i know that comparison is the thief of joy and all that and we shouldn't do it and blah blah blah but it's okay if you compare the person you are now with the person you used to be, right? good, because that's where i'm at right now. the houston marathon was sunday and ever since i crossed the finish line i've been thinking a lot about who i was during training, during the race and after the race compared to who i was before, during and after chicago in october 2012. the answer to that? much happier, much healthier and a far better runner. this post is probably going to be filled with lots of rambles so i apologize in advance. i still can't really get my mind around all the thoughts i have about this training cycle/past weekend so bear with me!
i went to the expo on friday during work to check it out quickly (i work about a half a block from the convention center where it was held) but ended up going back with my tex's mom and his brother on saturday to actually spend some time there. tex's bro ran also (and kicked ass!) and it was fun to have some company at the expo. besides my new bff meb who was playing it cool and trying to pretend i wasn't there. he won the half, btw, which is awesome. he is amazing. the expo itself was pretty nice but i love the nike sponsored races because the official gear is far superior than what sketchers was offering. don't get me wrong - i still bought a jacket, but i loved the nike gear from chicago. and my dad's wallet because it meant it was free for me.
i also picked up a package on saturday morning that i wasn't expecting and was super excited to find this special treat from hayley! it was supposed to come monday as a congrats gift but i much preferred it as a good luck gift instead. it's proudly displayed on my mantle next to tex's bobblehead collection.
after the expo, the three of us met up with tex and his dad for carrabba's on saturday night and i had spaghetti with meat sauce for dinner. i wasn't super concerned about my dinner because i haven't ever really had crippling stomach issues during a race but i'm all for the chance to carb-load on pasta. afterwards tex, his bro and i headed back to our apartment to hang out, relax and try to get to sleep early. this didn't really end up working for me because i am always SO nervous that i'll miss my alarm in the morning. i tossed and turned until i got up around 4:15 and had the usual english muffin and peanut butter and some coffee before heading out around 5:30. i also packed another english muffin with some pb for the road because i wasn't sure if i'd get hungry again before the race started and i wanted something on hand in case i did (we crossed the start around 7). i ended up not wanting it and tossing most of it before we started.
huge compliments to houston and the race organizers because the morning of situation was so well planned. the convention center was open so we waited inside until about 6:35 when we headed to our corrals. i went to the bathroom inside but didn't wait in line outside while we were in our corral and i should have. i ended up having to stop at the first port-a-potties on the course because i had to go that badly. i'm not a person who is really worried about 1 or 2 minutes of time spent in the bathroom during a race, especially because i think overall being more comfortable (aka not having to pee so badly you're in pain) more than makes up for that time.
the rest of the race was a blur, as most races are for me. it was incredibly hard - there were a lot of times when i thought i might not be able to finish and my goal time wasn't going to happen. i went out at what i thought was too quick a pace for me and was worried i couldn't maintain it, but looking at my splits afterwards, i was all over the place in the beginning as much as i was at the end so really i need to work on consistency. my 5k splits were super consistent but the miles within them were varying by over a minute which...meh, probably shouldn't happen. whatever. i took energy gels at mile 5, mile 10 and mile 15 and then snagged some pretzels from a spectator (not from his personal stash, i swear he was handing them out to runners) around mile 20. i just couldn't stomach another gel at that point. the pretzels would have been AMAZING if i had eaten them anywhere near a water stop but i didn't and so dry mouth made them sort of hard to handle. either way, the salt was welcome. in the future i need to plan accordingly and have some sort of real food option available for that late in a run because gels just ain't gonna do it.
i saw tex and his parents at mile 9 and then again at mile 24. we sort of planned it that way and i knew i wouldn't see them more than that but man i could have used it around mile 15. though to be honest if i'd seen them then i might have quit so in retrospect, i'm glad i didn't. i started doing mental gymnastics around mile 18 to figure out whether or not i could make my goal and i was pretty sure i could but i also really thought i might have to end up walking. starting around mile 14, i walked the water stops (i got water at every one throughout the course but didn't walk them til about halfway through) which i think was a good call for me. like the bathrooms, it's not worth the time you save if it helps to walk them.
i ended up crossing the finish line and i immediately started crying and called my dad. going into the race, i had a few different goals. worst case scenario, i wanted to finish with minimal walking. done. beyond that, i wanted to beat my chicago time (4:21:15). done. what i really wanted? i was dying to sub-4. i think that's why i was so nervous about this race. i haven't ever run a race and really wanted to hit a time before. i've always thought, "whatever, as long as i finish". with this race, though, i trained so hard. i finally got in touch with my body and figured out healthier eating habits and resting habits that would allow me to run the mileage i was running. i poured hours of sweat and tears (no blood, really, but lots of chafing?) into training for this race so when i finished at 3:55:52 i felt like i was on top of the world.
i don't think i will ever do much better than that time. to be honest, i have no interest at this point. i left everything i had on the course and i could not feel more proud of myself. i know there are people who can run sub-3 hour marathons and good for them. i know that this was the strongest race i could have run. when i look back at it and think about how hard it was, i know that is because i pushed myself to my maximum and that's all i can ask. thank you to all you treats who wished me luck and responded to my completely foul-mouthed celebratory texts afterwards. you all are my heroes and i couldn't have done it without you.