LOVED loved loved this race and the whole weekend spending time with my daughter and her husband and grandkids! I ran the entire 26.37 miles with a smile on my face! My heart was filled with joy and gratitude! I am so proud of my daughter, Larissa, running her very first marathon with an awesome time of 3:53. She has trained hard and smart; getting up super early as a mother of 4 children and working part time. :) :) :) :) :)
Took a Tylenol PM last night and got about 4 hours sleep. Ate a banana with an Aleeve upon waking at 4am. Larissa's friend, Beth, picked us up at 5am. It was raining lightly in Kingwood. The five of us (Beth and Betty running the Half, Whitney, Larissa and I running the Full) got to the start in the Woodlands with an hour to spare. My plan was if my feet hurt after sitting in the car (like they've been doing the last few weeks), I would switch to the Half and run with Beth (and pace her to her goal of 2:15). Don't know if it was the excitement or adrenalin or cold temp (38F that feels like 32), there was zero pain in my feet when I got out of the car. So I decided to stick with the Full.
The staging of the Start (also the Finish) is amazingly organized in a beautiful park in the middle of a cosmopotitan township with the Marriott Hotel and Mall close by. We parked right by the path leading into the Park and found a row of portapotties with no lines. Met up with some of Larissa's friends and took pictures. Then we shed our jackets and drop off our gear bags and went for a second trip to the PoP. By now the lines were long so we headed over to the starting corrals knowing there would be more PoPs. We thought we'd cut diagonally across the park to the start but quickly found out they had everyone staying on the path/sidewalk and walking clockwise around the block to the corrals. By the time we reached corral A where Larissa was seeded, there was no time for her to use the PoP. So I wished her luck and I went to the PoP before entering my corral B. Corral A closed at 6:40 and B closed at 7:00.
I got in the very back of the corral and visited with a first-timer, Matt. His wife and 3 month old baby were standing on the other side of the barricade. We chatted as I did some simple leg swings to warm up. I gave my space-blanket and hand sanitizer to his wife. Soon, the National Anthem was played and the race started. I hung in the very back with the wounded and injuried, the Maniacs and First-timers, the partyers, geezers and geezerettes! :) :) :) Saw a girl with a sign on her back that read: "I have rheumatoid arthritis. This is a BIG step for me." I ran up to her and started to talk with her. Her name is Vanessa from Porta Rico. I recalled the scripture passage that Larissa received from her friend, Allie, the day before and repeated it to Vanessa: "I have fought a good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith." I told her to have faith that God will be with her every step of the way. I encouraged her to catch up to the 6:00 pace group gradually. It took about half a mile to cath up to the 6:00 pace group. I could tell her breathing became a bit labored. I gave her a hug and we bid each other good luck and I left her with Maria who was speaking Spanish to us.
In the next mile or so I passed the 5:45, 5:30, 5:15, 5:00 and 4:45 pace groups. It was cold enough that my feet were numb. Finally warmed up by mile 3 so I tossed the fleece jacket Larissa gave me on the mile 3 marker but kept the gloves (which I was glad as the temp got colder later on with wind and rain). Around mile 5 I came upon a Veteran, a one leg emputee, on wheelchair and a flag and sign that read: "This is in honor of our veterans!" I took his picture from behind and front and jogged alongside him and chatted a bit. I just loved the Texans' warm and kind hospitality. :)
The aid stations were spaced every 1.5 mile apart. I walked and took sips of gatorade at every aid station. I Gu'ed around mile 7, 12, 17, 21. The course was one big loop on concrete road that is lined with trees around the fairly new developed neighborhoods. There was very little traffic with cops at every intersection and entrances of every neighborhood/village. Course is flat with some gentle rollers in the middle miles. Absolutely love the many funny signs and cheering fans along the course. Some of the fans would reappear every 5Ks. :) :) :) This race has all the amenities of big city race but with hometown feel. I had to stop three times to readjust my shoelaces around mile 8 when the 4:45 pace group passed by. I decided to just hang with them.
The 4:45 pace leader was 49 yo Jonathan, shirtless, wearing a gold chain, shorts and green compression socks. There were about 10-15 runners in the group during the early miles. By the half point, the group twindled down to about 6: couple of ladies wearing identical downfeather vests, a large fella wearing grey sweat shirts and pants and perspiring profusely, a medium built fella with a "Kona" green short sleeve top over white long sleeve shirt and an assortments of overly dressed (to me) runners. They all seemed to know each other from having done training runs together at a local running club. Safe to say that I was probably the oldest gal and only Utahn in the group.
From the Half on, Jonathan would stop to use the PoP at every aid station and caught back up to us about half mile later. I finally asked him what the pace was for 4:45. He said something about 10:53. My watch was pretty much stucked at 6:42 per kilometer. There was a hairpin turn at around mile 15. Jonathan would cheer on the runners from the opposite side but he hardly gave us any words of encouragement or funny stories. There was a bit of headwind so I ran back and ducked behind Kona guy. He didn't mind and humored me with something about his emitting odor!
I was having a lot of fun, with no pain or aches to speak of. I high-fived all the little kids, told a few running jokes. Jonathan eventually designated me to be his co-pacer when he had to dash off to the PoPs at every aid station. He simply told the group to keep going and stay with "Ms Pocatello" as I was wearing a bright green Pocatello Marathon shirt. The mile 19 aid staion was staffed by a group of missionaries from the Houston Mission. So of course, I had to run back to chat with them and took pictures with the sister missionaries. That was a nice rest and then I sped back up to catch the group and told them all about Mormon missionaries! :)
Around mile 24, my shins started to get wormlike cramps which was more annoying than pain. By now there were only about 3 or 4 runners still hanging on. I decided to skip the last aid station and picked up the pace a bit for a faster finish passing many walkers and dawdlers! After crossing an overpass/bridge, the last stretch had a few turns around some shops then onto stoney pathway alongside a beautiful waterway. When I finally saw the finish arch, I kicked it up, and crossed the finish with a huge smile on my face as the clock ticked 4:45:1... (I felt I was successful in my first non-official pacing duty). My official chip time is 4:43:31, ran the first half in 2:22:29 and second half in 2:21:02.
Larissa and Beth watched me run in. They both did awesome! :) :) My grandkids and their dad were enjoying the finish line festives. I was impressed with how much food they gave away. I loaded up platefuls of Chic-fil-A sandwitches, chicken fingers with yummy sauce, breakfast burritos of eggs n cheese and bacon n eggs, packages of mini-muffins, mandarin oranges, banana, apples, bottles of chocolate milk and yogurt smoothies...gotta feed my hungry grandkids who were playing in those huge inflated playground and jumphouse! I even got a 10 min massage, a first ever in all the races I've done! Marathon #54 in the book, 6 more to go! :) :) :) So grateful to be able to finish this one with no issues!