Houston Marathon Recap

And just like that, the marathon is over!  What an amazing weekend.  Saturday, I arranged for some bloggers/Twitter friends to meet up, and we gathered at the Expo.  It’s always a treat to meet online friends in person!

[Jojo, Amie, Tiffany, Holly, Landi, Kelli, me, and Lauren]

We gathered right next to the spot where Ryan Hall was signing autographs.  I caught bits and pieces of his talk, but didn’t sit down for it.


As for the race itself… oh my, what an interesting day! Let’s get right to it…

I met my running buddy May at the gear drop off, and found Holly and her husband, too.  We all split up (I hit the bathrooms, they went to the start).

When I headed outside, I was greeted with pouring down rain and wind.  I splashed my way over to the corral, and lucked out to find May by the 3:30 sign!

The rain continued as we waited for the start.  Nothing like wet socks and shoes before you start running! I used the trash bag advice and kept it on for the first 5 miles or so.  I was thankful that at least my core could stay dry.

Waiting to start!

The first mile was up over a bypass and the wind was brutal.  I started with May, and we clocked our first mile around 8:20.

Once we came down into town, the wind and rain died down and we were able to find our goal pace. I took a few Honey Stinger chews at mile 5 with some water, and then tossed my disposable bottle and used the water stations the rest of the way. I continued to take 3 chews every 4-5 miles. Miles 2-6, 8:02, 7:52, 7:52, 7:56, 7:47

My throwaway long-sleeved shirt and gloves were soaking wet, so I ditched them and the trash bag.  My mock arm warmers (cut up old socks) worked out great- thanks to those of you who suggested doing that!

Somewhere around this point, May pulled ahead and I knew I should play it a bit more conservatively.  I was feeling strong: legs felt good, lungs felt great.  The lack of rain and wind through this section felt amazing!

We headed up through the Heights neighborhoods, heard a few bands, and had lots of great folks out in that weather to cheer us on. Miles 7-10, 8:00, 7:52, 7:56, 7:59

Soon we headed down Main street and toward Rice University, where I knew J and L would be watching.  I had sent him with dry socks, shoes and an extra long sleeved shirt, in case I was cold and miserable.

Along the way, I was surprised to find our friends Qiwei and Kina cheering! It was encouraging to see them, and Qiwei sent me some great shots from mile ten:

My hands were starting to go numb, and the mile leading up to my hubs and daughter’s spot had a rough headwind. I powered through to see them and grab the extra shirt. I was excited to find several other friends standing with them (thanks, Lauren, Vaughn and Kelly)! It gave me a much needed boost. Miles 11-13, 7:57, 8:08, 8:06

Apparently, these are the warmest clothes daddy could find.  Elmo stayed toasty and dry! But daddy was a little disappointed his sign didn’t get more appreciation.  🙂

Leaving the family and putting on my new long sleeved shirt

The next 3-5 miles were by far the toughest stretch for me.  We were now running into the wind, and I watched my pace dropping.  Plus, it was cold, and I knew we were only half way done. I started to doubt myself and wondered why I had paid money to do this! Thank goodness for another surprise- my friend Megan at mile 14!  I needed that boost, too.  Miles 14-17,  8:05, 8:14, 8:09, 8:09

Mile 18 was brutal.  The wind was worse, and I could not will my legs to move any faster.  When the wind would die down for ten seconds, my pace dropped to sub-8’s so I knew my effort was there. As miserable as it was, it did give me confidence that I have a faster race in me without the wind! Mile 18 8:27

By mile 19, the wind let up and gave us several miles of calm, perfect running weather.  I suddenly felt great! I knew I could handle 8 more miles at something close to an 8 minute pace.  My only complaint at this point was that both knees started to ache.  I’m guessing that it was a result of the concrete surface, while I trained on mostly macadam or dirt trails.  But cardiovascular-ly, I felt so much better than I expected to feel at this stage. Miles 19-25: 7:55, 8:08, 8:18 (incline), 8:04, 8:00, 8:14, 8:07

Last mile! I still felt strong, but was happy to be nearing the finish.  Mile 26– 8:04

I saw J and L just before the finish line and managed a smile and wave… such a contrast to my first marathon.  🙂

 Final chip time: 3:32:58

After a tough first marathon almost two years ago, I was amazed that it is possible to feel good all the way across the finish line.  But as soon as I slowed down to walk, my legs told me they were done and I hobbled my way inside to meet up with my family.  I felt like a true marathoner at that point. 🙂

I was disappointed to miss the 3:30 mark, but also came away feeling more confident in my abilities and knowing I have a better marathon in me.  (By the way, amazing May got a 3:26!)

