Aspiration: My aim is to run a marathon or ultra in all states. Recently, I set a second stretch goal to achieve each of these in less than 4 hours. Upon finishing the first circuit, I'll need to go back and 're-do' states that didn't meet the time criteria for goal #2. With hopes of efficiency, I wanted to earn my 34th overall state and 20th sub 4 hour in a single race- the Houston Marathon.
Houston: As a city that grew out rather than up, the downtown area seemed to be a weekend ghost town. Many of the restaurants and shops were Monday through Friday only.
IAH: I was able to get direct flights in/out of this airport from Charlotte. Score!
January: It’s always great to plan a race during this month because it means you train through the 'food holidays'- Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Kara Goucher: my favorite member of our 2012 Olympic marathon team. It was amazing to be a spectator at the Trials on Saturday and see her in the flesh.
Line: Or lack thereof…there were plenty of port-a-potties at the start with little to no lines. Important stuff for a marathoner.
Managed chaos: This was a large race, but it didn’t feel that way. The corrals closed 20 minutes before the beginning of the race at 7 am, which prevented last minute stampedes. Half marathoners went a different direction and merged with full at mile 2, easing first mile bottlenecks.
Nutrition: Fueled by my usual peanut butter and banana sandwich sandwich, I never had any GI issues during the race. I rotated between water and the Gatorade Prime offered on course and eventually used a single Gu.
On course support: Spectators were awesome and had the most creative signs: “Hurry up! The Texans play at noon!”, “Enjoy the moment- this is the best you’ll feel all week”, "Baby, come back to bed!”, “26.2 miles- because 26.3 miles is crazy”, and (my personal favorite) “You are NOT almost there”
Priest: Set up just across from a Catholic Church on course, a Priest splashed holy water on us at one point. Should I assume he was praying for us also?
Quick: The first half flew by. I stayed with the 3:40 pace group and clocked in at 1:49:06 for 13.1 miles.
Tunes: Prior to the start, I made a deal with myself that if I stayed on pace for the first 10 miles, I could use my headphones. It’s been awhile since I’ve ran with music and I enjoyed it.
Usual suspects: I’ve seen these signs over and over, but I still enjoy them: “Don’t Stop (that’s what she said)!”, “Chuck Norris never ran 26.2”, “I’m proud of you, total stranger”, “Nice legs!”, “You’ve got stamina- call me!”