mean, who's going to read my blog? Well, me. And my boyfriend, apparently. And although I may feel stupid writing about mundane things like how many laps around my apartment complex pond I can do in 40 minutes (waayyyy too many), writing a running blog is actually brilliant, for the sole purpose that while no one else may be reading my blog, the most important person to read it is me. It has been proven (even scientifically!) that writing things down consistently helps you stay focused on goals. And man do I need that now, because...


I RAN THE MARATHON! Yay! Wonderful go me! However...

that also means that I am no longer running every Saturday with Houston Fit. No longer will I wake up at 4 30 in the morning with the nagging thought in the back of my head "you PAID for this, there are probably 4-8 people who will notice if you don't show up, and you are already awake. get your ass up and run"

So now I will depend on you, internet world, to keep me on my toes. That and I'm finally going to send the blog link to my parents. And post pictures. And write daily (sorry you have to hear about laps around the pond). And, tell you how my marathon went.

So can you believe it??? I won the marathon. OK, not really. In fact, I barely squeaked in under my goal.

The race day started out beautiful. Nice 60 degrees out. But no no no we live in Texas. It climbed up to the 70s before the end of the race. Not too bad for Deriba Merga, who finished in 2 hours, 7 minutes, and 52 seconds, setting a course record, but pretty nasty for those of us who were still out past 9 30 (read: approximately 20,000 runners and spectators).

So the race starts with a little uphill action (in Houston, who'd have thought it?). Probably the first mile was a gradual slope uphill. We are also running with the half marathoners, so think insane mob. A couple days later someone actually told me that this bridge that we're climbing is the reason so few entrants are allowed in the race - maximum bridge capacity. Along the way, we were cheered on by Elvises (hmm...correct pluralization of Elvis anyone?). From there, winding through Quitman, white oak drive, michaux, 11th, and studewood. All in the heights, all provided a large cheering squad. I would say out in front of 50% of the houses were spectators. Some were subdued (like the young kids who sat on porches in pajamas and waved with their parents), some were serious rabble-rowsers (the groups with beers and - temptation of temptations - mimosas). There were marching bands, cowbells (more cowbell?), and tons of handmade signs. Some of my favorite signs:

"You should see the size of the cookie at the finish"
"this is just a 20 mile warm up for a 10 K race"
"(insert name here) get off your lard ass and run" (seriously)

I also saw some pretty awesome get up among the runners. There were a couple birthdays - I sure hope those people partied hard afterwards. A pair of girls had handmade shirts, and the back of each one said "I run faster then my sister" with an arrow pointing to the right/left. I also liked the foxy ladies (I'll have to find pics) and the ladies in the gold pants with the bras and pink feather tiaras. You know who you are. As far as inspirational quotes, there was a shirt while I was running with the bf that said "there will be a day when you can no longer do this. today is not that day"

Passed the 10K mark with a time of 1:21:09. Which would be 25 minutes faster then the 10K i did back in September. It also puts me at a 13.04 min/mile. Woot woot.

So at mile 9, the halfers (as I affectionately call those who are not as hardcore) U-turned and headed off yonder. Knowing that this was coming up, I developed a completely irrational fear. What if they turn around, and it turns out I'm the only marathon left for like miles. That would explain to everyone around me why I was constantly looking over my shoulder, looking for other full-marathoners. One thing I really liked about this race was that every runner wore a bib with their name, and there group color on it. So all I had to do was look around for blue bibs with white stripes on them. And, everyone along the way knows your name, so you feel like a bit of a celebrity. I tried to acknowledge each cheer for me with a "thank you" or fist pump, or something, because I thought it was really nice for people to be so enthusiastic about it.

Anyway, I digress. Halfers turn around and I'm not the only one left. Yay. The crowd has considerably thinned though, not just in the runners, but the spectators as well. That's where mom made the perfect entrance. It was also quite ironic, because a few minutes later we passed a church, with some clergy outside blessing us with sacred water flayed from olive branches. They didn't even hit me, but it's the thought that counts. And that neither Mom or I started writhing in pain due to our hedonistic atheist ways.

Mom ran with me around rice (where we got blared at by the Rice Owls marching band) and moved into West U - home sweet home (or something - turns out I live like, 50 feet from the West U boundary). I have to give West U great props. They had the best turn out for the marathoner runners overall. There was even a kids party with a bouncy house going on. How cool would it have been to run in and cannonball those kids mid way through the marathon?

