Houston Marathon Plans and Goals

Well, friends, I’m starting to accept the fact that I may be in for a rainy marathon experience.  The forecast continues to call for thunderstorms on Saturday, and a 70% chance of rain on Sunday.  Here are my race day plans… or, more accurately, my race day indecisiveness:

Gear: It’s certainly better than the hot and humid races for my ten miler and half marathon this fall, but I am not a fan of the rain or wind.  I’m debating between capris and shorts, with a tank top and a long-sleeved top.  Nothing fancy, I’m going for comfort.  Any tips for staying as dry and comfortable as possible?


Water: I may or may not wear a fuel belt for water.  I know it won’t get me too far, and I don’t like feeling weighted down by the belt.  But I am concerned about getting enough water from fuel stations alone. Maybe my husband could hand me a disposable bottle at the half way point? Thoughts?

Fuel: For my long runs, I’ve been using Honey Stinger chews, taking 2-3 every 3-4 miles and that was fine. I cannot stomach gels, so that’s not an option.  For my first marathon, I packed homemade date-nut balls and it worked surprisingly well. I’ll take a few of those along as well.  A few HS chews does not equal a 100 calorie gel.

Pace: This is a tough one.  Mcmillan estimates a 3:30 based on my half marathon time.  I think that pace is possible when I read back over my training log, but holding an 8:00 mile for 26.2 miles scares me.

I’ve mentioned before that I consistently run faster short distant races than the calculators predict, which also means that I run slower than the predicted pace for longer distances.

I have no problem being uncomfortable for 3.1 miles, but I would rather not be uncomfortable for 26.2.  So the pace might not be realistic for me.

Here are my goals:

A Goal: 3:30

B Goal: 3:35

C Goal: sub 3:44

The A goal, of course, is what McMillan likes to think I can run.  I want to believe him, but I also don’t want to crash and burn at the end.  My B Goal would get me a Boston Qualifying time- that would be nice! And my C Goal is to beat my first marathon’s time of 3:44:xx almost two years ago.  If all else fails, I’d really like to at least walk away with a pr!

Strategy: I’m planning to keep the first 2-3 miles around an 8:15 pace, and then settle into something as close to 8 minute miles as possible and hopefully stay consistent to the end.

My splits will be posting to Twitter in real time.  I wasn’t intending to set that up, but it was one of the options while I was adding some phone numbers for text tracking, and I figured why not.  If it’s a flop, you’re all going to hear about it anyway.  🙂

Okay, that’s it! Thanks for listening to all the marathon talk the last few months and for supporting me in this goal… the end is in sight at last.

I’m linking up with Jill for Fitness Friday.  And please chip in with your hydration, fueling, rainy day gear or pacing advice!

106 thoughts on “Houston Marathon Plans and Goals

  1. that’s so neat about twitter!! how cool is that! good luck, I’m sorry about the weather forecast, I hope it turns out to go in your favor. I think I would go with the capris to stay dry? Tough call bc it will probably be warm/humid with the rain too. Well I’m sure you will make the best of it. Good luck!!!
    Natalie recently posted..Coffee – yay or nay? & Gluten free browniesMy Profile

  2. I think you are being SO smart with your goals. Too often I feel like we all put too much confidence in what calculators predict for us . You know your body – and the fact that you run faster short then long. I’d say start slow – and stay around the pace for a 3:35. If you feel great at the halfway point , pick up the pace an keep dropping it to the end. That way the last 10 miles are your fastest!!!! You are going to do so awesome!! So excited to track you!! Good luck friend!! Xoxo
    Michele @ NYC Running Mama recently posted..Hills Are My FriendMy Profile

  3. I vote for shorts over capris. If you are wet, you won’t want wet all the way down your legs. 😉 I always use a fuel belt for water because I don’t trust water stations (will they be there? will they run out?) and I like to sip from my water bottle when I need to. Can’t help you on the fuel, but I know you are supposed to do what you’ve done in training!

