Monday, January 31, 2011

More Pre-Race Photography

Brenda, myself and Tricia (who were also who I roomed with in  Chicago back in October for the marathon there)

More of us chicks beforehand...Eddie somehow stuck his mug in there

Aramco Houston Half Marathon - Race Report

Well, let's just say that with this one the whole kit and kaboodle of runners that ran either the full marathon, the half marathon or the 5K today won the weather lottery.  Last night the last email I got which was forwarded through our running club prez from the HARRA prez (a friend of mine and fellow BCRR'er) twas not good.  Contingency plans were in place by the race officials which basically included a map where 'covered shelters' along the course were to be used when police and officials would force us off the course if the thunderstorms and lightning occurred as they were expected to.  Then the race officials had on hand, um 10 Metro buses to haul 22000 runners scattered around the city back to the GRB?  OMG.  I was like here's the thing dudes and dudettes, if it starts all that mess, I'd first like to see how you are gonna force a bunch of runners that a lot of them had trained SPECIFICALLY for this ONE race off the course and tell them they either had to wait (up to an hour if need be) and if it went longer, that the race was cancelled...

Anyway, thankfully when my alarm went off at 4:30am I looked outside.  Nothing was wet.  So far so good.  Went to the computer, pulled up and looked at all 8 of the radars ranging from right in the city to a wide range view of about 100 miles out or so.  Looks ok.  Yeah there was rain coming, but all I saw was green.  No yellow and most importantly no red.

I got dressed, toasted 1/2 bagel, sprayed some I Cant Believe Its Not Butter (and honestly I really cant believe its not), checked the radars once or fourteen more times and headed out.  Grabbed a close parking garage for only $5 and walked myself into the GRB.  Still no rain.  Fantastic.  I found about 20 of my closest BCRR friends and we hung out, chatted, checked our bags and walked outside.

Rain.  Bah!

Not to mention I stood around talking too long inside and the walk to the half marathon start was a bit farther away and I had to wade through the Black wave of people and they were being idiots!!!  Let me through!  I'm Green!  I'm Green!  I didnt really realize how little time I had until I got almost to the front of the Black wave and I heard all this commotion and I was like OH SHIT!!  So I started pushing my little self through, jumped up on one of those thingamabobs that lift signs and stuff up and jumped the fence.  My wave was already moving so I had to start running right away.  Not a good sign.  This would prove to aggravate me for a while because um...and here's the thing...people for the love God and all that is holy, LINE UP IN THE WAVE ACCORDING TO YOUR PACE AND DONT FREAKING LIE ABOUT YOUR ESTIMATED FINISH TIME TO GET IN THE EARLIER WAVE.  Before I even hit a damn mile people were walking.  WTF?  Plus since I couldnt start farther up I had to deal with people that probably finished the half marathon in 3 hours (no offense; but you shouldnt be in the wave and running with those of us that want to go faster thank you very much.  If you are over 2-2:05 hours you should be in the 2nd wave, and yes I know my PR is 2:06xx, but when I switched over they placed me in Green and well, I am a lot closer and more capable of a 2 hour half than a 3 hour halfer.  OK, whew...

Anyway, with the rain, and it wasnt a downpour all this did was make the streets slicker than a pimp in LA talking to girl from Podunk, KY straight off the bus.  With all the oil from the cars and such it just wasnt pretty.  With the weaving and trying to keep my footing I could have very easily been more perturbed.  But I wasnt.

Todays goal was not about time (although I did have my cutoff) but more about overcoming the mental distress that I tend to get when race conditions a) are less than ideal (and today with 61deg and 90%+ humidity they were NOT ideal, plus the rain).  2 weeks ago I went through a breakdown of sorts at the USAFit half marathon (although the conditions were worse really (add cold and wind to the rain).  I almost DNF'd that race and today I just wanted to be able to stay focused, and not want to quit.  To not give in.  I knew a week ago that this was not a PR race.  I had not truly prepared for a PR after DWR in December.  Sure I had done the mileage, but I hadnt done any hill work, and my speed work was eh at best.

Anyway, and I havent downloaded the splits from Garmin yet, I was 10ish but mostly sub 10 up until mmm...mile 9.5 or so.  Thats when the rain really started coming down and I actually stopped to put my iPod in a baggie I had stashed and tuck it away in the inside pocket.  I actually was SO focused that a couple of times I completely passed the water stations because I just didnt see them.  Or I would see them at the last minute as I was passing and I just kept going.   I took my only Roctane Gu at around the 10K mark and I took an orange wedge just past mile 11 or so.  And up until mile 7 there are a few relatively steep inclines and twice I think I walked up about half way, or ran up halfway, walk to the top. I only did this when the Garmin was showing my mile pace to be sub 9:40 and I knew I had the extra to spend so to speak.  At this point I was still maaaaybe thinking I would get a 2:10 today.

