Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Marathon Mania - The Houston Saga 01/13/08

Bonnie and I drove down to Houston, starting on Friday evening, stopping in Dallas long enough to have a quick cup of coffee with my daughter and to admire her new engagement ring. She’s so proud and so is Dad.

We got to Houston Saturday morning before lunch and met up with my Dad and my middle brother Ben (who ran the Houston Marathon last year and got me started down this zany road). We piled into my Dad’s car with my brother driving and headed for the marathon expo. There we met up with one of Bonnie’s many adopted families. We met them in October at the Madill, OK half marathon. Bonnie ran the 10k run that day with the Mom of the group Rae Ann. I didn’t realize it but I was leap frogging with her daughter-in-law, Cindy. Anyway, Bonnie being her quiet, shy self, introduced herself to their cheering party as she and Rae Ann finished the 10k and waited on our group of half marathoners to come in. We also had a Cindy in our group that day that ran in about 3 minutes ahead of their Cindy.

One of Rae Ann’s son’s, Craig, ran the full marathon in 4:29 and some change. The rest of their group ran the half marathon in good times between 2:10 and 2:35 or so.

Now on to Sunday morning. On the way to the George R. Brown complex, my brother picked up a friend of his, Eddie that was running his first marathon. He was expectedly nervous. I tried to convince him that the important thing today wasn’t time but to finish. Once at the complex we met another of their local running friends, Earl. Earl was starting his 32nd marathon. We talked for a while in the complex avoiding going back out in the chilly weather and wind that was whipping around the downtown buildings, but finally we decided it was time. On the way to the intersection where our wave would standby while the first wave left, we stopped for a potty break and were amazed at how short the lines were there. We were walking to our intersection when we heard the gun signaling the start of Wave 1. We had ten minutes. As we got up in the waiting crowd I decided I would leave our small group and head up closer to the 5-hour pace group. When the fired the gun I was just two minutes crossing the start line.

In the first mile we saw Elvis, yes a bit too early to be hallucinating I agree, but there he stood on the bridge median over Hwy 59, bigger than life. On that bridge I had to make a quick stop to retie my left shoe, got that done and was on the road again, where is Willie? First several miles were under 12 minutes. I believe mile 6 was my first mile to take longer than 11 minutes. I think I made the first “on course” bathroom break in that mile. I ditched my gloves during mile 2 and my long sleeve throw-away during mile 4. The weather was turning out to be great.

I saw my brother, got double high 5’s from him, then Bonnie and my Dad. Bonnie was trying to take a photo and at the same time ask me what I needed. I surprised her, brushed the camera out of the way, and gave her a big wet kiss….yes there was tongue involved too. That was all I needed at the time, so much better than any other energy boost.

Miles 8 through 11 were uneventful, except that we lost the half marathoners somewhere in mile 9 I believe. There were still a lot of runners though. Just past mile 11 I say my cheerleaders again, my Dad walked along with me as I approached Ben and Bonnie, asking me how I was doing and how my knee was. I told him at that point that I felt good. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t see the 5:15 pace group any longer. Bonnie gave me a bottle of water and lip balm.

During mile 12 or 13 I took another potty break and as I came out the 5:30 pace group came by, another disappointing site. At this point, I was figuring out that when I stopped and then started to walk or run again my knee would hurt the most. Stopping was causing it to tighten up I presume. At every bathroom break, I took it hurt as I got back on the street. That caused a huge debate with myself just before the 25 mile mark that I’ll explain later.

Mile 14 I again saw my cheering group as expected. They had bought me a bagel and I took half of it at that point. I think I got another bottle of water from Bonnie at this point.

I had been taking Gatorade at each water stop and between water stops I was also taking in some GU. After mile 15 the GU started to not sit well on my stomach so I stopped using it. The Gatorade did not taste like it was being cut and I felt it was giving me the electrolyte balance that I needed.

At mile 16 I got a big surprise, this was in the Galleria area. I heard my name being called loudly from the right side of the street and I was on the left side at the time. I looked over to see my Dad, Ben, and Bonnie there. They were supposed to be at mile 19 next. I didn’t need anything at that point but it was great to see them again.

Onward I went from that point. First west on San Felipe for a short stretch then north again heading thru a neighborhood I think is called Tanglewood, heading to Woodway. I expected to see my group again just after I made the turn onto Woodway near the intersection with Sage but they weren’t there. I continued onward and between miles 19 and 20 I neared the Loop 610 overpass where last year I met my brother and ran in to the finish line with him. I thought maybe they would be there again, but again saw no one around that I knew.