It took a few minutes for it to sink in that this was a Boston Qualifying time!  I don’t know if I’ll actually run Boston, (or if I would even get in), but it was a bucket list goal to qualify, and it feels amazing to cross that off my list!

[Editing this post to add that this was a 12 minute pr.  Raina reminded me that I forgot to point that out!]

Thanks again for all the support! I was thinking of so many of you as I ran, and the encouraging words you had left on my marathon goals post.

And my husband was amazing.  He encouraged my training, took on more than his fair share of dishes, laundry and child care, and, (as I found out afterwards), thoughtfully contacted many friends and told them my estimated arrival at spots along the course.  Familiar faces braving the awful weather made it such a sweet, memorable experience!

165 thoughts on “Houston Marathon Recap

  1. Just imagine what you could do in perfect running weather…you did awesome in those conditions and in general…simply AWESOME!

  2. Girl you ROCK!!! I had no idea all you guys were meeting up, I would have joined! And I saw your little Elmo cheering and it made me so happy because my son LOVES Elmo. Congrats on an amazing race! Take some time off and enjoy your PR!

    • It was a last minute twitter call- bummer that we didn’t get the message to you. We’ll have to try again soon… we talked about setting up a local fun run soon. And I’m so glad you saw Elmo out there!!
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon RecapMy Profile

  3. Congrats!! This is fantastic. After a “wheels fell off” Disney marathon for me yesterday it’s now to heard that number two is better. Congrats on a solid pace and a BQ. I think you may as well say you hit your goal! So close. Awesome.

    • Oh, I understand! The wheels came off big time for me in my first. But it’s an amazing accomplish regardless! Plus, you had heat to deal with! Looking forward to hearing your story.
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon RecapMy Profile

  4. Whenever you plan your next marathon, you’re bound to hit 3:30 considering how you did with the wind and cold yesterday. HUGE congrats on your BQ- whether or not you apply, just knowing you could is an awesome feeling.
    lisa j recently posted..I drive like a Cullen…My Profile

  5. What a great race you ran! You were really smart with the way you carried it all out and it paid off big time. Awesome time! Love that you had cheerleaders all over the course, especially that little Elmo–that had to have put a big smile on your face.

    Congrats to you! (and to May)
    misszippy recently posted..Off to a good startMy Profile

  6. Laura – you did AMAZING!!!! I was cheering for you while checking your Twitter updates all morning. When I saw your pace holding at the 30K point I kept up a little – ‘keep it up’ cheer. I’m so happy for you.

    Elmo and her sign are ADORABLE!!!! Tell you husband that he did an awesome job with it and being such a great cheerleader for you.

    Sounds like you did a great job accounting for the horrible weather. I know that 3:30 is in you on a nice weather day.

    Did you get pancakes and a burger? and a nap, I’m sure.

    Congratulations again!!
    Carrie@familyfitnessfood.com recently posted..New ShoesMy Profile

    • Carrie- this comment made my day. Thank you so much for sharing my excitement, and cheering me along! I passed the message on to J, he needs to know how amazing he was as well. 🙂
      Burger- yes. Nap- unfortunately not. L didn’t nap, but I never felt that tired (just sore). Went to bed early instead!
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon RecapMy Profile

  7. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I have tears in my eyes as I read your journey through the miles. An amazing run considering the conditions…and to qualify for Boston – what an achievement! I hope you spent the rest of the day relaxing! Congrats again! AWESOME job!!!
    Cathy recently posted..It’s Awards Season!My Profile

  8. Your report made me all nostalgic again for that race. :^)

    You are so tough! I know only too well what running in wind like that is like–congratulations again. And none of that talk about not running Boston–pshaw, girl. You must go do your victory lap–you earned it. For now, though, rest like a champion.
    Terzah recently posted..Still Learning….My Profile

    • I was missing you and Kathy! And yes, you sure do know. I think yours was worse. At least we had solid chunks of calm and dry spells.
      Hmm, thanks for the Boston pep talk… you may be right. I’ll at least throw my name in and see what happens!