    Good luck and have fun!
    Coco recently posted..Fun Fast Fitness Trampoline Workout With Interval TimerMy Profile

  4. Have a wonderful marathon! You are a strong runner and are prepared for this marathon! If you are at all used to wearing hats, I usually wear one in rainy weather to keep the rain out of my eyes. I wear contacts so if I’m messing with wiping my eyes a bunch it can be annoying! Good luck!
    abbi recently posted..Medal UpgradeMy Profile

  5. Sorry about the weather. I am not a fan of running in those conditions and I know I would not be happy if I had to do it for 26.2. Anyway, I would go with Capri’s. As for hydration, tough one. The fuel belt will weigh you down and the rain will make it worse, I am guessing. About 8 years ago, my friend was running the Niagara Falls marathon and her husband gave her water at various stops. She had her time down pretty perfect and we knew where to be and when. It worked out well for her.
    I think you have some great goals and would be happy with any one of them. I wish you nothing but the best! I know you will have a great race and I look forward to reading about it.
    Nicole@RunningWhileMommy recently posted..What’s In Your Gym Bag?My Profile

  6. Good luck with your marathon! Great goals. I too tend to run a slower in the longer races and faster in the short races. Too bad I don’t live in Houston, we would be great training partners as my times are so close to yours!

    Hope the rain holds off for you:( We have gotten so much rain in Baton Rouge, LA, it has been a miserable, rainy week!
    stephanie recently posted..Stealing TimeMy Profile

  7. Looks like a fabulous plan of attack! You’re going to rock this! You’ll barely notice the rain once you get going. One year it was raining for the Chicago Marathon, I wore a garbage bag over myself up to the start line. Then, I shed it once we got going. It was misty and such for the run, but I was having too good of a time running to really care. 🙂
    Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted..Delicious! Mushroom and Barley Soup!My Profile

  8. Best wishes, Laura! It sounds like you are well prepared. My only “tip” would be to leave a pair of socks with your husband, if you plan to get a water bottle from him at the half-way point. I’m not sure how much rain they are calling for (and if you want to take the time to change into dry socks) but it is nice to know you will at least have the option if you need it.

  9. I like to wear shorts when it’s raining unless it’s too cold. I remember how warm I was during the Houston marathon (in 2011?) because it was humid (and raining). I was glad that I wore shorts. Hope you have a great race!
    Tina@GottaRunNow recently posted..Houston Marathon TipsMy Profile

  10. Good luck Laura! You are going to do great. My advice is to wear shorts, a tank and a long sleeve that you dont mind tossing. I would also wear the fuel belt, but maybe with only half as many bottles. It’s always nice to be able to drink when you want and to have the option of skipping the aid stations if you need to. As for your strategy, it sounds good, except I think that you can do the McMillan time! When I ran mine that I got about a 3:30, I started off at about a 7:55 and surprisingly held it the entire way. Don’t underestimate yourself! You’ve got this!
    Travel Spot recently posted..2013 Race CalendarMy Profile

  11. I have worn a water belt for all 7 of my marathons. If I’m on a serious time goal I hand off refills somewhere and never use a water station. Even if I don’t I feel better having it. Keep in mind Chi 2007 was my first marathon and they ran out of water in 86 degree heat. I credit my finish to the fact that I carried my own.
    McMillan says the same for me (I’m faster at shorter distances). I’ve always been on the conservtive side of his predictions.
    Good luck! Stay dry! Have a great race!
    Marcia recently posted..How Do You Choose a Race?My Profile

  12. I ran an 11 mile training run in the rain and wore a water proof jacket from Nike. I loved it, it kept my top dry and the hood fasted around my neck. I think I would be miserable wet, might be worth a search today to find a water proof jacket. This one is the Cyclone Vapor jacket and it’s extremely lightweight, like a trash bag would be. Not sure if any stores near you would have it in stock. Have fun!
    Sarah M recently posted..#30DayHomies Day 11My Profile

  13. I’ve lived in Houston my whole life and one thing I’ve learned is never trust the weather people. They may be predicting 70% chance and not a single drop will fall.

    You might get lucky and just have a nice overcast day with no rain. 🙂 Good luck!! 🙂
    Rebecca recently posted..Hall of Fame FailMy Profile

    • Good point! Thanks for the reminder, Rebecca. I’ve been trying not to stress about it all week, knowing it could change. I want to be prepared for rain just in case, but it would be so nice if it holds off for those few hours!
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon Plans and GoalsMy Profile

  14. I think your pace plan sounds perfect. I do think you can go 3:30 and the smart thing to do is start easy and feel your way through. It will still hurt at the end, but believe in yourself!

