It’s been a week since I ran my 11th marathon and my 3rd Chevron Houston Marathon. I’ve taken the week to reflect on my race and more importantly give my body a chance to rest and recover. Houston is always my favorite race of the year, and while I didn’t PR and dealt with some injuries along the way, this race was no exception.
The week leading up to the marathon is always the best…full of inspiration, carbo loading, and nervous energy. This year, a front page Houston Chronicle article about my dad and I made the week even more fun! I love seeing how different running groups, fitness stores, studios and restaurants all come together to support everyone running the race on Sunday. To kick off taper week I had the privilege of teaching a yoga class at Luke’s Locker. Teaching runners is one of my favorite things because I’m able to design a class that caters to the ailments and stretches that are needed, based on my own experience. I used the opportunity of already being at Luke’s to stock up on Honey Stinger gels and snag a pair of Under Armour arm warmers in anticipation of the cold temps on race day.
Taper itself is always a tough thing, you never know how you’re supposed to feel and at the end of the day you trust your training and put the sluggish feelings aside. I was dealing with some pain in my hip that had surfaced a week or so earlier so in addition to taper, I also needed to add a couple chiropractor appointments in the mix. On Friday I worked at the social media center at the marathon and explored the expo, taking photos with friends and soaking up all the fun. A group of 15 of some of my favorite running buddies joined for dinner and carbo loading at Coppa, there’s nothing better than pasta and great conversation!
By the end of the week my hip was still nagging, but I was ready to giving racing a real shot. My training for this year’s marathon was the best I’ve ever had. I stuck to the plan and had some really solid long runs and speed workouts under my belt, despite my lingering plantar fasciitis and hip pain I wanted to give the BQ a try. Saturday called for an easy shakeout run which came in the form of the ABB 5K with some lovely ladies. After spending some time at the expo and working in the social center I headed home for rest and an early night.
Race morning always comes sooner than you’re ready. I stuck with my outfit choice of my Lululemon Run Inspire tights, a tank, the aforementioned arm warmers, gloves, ear warmers, and a hoodie to toss along the way. I even brought along a cheap fleece blanket to stay cozy with in GRB and in the corrals. Our crew had signed up for the Bank of Texas Team Challenge which gave us access to VIP restrooms…I highly recommend doing this!!!
We rolled into corral A with 3 minutes to spare and quickly found fellow marathon ambassador, Heather. My dad stuck with us for a mile or so before we said goodbye, good luck, and a happy 25 more miles. Fairly early on I knew my hip wasn’t going to cooperate, but I hung in there and let the amazing crowds, funny signs, and friendly volunteers take my mind off the discomfort.
I made it to 19 without stopping, but with the added pain from my foot, I knew I needed to take care of myself. The team working at the medical tent was phenomenal, quickly explaining that they can’t provide medication (advil, etc.), but offering up the BioFreeze alternative. Another runner joined me in the tent, also suffering from foot pain. As we both hobbled back onto the course I made a comment about not knowing if finishing was in my future. His response was simple but was enough to get me going again, “It’s just seven miles, you’ve got this. You’ve made it this far, just finish.” This was one of the moments in the race that reminded me of how much I love this sport. A complete stranger made the remaining seven miles mean something, I needed to finish and I knew I could. Changing my attitude allowed me to enjoy those final seven miles through Memorial Park and onto Allen Parkway. The additional training I’d done along the Bayou, including a couple of shorter races made it easier, too. My final mile was met with my knee completely locking up, something I’ve never encountered before, but my determination to finish was there. I was going to run through the finish, walking was not an option and that’s what my training taught me.
While I didn’t hit my PR or qualify for Boston, I finished and I finished with my hands in the air. It’s not always about the time, it’s about the toughness and the strength to keep going when the going gets tough. That’s why I run.