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Houston Half Marathon Run Recap

It’s Sunday afternoon (January 13) and I’m watching football and doing very little moving after having run my second half marathon this morning. There were a few funny moments in the run, but mostly this post is for my own memory (i.e., I’d recommend hitting the ‘Why Not?’ button and reading something more interesting).

The run started at 7 am for people who are really good. What’s that mean? 25,000 people signed up for this!! 13,000 for the marathon, 12,000 for the half marathon. That’s just plain nuts! The way it works is you say what pace you expect to run (when I signed up I said 9:15 per mile), and then they assign you to a starting “corral.” The “elite runners” (think: Ethiopia) start at the very front. That way they won’t have their pacing messed up by slow pokes like me. (The top half marathon finisher ran an average 4 minute, 43 second mile!)

It’s one thing to sign up for the run, but another to actually do it. Especially considering the weather.

The weather was MISERABLE. 45 degrees fahrenheit at the start, but with a “feels like 37 degrees.” It was windy and the rain came and went. When I finished I glanced at my phone to look at the weather … still 45 degrees. Gahhh. I think my feet are still cold.

According to the unofficial results (from the Houston marathon website) 10,105 people ended up running the half marathon. That’s pretty darn good when you consider injuries, illness, life, and that stinking weather.

Due to the massive crowd and my slower pace, I started around 7:10 am. We had to be in our “corral” by 6:50 am. This meant twenty minutes of standing around being incredibly cold. A couple was standing right in front of me hugging each other for about ten minutes straight. Ordinarily I would find that awkward, or assume some tragedy had just befallen them, but this morning I just wanted to try and squirm in there and whisper creepily, “three’s a crowd, eh?”

I don’t know the best way to explain just how cold I was, but here’s this:

Because of the on again, off again rain, a lot of the runners were smart and showed up wearing trash bags or ponchos to keep themselves relatively dry. I was not one of those smart runners. I had a fancy shirt (thanks to E$ and the bro-in-law for the Christmas gift!), running shorts, a light running jacket and your basic shoes and socks. I was cold and getting more wet, with no break in the sky coming. About a mile into the jog I began to worry about this … Mostly because I didn’t want my phone to break. Two miles in I was worried about the cold/wetness and my phone … That’s when the “I’m so freaking cold, who cares!” thinking set in. Other, faster people had discarded their outer layers – mostly trash bags on the side of the road, but sometimes jackets (volunteers collected discarded clothes and donated them to charity) … And I began to seriously consider picking up used, sweaty, stomped on trash bags …

Thankfully, at around mile 3.5 a guy I was running next to was shedding his trash bag. “Can I have that!?” I excitedly asked. He gave me a weird look, then his used trash bag. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

On the downside I was now the Goth runner. Black shorts, black jacket, black trash bag. And for the most part I sported my sunglasses because they are prescription and I am blind without them. This led to the highlight of the run for me (besides finishing and getting a sweet new shirt).

A random person looked at me and gave this cheer, “ALL RIGHT DARTH VADER! WHOO! Look at you with your all black Johnny Cash look!!” Fantastic. That took my mind off the run and made me laugh for a good ten seconds (I probably looked nuts). Also, by the way, all of the random people shouting and dancing and blasting music and just distracting me from the run – thank you!

The sign of the run was: “Worst. Parade. Ever.”

I had, through terrible stretching (take note: take stretching seriously!!), managed to sideline myself from running for a decent bit and had been thinking I would skip this run. The fact that I had already spent money on it and couldn’t get my money back, plus wanting to experience such a huge event, led me to deciding to go for it after all. I’m really glad that I did. I ran closer to the pace I wanted (8:33 per mile, 8:30 was my ideal), and while I am not feeling more confident in the marathon I have signed up for … I don’t feel as scared (right after I finished I thought good gravy, a marathon is going to be terrible).

Also, I feel confident that I could shave a few seconds off my finish time. I had to do a lot of dodging and weaving at the start, and the cold weather may have hurt. Although the weather may have helped because the first 8 miles all I felt was cold, not tired … then I stopped thinking about the cold, and starting thinking about the grinding run.

Why the push to do better at the marathon? To beat my dad’s time, of course. I have two goals for my marathon: cross ‘run a marathon’ off my bucket list, and beat my dad’s time.

I hope today was a nice step toward these goals!

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