    I think I told you that for CIM and the torrential rain, I was really happy with my choice of singlet and arm warmers (and shorts). Just aim for things that will not hold tons of water and get weighed down. Aren’t you glad we don’t live in the cotton era anymore? ; )

    Good luck!!! You have got this.
    misszippy recently posted..I run in BoulderMy Profile

  15. So excited for your marathon! Well, I would recommend not using the fuel belt. Usually marathons provide lots of water stops. Sometimes, I grab two cups through the aid stations in case. I’m sure you know but…I’d really just overhydrate with tons of extra water the two days prior. That really does the trick for me and I never have a problem with being thirsty. On the date balls…those would be too heavy for me but everyone is different. I like shot blocks a lot. Anyway, can’t wait to read your recap!
    Ericka @ The Sweet Life recently posted..Best TV Shows Right NowMy Profile

    • Thanks so much, Ericka! Yes- I’m thinking maybe one date ball toward the end (they are much smaller than they look!) and leaning away from the fuel belt, especially if it’s going to get wet and weigh me down. Thanks for the encouragement!
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon Plans and GoalsMy Profile

  16. ugh yuck – rainy races are no fun. As long as it’s not going to be cold, you should be okay in the rain. Do you have arm warmers? I hear those are good options because you can roll them down if you’re hot and roll them back up if you get cold. I’ve never used a fuel belt in a race before – but always in training. I just make sure to take a lot of water as I go (sometimes 2 cups) but I’ve never run a full marathon before, only a half. Best of luck Laura! I can’t wait to hear all about it!
    Sarah @ Blonde Bostonian recently posted..Me? CrossFit?My Profile

  17. living in WA, I have ran most of my halfs in the rain. Pick what is the most comfortable, and pack lots of dry clothing to change into afterwards. As for shorts vs capris – depends on how cool the rain is. I ran in september in a running skirt and was fine, but it wasn’t that cool out just wet. I doubt you will need the fuel belt, I drink less when its rainy, maybe someone to meet you along the way if you are worried. Good luck

  18. Bummer about the rain! You’ll still do wonderfully though, and I’m sure you’ll walk (limp?) away closer to 3:30 than 3:44! I think because it is rainy (and not super hot), you can skip the fuel belt and have your husband hand you water as a back-up plan if you’re not feeling hydrated enough. I can imagine the belt would get really annoying to wear by the end, and because of the weather/your estimated finish time, you shouldn’t have any problem with them running out of water. GOOD LUCK! I’ll be thinking of you on Sunday!
    Amy recently posted..Mapping Out the 2013 Race ScheduleMy Profile

  19. Bummer about the rain! It may be too last minute, but Brooks and Saucony make these awesome really light weight rain jacket/wind breakers that actually fold into themselves and they fold up small enough that you can stick it in your pocket or in a belt pouch! Being a runner in Seattle has forced me to get pretty crafty in terms of staying dry.

    Also, along with honey stingers on long runs I pop chia seeds (I stick ’em in an empty Nuun tube so I can just pour some into my mouth) and so far, they’ve been pretty awesome for fuel!
    Rachel B @ Busy Mama Fitness recently posted..Body Beast Journal: I SuckMy Profile

  20. Good luck Laura!!!! I hope that the weather holds out for you on Sunday. I will be sending speedy vibes your way.

    When I ran CIM I carried a hand held water bottle that I tossed around mile 16. It worked well for me and I was able to avoid the clutter of the first few aid stations. At Eugene the hubby meet me at certain check points with my Nuun. Since your hubby is probably familiar with the course you can have him meet in a couple of locations with your water.
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..Friday Favorites: Active AccessoriesMy Profile

  21. I think you will rock a 3:30, rain or shine. You have raced in much worse conditions this year! 🙂

    I am still undecided, leaning towards the skirt and a long sleeve. I am worry about getting warm after the first few miles. However, the armwarmer will likely be soaked if I go with tanks….that’s a toughy, isn’t it?
    I do like the idea of the garbage bag ALOT

  22. LOL @ the don’t wear white tip.

    You’re so fast!! Good luck! I’m sure you’ll have a great race. I look forward to the recap.

    I am gonig to be testing out some new fuel options this weekend on my long run. ShotBloks have been okay, but I hate the chewing. It takes me about half a mile to finally eat a whole one without choking on it.
    beka @ rebecca roams recently posted..A Return to Friday LettersMy Profile

  23. I ran the half at Houston last year and it was quite humid. I would suggest the tank and shorts. Plus it’s going to feel lighter if it does rain. Good luck and have fun.

