ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
[personal profile] ilanarama
I have been nattering about my injury recovery and training and race goals all over the internet, and the Houston Marathon runner tracking was amazing, with splits every 5K and interactive maps and whatnot, so a race report feels a bit like overkill.  But do I ever let something like that stop me from writing pages and pages?  Of course not.  I am not going to do a mile-by-mile report, but here are a few highlights.  Okay, more than a few.  Photos, too. If you're only looking for the numbers, scroll to the end.

The Start

I slept pretty well the night before the race (although two nights before I had had several pre-race anxiety nightmares that woke me up screaming, to the dismay of my race roomie Dee) but we both woke well before the alarm and decided we might as well head down to the race start early.  I'm glad we did because it gave me time to hit the bathrooms, dump my gear, head out to the corrals, stand in a long porta-potty line (where I met Rebecca, an internet friend I hadn't met in person before), and push and shove my way up the "A" corral for three or four miles through more people than I knew existed in the state of Texas. Just as I arrived more or less in the vicinity of the big black "8:00 pace" sign, the race emcee came on the loudspeaker, telling us we had 10 minutes to the start.

Some preacher who sounded exactly like the classic parody of the Southern fundamentalist preacher gave a prayer, and out of respect for the believers around me I managed to keep a straight face right up until the time he prayed for all Texans to run swiftly enough to get home to catch the football game on television, at which point my giggles were fortunately hidden by the resounding cheers from everyone else. 

And then we were off!  Well, we were walking toward the start line, which was still some distance off, but I was actually running by the time I crossed the line, and to my surprise the crowd got onto pace much more quickly than I expected: my first mile split was 8:09 and my second 7:58. 

The Partner

Greg Maclin had commented in a thread I'd started on the Runners World forums (RWOL) to say he was also running Houston with a similar time goal, and that he'd be dressed in the same hat and shirt he wears in his avatar photo.  Sometime in mile 3 I noticed a bearded guy in a yellow shirt and yellow cap ahead and off to my right, so I moseyed up next to him and checked his bib - yep, it was "GREG".   As we introduced ourselves, another man (Tai) greeted us - he had been following my discussion about Houston as he has similar PRs to mine, and he ran along with us for quite a while until he decided he wanted to push faster and catch up with his running partner.

Here is a picture from one of the relatively crowded early miles - I have no idea what we are all smiling at but it must have been good.  (BTW I tested this and you should be able to see these photos through the Flickr guest pass thing.  If they are not showing up, someone drop me a comment, okay?)

happy crowd

It was great to run with Greg.  He is more talkative than I normally am in a race, but hey, it made the miles fly by. (In fact, I missed a few mile markers because we were too busy gabbing).  Greg has run Houston before and his sister lives there, so he (and Tai as well) pointed out various landmarks along the course such as Rice University, and Greg's sister snapped this photo of us doing "synchronized running" somewhere in the vicinity of the half mark:

houston greg and me

We both kept an eye on our HR and pace (he has a footpod, I have a GPS) but most of the time it seemed fairly natural to run right around that 8 minute pace.  I will say, though, that as opposed to other marathons I've run (and to the advice I always give) it did NOT seem like crawling, even at the beginning.  I always felt like it took definite effort to keep up the pace, but it was never too much effort.

The Course

Concrete sucks. Also, I completely failed to run good tangents and my total recorded Garmin distance was 26.49.

The Entertainment

Elvises!  Mariachi bands!  Belly dancers!  The Blues Brothers! The priest sprinkling the runners with holy water!  AWESOME. 

The Spectators

It was really quite uplifting to hear all the screaming and cheering, even if very few people tackled my unfamiliar name.  The 3:30 pace group was about 50 feet ahead of Greg and me until about mile 6 or so, when we passed them during a water stop, but often we'd hear "Go 3:30!" from the crowd so we figured they were just behind us.  Lots of great eye contact, lots of waves and cheers.  Near mile 23 or so I was a little behind another woman as we went under an overpass, and she waved and got a cheer in response.  I did my arms-in-the-air and yelled, "Cheer louder for ME!" and they DID!