  9. Congratulations on a great race and a BQ! It’s fantastic that you had a good experience as that is often more important than the time. Love your pics, and your daughter is adorable! Congrats again.
    Robin recently posted..My Year in RunningMy Profile

  10. Congratulations on such an awesome race! FYI, this year is the first year that people qualified for Boston with the new time requirements and I read that everyone who applied got in. So I think you should go for it next year! Hope you’re recovering well. 🙂

  11. You totally rocked it Laura–especially under those conditions! Congrats again! You are so amazing! Your little one was beyond adorable in her ELmo costume. 🙂
    Marcia recently posted..Rodent Wisdom?My Profile

  12. I don’t know why I cried while reading your blog b/c I’m not even a runner! I guess it’s the sheer determination and accomplishment that touches me! Very inspiring indeed. Congrats, awesome Laura!

    • In some ways, I think it bonded us to the other runners around us. We could laugh about how ridiculous that rain was at the beginning, and it helped… you’ll be awesome regardless, I’m sure!
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon RecapMy Profile

  13. Congrats again on your awesome race!! It was awesome to see J and L out there- they cheered for us too (an added bonus since I knew you were ahead of us!). J yelled “Go Batch” and when Batch looked over he said “I’m Laura’s husband”- in case we were too focused to realize it! Also, I loved L as Elmo…made me smile for miles. I have no doubt you’ll break 3:30 easily in the next one! Enjoy the accomplishment in tough conditions! And congrats also on the nearly perfect splits- that’s amazing in and of itself!
    Holly recently posted..Pencil Me InMy Profile

  14. You are so incredible!!!!! I am so proud of you!!!!!! I knew that you could BQ and that you would. Your dedication & positive thinking about this race was inspiring. I really think that you should run Boston, even if you only run it once. It is so worth the experience!
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..Featured Runner: RainaMy Profile

  15. you.are.awesome!! what a race! congrats!! way to stay tough in the wind and rain. that couldn’t have been easy. so glad it went as well as it could. your time is seriously impressive!! enjoy some recovery time now 😉
    runner26 recently posted..Menu PlanningMy Profile

    • Thank you!! Yes, enjoying the recovery… and the non stop food. My stomach woke me up at 4am this morning, growling. I sent my husband for a banana to hold me over til morning. 🙂
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon RecapMy Profile

  16. So excited for you! You have a BQ time!!!! Ok, now you are really making me want to run a marathon and try and BQ. I just don’t know how I can find the time/energy with two little kids. I know it can be done…
    stephanie recently posted..Stealing TimeMy Profile

    • Oh, yes! You should! Maybe we could pick the same one… 🙂 I hear you with young kids… it was very hard for me to wrap my head around until L turned one. She was 16 months at my first, and that worked out well. You’ll get some of that time back as #2 becomes more independent!
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon RecapMy Profile

  17. I loved reading this race recap! I’m so impressed that you ran such a strong race and BQ’ed in spite of the crazy weather. Huge congratulations! I also really love the shout out to your spouse for supporting your training and for rounding up friends to cheer you on along the route!

  18. I was thinking about you yesterday and hoping it was going well for you! Awesome race! Nothing like meeting a goal and crossing something off the bucket list! I hope you are able to rest and enjoy your great success.

  19. Way to go! I guess I was feeling pretty inspired b/c I got a little misty-eyed by the end of your post. 🙂

  20. Congratulations on such a great race!! It was great to meet you this past weekend. Thanks for letting me barge in on your meet up 🙂

  21. SO nice to meet you too! Great job on a tough weather day. I felt the exact same way once crossing the finish line..and then I got super cold and couldn’t warm up! CONGRATS on the Boston BQ. That is awesome, especially for your 2nd marathon. It was an awesome marathon despite the yucky weather. The Houston spectators never disappoint and turned out in the thousands to cheer on the marathoners. So much fun!
    Tiffany recently posted..Powerful VideoMy Profile

  22. Fantastic job, Laura!!

    There were surely some speedy miles in there. It would be a tough start to a race with that kind of weather. Way to stay positive.

