Monday, January 19, 2009

Finish Line...26.2

Houston Marathon 2009....what a day...

Temperature was mid 60s before 6am with pretty high humidity - it is Houston you know - and it warmed up into the mid 70s. Pretty hot for me to be pounding concrete for 5.5 hours...well, 5:28 to be exact...

I woke up about 3:30, laid around until 4:45 or so and then finally got up to get the day started. A bagel, peanut butter and a gel started the day. The gel was apple cinnamon - my favorite, it tastes like apple pie - thanks, Hammer. We left the hotel about 5:45, Taylour ready to run the 1/2 and Mark, Ray and I ready (??) to run the full marathon....a first for all of us. As an aside here, the three of us talked at dinner on Saturday night, I asked if they were nervous, they both said yes and asked if I was, I said, "no not nervous, I am SCARED". We walked outside and quickly realized we would not need long sleeves or jackets or stocking caps or gloves, even standing around before the start...it was plenty warm.

National anthem, prayer, wheelchair start, elite start and then....SHOWTIME! Off we go - Mark and I started together but got separated within a couple of minutes - they did not really corral the start - it was one elite wave and then the rest. The first few miles were congested and difficult to get into a regular rhythm but the feeling of getting off to a cruising start was very good. My heart rate was low and under control...after the pre-race heart pounding acceleration prior to the start...once we got moving it settled down. The crowd was amazing - there were spectators ALL along the course - they spread out a little after the half runners turned back toward town - that was about mile 8 or 9 - I had been watching the returning 1/2 runners for Taylour but hadn't seen her - so when I got to the edge of the turnaround, I looked back and yelled Go Taylour as loud as I could - another runner asked me if I saw who I was yelling at - I replied no, but I know she was out there somewhere, either I missed her or she was still on her way to the turnaround but I was supporting her. The I realized I still had 18 or so miles to go...bummer, dude - that's a long way. There were bands along the way including a Blues Brothers act that was great, a spectator dressed up like Winnie the Pooh - he was old - that was a little disturbing...smile. There was also a banana (there is always a running banana, right?), Elvis impersonators, a freakin' HUGE Saint Bernard, an Old English Bulldog, a Minister blessing runners with Holy Water, two different bagpipers and a LOT of concrete.

The course was basically MinuteMaid Park start, go a little north, then west to Rice University, then through West University to the Galleria, along the Post Oak/Galleria area (can't believe they closed those roads), down through Tanglewood, and then through Memorial Park back to downtown.

I felt really good at the halfway point considering my hips had been giving me trouble since mile 3 or so, they were tightening up...seems to be an issue where the gluteous maximus attaches with the gluteous minimus....likely that I have too much gluteous maximus. I was running under a 12 minute pace at that time and felt pretty good about that. My pre-race goal was just to finish, but we all know that is crap, we try to come up with some estimate. I was hoping for 5:15 but would be pleased under 5:30. I am not a fast runner...at all. I hooked up with the 5:15 pace group about mile 18, I had actually been in front of them but was starting to fade. The miles from about 15 to about 18 seemed to go on FOREVER...I still felt good and the attitude was strong but I was slowing. When the pace group caught up, I decided to run with them for a while. They were doing a 5/1 run/walk strategy and they were great. Rick was one of the leaders, it was his 70th marathon...I told him at the end of the day, we would have 71 between us. He made sure I knew not to stress about time, just to finish. I carried the balloons on a stick (2 x 4-5 inch balloons on a 1/4 inch dowel) for about 5 minutes and thought I was carrying a bridge column...that thing was heavy...LOL! and it wasn't aero either. I got rid of it as soon as someone else said they would carry it....thanks, Julie (I think that was your name - if not, I apologize for forgetting).

Then the muscle behind my left knee began to assert itself. It had been nagging at me for a few miles but at about mile 20 it was not to be denied. It knotted up like a monkey's fist knot. It hurt if I walked, it hurt if I ran, it hurt if I stopped for a few seconds to rub it. I thought beer was about the only cure so the faster I got to beer the better, so I ran as much as I could. The grind through Memorial Park was beautiful, with great spectators who were shouting encouragement all the way but it was a grind. About mile 23, I cruised into a "Try our water" aid station and looked up to see Mark about 20 yards in front of me....so it looked like I would have a Partner In Pain (at least for a little while). We continuously did the math to try to make the 5:30 number. Running when we could, walking when we had to...and then there was BEER - like an oasis in the desert....over to the left....spectators handing out small cups of BEER...the elixir of all things....

Shortly after the beer, we spotted Mark's wife by the side of the road, it was not an alcohol induced hallucination, it really was Patty so she started walking with us and I had to run or my hips were going to lock up - about 10-15 stride up, Mark yells for me to wait, he had been getting cold so he was going to run too. We ran a while and looked over on the sidewalk to see Patty even with us...she had easily kept up as we ran. She came back onto the road with us and from there on she ran when we ran until we got almost to the finish line. We were running a block, walking a block at the end, unless there was a camera of course, in which case we ran for sure. I saw Debbie and Taylour right before the finish line so that was cool too. Crossing that line with Mark was really a special moment. We have done a lot of this endurance training "together" with him in Ft Worth and me in San Antonio so it was neat to cross the line together (Ray "The Rabbit" had finished earlier and was laying on the floor of the convention center relaxing at this time).

I really believe "it takes a village" to accomplish something like this....Thanks go to my wife for her support and understanding of long runs and painful legs, to my daughter who never laughed at "the old man" when he was going to do a triathlon or marathon - and congratulations to her on finishing her first half marathon during her senior year in college. She is quite an inspiration to me to have the discipline to train for an endurance event while in college..... Taylour, You Rock! To all the volunteers, there's no race without you - thank you for giving your time. Many of you gave a whole day and while I couldn't thank all of you, I did try to thank as many as possible. Spectators - WOW...whole neighborhoods were out in their front yards (maybe because they couldn't get their car out, but I am going with the idea they wanted to see me....smile). You all were great. If you yelled, "go Bryan" and I didn't acknowledge it, please forgive me...there were moments when I was in my own little cocoon of shock and awe...a pain cave if you will, and I just may have missed it, but you all took me on your shoulders and helped get me through 26.2 miles....actually 26.36 according to Garmin...but I got the medal....and some more beer.

What a day....I have already been asked, "will you do another?" - I don't know about a stand alone marathon, I know I will do another 26.2 at Ironman Arizona in November but that is for another day....today, it's about recovery.

Thanks again for coming along on this ride....

See you at the finish line.

3 comments:

Brian said...

Very neat that the Garmin was so close to being accurate. Or was it that the course was that much off!?!? Hmmm. Nice race report. It is so hard to get moving in the morning...sooooo....very hard. I ran the Austin marathon in 1989. Love ANY event in Texas.

left.right.repeat said...

Brian - thanks for the comment....I actually think it was probably a little long on the course measure and there is always some discrepancy I understand due to who measures and the line they use...I guess I was weaving from side to side of the street for some time....

MHarks said...

So in reality, YOU ran an ULTRA marathon, i mean if you want to get technical