Well, marathon #9 is in the books.
I started the day confident, feeling healthy and strong. I ended the day feeling beat up.
It was not pretty.
Saturday after the time trials, we headed to a cute little place in Rice Village, Hungry's, for brunch. Mmm. Natalie is the BEST pre-marathon travel companion EVER. Because she was totally cool with laying around all afternoon watching HGTV and napping. The best part of the afternoon was when there was a knock on the door and these beautiful flowers were delivered!
Such a sweet and thoughtful gift from my girl Lauren! I've said it a million times and I'll say it again, I have the BEST, most supportive friends EVER! Truth.
Sweet Natalie spectated me (and all the others) so I put together a "spectating kit" for her. Under the assumption that it would be cold on race day. Because that is what the forecast was calling for. Up until Friday night. Yeah, she def didn't need hand warmers or a hat for the mid 60's it ended up being! Oh well. I appreciated her being out there in any weather conditions!
Let me just say that Houston puts on a great race. From soup to nuts they do an amazing job. Kudos to the Houston Marathon team. Y'all do great work! Even though there weren't time based corrals, I started within 10 minutes of the gun - not too shabby for a race this size. Pace wise, I started off strong. I had no problem maintaining around a 9:13 pace and at mile 8 I asked myself, " Can you maintain this pace for 18 more miles?" My answer was a definite "yes!"
Well, I was wrong. The wheels fell off around mile 18. I was rested, I was healthy, I was carb loaded and mentally I was in it. But lately, my legs have felt heavy. I've been able to keep my pace, but it has felt much harder than it should. I've been putting way too much effort into maintaining what should be a fairly easy pace for me.
Maybe it's racing 3 marathons in 11 weeks. You think? I had a great first half, an iffy middles miles and then finally my body just said, "Nuh uh. We ain't doing this today" and shut down. I knew I was done when I saw my pace creep up past 10 min mile and that felt haaaard. Not good.
I finished with a smile on my face. Entirely disappointed in my time - at least 20 minutes slower that I had hoped for and 20 minutes slower than I know I'm capable of running. (but still 6 minutes under my original time goal so let's not get carried away) Disappointed, but not surprised. I didn't blog about this upcoming race because I honestly didn't know if I had it in me.
But you know what? A marathon is a marathon. I managed a 20 minute course PR and that's something. I recognize why I was so much slower than I wanted to be and it's not because of lack of effort. It is what it is. Each race is a learning experience and with this one I took away an important lesson.
Post race, my back was hurting so I sat in line (thank you Houston for providing chairs in the line!) for a free massage. There I met Dree who, turns out, will be racing with me again in April and Bing. We soon discovered it was Bing's first marathon and I was so excited for him that I almost hugged him! He was still clearly in shock but Dree and I managed to make a very big deal out of him, pointing and hurrahing appropriately. You only run your first marathon once!
This year the hotel was not able to be as accommodating for late check out so I gobbled up some nutrition and checked out before the race had even ended. (which made getting out of downtown an adventure!)
Waiting for valet to pull my car around I met a 70 year old man who BQ'd that day. What an incredible accomplishment! Several runners stood outside the hotel, all wearing our medals (something I NEVER do...don't know why I was feeling so nostalgic just an hour after the race) sharing a sense of camaraderie. Marathoners each of us. Love that kinship!
At the end of the day, whether you ran a 6 hour marathon, BQ'd or came in somewhere in-between, you still ran the race and that's what counts.
And hey, even on your worse race day, we all came out better than Phidippides, right?