The day didn’t start out quite like I expected. I was supposed to pick up my training partner, Meycy at her house at 5 AM, at 4:55 my eyes shot open and I looked at my watch. I bolted out of bed and didn’t even have time to wonder why the alarm I set didn’t wake me up.
I brewed a pot of coffee, threw on my running clothes (which I had thankfully laid out the night before) and by 5:07, I was sitting in her driveway.
We were parked by 6 AM. Even though we got there an hour early by the time I’d pumped and we’d waited in line for the restroom we barely made it to our corral before the horn went off. It made for a very frantic morning.
Official Time – 4:16.33/9:42
A PR BY 20 MINUTES!
Age Group Results: 19/96
Gender Results: 110/513
Total Rank: 393/1230
The Race Summary
Miles 1-4, were a planned warm up. Meycy and I stayed together as we bobbed and weaved our way through the crowd. Sometime around mile 4, she stopped to do something to her phone and I lost her. I didn’t see her again until the finish.
Mile 1 – 9:45
Mile 2 – 9:24
Mile 3 – 9:54
Mile 4 – 9:29
After I lost Meycy, I plugged in my headphones and started to focus on the task at hand.
Mile 5 – 9:18
Mile 6 – 9:18
10k Split – 59:40.08
Mile 7 – 9:02
Mile 8 – 9:03
Mile 9 – 9:13
Mile 10 – 9:20
Mile 11 – 8:57
Mile 12 – 9:05
Mile 13 – 9:04
13.1 Split – 2:02.55
The first half of the race was uneventful. By the halfway mark I felt great. My legs were loose and my energy was high. I didn’t realize how hilly The Woodlands is; I swear we climbed a mountain (by Houston standards) at mile 10! I called my husband halfway and told him I was running a relatively easy 9 minute/mile pace and I’d call him back at mile 20.
Mile 14 – 9:04
Mile 15 – 8:58
Mile 16 – 9:30
Mile 17 – 9:16
Mile 18 – 9:05
Mile 19 – 9:33
Mile 20 – 9:47
Around mile 20 I started to feel fatigued. My legs became heavy and my hips were on fire. I called my husband to inform him my pace had slowed and that my legs were starting to give out.
Mile 21 – 9:52
35k Split – 3:24.98
The sun, which had been nicely hidden behind an overcast sky, suddenly came out and we found ourselves without any shade. The temperature went up from a bearable 70 degrees to a scorching 80 degrees in just a matter of minutes.
Mile 22 – 10:39
Mile 23 – 11:01
I felt like I was barely moving. The only sensation coming from my lower body was pain. I had to actually look down at my feet to make sure I was still running. Whatever little energy I had left was being sucked out by the sun.
The other runners were clearly suffering the same fate. The pace of the entire field slowed; almost as many people were walking as running. Over my headphones I could hear heart rate monitor alarms going off as heart rates maxed out. On the side of the road I saw a woman vomit.
I tried to focus on the music in my ears and just stare ahead. I could hear myself audibly groaning as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other.
Mile 24 – 11:43
Mile 25 – 12:10
I saw a spectator sign that said, “You’re an inspiration,” and I fought back tears. I tried to remind myself that wasting energy by crying wasn’t going to get me to the finish line any faster. Instead I tried to use those emotions to push myself through. Just use it, I kept telling myself. Just use it.
Mile 26 – 10:26
Going around the last corner a volunteer said, “Just 1/4 mile. You can do it!” At that point I couldn’t hold it back any longer. Tears started flowing like a waterfall. I started hyperventilating trying to hold them back but it was no use.
Another volunteer stood in the middle of the finish chute saying, “Smile! You just finished a marathon!”
I did my best to conjure a smile for the camera as I crossed the finish line and just like that, it was over.
I hobbled out of the finish chute and over to the food tent. With a breakfast taco in hand I went over to where I promised Meycy we’d meet up and sat down on the ground and waited.
45 minutes later I saw her limping over toward me. She looked like you’d expect for a woman who’d just finished her first marathon to look, exhausted but elated.
“I hate you,” she said.
I replied, “I know.”
This wasn’t just a marathon. It was an 18 week journey, an adventure. We spent dozens of hours away from our kids and husbands as we pounded the pavement during a brutally cold winter. We were chased by dogs, almost hit by cars and scared out of our skin by a pair of donkeys on a country road in the total darkness of early morning.
It was awesome.
Two days later, I am still sore and exhausted. I’m not exactly sure where to go from here. I plan on taking a full week off to allow my body to heal and then after that I don’t know. I’d love to qualify for the Houston Marathon and I think now I’m in good enough shape to do that in either the 10k (51 mins) or half distance (1:53). But I haven’t made any concrete plans to try.
What I DO know is that some time around Halloween, you’ll find me in the darkness of early morning, running the streets of my neighborhood preparing, yet again, to do something extraordinary…complete marathon #3.