Monday, January 31, 2011

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.


TX Runner Mom said...

Great job June! I must have passed Clyde at some point, but totally missed it. I think I was more concerned finishing so my blister would stop hurting! That par-tay looked fun!

saroy said...

Nice job June!

The crowds were INSANE this year. Worst I've ever experienced. I've got to either get faster to get into the green wave or push my way to the front of the black wave because it was AWFUL where I was. I even got stuck behind a pace group once because they stopped en masse -- yes like 30 people -- for a walk break and were spread across the entire road. SO frustrating.

I also liked the new finish line.

Junie B said...

sarah: its the same amount of people, only i think its because so many now are run/walkers, walkers or just clueless to how this all is supposed to 'work'. Had i gotten into my wave sooner than when the damn gun was going off, i would have been in a better position.

Charlotte said...

Congrats! Looks like you had a blast!!