Monday, February 21, 2011

Galveston Mardi Gras Marathon: 3h:26m:26s

Saturday 02.19.2011: Travel Day

Scott and I got out of Republic, Missouri just shy of 6 AM. We quickly found ourselves in Oklahoma and then heading South to Texas. Having made a few of these road trips we have have developed a pretty good travel routine that makes the travelling pretty fun and relaxing. The last couple of trips I have enjoyed the addition of my NOOK, and Scott enjoys reading time on his iPad.

The Texas border seemed to arrive pretty quickly, and we made sure to get a successful picture with the welcome sign.

A highlight of our trip for me was passing through Huntsville, Texas. Huntsville is the location of the Rocky Raccoon 100, which is an event that I intend to do in the future.

We made it to Scott's aunt and uncle's home in Klein very close to dinner time. They took us out to an awesome local Italian restaurant: Raoul's Italian Grill. A very enjoyable authentic Italian dinner and I really appreciated Bob and Becky's generosity.

Sunday 02.20.2011: Race Day

We left Bob and Becky's home just shy of 5 AM to make the trip down to Galveston Island. It was good to watch the temperature dropping as we got closer to the Gulf and went deeper into the fog that was burying Galveston Island when we arrived. We faced a minor challenge locating a parking spot, but found success and I was impressed with Scott's parallel parking skills.

Race day packet pickup was pretty quiet when we found it. I was very disappointed to not get my shirt (they reportedly are mailing it to me). Not getting a shirt for an event that I preregister for is a major pet peeve of mine.

After we picked up our packets we went back to the car to complete our pre-race-preparations. When we made it back to the start location the lines for the porta-pottys were massive. A nearby back alley was a convenient solution.

As we attempted to find a place behind the starting line I noticed pacers with their projected time signs. I was really hoping this event would not have pacers because I was really not wanting to have that point of reference throughout the run. I lined up with Scott and tried to not think too much about the pace groups, though I did notice we were between the 3-hour:45-minute pacer and the 4-hour pacer.

When the race started I took my time getting over the timing mat. It was liberating not having a watch on and thus not being concerned about getting it started as I stepped over the mat. Once I did get over the mat though and wanted to get in my rhythm, I did feel boxed in for about a quarter of a mile. Somewhere in the first mile I did pass the 3-hour:30-minute pacer, so as much as I didn't want that point of reference I did know that group was behind me.

A couple of miles in I found a good rhythm and I was able to relax and enjoy the moment. I was enjoying letting the mile markers pass without concerning myself with a target pace. I was also enjoying the tunes I brought along for the journey. The mantra that emerged strongly in my mind was: enjoyable sustainable glide. That mantra was strong with me all morning.

Knowing that we would be repeating the same loop twice, I found myself taking in all the landmarks and visualizing myself feeling equally fresh passing these landmarks during my second loop. The landmarks included the second loop mile markers.

During the first few miles the fog continued to be thick. As we ran along the Gulf I could hear oceanic sounds and smell oceanic smells, but I was not able to see the water. My interactions with others was very limited (my preference). I did have one runner ask me what pace we were running before he noticed I was not wearing a watch. I guessed we were gliding along at that point close to a 7:30 pace and he informed me that his watch reported the same. I also interacted with another runner who was employing early walk segments. I said something like: "way to go with the Galloway style". He asked if I too was employing a Galloway approach (a run-walk-run mix). I informed him that I have in the past but was not for this event.

Really, running the entire 26.2 without employing a walk segment was one of my only major goals for the day. Looking back in my log, I noticed that I had not gone 26.2 miles without a walk segment since April 2010.

I believe it was about 7 miles into the event that I started to really embrace what I was doing out there. I was enjoying the liberty from my past obsession with trying to make the Boston standard. I was realizing that my Boston obsession had brought frustration and disappointment into a lot of my marathons over the last few months. Usually those frustrations and disappointments would begin to emerge when I started missing my target mile times. For this event, with no watch, I could set aside those feelings and focus purely on celebrating my present fitness. This came over me like a breakthrough. I did not start this journey into fitness to experience frustrations and disappointments, I started this purely for recreational purposes. I wanted to be in good enough fitness to enjoy participating in marathon events. The Boston obsession had marred the joy. Finally I was opening myself up to what I was actually doing. I was running a marathon, I was enjoying it, and I was confident that I could enjoy the entire 26.2 mile journey. Awesome!

I was about 8 miles in when I noticed that the fog was lifting. We still had some cloud coverage and I was hoping it would hang around to keep things cool, plus I had opted to not wear any shades.

As we approached the end of loop 1, I could sense that most of the runners around me were gearing up to be finished. I had one guy come charging past me. He attempted to encourage me to finish strong. My response: "Bro, I have another lap to go."

As I came through the end of loop 1, I heard announced something like: "There goes Rob Horton from Republic, Missouri out for his second half." I saw a handful of runners up ahead of me, but for the most part I was running my own race and enjoying every minute of it.

For the next few miles I stayed in my glide mode. At the aid stations I would drink one water and put another water on my head or the back of my neck. The water on the head helped me deal with the raising temperature. The miles flowed by and I was feeling like I was going to be able to keep the glide going without opening the walking door.

When I had 10k to go, I still felt fresh. When I had 5k to go, the body was pretty much in automatic mode. With 2 miles to go, I had some strong urges to walk but I could also visualize the finish pulling me in and me falling towards it for the next few minutes.

I roared into the finish and was pleased with the time I saw on the clock. The gal that handed me my finisher's medal informed me that she thought I was the 7th place finisher (I later found out that I was 8th). As I was recovering I observed the awards distribution for the half-marathon and I wondered if I possibly might have managed to earn an age division award for the marathon.

While Scott was finishing his last miles I was able to get into some fresh clothes and then catch him coming into the finish. We enjoyed the food and drink in the finishers' area and waited for the marathon awards.

I was very stoked to take home 3rd in my division. This was only the second time I have picked up bonus schwag at a marathon event.

After the awards distribution we made a little trip to the beach and then made the drive back to Bob and Becky's house.

Becky made an awesome meal that night that included fried chicken and we enjoyed hanging out with a handful of Scott's cousins. I was totally exhausted, but also pretty charged with a post-marathon-buzz.

1st half: 1h:40m:27.5s (7:40 per-mile-average)
2nd half: 1h:45m:59s (8:05 per-mile-average)
26.2 miles: 3h:26m:26s (7:52 per-mile-average)

Overall: 8th/147 finishers
Male 35-39: 3rd/18 finishers

Official results: here

Marathon/Ultra-Marathon event completions: 19
Marathon event completions: 15
Marathon/Ultra-Marathon US States: 16
Long runs of 26.2 miles or more: 29

The Breakthrough

I believe I found my marathon approach during this event. I want marathons to be a celebration of my fitness. I believe I am done with concerning myself with attempting to stay on a specific pace (those attempts in the past have brought disappointment and frustration and have soiled my experiences). This experience in Galveston was one of my most enjoyable experiences with the marathon, if not my most enjoyable experience.

My updated Marathon Maniacs stats: here

My States

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