The Little Girl

The runner who got the most cheers, as far as I could tell, was this tiny little blonde girl who was running near Greg and me until perhaps mile 16, when we passed her for good.  She wore a singlet that exposed her shoulders, which had wings drawn on them with marker, and "3:30" written across her back, and she looked incredibly focused and steady.  I looked her results up this morning:  her name is Kaytlynn, she is 11 years old, and she finished in 3:45 after fading hard at the end.  (Her results are no longer available on the marathon site; I think she must have been DQ'ed as the website states that participants must be at least 12 years old on race day.) I also looked her up on Athlinks - she runs or does a triathlon nearly every weekend, and her 5K PR is 20:39, considerably faster than mine.  Yowza.

Red Flannel Underwear Guy

Sometime between mile 12 and 13 Greg and I passed a man dressed in red flannel longjohns - high neck, long sleeves, long pants, the works. Which I couldn't imagine, because I was getting awfully hot just in shorts and short sleeves. He had a black waistbelt with a little black pocket-thing right in the back, bouncing like a bunny-rabbit cotton tail, and as he ran he shouted a constant Texas-accented stream of, "I'm goin' to BOSTON, people!  I'm goin' to BOSTON!  You people passin' me, you must be real good, 'cause I'm going to BOSTON!"

Making my move

Suddenly it was mile 20, and I wasn't quite sure how I got there.  We'd had some slowish splits (largely due to bad tangents), and our margin of safety had decreased somewhat, which made me antsy. I got separated from Greg at a water stop - we had always regrouped before but I waved to him and called, "I'm going to hunt down people and kill them now," and I took off. (According to the results, in the last 4.5 miles I passed 107 people and 15 passed me, but if they had counted the last 6.2 I bet I passed another 50.) Here I am, bulling my way past people in true Competitive Jerk fashion somewhere on the back half of the race:

competitive jerk

Somehow it hadn't felt like a race before, just a rather fast long run, but now that I was focused on passing people it was different. It really surprised me how much oomph I still had in my legs.  I felt solid, sliding past one person and then the next, and then I looked at my Garmin and holy crap was I really running 7:40 pace?  Oops.

Oops was right.  I thought hey, it's okay, I'm feeling good, and I reeled off two more sub-7:45 miles, but I had a bad feeling about it, and sure enough, my right calf gave a sharp and excruciatingly painful twinge and I had to back off.  Meanwhile, Greg had caught back up with me, with a comment like, "I guess it's a good day to PR for both of us!" but I was only able to keep up with him for perhaps another mile before he pulled away.  Yeah, he was smart, I was stupid.  I am sure I could have cut 60 seconds off my time if I'd just been a little more restrained and not tried to do it all at once!

Suddenly I wasn't feeling all that great. My pace started slipping and a big group of people passed me.  Some guy in a bright green singlet must have picked up my vibes of despair, because he started encouraging me, saying, "come on, stick with me, you can keep up, why don't you go on and pass me," and somehow I managed to get back on pace.  Green Singlet Guy, if you are reading this, THANK YOU.  It really helped.

The Beer Pirates

I had noticed signs around mile 24 saying "Beer ahead!" and sure enough, up ahead on the left was a whole group of people dressed like pirates handing out small cups of beer to the runners.  What the hell, it couldn't hurt - and beer is good carbs, right?  I took some beer from a really cute pirate and it was awesome. Okay, I only took two sips and then dumped it, but I am sure it propelled me across the finish line.  YAY BEER.

Fueling (other than beer)

Both Greg and I did the Geetah Straw thing (carrying a straw which has been cut short - you grab the cup, pinch it around the straw, and drink), and I have to say it totally worked.  At one water stop I decided the straw was probably overkill and I almost inhaled the stupid water, so I went back to the straw system, and had no more problems.  As far as calories, I had three gels with me, and ate two of them.  I also had three small Halloween-size Twizzlers I had picked up at the Expo, and ate them all, but really, I probably downed a total of only ~300 calories overall, which is typical for me in my best marathons.  I am certain my (few) problems at the end were due to over-acceleration rather than under-fueling.

OMG DONE.

Greg beat me by about a minute (and congratulations on YOUR new PR, Greg!) but I caught up to him in the finish area and we got our photo taken:

Finished!

