It’s official. That’s a 10:35/mile average; I only ran 1 mile slower than 11:00. It’s also a mere 13 seconds slower than last year. It’s the slowest of my 4 half marathons, but I’m still pretty dang happy. My official splits were:
10k – 1:05:34 – 10:33/mile to that point
9 Mile – 1:34:48 – 10:32/mile to that point
Finish – 2:18:46 – 10:35/mile total average
I have found that in long races, even including my one marathon to an extent, I am nothing if not consistent. Today my splits were a bit wonky (I’d speed up, then force myself to slow down knowing I couldn’t maintain it to the end, then unconsciously speed up again) but my overall average was very, very steady. From mile 1 to the end, the Garmin never read anything beyond 10:28 – 10:35 average pace.
The race really started last night, when Jose and I went over to Liz’s new place for dinner with her, James, Chrissy, and Bing. We ate a lot of spaghetti, chatted, and played a couple games before it got “late” (by late I mean about 9:00) and I started thinking about bed. It was great to see all of them (including Liz and Bing, who live in Houston, so you’d think I’d see more often, but no). Chrissy, by the way, rocked her marathon debut today in 4:05. Congrats Chrissy!
The list of all the people I saw and cheered for, and the people who cheered for me, is long and I’m sure I’ll forget someone. Yesterday while Jose and I were browsing a Rice Village music store (we took advantage of “being in town” to do some shopping), Barbara called with the news that she was staying at the same hotel. Perfect — I had someone to walk over to GRB with this morning! When we got there, we immediately saw Jessica. I looked for June and Vic at Jessica’s tip that they were “over by that column” but I never found them. After dropping off my bag, I didn’t have anything to do until the race start so I just started wandering around. I saw Joe near the club tents and a coworker near the USA running club area. Dalton came up to me to say hi and chat about the help he’s given me with the HARRA website run-o-matic. Finally I came across Ron and Buzz, and joined with them to walk to the start line.
The cannon sounded and we were off! Last year’s gorgeous sunrise was not to be repeated — the skies were gray, gray and more gray. The first half of the race was pretty uneventful. I saw some friends at various stages along the course as they passed me — Keith, Cassie, Barbara, Dalton — and enjoyed just being with the masses of runners. I had my Shuffle, but never even put the headphones in my ears. I always just end up listening to everyone else.
I was afraid that I had started out too fast, and tried to slow myself down at various points. By the turnaround, I was starting to get pretty tired, but noticing that the 15K and 10-mile markers were reversed got me fired up again (come ON, how hard is it to get that right? The number was painted in orange spray paint on the street! When I pointed this out to the girl who was saying “this mile 10 marker is short” she seemed oblivious to the huge “15K” painted at her feet). That got me fuming a little — mile 10 was actually 9.3, and 15K was actually 10. Fortunately I had noticed this during mile 8 as I went the other direction, so I knew where to hit my watch.
As a side note, I have to say that I’m unimpressed with the Half this year — whether it’s Aramco or the organizing committee, I’m not sure. But both the t-shirt and the medal were the exact same as last year, just with “2007” instead of “2006.” Oh, and the shirt was white, not gray. Is it too much to ask that they be a little more creative with the schwag? The finisher’s shirt was nicer this year though, and fits better, so I’ll give them that.
Somewhere past mile 8, I saw Nick standing on the other side of the road. “Wait there, I’ll be right back!” I called, and I reached him about 5 minutes later after hitting the turnaround. I walked with him for a minute or so to chat and thank him for coming out to cheer for me — he was all alone, which is pretty unusual for Nick. Thanks for supporting me Nick!
As I turned onto Allen Parkway at mile 11, I couldn’t decide whether it was good or bad that you couldn’t see downtown through all the fog and mist. I was tired enough that it was probably good — if I’d seen the buildings, they would have looked too far away!
The eventual marathon winner passed me a bit before I hit 12 miles; he swooshed past on the other side of the road and made all of us half marathoners look like were we standing still. He had a huge lead on the next guy too. Amazing.
At mile 12 I picked up the pace because I knew that I was nearing the end, but really more because I knew that Jose would be just up ahead! I spotted him easily, since he was wearing my bright blue raincoat. I walked with him for a minute and after getting a good luck smooch, I was off for the finish.
I looked at my watch at this point and realized that if I really hoofed it, I might be able to beat last year’s time of 2:18:33. I picked up the pace a bit more, but made sure not to go all out since I know from experience that the finish line — which looks oh-so-close when you make the final turn onto Rusk — is still more than a half mile away. By mile 13, I knew I’d be close (my watch said 2:18 and I couldn’t see the seconds) so I took off as fast as I could for the last tenth of a mile. As I said, I missed last year’s time by 13 seconds — oh well, I’ll live!
After the race I met Jose, walked back to the hotel, and took a much-needed shower. After a stop at Starbucks, we made it back out to the course around 25.5 miles to cheer for the 5:00+ marathoners. I saw Jill, Jon and Waverly (running her dad in), and finally the person I was really back out there for — July! I mean, June! 😉 She looked awesome, and I was so happy to see her and know that she was going to finish her first marathon. We waited until after 1:00, when the policemen came by to start reopening the course, hoping to see Vic. I had signed up to track him but never got a 30K update; I worried that something had happened to him. We had to leave because Jose was scheduled to go flying at 3 (which didn’t happen due to the weather), and I didn’t find out until later that Vic DID finish his first marathon. So, big congrats to both June and Vic.
Mile 1 – 10:47
Mile 2 – 10:39
Mile 3 – 10:15
Mile 4 – 10:41 (yelled hi to Erin at the mile marker; she was calling times)
Mile 5 – 10:17
Mile 6 – 10:29
Mile 7 – 10:41
Mile 8 – 10:14
Mile 9 – 10:41
Mile 10 – 11:11 (walked a bit with Nick)
Mile 11 – 10:46
Mile 12 – 10:48
Mile 13 – 10:16 (walked a bit with Jose)
Last 0.1 – 0:54
This year’s performance once again begs the question — what would happen if I started quality training in September! This year, just like last year, my training was pretty half-assed until I realized that I had to crack down or pull out of the race. If I can pull off a 2:19 with only 6 weeks of hard-core training, I know I could do much better with more consistent ramp-up. Yep, I’m an idiot sometimes.
There’s no rest for me though — next stop: Half Ironman! On April 1st I hope to be posting about how I am a Half Ironman. Training starts tomorrow (yes, tomorrow) with a swim workout.