This past weekend I ran the Houston Marathon. It was not the race I had hoped for, but it was the race I expected.
At the end of October, I ran my first 100 Mile race, Cactus Rose. That jacked up my knee sufficiently that it took a week to walk normal and without pain. And then I went to Thailand for 7 weeks. At first I felt like I was still recovering, then it was just laziness combined with lack of motivation. And beer. I ran maybe 6 times in those 7 weeks. Got home two days before Christmas leaving me about three weeks to “train.” Yeah, that’s not going to work out so well.
I booked my hotel and then found out a friend wanted to carpool, but was going on different days. I couldn’t change the dates of my stay, so I changed hotels. My new hotel was much cheaper but much … what’s the word? Skeezier?
Actually, it was more of a motel – the door opened directly to the parking lot. And since I was in a somewhat sketchy area, I felt thankful the motel was kind enough to provide something to barricade the door, locks or not. And check out the festive carpeting! I can only imagine how they chose that carpeting and I’m pretty sure LSD would have to be involved. And I was now a bit further from the start of the race, almost two miles. I figured at least I’ll be warmed up by the time I got to the start.
Oh, and did I mention I was sick? I didn’t volunteer at a race the week before because I feared the weather would get me sick… and then I got sick anyway. Fortunately, the day of the race I was at 98% good. I debated whether or not to carry my phone with me. I was afraid of dropping my phone and/ or getting it wet. I really wanted to try to take pictures during the race, but it’s difficult to get anything worth a darn. And I would be able to find my friend easier after the race. I figured out how to wrap my phone in my Buff to carry it easily and safely, so I decided to take it.
The start of the race was a bit chilly. I was wearing a two tech tees, and that was good enough. It was the perfect temp for running and would only get warmer. In the A corral, I positioned myself around the 3:30 group. I started off at a comfortable and conservative pace, and held that. I didn’t want to burn myself out like I did at the last marathon. I felt like I was running well. Then I remembered I was going to need calories…
I forgot that there isn’t real food at road races. (Bananas don’t count.) I had 4 gels and a pack of chews with me, but would definitely need more calories. What I meant to do was to pick up gels people accidentally dropped. You seem them all the time at the start of a race. That didn’t work out so well since by the time I saw them, I’d already run past them. So I ate the bananas. I had about 3 of them during the race. Normally, I like bananas, but they don’t really do it for me during a race. By my third gel, I wanted to puke, it was like eating sugar. Luckily, there were a few spectators with bowls of snacks like pretzels and gummi bears. There was an aid station handing out gels late in the race, mile 21 or 22? I took one, and was counting on the calories, but I just couldn’t bring myself to force down another packet of sugary goo. And for that, I would pay the last few miles. It was painful to see so many people looking strong and running past me. It was Chicago all over again.
I had hoped for maybe a 3:30, but came in much later at 3:50. I felt lightheaded after I finished and desperately wanted to eat something… I would even have eaten another banana at that point. It seemed like another mile before I was finally able to get some food, sit down, and eat.
So what did I learn from this Marathon? (This is me talking to myself.)
Dude, you gotta train right for this! Make your training specific to the race. In order to run fast, you have to run fast!
Give the Marathon its proper respect. Yes, you can do the distance, but this is about doing it fast and without, which is waaaaay harder!
You gotta figure out how to take in calories at a road race.
Running a 26.2 road race can be just as challenging as a trail 50M. They are both hard but in different ways. All the effort you put towards running a fast marathon will also pay off at your next trail race. So who’s up for some intervals?