It was a fine day for running, this much is certain. Starting temperatures were in the chilly mid-40s, and the wind was strong enough that it chased me back upstairs to my hotel room at the Hilton to change from a short sleeve shirt into a long sleeve top. I regretted that towards the end of the race when the sun was up in the gorgeous blue sky and the temperature had risen into the 50s, but I never got too hot, so it was ok. We couldn’t have asked for much better weather.
I couldn’t have asked for a much better time either. Final chip time was 2:24:49, which was within 2 seconds of my Garmin (though the GPS went wacko once I got downtown amidst the skyscrapers and though it had been accurate much of the way, the final reading was 13.7 miles). That’s 11:02/mile pace which I’m pleased with. On my best day I thought I could average a flat 11:00 per mile, so I came pretty dang close. I was actually looking to finish at more like 10:50/mile until around mile 10 where I really slowed down. Basically, I had a fantastic 8 mile race followed by a sluggish 5 mile press to the finish. And after my inconsistent training, I couldn’t have expected anything more.
It was one of the calmer marathon/half marathon mornings I’ve had. Since I’d already made a reservation at the Hilton back when I was planning to do the marathon, I decided to keep it. It’s just so nice to get to sleep in a bit more before the race and then have a room to return to afterwards. I didn’t have to check out until 2:00, so I just lounged around and took a nap in the big comfy bed after I was done running.
I got up at 5:20, ate a bowl of oatmeal, and got dressed for the race. I originally put on a short sleeve tech tee and another long sleeve tech tee that I bought for $9.99 at the expo. I planned to toss it after the first few miles. I headed downstairs to the convention center to meet some of my coworkers at 6 a.m. for a photo. After that, I just went straight back to the room. No port-o-potties for me, I had my own private bathroom! Awesome! It was also then that I took off the short sleeve tech tee and put on a single long sleeve tee (the white one from the USA 10-Miler last year). I lounged around for a while longer with Jose and finally headed back downstairs at 6:45.
As I left the lobby I ran into Joy from my triathlon group, so we walked the few blocks to the start line together. When we got there, I started to work my way up towards the front, not wanting to start at the very back of the second wave behind what I assumed would be a large group of walkers. I weaved to and fro through the crowd, looking for anyone else I knew. Suddenly, I found myself at the front of the black wave right as the cannon went off to start the first wave. I hadn’t intended to be on the front line, but there I was, looking at empty street in front of me. Not sure what else to do, I shrugged my shoulders and went with the flow. There was an older woman next to me with a balloon tied to her shirt, so I figured any requirement for “seriousness” on the front line went out the window with the balloon. So that’s why, if you see any pictures of the second wave start of the half marathon, you’ll see me front and center. It’s the first time I’ve ever been on the front line — and it will be the last! Why?
Mile 1 – 10:10
That’s why. I went out WAY too fast. Mile 1 was my fastest mile of the day. How many times do I need to go out too fast to realize it’s a dumb idea? One more, apparently. On the plus side, being at the front of the wave meant that the first two miles weren’t congested, a stark contrast to previous years.
I don’t have the rest of my splits at the moment so I’ll have to update this entry later, but as I said, it was really an 8-miler followed by a 5-miler for me. The first 8 miles were all sub-11:00 (except for one that may have been 11:02 or something). The last 5 miles were all well over 11:00, and mile 12 was 12 minutes and change. I basically just wore out towards the end. Yeah, I could have taken it easier at the start, but I think I would’ve died in the last few miles no matter what.
All in all, it was another fun year at the Houston Marathon and Half Marathon and I look forward to doing it again next year. I noticed while looking for results that registration has already opened for the 2009 race. I guess they’re not waiting until June anymore. I’m not sure how I feel about registration opening so early — especially since it sold out so quickly this year. I don’t want to have to sign up for a January race in April.
Oh — one more thing! While the medal was still basically the same as the past two years, I must give credit to the half marathon this year for the t-shirts and finisher’s shirts. After two years of the exact same t-shirt, I expected to get a third carbon copy this year, but they changed the shirt — for the better. And the finisher’s shirt is absolutely awesome. I love the color (light blue), the design, and the sizing (women’s specific size and cut). Kudos to this year’s Half Marathon for that!