Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Second Half Marathon; Aramco Houston Half Marathon - Jan 17, 2010

On Sunday, January 17, 2010 I completed my second half marathon.

This year was a little different than in years past as I didn't participate in the local running group, Pearland Fit. I wish I had, I missed out on the experience of running and making friends. Plus the extra training time and motivation. Reason was our wedding, of course, which kept us out of Texas for the entire month of October. I was insistent on running it, though, knowing I wouldn't be as prepared in years past.

Two and a half years ago, Debbie and I decided we'd train for our first half marathon. I have always loved running, even post-knee surgery in 2002. In years since I've listened to the doctors encourage me to switch to biking or something...but for me, I just love running, so the thought of running a half marathon alongside Debbie was exciting. In early 2008 we completed our first...the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. Our time was around 2 hours 35 minutes. I remember that race because around mile 12 I looked over to Debbie and said, "I could totally run a full marathon." I would get flagged by Google sharing what her response to me was. I was determined. (That's us back in 2008 after we ran it together...)

Later that summer, we both joined Pearland Fit again...I was in it for the full, Debbie was back for the half. This time around, though...it didn't go as smoothly as in years past. Training for a half marathon and a full marathon take a lot of dedication and effort. That summer and fall I was playing softball every week, hitting the golf course often, and working out a ton. It was only a matter of time that with all the activities I was bound to hurt myself. One softball game put a thorn in my tire, when I tore my quad muscle. It was then I had to catch up to my training and found myself developing plantar fasciitis, which derailed me altogether. I bowed out of the race...

So...I decided I was not going to even try for the full this time out...I'd go for another half marathon. Granted I'd have to work my training around the wedding planning, the wedding, honeymoon...and then the crapfest that developed (which I don't feel like going into...). I had a lot of obstacles this year, but I wasn't going to let them be my excuses. To race day...I wasn't as anxious this time around...I definitely was thinking "avoid injury, finish fast, leave it all out on the course!"

Immediately following the gunshot I screwed up. I double pressed the "start" button on my Garmin, which meant I didn't start my watch. It is a runners best friend, as a GPS-based watch it shows you your pace which is a great tool. Around 1/4 mile in I was checking my pace and realize the time was stuck at 1 second! Well, I started it and continued on my race.

Miles 1 through 4 were great. My legs felt great, my knee was still keeping quiet, and I enjoyed every second. The thousands of people that come out to support their friends, family, strangers, and fellow Houstonians were out in force. The signs of inspiration helped, the cheering and yelling felt like they were all cheering for me, and it was great. The next 5 miles or so I did well, but slowed my pace slightly. Running along Studemont and Montrose there were just loads of people on both sides going crazy. I just loved all the people there...I remember it from 2008, but this time I was on my own and needed that extra bit of support. Debbie and I were there pushing each other then.

Miles 10 and 11 were probably my hardest...my knee woke up some (but never was beyond bearable), my ankles were starting to feel the uneven roads, my hips were starting to say hello...I definitely felt it. But my breathing was great...which I swear is the key to running long distance. As long as it's under control, you can go as long as your body will take you. Mile 12 I had a good laugh. I thought back to 2008 when I made those "marathon" comments...this time I laughed and said to myself, "pshh...I'm quite satisfied with a half marathon!"

Just short of mile 13 I had to pick my head up and be on the lookout for my supportive wife. I didn't want to pick my head up, I was just ready to be finished! But I picked up my head and saw her. She saw me and started jumping up and down!! It was the perfect culmination of all the thousands of cheering people I'd seen along the previous 13 miles...it gave me that last boost of energy. I smiled, waved, and charged forward (not seen in the pic, though). The last 1/4 mile was definitely great. I weaved in and out of a few people...as if it made much of a difference in the final standings! At 13.1 miles, I raised my arms and crossed the finish! I finished right on target with my goal, in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 16 seconds. Just a touch over 10 minutes/mile...I was more than satisfied!

(started in second wave, 10 mins, 9 secs after first gunshot, which is why there's a discrepancy in the clock time)

It was a great day and a great event. I'm sure there's more half marathons in my future, but for now I'm satisfied...

(Man, do I look exhausted or what?!)

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