Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Aramco Houston Half - Second 1/2

Aramco Houston Half  - Second Half

I’ve written and re-written this post now quite a few times… and am yet to capture my true experience somehow. Here is another rough draft that I hope makes it to the cutting board.

I will fill you in at another time and bored you with the details of what I wore and how everything worked and what didn’t. For now I will just tell you the cut and dry of how this race went down moment by moment. Really it’s only 13.1 miles so it shouldn’t take too long :)

Once we had gathered and gotten ourselves as ready as we could be, we headed out. At some point we decided to go out in corral "D" which was Cindy’s assigned corral, how could we not all start at least in the same corral?? For the past year any race done together was started together, this was no different.

Somehow, yet again, I managed to spot Jim in our corral! He was assigned to corral “C” but because of over crowding had been bumped to "D", of course when he is dressed in orange and is twice my height it’s not that hard to spot him –haha! But when you are talking about 25,000 people what were the odds? I found myself excited to get to see him before such a huge moment in my running lifetime, it would be non-existent if it would not have been for him encouraging me to start! So crossing that start along with the man who started all the craziness seemed quite fitting :)

The gun went off at 7am! Bang! We didn’t move. We didn't get to the start line until about 30 mins later!! There was lot of ~ we’re moving!! No we’re not… we’re moving!! Wait not yet. Okay now we’re moving!! And just like that folks we were off!!

Now I hadn’t really told anyone but I was certain I could run the race at a 12:30 pace but Cindy told me she wanted more of a 12:00 pace and I was wasn't sure I could do that, so I told Cindy we would start at a 12:30 pace and then see if we could pick it up. Within the first mile everything starts to sink in… so many people are out there with you, there are spectators cheering and things are getting a little real at this point. Soon enough team Snowdrop (Jim, his son and few others) passed us, Jim yelled out to us and we said our goodbyes! GOOD LUCK!!!! They had sooooo much farther to go than we did.

Mile 2 and 3 got us out of downtown Houston and into the Montrose outskirts, I used to work close to this area it felt really weird to be running the streets that I’ve driven through so many times! Through most of these first few miles I felt good, Cindy and I had fallen into a good system of staying right next to each other, we would weave in and out and find each other again.  Our pace was good between a 12:00-12:30 pace.

Mile 4-5 were also pretty good, it was a nice part of the route and we run through W. Gray and Shepherd, again I felt like hey I used to buy our office supplies there!! And ooohhhh La Madeleine! Yum! Turning onto San Felipe was nice, people that lived there had come out to their lawns and were cheering us on, we had passed people in costumes, live DJ's, a couple of bands, and the best part was the signs! So many of them made me laugh out loud! It was nice. AND then we hit Kirby. Here our pace started to drag behind the 12:30 pacer. I could tell Cindy might be in pain (her back had gone out just a week before the race!) and I was worried she hadn’t fueled enough before the race.  Thankfully some Kind Bars were being passed out and I turned to tell Cindy to grab a bar, she was already making a beeline for them – good. 

Mile 6-7 were tough, we lost the 12:30 pacer.  I was torn because part of me wanted to stay at our pace but the other part wanted to speed up and find the pacer again. At this point I didn't know where I was with my time, I wasn't sure I could finish at my 2:45 goal. At mile 7 I looked back and Cindy was slightly behind me, so I ran back a little and told her that we were officially more than half way there. We were now running down through a residential area in Rice, lots more people set up with more entertainment some even passing out their own snacks and water (how awesome!?) Just before we hit mile 8, the full marathoners split from our route, no way to find my pacer now, the pacers were for the full marathoners only.

Mile 8-9 here is where I lost Cindy :( I turned to tell her we were at mile 8 and I could not see her!! ah! I knew that around mile 9 my friend Patti would be there to cheer me on. I kept going and I kept looking for her, it was cool to cross over the Montrose bridge over Highway 59. This is a street that I drove down many, many, many times on my way home from work... very cool to be running through these streets. I was starting to worry that maybe Patti had left the side lines... we started 30 mins after the start and I had slowed down, so maybe she had left thinking she had missed me? Just about the time I felt like I wouldn't see her, I heard my name! Now a lot of people call your name when running because they read it off your bib, but I just knew it was her :) I had just passed her so I turned around and went back to give her a sweaty hug!

Mile 10-11 were the worst! I started off feeling great because of Patti, I felt like I was on top of the world! Woo-hoo!! and then I was alone!! It took me a while to figure this out, why did it feel so hard? I'd run for the past few months alone, but this race so far had been fun and I had someone to share it with all a long. I started to do what I've trained to do, I checked my breathing, kept tack of my pace and focused on my music -  a special thank you to Clarissa and Connie who sent me tons of music to fill my MP3 player for the run. I played my own game of guessing which song came from which friend- HA! I wasn't alone! I started trying to keep it closer to 12:00 minute pace. At mile 11 the only time we really had to deal with an incline - yay! Still I pushed through it - I may have picked up a quick cup of beer around mile 11 ;) I couldn't find water!

