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!
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.
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. 🙂
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!