Marathons can be fun!
This was my third road marathon (I'm partial to trail ultras). The first two were practices in masochistic misery, mostly because of what I didn't know, and didn't know I didn't know.
Houston was different. I have spent the last six months at a running university (iTunes podcasts). From these podcasts I have found the missing pieces to enable me to enjoy a marathon. Those missing pieces were proper fueling and pace management. I'm not fast, I'm not a mid-packer, I'm a back of the packer, it is what it is.
So if my goal pace is a 12:30 per mile, what am I doing running in the 10 and 11 minute range early in the race? I'm blowing my race, that is what I'm doing!
In Houston I stayed right with the 5:30 pace group, until the last 4 miles, then I let lose the reins and just had fun! Well, the whole race was fun. I pet dogs, talked to people, thanked police officers and volunteers, hugged my dear husband at the locations he cheered me on, etc. It was a blast!!
About fueling/nutrition; I'm gluten free, aid stations aren't. This means I have to make sure I have enough food/Gu/fuel on me throughout the race to meet my needs. This means I'm out there with a fanny pack and my water bottle. Its extra weight to carry, but a neccessity. I make sure and take in about 100 calories every 20 - 30 minutes. This along with the proper pace management meant there was no dreaded wall at mile 18, 19, 20, or beyond. It just wasn't there, with the legs, the lungs or the will.
The last few miles were fairly intense. I really wanted to get under 5:30. I have asthma. If I try to run too hard it will shut down my lungs and I will end up walking it in. I didn't want that to happen. Also late in the race it is easy to let go of form. Between concintraiting on how fast I could run and not kick in a bad breathing reaction, and holding form together, those last few miles were very much an exercise of sheer focus! Chris said I looked mad. I was determined! LOL
This race was the day after the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston. It made for an amazing atmosphere to be there for the trials, cheer on a friend, Leah, and cheer for the other runners and running heroes.
The course in Houston is mostly asphalt roads. This is a killer on the joints and legs. But other than that I think it is a must do. The support, the atmosphere, the local community involvement all makes for an amazing adventure!
Goal time: 5:30 Actual finish time: 5:26.54 Yippie!