It was after stopping to do the iPod thing that I started just waning a little bit.  The rain was harder and the roads were slick and that portion of the route, the surface is far from being 'even'.  Its got rock in there somehow like where they filled potholes and just filled it up above the actual street level or something.  So now I was more like 10:20ish, sometimes a bit more or less.  When I had 3 miles to go, I knew that I could run 11's and still make my cut off time (2:15).  This would prove to not be so good because then I had it in my head that I could slow down.  That is sometimes the problem I guess.  But like I said it was all about me keeping it together and not completely giving up due to too much pressure on myself to always have to PR or do this time or that time.

Once I made the turn just past the 11 mile mark onto AP, I noticed a very tall person ahead of me, and when I say tall I mean like TALL.  Someone next to him was saying something and he turned his head and confirmed what I had already figured out.  It was Clyde Drexler!  I looooooooooved Clyde Drexler from when the was part of Phi Slamma Jamma at UofH in the 80's, then he went on to play for Portland Trailblazers before finally landing back here in Houston, where he brought excitement and 2 championship wins for the Houston Rockets in the 90's.   As I passed him I gave his a little tap on the booty, turned around, waved and smiled and went on my merry way.  Not only is he a legend in this town, but someone I had always admired.  That didnt stop me from seriously wanting to make sure he didnt pass me.  He never did and I beat him solidly by over 12 minutes.  :)

What I didnt realize (till that morning) is that they had switched the route for the last mile or so, which honestly I actually loved!  I dont really remember much other than the final turn with about .1 to go and on my iPod what better song to pop up next but Lose Yourself (Eminem).  Perfection.  And then it was over.  My Garmin read 2:13:58 (13.26 miles; thank you people for making me weave so much and miss the tangents) but I am sure its off because I know it stopped ticking when I stopped to do the iPod thing before the turnaround.

Too cute shirt this year!  Love!
You quickly move from the course into the GRB (warm and dry!); got my chocolate milk (yay for CHM this year for having chocolate milk!), got my finisher shirt, got my bag, found a porta potty and changed every stitch of my clothes and even a dry pair of kicks.   A porta potty does not make a good changing room!!!  Kinda cramped in there, but thankfully these arent like the porta pottys you encounter out in the elements.  Nice and clean.

I grabbed a few things (another chocolate milk and a couple of bananas) and headed outside to see if I could see any friends finishing up.  I wandered down Lamar a bit to where there was a big stage that had a DJ pounding out tunes.  Loving the boom boom of the tunes I was jumping up and down, cheering on the runners as they were making their way into Discovery Green.  Here are a few random photos I took.

Half'ers on the right; full'ers to the left of the cones

My friend Cindy who was shooting for 3:30 and got a 3:26 (full marathon)

The rain soaked clothes 'hanging up' to dry
Then after coming home (thankfully I live within about 4 miles), got cleaned up, put some more clean and dry clothes and wandered out to the big BCRR post marathon partaaay over at a friends house!

Where I had some of this:

I had one brewski, there were about 6 different coolers all filled with different kinds of beer all appropriately marked with signs :)

Some out of this world bruschetta
And some fantastic red beans and rice with sausage!

At the end of the day, it was a successful race for me.  I held it together, never lost my focus, met my A and B goals AND a bonus of beating not only a professional athlete (and personal hero) but an Olympic Gold Medal winner in Clyde Drexler.  I love being able to do this hometown world class event and I will keep up my HARRA points by doing a few of the Spring races so that I can snag another entry for January 2012, which will be held the day after the mens and womens OLYMPIC TRIALS here in our fair city!!  So exciting; can't wait!!!

Here are a few more pictures from the party:

Me and my swell buddy Neeraj who was shooting for 3:10 and got a solid 3:08 for a huge PR and a BQ for Boston 2012!!!

Oh and I might have had a bite or two of this:

Tim and I shared a piece of to die for carrot cake!!! 

I swear I have the nicest bunch of friends a girl could ask for!!!!
What a freaking fantastic race weekend!!!  USATF Championship race and then this?  Yeah, I love my life.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pre-Race Inside the GRB with BCRR (running club): We Bleed Purple!

L to R: A few of besties:  Brenda, (me), Tricia and April.  Staying in from the icky rain and high humidity (96%!!!)  And the temps were at 61...why couldnt we have had the weather we had at DWR in December!?!?!?!

Brenda and myself; I'm sure we were talking about something important, like about either boys or clothes :)
Done.  More later.  Junie B = run semi-fast + full belly = Need nap.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

USATF Half Marathon Championship Race - Houston Texas 2011 - Lead Pack Video

Quick video I took when the lead pack was making the first pass by our Elite Fluid Station;  Ryan Hall in the black and white singlet at the back of the pack;  This was just as they would be approaching the 2 mile marker.  I got TONS of pictures but that will have to wait!

They passed our station 3 times; this first time obviously not needing any fluids!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bah! Race Day Forecast Delivered by Marathon Officials

Based on this projected forecast, the Event alert remains GREEN, which suggests ideal temperature range; but the forecast is for a high probability of rain. This will make the roads slippery and also increase the possibility of hypothermia (cold exposure) in the early morning. It is likely that conditions will move to YELLOW by mid morning and possibly even RED by mid day.

