Thursday, January 23, 2020

Chevron Houston Marathon 2020 Recap

The beginning of my marathon weekend was stressful. I had a few work projects to wrap up before getting on the road to Houston. When I signed up for the marathon (well, I was supposed to run the half but my friend coach Terrie asked me to upgrade and help lead one of our pace groups so I did) I didn't know I'd move in the middle of a training season.

Thank God I got everything done and I started my drive. I was super nervous. My husband didn't go with me because we couldn't find someone to help us with the kids. It will take time but I know God will bless us with family away from home.

I drove straight to the expo. I got my bib, took my usual photo by the marathon course and proceeded to the rest of the expo.

I quickly found my Fort Bend Fit family. It was so, so good to get all those hugs and to see my dear friends. We've trained together for years. They've known me since season one. It was nice to receive all their love and encouragement. I also realized that I forgot a few things at home so I needed to buy things at the expo. No, I don't encourage anyone to buy new things at the expo to wear the next day but I figured, I'd have to be okay. I bought some body glide and some compression socks from my favorite running store (FinishLine Sports in Sugar Land). They were also heading the water stop at mile 23 of the marathon. Getting to mile 23 is always a goal of mine. I know I will see familiar, friendly faces there.

I walked around the expo for a little while and then I headed to my hotel room. As I walked outside of the GRB, I remembered how much I missed Houston. Houston is a special place. I will never forget my time there.

I ordered pasta for dinner, ate and went to bed early. I got a lot of rest before the race. I noticed I slept a little crooked because my back was a little sore but nothing to be too worried about.

I created the habit of taking a picture of my race outfit, which I call 'flat Cintia.' It looks like a brag, but the purpose is to make sure I don't forget anything I need for the next time. I can't tell you how many times I'd take a flat Cintia picture then I'd realize that I am missing something important such as sunglasses. I added them to my outfit so I could be ready for the big day.

I got dressed, got my clear plastic bag and headed to the GRB. I parked where Zeke and I usually do. This is the fifth time I run the marathon, which means we have our routine down to a science.

I found my Fort Bend Fit friends quickly as well as my friend Kristen from Longview. We did our usual FBF prayer and Hooyah as well as our traditional picture. This tradition is always special but this time, even more for me. I knew that was my last time starting a race with my beloved running club. I will forever carry those sweet memories in my heart.

Kristin and I went to the bathroom before heading to our respective corrals. I got a few more hugs from friends who were passing by. I love running and runners are my absolute favorite thing about the sport. Runners are quick to establish friendships that last for a lifetime.

As I waited to get started, I noticed the weather wasn't as cold as the previous year. Last time, I couldn't feel my toes for two miles. The weather temperature was perfect this year. I noticed that the stars were lining up the week before the race. I hoped and trained for a successful marathon. The rest was up to God.

Miles 1 - 7 went well. I focused on running two miles and taking a break on the hydration stations. I also kept up with my Clif Block schedule (every 4 miles). I had my water bottle with me, which made it easier not to stop all the time.

Around mile 8, I noticed a familiar surrounding: Rice. We ran by the place I used to park, all around the main entrance to Rice and all the way around Rice Village. An Episcopal Priest was sprinkling holy water on the runners as they ran by their church. I said thank you and raised both my hands to heaven as he did that. I needed any blessing that God would provide. It was neat to receive that symbol right in front of Rice, which is one of my favorite places ever.

A fellow runner came next to me and we chatted for a bit. He asked why I was out there and what my time goal was. I listened to his why. It was so compelling. He assured me that I was right on track to reach my time goal. I was running outside of the tangent so he reminded me to stay inside of it because it was such a long run.

I see God's providence in even small reminders like that. Stay inside of the tangent. Mind your posture. These are small adjustments that make a world of difference at the end of such a long race.

I was getting tired at mile 13 so I decided to change my intervals. I had been running 2 miles and walking one minute most of the time. I switched to 4:1s (run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute).