The Social Whirl

I got a hot breakfast in the finish area and finally met a guy I've wanted to meet for ages, a Marathon Maniac I know from RWOL and Facebook who tracked me down by my enthusiastic burbling to random strangers about Colorado races.  Then I picked up my goodies and walked back to my hotel, which had somehow moved much farther away from the start/finish area than it had been that morning.  After a shower, Dee and I walked with some other friends to the Flying Saucer where we drank a lot of beer with other RWOL people and some other friends (including [livejournal.com profile] paulbe, who I've seen now at three races).  I'd met probably 2/3 of the RWOL people at Boston 2010, but it was lovely to put faces to pseudonyms for the others.

I spent quite a bit of time talking (and drinking) with a (non-RWOL) couple from Iceland, Ivar and Johanna, who were in the US to run four marathons in four weeks.  Houston was their second; they had run Mobile last weekend and will run Ocala and Miami.  Ivar (who ran 3:08 and 3:03, yowza!) did his best to convince me to run an ultra in Iceland this summer.  Well, I'm thinking about it.

The Aftermath

Everything hurt that night and I got very little sleep.  I expect the beer was as much to blame as the marathon.  But walking around the airports on my way home wasn't too bad, I caught up on my sleep last night, and today I'm just a little achy.  I really don't feel like going out for a run, though.  (I'm ready for a glass of wine, though!)

The Numbers

Finally, huh?  Okay.  My official chip time was 3:29:13, good for 13th in my AG out of 354, 175th woman out of 2819, 1002nd human out of 7675 finishers.  My time was 1:44:23 at the half, so I'm calling it even splits (+27 sec difference).  This is a personal best for me by almost 7 minutes. There were timing mats every 5K, and I hope those of you playing along at home imagined me sticking my arms in the air and shouting "Whee!" every time I crossed one, because I totally did.

 5K  24:49  8:00
10K  25:05  8:04
15K  24:31  7:54
20K  24:33  7:54
25K  24:49  7:59
30K  25:13  8:07
35K  24:08  7:46 (oops)
40K  25:05  8:04
42.2 11:00  8:03

Overall pace 7:59.  Whew. In conclusion:

Woohoo!
ETA: Larger versions of the "synchronized running" photo (only) is at Flickr, but in order to see the photos on Flickr you need to click through with this "guest pass": http://flickr.com/gp/svwindom/678N8P The others are taken from Brightroom's previews. (I am going to buy a print of that last one, though, despite the stupid ridiculous price, because it makes me smile!)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 12:50 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hey, girl! It was so great to meet and talk with you this weekend! I finally added you to my blog list. :) Excellent race and congrats on the PR. I forgot to mention the holy water in my RR. Hahaha, that was a good one.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 12:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mayberryrunner.blogspot.com
That was me above, Rebecca. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 01:01 am (UTC)
melusina: (Running onefootinfrontoftheother)
From: [personal profile] melusina
I'm so thrilled for you! Sounds like a great race and congrats on your PR!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 01:34 am (UTC)
aerye: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aerye
WIN!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 02:02 am (UTC)
zulu: Martha Jones from Dr. Who (dw - martha)
From: [personal profile] zulu
Hey, I always enjoy your long race reports, so keep 'em coming!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 02:09 am (UTC)
traveller42: (Default)
From: [personal profile] traveller42
Congrats on the new PR!

You are much faster than me. I will be closer to 2:30 in the half.

Great report! I enjoy reading them.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 02:34 am (UTC)
meri_oddities: default - Woman looking out a window (Default)
From: [personal profile] meri_oddities
Wow. Congrats again on the PR. It looks like you had a very good race. Very consistent. I love the last picture.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 02:56 am (UTC)
thalia: Delirium from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic (Default)
From: [personal profile] thalia
Go you!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 06:11 am (UTC)
ext_794226: (Default)
From: [identity profile] smalltownraces.blogspot.com
First, that title is SO catchy. WAY better than "Houston. We have a Porblem."

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 06:29 am (UTC)
ext_794226: (Default)
From: [identity profile] smalltownraces.blogspot.com
obviously I need an editor here. PROBLEM not porblem.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 06:28 am (UTC)
ext_794226: (Default)
From: [identity profile] smalltownraces.blogspot.com
What a race! Sounds like there was plenty to distract a person. How cool that Greg was running the same pace, and that you could meet up with those other folks.
I understand how you felt that the pace at 8 minutes was not as simple as it has been to run MP before. :)

Powered by twizzlers. haha. The guy with the long johns was crazy! And the girl reminds me- I think I heard on a podcast that Brad Hudson ran his first marathon at age 11 or 12..sub 3.