There is also a threat of thunder showers. If lightning is in the area, the start may be delayed. Once the race has started, if lightning is in a 10 mile area of the course the race will be stopped and a black flag will be displayed. All runners must move to shelter and will be directed to the nearest overhead shelter by course officials and the Houston Police Department. The race may be restarted under an altered race plan or it may be cancelled and the course cleared. This decision will be made based on the Houston Marathon Committee Cancellation policy and with consideration to the likely conditions for the remainder of the day, including the availability and feasibility of continued road closures for the course.

Chevron/Aramco Houston Marathon and Half Marathon - Expo (In Pictures)

Mile 23 ish of the marathon route (porta potties are up!)

Around mile 24ish; you're on the FLAT homestretch now, you can TASTE downtown Houston!  The rest of the route from here are for the half marathoners as well, just that the full marathoners are on the other side of Allen Parkway; both heading in the same direction; both towards the same goal!  The FINISH line!

You are about a mile away now from the Finish!  Can you smell it!?!?!?

1 mile to go and there is always a big sign hanging there on the overpass and you want to puke on it if you could!

One more block and you turn left on Louisiana, then one more right hand turn and you can see the Finish!!!

George R. Brown Convention Center (home of the Expo)

Another shot of the GRB

I get to see him zoom zoom zoomah zoom past me tomorrow as I am working the USATF championships for the half marathon distance!

My favorite!  Sweaty Bands!


Lukes Locker!!  My other part time j.o.b.  They obviously have a huge presence at the expo; Ryan Hall will be there tomorrow!  I just cant handle going on a Saturday (too crowded!)

My friend Suriaya, working at the 'store' at the expo

I thought this shirt was cute in a I hate you kind of people that yell this from the side of the road kind of way...seriously?  I am NOT almost there when you start yelling it at mile 4, mile 17 or even mile 20.  Shut up!  :)

Yeah good luck runners!  its gonna be a booming thunderstorm soggy wet mess of a race on Sunday!  Why couldnt we have had todays clear blue skies kind of day (cept not 70 deg ok?)  It is beautiful out today...sitting here with the doors open!!

Tiara I got for giving the Disney peeps my contact info for emails about Disney races (thinking of doing the Goofy Challenge Jan 2013 with a friend of mine!)

Stuff.  And by the way I hate that at expos now a LOT of vendors only let you taste their product with no free samples to take home with you!  Bah!

Same stuff; different angle :)  I kept the pamphlets for Disney, Angies Crazy Half marathon and all the RnR races

OK so now I am gonna chill out a bit, then go for a short run here in a bit; one last little run before Sunday.  Now whether or not I actually race on Sunday...that is the question...Will depend on the state of Mother Nature.  :)  I am not going through what I went through 2 weeks ago and this is supposed to be worse.  Hopefully the 'front' will speed its ass up and be out of here by Sunday morning!

USATF Half Marathon Championship - Volunteer Meeting

These pictures are not very good, because of the dim lighting in the room last night for the volunteer training, but eh, I still uploaded them.  This freaking volunteer effort for the USATF Half Marathon Championship race tomorrow is a lot more involved than I thought.  Wow.  Very different than volunteering at a race where mere mortals are 'racing'.  And we have to do a smash up job because basically this is the trial run of the effort and tasks we will have to do next year when Houston is hosting the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials!!!  One of the bigger reasons why I wanted to volunteer for this year so that I am automatic for next year; plus usually the 1/2 marathon championship race (which has been here the past few years) is always on the same day as the marathon, so I've never gotten to see the Elites actually race this race/distance.  Not to mention they get to actually race on the official course of next years Olympic Trials!!!

I would mention that in addition to the Elites, there are a ton of VIP's which really means that this year they let people pay anywhere from $1000 to $1500 for a 'package' deal which got you in to actually run this championship race with the Elites.  Now you start in a later wave obviously and you got entry to this year and next years marathon, Finish line bleacher seats for family, etc., plus you get to run the new course and get all the treatment as if you were a full fledged Elite runner.  I thought the package deals were a cool deal, and if you had cash to drop for something like that, cool.  Of course there was a time limit, be able to do 13.1 in 2.5 hours or less.  Doable for most.  I hope I dont see any of these VIP's walkin' ... that would just be embarrassing if you ask me.

I am truly very excited and hope to get some great pictures at the race tomorrow to share here!

Volunteer shirt; nothing great about it really, but I do like that I now have one!  I think I will keep this one for a while!

Keith Wilhelm in this picture looks like he should be in Black Eye Pea's video with all that light up he's got going on! (which obviously is really just reflective 'tape' on his jacket and cap); Middle dude is from the Chevron Houston Marathon; new guy and his name escapes me.

Powerpoint Presentation begins!

Learners ready to be learned on what is what!

Pony (I wish you could see that big ass rock of a diamond ring she got for 25 years of wedded bliss! It freaking blinded me last night!) and Faithy (and a bit of Jon who just sent the course record at the Big Bend 50K with something like a 3:47!!!  for 31 miles AND on trail and rock!?)  Hes one of Houstons finest and fastest runners!!)

More learners!  There is Jon again along with Chip in the white and oh heck the dude in red, I forget his name right now!

Sample fluid table set up; although in this picture it just looks like a table with some water bottles and a bunch of other crap on it  :O)