This past weekend I ran in the Houston Half Marathon. I was signed up for the 10k last year, but the race was called due to Tropical Storm Patricia that dumped massive amounts of rain on Houston. The organizers had offered a nice discount code to everyone that was registered for last years race.
Race day eve found me resting for most of the day, I was still exhausted from my minor surgery and the antibiotics. I had my usual salad for lunch and made a pasta bake for dinner. I got to bed reasonably early, only to have heartburn once I laid down.
Race day morning came pretty early! I woke up at 3:15 for my pre-race breakfast of a piece of toast with almond butter and half a banana along with a cup of warm water with lemon. I showered, got dressed and was on the road by 5am with a cup of yerba mate for some wake-up energy. I jammed out to Green Day on my commute to downtown Houston.
It was a balmy 70 degrees with 94% humidity and lots of fog when I got to the race location… I was really hoping for cooler weather. I used the port-a-cans in the dark, walked around and essentially waited for the race to start. The hubs called and wished me luck (yes, he is still at the deer lease). I headed to the port-a-cans one last time and headed to the starting line.
At the start it was crowded, still dark and foggy! There were about 4,000 people running the race. I lined up near the 2:10 pacers. The Star Spangled Banner was sung, and we were off shortly after and on time.
The race course started near Sam Houston Park, went through downtown for a couple miles, then headed out to Allen Parkway, on to Memorial Drive, through Memorial Park and back to Sam Houston Park. It was a relatively flat course, except for the underpasses. There were water stops at about every 2 miles (it seemed to me that they were more frequent). They were well manned and well stocked with Gatorade Endurance and water.
I started out at what seemed like a comfortable pace for me, I was a little surprised when my watched beeped at the 1 mile split and my pace was 9:34! Whoops, so much for a negative split race. At that point I felt good … the pace felt comfortable … I was enjoying listening to the Hamilton Soundtrack … and the miles were seriously flying by. I slowed down at each aid station for a couple sips of water. At some point during mile 6 my hip started aching! I opted to keep running and dig deep until the next water station where I would walk through it, take some Advil and start up again.
After my walk break, my hip immediately felt so much better… it still ached, but at a level that I could ignore. Weird, maybe I had adjusted my form a bit after the walk break. I kept going and maintained a comfortable pace for me. As the miles went on, I noticed I was slipping into the 10’s and I was ok with that. The fog didn’t lift during the entire race, but the miles seemed to fly by. During mile 11, my hip started aching again… so I took another walking break. But once I got to the final mile, I tried increasing my pace and made sure to kick it in for a strong finish.
I finished at 2:11:25 and managed to keep up a 10:00 average mile pace, my splits were all over the place (9:34/10:13/9:37/9:59/9:56/9:37/10:23/10:11/10:09/10:11/10:11/10:20/9:57).
After getting my medal, picking my bag from the bag drop, changing into my Oofos, and drinking my recovery drink, I headed over to enjoy the after party.
It was fun with beer from Karbach brewery (including my new favorite Octoberfest) and tacos! I was pleased that they had black bean and rice tacos. I even ran into a couple friends from InstaGram @jenheartshouston and @run_pattie_run (blogger fail – I neglected to get a picture), it was very nice to meet them in person! There was a band rocking the tunes (A Sure Thing)… it was a very festive after party.
After I found my car in the parking garage, I was pleasantly surprised to have FREE parking (thank you Smith Street Garage)! I made my way home… jamming out to Green Day again (have I mentioned how much I like their new album, Revolution Radio?). I wasn’t really hungry, so I foam rolled, took a shower and decided to rest my eyes for a bit… I woke up over 3 hours later! I opted to order Indian Food delivery for my reward meal – Aloo Gobi Masala, Garlic Naan, and my favorite Indian dessert Rasmalia – needless to say, I scarfed it down.
Bottom line – the Houston Half Marathon is a great race! It is very well organized… packet pick-up is a breeze… great updates on social media. I seriously was amazed with how many volunteers were at each water stop. I would definitely do this one again, and recommend it to anyone looking for a fall half in the Houston area.
Like I usually do, I made some goals for this race… here’s how I fared against them:
- Start out slow… run a reverse split race – this didn’t happen, not even close.
- Be confident, trust in training – I felt confident, even after miles 6 and 11.
- Time goals … I have an A, B, and C goal. C goal – 2:11; B goal – 2:09, A goal – 2:07– while I didn’t meet my A or B goal, I did meet my C goal, which was still my fastest half this year.
- Execute on fueling and hydration strategy used during training runs – nailed it.
- Have fun! – definitely met this one.