I loved every bit of your report, especially the photos! I think I will steal your approach to the 5k split mats. I need to try to have fun-

Get some rest! You earned it.
PS I'd love to find out how much MP you ran in training. Didn't you used to swear to LSD?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-21 04:05 am (UTC)
ext_794226: (Default)
From: [identity profile] smalltownraces.blogspot.com
About Hudson: Yep. Though he says he couldn't do it now... He says he burned out be going too hard too early. I think this is in his Marathontalk interview. He'll be a guest speaker at Eugene's Expo, BTW- so maybe I'll ask him to verify. :)

Very interesting about the MP. I have never actually trained at MP except for one short short run before each of my two marathons. I will be experimenting with it in the next two phases. Kind of excited about it, but scared too.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 01:26 pm (UTC)
sophinisba: Gwen looking sexy from Merlin season 2 promo pics (arthur awesome by melody_icons)
From: [personal profile] sophinisba
Congratulations, Ilana! This was fun to read and I'm really happy for you!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 01:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zebra363.livejournal.com
Sub-3:30 is so impressive! You've come back so well from your injury.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 05:46 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Outstanding! Congratulations, Ilana.

By the way, are we supposed to be able to click-through on the pictures to view the originals? If so, that's not happening -- at least for me. I get a "private page" error from flickr, even when I'm signed in. FYI.

Eric W.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Yes, I see the smaller versions. Using the guest pass link, there's one that expands to a larger view, but the others seem to be the same size as what's in your post. Ah well, great pictures regardless of the size!

Eric W.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 07:54 pm (UTC)
ell: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ell
WOOT! What a great race, congratulations!
Your running joy is just leaping off the page in this report :D

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 08:39 pm (UTC)
gnomad: Orange stick figures doing triathlon (Triathlon)
From: [personal profile] gnomad
\o/ Wooooot! PR! Way to stick it to the injury!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-20 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] justrunjim.blogspot.com
I enjoy epic RR's and yours did not disappoint. By the way, I read another blog that mentioned the weird prayer. So happy you were able to meet your goal.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-21 09:20 am (UTC)
blnchflr: Running (running)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
You looks so awesome in your race photos :o) !

Congrats on the PR, and thanks for a good read. Love the synchronized running, and aww, Green Singlet Guy <3

Imma have to try that Geetah straw thing!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-22 06:06 pm (UTC)
blnchflr: Running (running)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
Ohh, wait, collapsible - we usually get this kind here, and I don't think you can pinch them without them breaking.

But since I'm not in better shape, I'll be walking the drink stops anyways, so not actually a problem :o)

(It's a neat idea, though.)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-22 05:36 pm (UTC)
revbiscuit: (Default)
From: [personal profile] revbiscuit
Fantastic result! I nearly missed this post, I don't check LJ that often now and when I do it's full of millions of Sherlock posts LOL.

Great to see how well you've come back from injury, well done again! You most certainly deserved the result with all the hard work (and heartbreak) that's gone into finally getting there.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-22 07:13 pm (UTC)
revbiscuit: (Default)
From: [personal profile] revbiscuit
My calf is in rehab at the moment! I'm trying to win my club's championship - and thanks to the times I posted last year I will, if I can manage to get around another half in at least 9m/m and a marathon in less than 4:15 before the end of March!

Unfortunately my calf went around new year and I'm only up to 30 min (fingers crossed with no twinges etc) at the moment. Fortunately it was only a minor sprain, but still.

If recovery works and I can complete the half programmed for 19 Feb without incident I will see if I can get around the marathon at 9:30m/m in March. My longest run is likely to be only 15 miles getting up to it though, so it'll be a good test of how clever an idea this is if nothing else. Lots of ifs.

I've been nursing an achilles problem all through last autumn, which I suspect is what eventually aggravated the calf, so if and after I am done with the championship I'm going to have a proper rest to get my leg sorted out for good. Shame cos I've got a place for London on GFA but I can't see myself using it at this rate. And it's so frustrating that you can't pass it on to anybody else, either.

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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Ilana

March 2017

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My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

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