OK here we are again at the startline of a marathon..this time in HOUSTON TEXAS! Weather was perfect (for me anyways) and I had Denise, Bree and Lena with me. So far so good! Denise, Bree and I started (as planned) wiht the 3:30 pace group. Our plan was to use them to get out of the madness at the beginning of the race and then see how we felt. The pace guy was awesome.. spot on even splits. I actually stayed right with or just in front of the pace group as it was SUCH a big group. I had never been to Houston before so the views from the bridges were great. The road surface on the other hand was NOT so great and it was not quite as FLAT as they had old us. No major hills but some dips under the overpasses etc.... Either way I was chugging along feeling pretty good at right around an 8 min mile pace.
About mile 21 I could feel myself starting to tire. For the first time it started to be kinda work to keep up with the pace group. At the next water station I took 2 advils, a GU and a water and let the pace group get a little ahead of me. I could still see them but I could see looking at my garmin that I was slowing a little. It is pretty hard to do math at this point but I figured that as long as I could stay under 9 min miles I would still come comfortably inside my goal of sub 3:40.
Miles 22-24 are always hard mentally tough for me as you are so close, but yet SO FAR! You start to see runners stop to stretch or try to massage muslcles and then hobble slowly forwards. In previous marathons I have always had to talk myself OUT of walking at this point because I KNOW that if I take 1 walking step I will probably not be able to get back to running again so it would be a walk run from that point on... BUT this race I never really even thought about walking. My legs were tired but nothing was really hurting (well not too bad anyway!). As I got to mile 24 the crowds start to pick up agan and I got excited and got back to more like my 8 min mile pace. Then there was the best lady in the entire world yelling "2K to the finishline". 2K? I can do that any day of the week! I was looking at my watch and realized that I was WAY ahead of my plan.. I could finish closer to 3:33 or so... I pushed ahead and eventually saw the beginning of the finish chute. FULL marathoners keep left. I was smiling like a complete idiot as I was SO thrilled. I could see the timer saying 3:33 and I knew I was over a minute behind the clock from where I had started!
To train for a marathon takes a lot of work and it can be SO disappointing when that work doesn't seem to pay off. My 2 previous marathons I was more than a little disapointed with my times. When the stars and moons all align and you feel great, it is a wonderful thing. Definitely makes it all worth it!
Next on the agenda... sub 3:30 LOL