Mile 12-13.1 whoa! Around this time you are so close to downtown!! I check my time and something clicked, could I make it very close to my goal time. I started to pick it up a little. I started to pick it up a lot. It was very possible that I could make it!! The closer we got the more people started walking, I could not believe it, all this way there was no way I was going to stop now. I checked my watch again and there was only .5 miles to go - So I did. GO! GO! GO! I rounded that corner, spectators were cheering us on and then I spotted my family!! BOOM! It was done. done. done. YAY ME!! 

Official time according to my chip - 2:44:58! Awesome!

So many emotions when you cross that finish line. You get your medal and people are taking your picture you follow the others into the GRB, you get water. You're supposed to take pictures, get your Finisher Shirt and get snacks or breakfast, I went back to where the runners were coming in hoping to see Cindy. After a few minutes I started to think she had somehow gotten past me! I didn't have my phone so I hurried to get my checked bag and grabbed my phone and called Cindy. She answered, she was finished! YAY!! Pain or more pain she had kicked the finish lines butt! We took pictures, I got a double medal for doing both the 5K and the half and then we got our FINISHER shirts!! We went out to the reunion hall and met up with my family - it was awesome :) This race was such an experience, I would recommend it to anyone and everyone who loves hates loves running. I went for my first run on January 12, 2013 - I was hoping to do my first ever 5K and I ended up doing a 1/2 marathon a year later. Just like when I crossed that very first finish line after my first 5K and I thought I could totally do 13.1!!!! I crossed the finish line and thought I could totally do 13.1!!!

Thank you - for reading my blog for following my journey throughout the year. For telling me how proud you are of me and for cheering me on along the way, not just the 13.1 miles but every mile I've run all year round. At times when I felt I couldn't do it any more your encouraging words are what got me through it. Thank you.

Oh and yes, I think I just might take on the full marathon :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Race Report: Aramco Half Marathon First 1/2

Part #1 ~ All the pre-race stuff!

As promised! A race day report for my first ever half marathon!! It’s official I can now slap a 13.1 sticker on my truck! Of course I sorta failed to get one BUT I will and I will do the slapping of said sticker at some point.  I can’t really wrap my head around it quite yet, so I hope that everything I share with you today can really express all of those crazy emotions that runs along side of you during a race like this one.
I’ll start by a quick recap of the days leading up to this weekend. It started with my little one coming down with the flu on Monday and as the great mother that I am, I just knew that I too would get the flu and that my run would totally be ruined for ever and ever! Thankfully that didn’t happen -phew! My little bear bounced back and made things very interesting and little hectic but thankfully she was back to normal by the end of the week. Wednesday I went out for my last non-race run, I did 3.5 miles and I felt really great :) My legs felt strong and full of energy! I think all of those runners who talk about tapering might know a thing or two about conserving race day energy after all!
Finish line before and after the 5K & Discovery Green after 5K

Thursday night I snuck out with my girl-friend Connie for a GNO (girls night out) at the Houston’s First Baptist Church, at first I had been a little hesitant to go on such a crazy week, but in the end it was just what I needed. I was able to relax, laugh and talk without thinking OMG! I have a half marathon to run in 3 days!

By Friday I felt excited more than anything else, I picked up my race packets and went to the Chevron Houston Marathon Expo and I was in runners heaven! I picked up goodies along the way and I had the chance to do some shopping and I even had the opportunity to listen to a great speaker! Which I was hoping to get a chance to do all along. Truth is if you are an elite runner or an ultra runner or basically a runner who has been running longer than me - I’d like to pick your brain. Please and Thank you!

Swag! Races anyone??

Speaker Robert Key, has run several half-marathons, marathons, Tri’s, Ironmans and completed an Ultra just a few weeks ago. I was sure there would be a lot to learn from listening to him!! He touched a few runners points, he reminded us newbies not to try anything crazy before the race - if you have trained all this time you should know what to eat the day before, the morning of and during your race. Don’t throw something crazy into the mix and risk the possibility that something might upset your stomach or slow you down. MORE importantly he spoke about the experience, “The Story” that you carry with you through out your run and not only your story but all of the ones that are lined up with you behind that start line. He gave me a new perspective of what to look out for during the race. He also made me realize that if and when I came out of this half, I knew I would be doing another one.