  24. so maybe i’m the opposite of everyone else, but i would think that wet shorts would increase risk of chafing or riding up? I guess it depends on the fit on the shorts. I always wear compression shorts + skirt so what do i know?
    Lisa J recently posted..Three For ThursdayMy Profile

    • I’m still not sure what I’m going to do. I have some very lightweight nylon shorts that I wore for the Houston half when it was so humid that I was dripping wet by the end, and they worked out alright. Another 13 miles would have definitely led to some chafing… tough call!
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon Plans and GoalsMy Profile

  25. I get cold very easily, but I was a bit overdressed for CIM (which was the downpour+ the wind). Looking at Houston temp, I think it’s predicted to be the same temperature so I agree with Amanda, shorts, tank and sleeves if you have them, perhaps a throwaway long sleeve shirt. If the rain is really bad think about wearing a garbage bag at the start while you wait. Also I think a hat saved me and my eyes in that race. Not sure if you are prone to blisters, I get very bad ones and the wetness will make it worse. My father in law sat in on a discussion before the race where a pro suggested a good lotion + udder balm rubbed all over your feet, if udder balm is not available use diaper rash creme, it worked miracles for me. Your goals sound right on, as others suggested start out slow, remember to dig as deep as you can when the miles start to get tough towards the end. Be mentally strong to stay on it. You have it in you, I have no doubt at all, bring it to this race and fight.
    MegG recently posted..How to create a race scheduleMy Profile

    • Great point about the udder balm or diaper creme, I’m going to do that! And the hat, too. I’ve never run with one, but that would be really helpful. Thanks so much for the words of encouragement- I needed to hear that!
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon Plans and GoalsMy Profile

  26. Not sure if anyone else said this already…but with rain, you must 100% wear a hat or a visor. Even if you don’t like them or normally wear them. Without the rain on your face, you will feel less like it is raining and it won’t be as miserable. My 2nd marathon was pouring rain for the first half. I had a visor and my running buddy did not. I was happy. She hated it! (Although she ended up running faster than me in the end :)) Also, GOOD LUCK!! McMillan thinks I should be faster for my longer races too. I steadily get slower than his predicted paces from 10k on up! I KNOW you will have a good race and I can’t wait to read the tweets!!
    Corey recently posted..Ragnar Florida Keys – Leg #2My Profile

  27. I hate wearing a fuel belt! My last marathon I had my parents at a certain spot to give me a bottle to carry. For the rain a hat is a must and have someone with dry socks on the course just in case you want to change. Grab a garbage bag to cover and stay dry at the start.
    Good luck and be careful in the rain and stay dry.:)
    Jen recently posted..Living Healthy and Saving MoneyMy Profile

  28. good luck! wish i could come fuel you with healthy bites! but those dates balls look even better!

    bites are on their way

  29. What I wore at CIM worked really well for me in the rain: tank top, homemade arm warmers (from Target knee high socks), shorts, compression socks, and shoes with a mesh top and low amount of cushion (drains much faster). The key pieces were the arm warmers, running hat (to keep the rain out of my eyes), and the dollar store poncho that I wore for 20 miles. The poncho never got too heavy, nor did it drag due to wind. Don’t forget the Body Glide/vaseline on your feet, underarm, and on ALL of your seams – sports bra and capris if you wear them. Chafing is your #1 enemy!
    As for water, I carried my Amphipod handheld bottle and was glad I did, especially since the first few stops were packed. It did get heavy after a while, so I handed it off to my boyfriend at mile 18 and used water stops after that. If it hadn’t gotten so heavy, I probably would’ve kept it because I slowed down A LOT through the water stops (and used them as an excuse to take a break).
    Good luck!!!
    Jen recently posted..A Second OpinionMy Profile

  30. omg – good luck!! so excited about the marathon! even in the rain, you’ll crush it. my experience with rain is that it somewhat (even if subconsciously) takes the pressure off. you know the conditions aren’t ideal, so you relax. I’ve run many PR’s in the rain!

    my only advice would be to wear a hat with a brim. You don’t want to be blinking out rain drops for 26.2 miles. I almost always wear a hat and it helps a lot in the rain (snow too) and keeps the sun off your face.

    Have fun! Can’t wait to hear about it 😉
    runner26 recently posted..Winter Running in the CityMy Profile

  31. Wow, Laura, I’m so excited for you! I’m praying for no wind–the rain would be a nuisance but if the wind isn’t bad you can absolutely get your A goal, I’m sure of it.

