Thursday, March 5, 2015

Marathon #43 - The Woodlands

Wow! I really had a great race and a good time.

(I waited to post this report until I could get pictures, and I am buying these proof. I still loved this race)
Reflecting on marathon #43. Despite 7x1s, I averaged better than 12 min/mile. What is the limiting factor? I think it is my desire to keep my knee as healthy as possible. Its problems are due to age, and cannot be healed (hence the tape). But if I treat it right, it doesn't hurt, glitch or strain acl. I think trying to run a marathon faster would cause problems; as the fast Baytown half marathon showed at 12.5 miles. But I have a good time and enjoy the people and the swag. I like seeing what I see along the course in terms of various struggles and victories and team support. Like my relationship with Beer man, or the talk with Mathew about Las Cruces. Or watching Team Keith support Keith. Or stupid teen ager at aid station who wouldn't come out from under umbrella to hand me a cup, even though it was barely sprinkling; and teen age guy not under umbrella who teased her. The lady at the hotel desk who was also racing. Mini-retreat from the world as I lay in the hotel room with a book and reflecting on my life. Hanging one more medal on the wall and feeling the desire to go in another race as soon as possible. Eventually getting photos and putting them in my running diary. What is not to like about all this?

When I was a kid, women didn't exercise and certainly didn't run marathons. Now, I have run 43, and only 2 of these were pre-monastery (the big event in my life). Now, I go to races and there are women all over the place and of all ages. Many older than me are completing marathons. We do it together! We laugh at the pain and b!tch about parking or portas or that damn hill. It is all good. Ya gotta love it.

I love all my exercise. I love the elliptical and much as the jogging. I've barely broken the surface of what I need to do strength wise. I think that without the daily calorie burn, I really would gain weight and end up like my unhealthy sedentary peers.

Marathons have many dimensions. I am seeing all of them. So, therefore, the purpose of my life is marathons.period.

Fastest since 2011 Vancouver!

Short form: Garmin was 5:15 (doesn't count pit stops), chip was 5:26.

Here is the long story of #43:

Somehow I have been inflicted with marathon fever. Since winter is racing season in Texas, katy bar the door. This is my 4th race this year. I'm feeling very Texan.

I didn't sign up for this race until 2/11, which means it was a tiny bit expensive. Since I cashed in hotel points however, that part was free. So, click submit.

I worked last Saturday night, so I had some comp time coming to me, and I needed it because this race is all the way across Houston and always has terrible traffic. The packet pick up was on Friday also and I knew I didn't have the patience to drive to the Woodlands twice. My drive on Friday was very uneventful. I got to packet pickup without too much trouble. I turned in 3 pairs of shoes to a charity. The packet was minimal. The expo was expensive so I didn't buy anything. Then I went to Panera to get dinner. Despite it being in a mall with a huge parking lot, the darn thing was very full. So I had to park a long ways away just to go to Panera. At Panera I got a salad to go and some bagels and a cookie. Then braved the traffic for 8 miles to my hotel. Candelwood Suites (Holiday Inn) turned out to be exceptionally nice. I settled in, ate my supper and read my books.

I set 2 alarms for 3:35. I whipped out of bed the iphone scared me so bad. Made coffee and headed out at 5 am. That is 2 hours before race time but I wanted a parking spot in the lot near the finish. I dislike walking another mile to get to the car after the race. I scored a great spot right next to a bush. This meant I didn't have to wait in porta line and could stay in the warm car longer. It was 36F (about 2C) which is cold for Texas. A bit breezy. I had on two throw away jackets.

At 6:30, I started walking to my corral. The announcer started saying corrals were closing. The half marathoners were headed one way and the marathoners another, with fences along the road; it was quite exciting. I got to my corral and started looking around for my friend Parvaneh, the one who does the races in San Antonio. Finally saw her and said hi. She was all worried about finishing this race and then driving to Dallas for the Cowtown marathon, hoping it wouldn't be cancelled. Her backup plan was to go to Killeen, TX. I met Mathew and Andy and Tracie. Parvaneh is excited that I have planed to make my 50th marathon at her race in July. Actually, I haven't been in a marathon with 6,500 people since last year. I thought The Woodlands had done a decent organizational job. Tracie agreed with me. Our only complaint was it was in The Woodlands! Yes there are may people who go around Texas trying to do 2 marathons every weekend. I told Parvaneh I couldn't come to her race on 3/21 since it was my weekend off. She said, "there is such a thing?"

The girl singing the national anthem did a fantastic job on that one difficult high note; everyone applauded. And then we are off. I suppose the Kenyans and Ethiopians were up there somewhere but I think they hide in the VIP tent until just before the race.

I had my Garmin set for 7x1; but feeling good, I ran thru the first 2 miles in 22:22. Oops! Slow down Spirit. Ok, I started doing the walk breaks. The course is very nice. Lots of trees; hence why they call it The Woodlands. Lots of wealth too. The Woodlands is where the petro-chemical executives live and work. Personally, I live and work where the plants are. At 4 miles, I come to the first bank of porta potties; except 7 of 8 of them are laying on the ground. Welcome to the rich part of town. Only one person was waiting so I decided to wait.

Feeling good, both throw away jackets gone. I cross the 10k mat and wait for the text. Finally I hear a ding. Good, the chip is working. I think of Dee and hope she is updating Habs. I think I felt so good because Habs had a good feeling about this race. But also, I have been getting better lately. At least twice during the race, I realized that my mind was very blank. That is, no resentments, no worries, no mantras; just blank. I think that was due to more effort going into running and less into thinking. PTL for mental quiet.

At 8 miles, there is another bank of porta potties, all of them upright. I decide to take my time here since there is no waiting. I come out and start yanking on my compression shorts as I always do. Looking up, I notice they have positioned 2 photographers right there. I shout, No, don't take my picture. Then I composed myself for photos. At 13 miles was another bank of hardly used portas. I decide that I would take an optional break since I don't know what will happen at the next bank. I did skip the ones at 20 miles. I took another optional break at 23 miles since these were not used at all and I figured that they would be cleaner than the ones at the finish line and I could get to my car quicker.

Have you heard enough about portas yet?

It rained from miles 8 to 10. I was concerned about being too cold. But it stopped and I got warm again. Somewhere in the rain, a big dude was passing me. I looked over and said, hey I know you! It was beer man from Galveston marathon. He is pretty cute and doing much better in the cold weather. He said he had been stalking me for awhile and knew it was me. I Galveston, I had chided him for getting chicked by a little old lady. Now, he chided me for leaving him in Galveston. But I did it again today. I saw him again later on a little out and back; where we high fived.

Ok, the race is really going well. I'm feeling good. I got to 25 miles at exactly 5:00 on my Garmin. All the aid stations had plenty of cups! Lots and lots of cops directing traffic; and lots of traffic for that matter. I continued to feel really good; but a marathon is a marathon and I was hoping for the end.

I was running good at the end and skipped that last 2 walk breaks. They announced my name as I crossed. I was happy so I posed smiling in front of the sheets with my medal. Got a finishers shirt and headed directly to the car. I had lunch in a cooler on the front seat. Very uneventful drive home.

Really happy. I had my knee taped perfectly so no trouble there. The shoes were comfy and almost new.

Marathon #44 is in 2 weeks.

Thats all for now.
Spirit out!

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