I saw Jeanne, someone I've seen in running club but never really talked to. I know for a fact that we were both meant to run together for as long as we did. Jeanne forgot to switch from the half to the full and decided at the split to go on and run the marathon. She's a wife, mother, nurse and she's an ironman. I know! We chatted about a lot of things, mostly life, running and managing the sport with motherhood. I learned a lot from her. It was neat to have that conversation when I did. I was just contemplating my future as a runner. Jeanne kept asking me if I was okay. I was for sure fading a bit. She gave me some of her base salt. That perked me right up. I don't know why in the world I was training without it. Good thing I got it exactly when I needed it.

I was taking my breaks as usual but Jeanne decided to run longer so we said goodbye and off she went.

I hear someone with a sign say "go Fort Bend Fit!" I was like, who are you here to support? And he said, my parents. He asked me if I needed something. I said, "what do you have?" He said, "chips, coke, pickle juice." I chose the pickle juice. I got the small bottle, drank half of it and went on my way. Again, I heard my Fort Bend Fit friends sing the praises of pickle juice but I never tried it. You know what? It works wonders!

It was time to face "the wall." Somehow, I wasn't afraid of it.

I've had horrible times at the wall. The wall for me, used to happen between miles 18-22. This time, thanks to God and to His helpers, I was able to run, even kick the wall all the way down.

I saw some friends who were there supporting their family member (also my friend). It was nice to see their smiley faces and get hugs. I realized I was sweaty after I hugged them. Oh well! I needed the love!

As I passed miles 19 and 20 I remember how much I was struggling in those spots in years past. I thanked God for being able to learn from my many mistakes and for the grace of running a good marathon.

I was approaching mile 22 when we were climbing a bit of an incline. I noticed the runner next to me, an older lady, was crying. She was running an crying at the same time. I felt so much compassion because I've been there. It does get hard at the end. I gently touched her back and I told her "you're doing a good job. You're going to finish this." She mumbled something like "my P.R....." I knew that pain too well. That helpless feeling of knowing your personal record was getting away from you and there is nothing you can do. She told me, "thank you for that." And I went on.

When I got to mile 22 my friend and forever coach Brian approached me. I told him God sent him when I needed the most. We stayed together till the end.

I thought, how incredible it was to start with the person who trained me to run most of my marathons. Brian has been a great encourager and I've learned a lot from him. I admire his love for his family and his sense of humor.

It was a party when our run could have been miserable. We talked, laughed and we engaged some of the runners around us. I noticed a gentleman next to us. He was finishing his first marathon. We celebrated him big time and we reminded him not to look at his watch but to give his best pose for the camera.

Crossing the finish line was a blessing. Thanks be to God for another marathon completed! He helped me and sustained me the entire way. He sent me help when I needed the most.

I am thankful for friends who helped me along the way. Running marathons is easier with the help of friends.

I am especially thankful to my husband and to our kids. I've been involved in distance running since 2013. They've been super supportive and everyone actually enjoys running.

As I drove back home yesterday, I was thankful to God for my experience. I learn a lot about God, myself and life as I run.

Today, I'm back to my routine. I don't feel as sore as I've felt in past marathons. I took a super cold ice bath today, which helped me feel so much better.

I'm planning on recovering the correct day. They say you should take off 1 day per mile you ran. I won't stop exercising, I just won't go hard for next month.

I want to be a lifelong runner. I don't want to go back too soon before allowing my body time to heal. I asked a lot of my body and should these past 6 months. The least I can do is make time to recover properly through rest, hydration and nutrition.

If you've never ran a marathon but you are wondering if you could, I'm here to tell you that you can. I am here to tell you that it will change your life! Thanks for joining me on this journey.



More in this series:

Marathon Training series

2 comments:

Joy Mok said...

I enjoyed reading this article. You are an amazing writer and one of the kindest person I know. Congratulations on your many accomplishments.

Heather said...

Great to hear more of your marathon story! I've noted the base salt and pickle juice for reference when/if I run my first marathon in the fall. You're an inspiration! God bless.