    Afer CIM, I would say wear shorts, a sleeveless top, arm warmers and a throwaway top you can ditch as you get warm. You don’t want anything that will weigh you down once you’re wet (and it sounds likely you will be!). I would also wear a baseball cap. Someone told me this ahead of CIM and it was a godsend–no water dripping into my face.

    Good luck! You will be great!
    Terzah recently posted..Introverts and Group RunsMy Profile

    • Perfect- after reading through all these comments, that’s the outfit conclusion I was coming to as well! I hadn’t thought about the hat- adding that to my must-find list. Thanks for sharing my excitement, Terzah! 🙂
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon Plans and GoalsMy Profile

  32. This is weekly hop amazes me all the time and I learn so much from you. I am new (very new) to running and I am trying to get my first 5k under my belt. (Along with running without my lungs burning) Thanks for the inspiration and good luck on the marathon. I will be back to read more. U ROCK!!

  33. It took me so long to finally start getting close to my mcmillan times for long distance races. I think it’s like you said, it’s harder to stay on for the longer distances (although I know my body prefers them!). For rain, I would make head and arm holes out of a garbage bag – good throwaway rain coat if it starts out bad. Good luck!!
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  34. I ran the CIM monsoon this year too. Wear tighter fitting clothes. If you get wet, they won’t hang. And body glide anywhere that has ever chafed on you before. 🙂 Also compression socks might help.
    Karen recently posted..Recovery, round 2.My Profile

  35. I just started training for my first 1/2 so I’m in no position to give advice and it looks like you’ve gotten very good suggestions from everyone-so I’ll just say good luck and have fun!!

  36. First of all, best of luck! Secondly, if it’s gonna rain I prefer to be wearing less clothing…less to get wet. Thirdly, I, like you, have a marathon prediction from McMillan that’s faster than I’ve run. I find it hard in a race that has so many variables. That being said, sometimes you just gotta go for it. I would go for B – BQ. I did that at my second marathon and had to fight hard in the last 5 miles, brain was so addled I didn’t even know if I’d make it because I couldn’t do the math! And in that race I carried a water bottle belt for the first half and switched to a water bottle for the second half. I wouldn’t normally run with fluids but it enabled me to skip the water stops (saving time) and it was Disney so it was HOT! My water belt actually burned my skin, it chafed so badly!
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  37. You sound prepared! I love that your splits are going to post to Twitter real time. I wish that the aps played things back to you through your earbuds. You know, so it says “CarliAlice says you go girl”. Only it would sound like Steven Hawking talking because it’s an electronic device reading to you. On seconfpd thought, that might be distracting.
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  38. Good luck, good luck, good luck! In my experience, the most crucial piece of equipment for running in the rain is a good attitude. It’s the one thing you can control! Have fun; you’re going to do great. If you don’t mind carrying things, a disposable water bottle is a great supplement.
    Again, good luck and have fun!
    Kasey recently posted..SlackerMy Profile

  39. You will do well! Just stick to the 8-8:15 range and see how it feels for a few miles, then steady on at 8 if you feel great!! 🙂

    Loved the advice for a hat. And if you have any chafing issues, those tend to be worse in the rain.

    Go get em! You are ready!!
    Raina recently posted.."Crazy Talk" and some picsMy Profile

  40. Good luck!! I didn’t wear a fuel belt for our marathon and I felt sufficiently hydrated throughout the race, but maybe your husband could meet you half way just to be safe.

    Our race day was slightly rainy in the beginning and I still wore shorts and a t-shirt, good luck deciding!

    I can’t wait to hear how it goes 🙂
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  41. Wow – lots of great advice here already! I don’t have much to add except too enjoy yourself, and I hope everything goes your way!

    I noticed McMillan now have an option for speedster or endurance monster, depending on your natural ability – could this affect your predicted time slightly? Whatever – I know you’ll do well, and can’t wait to read your report!
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  42. Pacing is terrifying. Good luck! I’m really looking forward to reading your recap.

    And the date balls are inspired. I know dates a really popular fuel with raw athletes – it scares me just how dense those babies are!
    Kate recently posted..Spicy RunMy Profile

    • Thanks, Kate! And yes, I ended up not wanting the date balls after all… I was saving them until around mile 20, but my stomach was not interested in any more fuel at that point. They were perfect for immediately after I finished, as I started to feel weak and hungry before getting the rest of the race food.
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon RecapMy Profile

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