Passed the half at 2:50:49, which puts the second split at a 12:54 pace. Negative split bitches!

Here's were it gets tricky. Out of West U, we turn onto Westpark, then the 59 feeder, and we're in the Galleria area. It is not shady. And its getting hot. BF is now running with me, and I'm not as talkative as I was with Mom. Oh and did I mention a big hill on Westpark? Now I know where I'm going for some mean hill training. (Keep in mind this is a Houstonian's perspective).

So I pass the 30K mark at 4:08:41. That's an average 13:20 min/mile pace, and a third split pace of 14:11 min/mile. Damn.

Step-dad joins at mile 19. My wonderful support team is offering me water, dried figs, basically anything. It's hot. Thank god I wore my hat. Step-dad is being a wonderful running partner. He's grabbing 3 or 4 water cups for me at a time at each stop. I'm pouring water over my head to cool off. The Memorial park/ Allen parkway area was tough. I was losing track of the mile markers ("ONLY 23!?! We passed mile 23 30 minutes ago!?! ARGGG!") And the 6 hour pace group passed me. That was a bit of a shot through the heart. I really wanted to finish in a sub 6 hour time. But they are taking walk breaks, and so is everyone around me. SD is being so patient with me. At this point, I'm trying really hard not to focus on the fact that I may not make the cut. Just keep going.

And then we get to the best part of the run. SD and I hit mile 25. I thought, Ok, I have just been on my feet and moving for a ridiculously long time. I can't not finish this. So I tell SD that we're running to the end. No ifs ands or butts (from me of course, SD is a previous marathoner and ultra buff dude!). Coming up the ramp into down town, we run into Aunt M and Uncle J, who run beside me for a few strides and cheer me on. At this point I feel bad for anyone who does this. I look disgusting and sweat soaked, although most of it is really water. And I am probably doing this blank stare thing, and thinking just keep goinnnnngggg.....so I have no idea what incoherent thing I said to AM&UJ. But I am very glad they got to see me running. AM's daughter is a serious athletic inspiration for me. More about her later!

Then we're in downtown. And there is a breeze coming through those buildings. Ahhhh.

Makign the last turn in downtown we run into Dad, who has been waiting (as I later found out) about an hour and a half for me at that spot. He's stiff and sore, but he's running it in with me (for the first time, so the official record says I beat my dad) SD veers off to run outside the barriers. Now people towards the end said "it's just around the corner, then you can see the finish line". Bull. I couldn't see anything (like I'm going to wear my glasses running). So I'm running alongside Dad thinking, ok, where is the finish line? is it too early to sprint? what's going on?

Now let me clarify this timing thing. Least favorite part of the race. They start everyone off in two wave groups. This means that hypothetically, if they started the second wave exactly 10 minutes after the first, then every time sign I pass I need to knock 10 minutes off of it. Plus whatever it took me to get from where I was standing when the gun went off to the start. So basically I have no idea what my time is. And at each clock along the route they have people calling out paces. Well, sometimes. The Houston Half was much better at this. In the beginning, no one was calling out different wave times, and that's way too much math in my head.

So I'm approaching the finish line, and the clock read 6:13 or so. Ahhh...run run run! So I sprint across, I have absolutely no idea what my time is. So what do I do? Start looking for my damn medal. I pass up Felix, the 6 hour pacer, who recognizes me from Houston Fit, and tells me I still made the 6 hour cut off. He's a great encouraging guy. I talked to him once at the very beginning of a run, when I missed my pace group start time. That was he first run where I ran the whole thing. I've also run with him at the Nike Human Race. Oh yeah, and he carries an American flag at the races, so he's pretty easy to spot. I walk into GRB, get a medal, find food with Dad (although I am totally not hungry). We grab our finisher's shirts and mugs, and we head off to find everyone. BF shows me the text message he got right after I crossed the line:

5:59:49 (official time changes this to 5:59:45)

Which puts me at a split pace of 14:36 min/mile, and overall pace of 13:42.

Then..not as much crash as I thought there would be. I'm not hungry, I'm replying the race in my head so I can't sleep. I take an ice bath, and then a hot shower. And it's pretty much over...I will post some recovery stuff later. Thanks for reading!

Edited to add course map and elevation chart:

1 comment:

David (aka BF) said...

That's right you're in trouble! I'm not sure how to pluralize Elvis, but I do know you were fantastic in the Marathon! I can't wait for the Austin Half in February...