Near mile 21, I looked up to see my brother standing in the grassy median of Memorial Parkway that we were now running on. At this point, it was beginning to feel like the home stretch. We were headed back to downtown Houston. After I saw him I encountered my Dad by himself and he walked with me towards Bonnie. She got a photo of us walking together. I haven’t had a chance to review the photos much yet and will post some later. I think this one will be one that I’m proud of though. I’m glad he could make the race. This was his first opportunity to see me run since my high school basketball days, many years ago.

They left me with cheers of my name and saying they would see me soon at the finish line, it felt incredible. I haven’t mentioned it but after I got to mile 8 or 9 I reverted back to my old run one minute/walk one minute routine that I did most of last year building my mileage base. This seemed to cause my knee to hurt less than trying a 5 and 1 interval.

As I was running between miles 22 and 23 I heard my name being called by someone to my left. I sometimes get so focused on the race that I hear my name but will ignore people. This time though something made me look and it was Robert another friend of my brothers that had run with us over the last several miles last year. I stopped long enough to shake hands and say hello letting him know I was good to go. He called Ben after I left him to let them know he had seen me at that point and that I was still looking good.

Just a couple of minor hills/rises and then into downtown, I was going to make it on my own power. As I approached the 25 mile marker I saw another row of port-o-potties and debated with myself to make a stop or not. I knew I could go and should go but I felt like I was starting to push the 6 hour window and really wanted my gun time to be under 6 hours. I decided I should stop though (I know my system, I have TB...tiny bladder). Again, as with the other times, my knee hurt as I got started walking again, but one cycle of walk/run and I was ok once again.

Into downtown we ran, turning left I believe on Louisiana and running there for 2 blocks, then right onto Rusk and you could see the finish line in the distance. I knew it was several run/walk cycles away and decided not to push things. I was confident that I would be under 6 hours for my gun time. I had the remnants of a bottle of water that I had picked up from Bonnie at mile 21 that I had been refilling at later water stops. I had hoped to find a trash can to drop it because I didn’t want it in my hands at the finish line. I was able to locate a trash can though and ended up dropping it on the street. I felt bad about that because there wasn’t a lot of other race related litter there. I was able to spot first my brother, then my Dad, then Bonnie, all yelling my name. It felt so great to see and hear them there for me. I could see the clock and it was reading 5:57 as I crossed. I later learned they adjusted our gun times in the second wave so that my gun time was actually 5:47:55, just two minutes more than my chip time.

I got my finishers medal and t-shirt and met my group and then we waited on Eddie and Earl to come in. I believe they both finished around 6:10:00.

I was treated to a great steak at a Saltgrass Steakhouse about an hour later and felt really good but very tired.

This now makes 4 in 5 months and 3 in the last 3 months. What will February bring? I am currently signed up for the Little Rock Marathon on March 2, and will soon sign up for the Oklahoma Memorial Marathon on April 27. If I decided to try one in February, it will give me 6 in 6 months and I believe I move up a level as a Maniac.


Wes said...

Way to go, Randy! You are already a "superior" maniac in my book! Trying to decide whether or not to do the Alpharetta Marathon March 3 to get my shirt or not :-) It will be a tough decision...

TX Runner Girl said...

Woohooo, great job Randy! And another one in March? You are becoming a marathon maniac! LOL!

Pat said...

If I knew you were going to run a 5:45, I would have hustled a bit more on mine. J/k. congrats! the big number is 3 in 3 months. You are a MANIAC!

Jess said...

Congrats! You truly are a "maniac" now!

Marcy said...

I absolutely agree with Wes!! You're nuts! (In a good way ;-) ) You amaze me everytime you run one of these babies! You rock Randy!!

Mary Gee said...

Congrats on what sounds like a great race!

Arland said...

Great finish Randy! Great job in overcoming an injury and doing another marathon. There is no doubt that you are a "maniac" now! Maybe I'll see you in Little Rock though I'm just doing the 1/2.

Molly said...


Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

So...is moving up a maniac level a GOOD thing? Just askin' ;)

Mendy said...

Congrats on another maniac marathon! You're such an inspiration.

J~mom said...

Wow Randy!! Awesome report!!!! You are totally inspirational!!

scott keeps running said...

yes, you are a maniac. crazy crazy maniac. marathons are like a breeze to you now. when is the first ultra? :)

congrats on another notch in the belt.

Pat said...

hope you got my other email about the ARR marathon. I remembered that the other great marathon is the Lost Dutchman on the 17th of February. I'm hoping to do the half then. it's quite the race.

Cheryl said...

Great race report! I'd have to agree, you are a marathon maniac!

Darrell said...

You've got this marathon thing down!