First of all, you guys are FUNNY with all of your comments about how great I look in this post. That was a look of pure determination and hate for what I was doing right then, but thank you for your kind words anyway . I’m not even really sure where to start because the whole thing overwhelms me, but I’ll break into sections and hopefully I’ll tackle everything in the best way possible. Oh and if you’re looking for mile-by-mile breakdowns, you won’t find it here – I have no idea how some of you remember every single mile of a race because I most definitely do not! Be prepared: this is a long recap and I’m going to cover pre-race and race here, and recap post later .
Britt and I met up around 10:15ish on Saturday and drove down to the expo together to pick up packets and shop around a bit. Naturally my point-n-shoot camera is in Sean’s car, so I’ll have to add in those pictures at a later time
After the expo and lunch at Panera, I dropped Britt off, went grocery shopping and did absolutely nothing for the rest of Saturday. It was glorious.
I actually slept pretty well the night before the race, considering. I went to bed at 9:30 and only woke up a few times, once to go to the bathroom and once because I was just positive my alarm was about to go off (it wasn’t, I still had a good two hours of sleep). My alarm went off at 3:45am and I popped out of bed pretty quickly. I get up really early for races because I like to take my time in the mornings… I go through the same routine every single morning no matter what, which consists of putting up the dishes from the night before, turning on the coffee, going to the bathroom, cleaning out the cat’s litter box, and then proceeding accordingly. Which, in terms of race morning, meant getting dressed and eating peanut butter + banana toast.
It looked pretty much exactly like this except on toast not a bagel.
After I ate I woke Sean up and then proceeded to freak out because he wasn’t moving as quickly as I wanted him to, which is just rude.
To quell my overactive nerves, we did manage to make it downtown in record time and found free parking immediately. I also managed to fine a sparklingly clean port-a-potty which was a small miracle, and met up with Britt easily. #winning
Since Sean was my personal paparazzi, I have a ton of pictures You can thank him for that one.
We are pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.
The plan was the same as the 30k: to stay together for as long as we could and if one of us was feeling speedy or one of us was feeling slow, no feelings would be hurt and we would go on our own respective paths. If you are planning on running a race with someone I highly recommend going into it with this mentality.
I said my goodbyes to Sean and Britt and I made our way to the start line.
It was awesome out on Sunday morning – we seriously could not have had more perfect weather. I felt great, I was pumped, and everything was going well. We made it off the start line fairly quickly and almost immediately I heard someone call my name. I flung my head around and saw my dad & Sean… my dad waving and Sean out in full paparazzi form, fancy camera in hand, snapping away. Talk about immediate mood booster!
It was pretty congested at first, but I think that’s to be expected in a race that size… Britt and I settled into a comfortably fast pace and we were off! We had one minor mishap right before mile 2 when the half marathoners were running on a street parallel to ours and no one was sure if we were supposed to merge with them or not, but after that got worked out quickly we settled into the groove of running and kept going.
The energy was phenomenal. The first 9 miles passed by in an absolute blur for me – I felt fantastic, I was ridiculously happy, and there was crowd support at every single turn. In fact, the only thing I really concretely remember between miles 1 through 9 is seeing J.J. – Britt’s husband – at mile 4… other than that everything was just flowing by.
At mile 9 I saw Sean and Sean’s dad, both snapping pictures like crazy. I was still incredibly happy at this point in the race, and running fairly nice splits, keeping every mile in the low to mid 8’s.
I hit the half mark at 1:50:27… which, if you remember SA, is a five minute PR for the half marathon. I felt like I was floating on air.
From the half point to mile 16 the miles ticked by in a blur.
And then it happened.
The flowers, the rainbows, the pure joy just halted.
I watched myself fall behind Britt little by little, until she turned around to look for me and I just waved her on. From there, everything fell completely apart.
I hit the wall and I hit the wall hard.
From 16-18 was pure torture. I watched my splits slow down slowly and each step became a battle. At mile 18 I ran into my dad and Sean’s dad, and my dad jogged next to me where this conversation happened:
Dad: How are you feeling?!
Me: I’m DYING.
Dad: Where’s Brittaney?
Me: flings hands forward in the distance
My dad handed me a water bottle, I took a big sip, and he told me to go get ‘em. So I kept on running. And I hated it.
I could’ve cried I was so happy to seem him at that moment.
When I hit the 30k mark something inside of me died a little bit, because I was now a full minute behind my time at the Sugarland 30k. I hit the 30k in 2:28:55.
Somehow I managed to make it to mile 20 and there were huge signs everywhere welcoming runner’s to “The Wall”.
Thanks, been at the wall for 4 miles now and so not amused with this.
I was taking in Clif shots every 4 miles until mile 20. When I got to 20 I only made it through half of one before abandoning it. That was where I stopped being able to take in any fuel. At this point I was struggling so much that I broke the rest of the marathon down into 2 mile increments. I repeated over and over that I could do everything through God who strengthens me, that I had trained for 6 months for this and it was not worth giving up, that I was strong, that I was capable, that I was fast – and none of it made an ounce of difference.
Miles 20-22 felt like an eternity.
From 22 on I started walking the water stations because I couldn’t drink water and run at the same time. At this point it was getting hot and I felt like I was going to throw up.
I seriously considered pulling off to the side and borrowing a cell phone to call Sean.
When I made it to 23 I told myself I only had 3 more miles to go… piece of cake, right? My next though was “that’s only 30 more minutes”, which is a really piss-poor thing to think when you want to be done with something. 30 minutes sounded like the longest amount of time ever and I just wanted to quit.
At some point I acquired a water bottle from some random stranger and every time I took a sip from it I stopped to walk before hobbling along further. I hesitate to call it running because I’m not sure it was.
A year and a half later I made it mile 25 and I almost cried for the second time because I was so happy. All those miles that were slipping by at the beginning of the race? Yeah, they were slow as molasses now. I kept checking my Garmin trying to figure out if I could still finish under 4 hours.
When I hit 25 I realized I was going to break 4 hours. So I did what anyone would do, I sprinted to 25.5 before realizing that sprinting was a really bad idea because I didn’t have it in me to sprint for 1.2 miles. So I slowed down. Again. And six thousand years later I made it to mile 26. This was the most welcome sight in the world:
I can’t even begin to explain to you the determination I felt when I got to mile 26, because it wasn’t until 26 that I realized I was going to make it.
I’ve never wanted to finish something so badly in my entire life.
Which is how this picture came to life:
And that’s when I saw it and heard it: the clock ticking 3:59:xx and the announcer saying that whoever crossed the finish line in the next few seconds would finish under 4 hours from the start time. I was in an all out sprint at that point. I flung myself across the finish line and then promptly fell apart.
I crossed the start line about 10 minutes after the official start.
I finished the Houston Marathon with an official time of 3:51:54.
To be continued.