Now that I'm rested and recuperated, I can tell you my tale. As I mentioned before, we ran the Houston marathon/Chevron Half Marathon this past Sunday. The weather turned out well - low 50's and overcast, which were ideal running conditions. At the starting line there was a sea of humans, with an underlying hum of muted conversation flowing throughout the crowd. Since the official start time was 7 am, we were in the half light that exists pre-sunrise.
There was no announcement, no gun shot, no blast of an air horn (at least that we could hear); just a sudden surge forward. The first mile was uphill, something that we had not expected; yet it went by quickly. As we ran, we read the signs folks where holding up as encouragement. Several folks had "cheering teams" every few miles - one runner named Rhonda had beer (yuck)waiting for her at each water break. Not something I would appreciate, but certainly entertaining to read and a good distraction from thinking about the actual running.
The first 7 miles where in an area of town that I would never willing walk around, since safety would be an issue (bars on the windows are standard). Yet for the run, it was fine. There were even folks sitting on their sloping front stoops, cheering us on.
As we approached our turnaround point right before mile nine, we passed by my running partner's charity of choice. They set up a "booth" to cheer her on, which inadvertently included me. That gave us the extra energy to push forward through the last few miles.
We had a little trouble at mile 10 - the person yelling out the split times was way off, plus the marker itself was in the wrong place. So, mile 10 arrived to soon and mile 11 took forever to arrive.
Near the end of the race, the marathon runners joined back with us half marathoners. As I was approaching my last two miles, I was able to watch the future winner of the marathon pass me. Remember, he did twice the distance as I, yet finished before me! He averaged somewhere around a 4:30min pace for each mile. Watching him pass us, with no one in the marathon even close to meeting his time, I couldn't help but notice that he had barely broken a sweat and looked like he could easily run another 26 miles!
For the final mile, we put on an extra push of energy. For me, I wanted to be done and knew that the faster I ran that last mile, the faster it would be done. As you approach the end, the runners are funneled through a narrow passageway, with cheering crowds on either side of the road. Although I suspect many were cheering for the top marathoners, I still was filled with a sense of joy as I ran past the crowd and heard their cheers.
Even though I had run this distance before, it was some how different doing it in this race, this race that I had trained for for the last three months. As I came within meters of finishing the race,I could feels tears welling up in my eyes, not because of pain; but because I had done it, I had finished the race, I had achieved my goal.
The finish line was located at our local convention center, so that the after-race events where staged inside in a climate controlled area, which was nice. There was free hot breakfast for the finishers, underarmour "finisher" shirts to collect, pictures to take as mementoes of your accomplishment and of course, water to drink.
Would I do this again? Will I train for a whole marathon? Right now that is all up in the air. I do have to heal, but I already miss getting up to run in the morning. It became part of my routine, and it was a good part of it. We will see.