Houston Marathon Recap

This post is just a brief summary of my individual race– I’m going to put my thoughts on the race itself and random logistics in another post after I’ve had time to rest up more 🙂

The week before the race I read this post on Texas Running Post.  To summarize, the post (which was written by a coach) lists ways to deal with racing in sub-optimal conditions along with some general marathon tips.  She describes two runners who ran the Dallas Marathon a couple years ago in similar conditions as this year’s Houston Marathon.  One (Mark) stuck to original marathon goal pace, then crashed and burned at mile 9.  The other (Shannon) ran a relaxed race and finished strong.

My attitude going into this race was that I wanted to be run like Shannon (albeit much slower).  Even though I was consistently hitting 8:10-8:30 pace during my tempos and “fast finish” long runs– including workouts done in 60-70 degree temperatures like the race day forecast– I am not accustomed to running in incredibly high humidity.  And, since this was my first marathon, I was also not very accustomed to running 26.2 miles!  I felt like I put too much time and effort into my training only to fall apart mid-race because I started too fast and didn’t respect the distance and conditions.  So that’s how my marathon pace went from “8:10 to 8:30” to 8:56.

Miles 1-3

I started with the 4 hour pace group and felt like I was already having to do some work.  I could feel sweat dripping down my face before we even hit mile 1.  This did not bode well, so at this point I gave myself permission to slow down if needed.  Except, as usually happens, I started to settle into my pace after about 3 miles.

Miles 4-13

Eventually I found myself in front of the 4:00 pace group.  I felt OK running 9:00 minute miles or slightly faster, so I decided to stick with that pace and hopefully end up with a sub-4:00 finish.  I felt really good around the halfway point and dropped an 8:50 mile.

Miles 14-20

After the first 13.1 my master plan was to maintain my 9:00ish minute miles until mile 20, and then pick it up and maybe finish sub-3:55.  There wasn’t really anything notable about miles 14-20 except that I passed one of the 3:40 pacers…because he was walking and had a medic on either side of him.  Did I mention that the conditions were pretty dreadful?!

Miles 21-26.2

My rough goal here was to ease down to 8:45 for 5K and then 8:30 for the last 5K.  Instead I ended up running two miles in the 8:30s, slowed to 8:40s for 3 miles, and then ran mile 26 in 8:29.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it was really important to me to get through the whole race and finish strong, so I’m really pleased that I was able to rally at the end.  Mile 26 was my fastest mile!

Here are the Garmin splits, which were definitely off from the course mile markers because I did a ton of weaving during the first few miles trying to stay with the pace group.


And here are the official results:


I should mention that I drank what seemed like an absurd amount of water during this race.  I started with a 23 oz water bottle I’d picked up at HEB the day before.  I’d planned to use that exclusively until mile 8 or so when the half marathoners split off and the water stations got less crowded.  But then as soon as the race started I felt myself sweating a lot and getting thirsty.  So I started grabbing a cup of water at every water stop and used my water bottle when I took a gel.  (I’ve learned during marathon training that I need to drink a lot of water if I’m going to ingest more than two gels over the course of  a run.)  And then around mile 16 my water bottle started to feel frighteningly light, so I grabbed two cups at each water stop.  Around mile 23 I finally felt okay to ditch the water bottle and rely only on the water stops.  However, right after the last water stop at mile 24 I started to feel really thirsty again.  Fortunately, there was one more medical tent at mile 25 where I was able to grab a water bottle (which I carried to the finish line and then the post-race area).  That was really the only spot in the race where I felt bad.  When I stopped running for about 2 seconds (so the medic could hand me the water bottle) I got a serious cramp in my left hamstring!

Anyway, it cracks me up that the few race pictures currently available show me carrying a gel in one hand and a water bottle and empty cup in the other hand.  That was pretty much how I looked for the entire race!



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8 Responses to Houston Marathon Recap

  1. Angela says:

    BUT CONGRATS ON YOUR FIRST MARATHON!!! Kind of a big deal no matter what happened. 🙂

    Ugh, humidity just kills me. And temps in the 60s-70s don’t help. BUT I still wouldn’t say that going from 8:10-8:30 pace to 8:5x counts as falling apart! Finishing sub-four is still a strong result you can build on in the future.



    • Rungry says:

      Thanks! I am pleased with how I raced– avoiding a bonk during the last 10K of my first marathon is good– but it’s a fast course, so it’s a shame the weather was such a mess. (I just realized I never mentioned that my finish was in pouring rain. That is also something that happened!). I guess knowing that I can run a faster time that 3:54:18 gives me motivation to run another one :-). But not until I’ve taken a looooooong break from marathon training.


  2. Pingback: Houston Marathon Miscellany | Rungry

  3. Marie says:

    Hell yeah! Great race, esp in such awful conditions…uuugh. I do terribly in the heat. Also nice to see a blog post from you (but I totally feel ya on not feeling like blogging with all the real life horrors happening).


  4. Pingback: Marathon Recovery (So Far) | Rungry

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