    You should be very proud of how strong you finished the race.

    Relish every bit of this awesome PR (it’s a PR isn’t it?) and BQ!!
    Raina recently posted..Weekend rewind. (mostly pics)My Profile

  23. Hey Laura, I was wondering where you got your shorts. I have a hard time finding longer shorts and I love the length of yours. Also, I bought arm warmers the day before the marathon at the expo, but the sock idea is genius! Yours looked more than just regular old socks. Which kind did you use and where did you buy them? I spent $17 for my arm warmers (worth it for that weather!) but the cheaper route would have worked just as well!
    Tiffany recently posted..Powerful VideoMy Profile

    • You know what? I have no idea…probably Target?! I actually got them for teaching spin, and it was a very last minute decision to wear them for the race. I was going to wear capris or nylon running shorts, and then found these in my drawer and thought that would work. As for the socks, it was an old pair of fuzzy socks I also found at the last minute in the bottom of my sock drawer! I went for one of the more colorful patterns that I had. 🙂 I heard Target knee high socks also work well!
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon RecapMy Profile

  24. Excuse my language – HOLY CRAP YOU ARE FAST!
    So sorry about the rain, but dear heavens you were booking it.
    I am praying to hit a 4:30 this year. My one, and only so far, was a very disappointing 5:15ish.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted..Should I Taper?My Profile

  25. Fantastic time. I’d say your training worked. You are super speedy!!! You should try to do Boston if you can swing it. It’s a once in lifetime experience and there is so much to do there with kids. Your family would love it. You earned it…..You might get old and slow like me one day and you don’t want to miss your window to do it! 🙂
    Clea recently posted..Bring it…My Profile

  26. Well done, you ran a great race. Good to see all your planning and training pay off 🙂 Also, your daughter as Elmo = adorable!

  27. Amazing. I am speechless. Such a great run and in such TOUGH conditions. You must be so proud of where your running is at. You look so strong in all the photos. Gosh L is so adorable… I just want to scoop her up. Hubby should get big points for creativity on the sign – I bet it made you smile and a smile REALLY helps the miles.

    You are a true inspiration… THANK YOU!
    Jenelle @ MummyLovesToRun recently posted..13 weeks – Canberra marathonMy Profile

  28. I am so so so happy for you. You ran a very smart race and got your Boston qualifying time. Weather always tries to mess things up but a well trained runner can run in any condition. You did amazing and I am so excited to hear what is next for you. Would LOVE for you to run Boston so we can meet!

    • That would definitely be reason enough for me to run Boston! 🙂 And I can’t wait to read your recap. I thought of you often while I ran, and I just KNEW you were out there killing it. Made me smile every time… so thrilled for you!
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon RecapMy Profile

    • Lisa, you will get that BQ. You are at least as strong of a runner as I am, and probably stronger. Remember that 20 miler at sub-8 pace? Your day is coming… and I will try to get in Boston 2014 if you do! 🙂
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon RecapMy Profile

    • I lucked out and got great advice from others who ran in rain before- both the trash bag and sock arm warmers were last minute additions thanks to some friends’ suggestions. Worked out so well!
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon RecapMy Profile

  29. CONGRATS. This was a great race recap. I really have to work harder to stay in the moment, in the miles, so I can remember such detailed info for race recaps.

    If it is ANY consolation, I only know 2 people who PR’d besides you, so feel thrilled with just that. I had a co-worker miss BQ by 22 seconds, and a girlfriend who missed hers by only 6 seconds. It was a hard day, so your PR is something extra amazing!

    I will seriously look forward to badgering you for a run or two next marathon season! It is so hard trying to find people who want to push to a 3:30 marathon pace!
    Crystal@TheFastFitRunner recently posted..More Rain in Houston, but No Snow!My Profile

  30. You did such an amazing job in less than ideal conditions, Laura – you should be so, so proud of yourself!!!! Congrats again on a great race, and on a BQ!!!!!!!!! I hope you do run it in 2014 – I’m hoping to requalify when I run this year, so I can go back in 2014, too! Hope you’re taking it easy and recovering well : )
    Michelle recently posted..2.5 Weeks Down, 13.5 Weeks To GoMy Profile

  31. Way to go!! You’ve got some great race tips buried in your recap and I sat here taking notes. Great job on all of the training – your finish time definitely says how hard you’ve worked. Congrats on qualifying for Boston!!