Hangin' with the guys!! Jim Abney, Kevin Kline & Robert Key.
Saturday - ABB 5K - Yes I did indeed sign up for a 5K race the day before my ½! More than likely because I was crazy at the time :) The night before I slept like a baby, I didn’t feel nervous for the first time, running 3.1 miles didn’t seem like such a daunting idea, of course all my runs in the last couple of months have been 3.5 + miles. The plan was to run and take it easy and enjoy. Of course when I got in my car that morning there was ice on the windshield and it was cold.  Good thing I had everything needed to keep me nice and cozy! Of course cozy only last about a mile in and then you are burning up! I meet Alma at the start line and as in all my races so far, it’s been a huge blessing that I’m not out there alone! Running with Alma, Cindy, Jim, and my family all year long has been awesome, especially when you are there in the middle of hundreds and sometimes thousands! The 5K was fun, I started out slow but somewhere around the halfway point I just ran! I didn’t check my time or my pace :) As soon as I crossed the finish, which by the way is the same one you cross when you do the half or the full (eeek!) I found Alma! By the way (not getting side tracked at all!!) I found it quite interesting how all weekend I found my friends and family although there were thousands of people all around trying to find their friends and family!? SO, after that I got my first ever medal. Tee-hee! Some how out of all the races we’ve done none have awarded you a medal just for finishing. Alma and I got medals after the 10K Monster Mash but we had to go get ours IF there were any left overs from the ones who did the half-marathon - BOO!  Anyways here as soon as you finished someone placed the medal around your neck and said congratulations! Isn’t it funny how a year after I started running I got my first real medal? It was for a 5K that didn’t stress me out and that I never wondered if I was going to make it or what my time would be! I find that to be quite funny :)
After the race, we meet up with Cindy who was there to pick up her packet for the half and my hubby and Hailey met me there so we could do some more looking around at the Expo and I had a chance to sit and listen to Kevin Kline speak too! Yay! He spoke to us about hiking Rim to Rim at the Grand Canyon! What a way to remind you that what we would be taking on the next morning would be no biggie, ha! Just kidding he didn’t make it seem that way at all but it was quite a story. Jose and I plan to one day hike the Grand Canyon, at least thats how we felt after hearing Kevin!!

Saturday night was the best way ever to end the day, I went to Saturday night service at our church. The message was good and I appreciated more than ever that we have Saturday night services, because this way I wouldn’t be missing it the next day. Pastor Tim gathered all runners that would be running the next day after service and he prayed for us! Again, he has run a couple of marathons and if I could pick his brain I would. Instead he offered some of his advice (without having to do any picking) , asked others what advice they would give, made us laugh, and asked us to have fun.
Roger that Pastor Tim!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Don't worry folks...I'm okay!

Really I’m fine… I know I've dropped off the face of the earth again but in my defense it is a crazy time we live in right?? I mean really who on earth would think of training for their first ever half-marathon during the busiest time of the year??? Not I says me…but then again me would be wrong! HA!

It has been a true mess these past 4 weeks, the holidays alone make it so that moms everywhere are busy with Thanksgiving and Christmas and the shopping and family and parties and eating! But trying to keep up with my running has made it even more of a challenge, SO just to be clear and we all understand - I am still running. I've missed a run or two in the process but that’s it. I’m still on board. I've eaten like a cow and for a couple of weeks and I felt almost like I did in the beginning when I would run…sluggish and heavy and exhausted. I understand more than ever that eating sooooooo wrong for even a short time can take a toll on your endurance and overall feeling or well-being.  Yes I know you think I sound like some cheesy commercial or something but really and truly it makes a BIG difference!

So just one week of better eating – mind you not great eating- I’m still at war with some of those wonderful awful habit of eating carbs and sweets. I naturally love me some carbs and sweets – especially chocolate! NOM NOM NOM  I can eat that stuff allllll day long if you let me…. chips and salsa are another yummy treat for me. If you take me to a Mexican Restaurant I will be full before my meal comes – NO JOKE!  SO with all this said I’m on the right track, my running felt MUCH easier this past week and so I’m good.

Of course the half-marathon in only 5 days away… eek! So my last big run was this past Sunday and I ran 11 miles just to be on the safe side!!! Here is a picture and link to the map we will be running… you see there where mile 11 is??!! I can run all of that! From there on it should be a straight shot to the finish!!

Although a wise man said to me once “it ain’t nothin’ but a thang!” I may have a couple of times when my nerves have gotten the best of me…. I try not to think about it too much and I know this, even if I walk across that finish line I will finish. SO here is what they tell you to do” set three goals”  the best case scenario, the simple and understandable scenario and the okay if all you do is finish scenario. Or something along these lines :) So my goals have been set, I would love to finish at 2:45 time frame, if that is not going to happen then a few minutes more will be okay, and of course if I were to get hurt or at some point feel as though I can’t run anymore then I will walk, limp or crawl to the finish. I know that to you crazy runners (ahem no names mentioned here) think this is not a big deal but I guess the bottom line is that it is a big deal to me.  I am going to commit to keeping you posted -  I will write a race report and I am going to keep a journal of the happenings before and after. I promise.

NEW YEAR – NEW ?? I don’t know. I have an idea of what my NEW YEAR RESOLUTION might be but nothing has set off a spark for me I have not had the ah-ha! moment where I know without a shadow of a doubt where I will be headed this year. This past year has been greatness. I have met my goals all year long, for a little while I was disappointed with myself for losing more weight but the truth is simple I’ve packed on the pounds and become addicted to eating habits throughout  my whole life. This past year was the beginning of something that I hope will take me into a whole other lifetime. Way of life, life style change….whatever you want to call. I am happy with what I’ve started and I hope to continue it :)