Chevron Houston Marathon 1/17/2010

We moved to Austin in 1999.  After being here for 11 years, Austin feels like my hometown.  So much so that when people ask me where I’m from…I say Austin without hesitation.  I was, however, born in Houston.  It is strange driving into a town where I have so much history yet feeling no different than arriving into any other “out-of-town” destination to run a race.  Very strange.

On Saturday, we arrived at the Simpon’s house where we would be staying for the weekend.  The Monday following the race was MLK Day.  I didn’t have to work and there was no school (so we’d be able to spend two nights). We spent the afternoon visiting the expo for packet pick-up and attempting to drive the course.  Kel wanted to try and see me a few times during the race so we plotted a few points and crossed our fingers that she would be able to navigate to them on race day.

We got back to the Simpson’s that evening and were greeted by an excellent dinner of grilled chicken breast and spaghetti!  Mr. Clint worked magic on the grill!  The chicken was moist and delicious.  Mrs. Sharon handled the spaghetti and it was out of this world!  I washed it all down with a single Coors Light and hit the sack in anticipation of an early wake up.

On the way into downtown, my little brother (who was already at the start getting ready to run his first marathon) called to let us know that the traffic at the closest exit was gnarled and told us where to exit and how to get through downtown to avoid it.  It worked out perfectly and Kel was able to drop me at the Hilton to meet Al, Sandy, POJ, TJ, C/M, Allegra, Ryan, Daniel, and Sontag about 45 minutes before the start (I know Paul Williams wouldn’t approve but it was more than enough time for the rest of us).

There is a running axiom which dictates that you don’t “try out” new gear on race day.  You should always try it out on a long run first.  The reason is simple…shoes/socks can cause blisters and shirts/shorts can rub or chafe.  I was concerned that I wouldn’t see Kel at our prescribed points along the race where she would be handing me my “crack” (crack = Enervitene).  I thought the answer to that was shorts with pockets along the back to tote the crack myself.  I found a pair and did one or two short runs in them to make sure they fit well and moved with me and, satisfied that they would, wore them for this race.  Mistake.  I never actually put the three packets of crack in the pockets during my short test runs.  Immediately upon exiting the hotel I knew it wasn’t going to work.  The shorts were falling down and I hadn’t even broken into a slow jog.  Wanting to be optimistic…I ran a little and, sure enough, my pants hit the ground.  Gold in my mouth, hat turned sideways, going downtown with my pants on the ground. 

I ended up having to carry my “crack” in order to keep from exposing my crack.

I wouldn’t discover the bigger mistake until after the race and suffice it to say it was horribly unthinkable…and it took 10 days to properly heal.

Winding through downtown looking for our starting corral was interesting.  We finally stumbled upon it (accidentally I’m sure) and did some last minute stretching.  I looked over near the corral fence and spotted my offensive line coach from college, Coach Amick!  I’ve run into him a few times over the years at different races in Austin but it had been a while (probably because I haven’t really raced in Austin in four or five years).  We quickly caught up, I introduced him to the shipmates that were close by, and then the starting gun fired.  I guess it’s time to start running!

Mile 1 = 8:50 (decent pace but very crowded)
Mile 2 = 9:00 (so crowded that I stop to pee)
Mile 3 = 8:24 (TJ passes me)
Mile 4 = 8:12 (starting to sweat…not good)
Mile 5 = 8:18 (running behind a girl who starts to look familiar)
Mile 6 = 8:23 (figure out the girl is Rachel, funny)
Mile 7 = 8:21 (pass TJ and get caught by Sontag)
Mile 8 = 8:27 (Sontag is running the mini, their u-turn coming up)
Mile 9 = 8:35 (see Kel for the first time…nice job, honey)
Mile 10 = 8:38 (always nice to knock out the first 10)
Mile 11 = 8:39 (second 10 underway, feeling ok)
Mile 12 = 8:49 (long shady section with a cool breeze)
Mile 13 = 8:47 (C/M catches me)
Mile 14 = 8:36 (C/M and I sing a journey duet together)
Mile 15 = 8:31 (running with C/M is starting to hurt…bad)
Mile 16 = 8:47 (bye C/M, she’ll hang 12 minutes on me by the end)
Mile 17 = 8:58 (see Kel, my mom, and both of my sister-in-laws)
Mile 18 = 9:14 (cracked 9 at the same point as Whiterock)
Mile 19 = 9:25 (saw Sprouts and Kirk somewhere around here)
Mile 20 = 9:30 (somebody find me a finish line)
Mile 21 = 9:28 (energized by being caught by the 3:50 pace group)
Mile 22 = 9:48 (bonus visit by Kel, lost the 3:50 pace group)
Mile 23 = 9:47 (ship cheering section; Art, Sprouts, Hills, Kirk)
Mile 24 = 9:52 (think I might be able to hold ’em under 10)
Mile 25 = 10:10 (think wrong, same spot as Whiterock again)
Mile 26 = 9:45 (again with the fear of getting caught by Sandy)
Mile .2 = 3:24 (sweet relief)

Total Time = 3:56:48

A little slower than Dallas but I’ll take it!

The “runner’s only” finish area inside the George R. Brown Convention Center was nice.  I made my way to the water and then found a banana.  I recall reading about the hot breakfast on marathonguide.com and thinking about how good that sounded (on paper).  When I went through the area where they were serving it I almost hurled.  There were many people enjoying it, though, so I hurried through so as not to spoil their breakfast.

I grabbed my finisher’s shirt (nice Under Armour) and mug (a little small for beer but it’s cool) and started looking for the rest of the ship.  The more I looked around the worse I felt.  I quickly turned my attention to finding Kel and made a mad dash for the exit.  I napped a little in the car and was feeling better by time we got back to the Simpson’s.  We headed over to Lupe Tortilla where several shipmates had gathered for a late lunch prior to hitting the road back to Austin.  After downing a couple of fajitas and Shiners…things were starting to look up!

The Austin Marathon is next…followed by Cowtown two weeks later.  I’m really hoping for good weather at one or both.  My marathon PR is now six years old and I’d really like to give it the updating it deserves.  I’ve decided to lose the Garmin and go with the regular watch and a pace band at Austin.  Old school.

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5 Responses to “Chevron Houston Marathon 1/17/2010”

  1. kelley burrus Says:

    Nice.

  2. Janet Says:

    Sub-4:00, very respectable, Big! Good luck tomorrow! Thanks again to you and Kelley!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Joe T Says:

    Great report as always. I hope your race today was great.

    Congrats on you Ship of the Year award. You definitely deserved it. See you in/at Cowtown.

  4. michelle ryan Says:

    Great report Big! One of these days I’d like to see you negative split!

  5. workrunhunt Says:

    Austin 2004 = one minute negative split. I may try again this weekend in Fort Worth!

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