  32. Laura…unfortunately, I did not qualify for Boston this go round. I was just not quick enough. You are ahead enough of the qualifier you will definitely get in. You should think about it…seriously. It’s expensive but so worth it.
    Clea recently posted..Bring it…My Profile

  33. Amazing job Laura!! You did awesome in those conditions and all your pictures look great and looked like you were running effortlessly. L looked adorable in Elmo and what an awesome hubby you have for supporting you during training and the race. You are such an inspiration and I look forward to the day I can run my first marathon 🙂

  34. Great job! So exciting about the BQ! I got a BQ too at Houston. Are you going to run Boston 2014?!?? I’m planning on it! Hey, so I noticed that you had on a “Run for the Red” shirt at the beginning of the race. Did you run that race? Are you from PA? I ran it last May, but was taken away in an ambulance at mile 22 with heat exhaustion and dehydration so the Houston marathon was my redemption marathon! Congrats again 🙂

    • Oh, wow, Bridget! You had a fantastic redemption run! Yep- I did the Poconos marathon two years ago, and I had a rough few miles at the end as well, although not as rough as yours. 🙂 It actually scared me off from running a second… I’m impressed that you turned around so quickly to do it again!
      Our family is all in PA… we’re in Houston currently, not sure where we’ll end up… ! Are you from PA?
      Laura recently posted..Houston Marathon RecapMy Profile

  35. Oh friend, you are AMAZING!!! Sooooo excited for you and your awesome time. Hope you’re recovering well and spending some time with those cute sign makers of yours. He he.
    STUFT Mama recently posted..I Didn’t RunMy Profile

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  37. Congrats! You did an awesome awesome job. I had several other friends running the half and you all have inspired me. I will be doing the Woodlands half on March 2nd and am ready to know it out!! You are an inspiration to me. Hopefully one day we can meet up and you can push me farther!!
    April Ockerman recently posted..Mamavation Monday- Rough WeekMy Profile

  38. BQ! PR! That is amazing. You ran a great race on a tough day and I am SO very happy for you. Congratulations!!! P.S. L’s little Elmo costume was adorable. I imagine she made so many people’s day out on the course!!!
    Corey recently posted..FINALLYMy Profile

  39. WAY TO GO!!! You raced so well, especially in those conditions.
    Congrats, and I’m glad you survived the cold, wind and rain – ugh!!
    Amanda K. recently posted..WelcomeMy Profile

  40. What a great st!ory of your marathon! I can not imagine running a marathon today, I’m happy completing my 5K’S, but maybe someday I will have the desire to want to try a 1/2 or full. I have to say, the last picture of you looks great. If I just finished running a marathon I would not look picture worthy!
    Andrea Merrigan recently posted..Gloomy Weather & Bucket List {2013}My Profile

    • Thank you so much, Andrea! I had no desire to run a full for my first 10 years of running… I really never thought I would, so it’s odd to me that I actually enjoyed it and am contemplating more… I don’t think marathons are for everyone, and I honestly wonder how wise it is to do that to our bodies, but I’d like to do a few more, and the sense of accomplishment is unmatched!
      Laura recently posted..Why Running Dreams MatterMy Profile

  41. You ran a really strong marathon! I read somewhere that the wind and rain takes roughly 15 seconds off per mile! So you totally have an even faster marathon in you next time! Great job on the BQ! It’s such a great accomplishment! So, have you figured out yet where your next marathon will be?
    Travel Spot recently posted..IncredisocksMy Profile

    • Thanks so much, Kyria! There were chunks without wind, but I definitely felt like the wind took those 15 seconds for the 12-18 mile range. 🙂 I’m really hoping to run Philly next fall… but not ready to sign up for anything yet…
      Laura recently posted..Marathon Recovery RecapMy Profile

  42. Congrats on your Houston experience 🙂 I ran it this year as well, started with the 3:30 group (I’m wondering if I saw you… hmmm) and posted a 3:31 at the end. We were probably running very close to each other for parts of the race! Congrats on the race again and the wonderful write-up 🙂

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