Monday, February 2, 2009

Houston 1/2 Marathon

Well, this is going to be short and quick.  The only reason for the shortness of this entry is because the race was quite awhile ago, and I wasn't too proud of it.  I ran 1:05:38 for the half marathon and came in 24th place.  This was considered the USA Half Marathon Championships and there were 59 elite men and 50 elite women invited to this race.  It was nice, and a great experience to roam around the hotel with other athletes.  At times it was a little overwhelming having everything taken care of for people who just run.  

I had a really good roommate, and I met a lot of awesome runners.  It felt like a networking experience, as well as a race.  Some of these athletes have been at the hotel and venue since wednesday, and everything was free.  Since the entire atmosphere was all about running/racing I started to get a little nervous.  I got countless text messages from family and friends wishing me luck, and also not to go out too fast in the race!  Which I didn't do...

The night of the race we headed down to one of the many ballrooms to have dinner and mingle with other athletes.  Once that was over, and everyone was full, my roommate (Joel Hamilton) and I headed up to our room.  I thought I was going to get some sleep, but it was very hard to rest.  It felt like a very long night, disturbed by both nervous thoughts in my mind and in my stomach.  I remember one dream where I was wondering around after the race and asking people what I ran.  I saw a blurry result sheet with a time of 1:05 something.  I couldn't remember what it was, but then in the dream someone said it was actually faster.  In reality, all I wanted to run was under 1:05, and I didn't get that time in my dream or in reality.

Once I finally woke up, I suited up and headed down stairs for a mile shake out run at 5am.  After that nice little run, I stretched out and took a shower.  Joel and I headed down to the convention center, and unfortunately I decided to warm up on my own by myself.  This lead me to think about the race more than I needed to and mentally freak out during my warm up.  As I looked at my watch to see how long I've been running, I also noticed that it was 6:30.  I remember something about being back at the elite area at 6:30 to be escorted to the starting line... Oh well.  I headed back to the elite area, only to find no one there.  Apparently, all the athletes heard that memo and were already escorted to the start.  Well, I guess this would have been a great opportunity to skip the race, but I decided to grab my gear as quick as possible and head in the direction where I thought the start would be.

I started to notice other elite athletes wondering around lost and following a group of people heading in the "correct" vicinity of the start.  I had a feeling that this group of people where the marathoners and we needed to be directed to the half marathon start, which was the case.  I figured that if eight or so elite guys where not at the start they would hold it up.  But, fortunately we made it to the correct start.  Once I was there, I did some strides and drills and toed the line for the start.

I kept telling myself not to go out too fast, but once the gun went off I completely blanked.  I let the first group of guys go out hard and stayed with the chase pack for as long as possible.  Many guys where in this pack, and for some idiotic reason I kept pressing harder to stay in the front of this pack.  Many guys from the first pack where falling off, but I too could feel myself fatigue.  I had mixed feelings coming through the 10k in a personal best of 30:16.  One thought was: "this is a good pace, I should pr and hit the standard", the other thought was: "holy shit, that was too fast, and when am I going to hit the wall?".  These two thoughts were whispering in my head from both sides as I started to lose focus on the chase pack.  Guys where slowly creeping away as I could feel the burning sensation in my feet get hotter and hotter.

As the mile splits started clocking away slower and slower I started thinking about just finishing the race.  The competitiveness inside had burned out, and I was holding on.  That expression is something I hate to think about.  Holding on after pushing so hard seems to be the hardest way to run a race.  There were plenty of guys to focus on in front and chase down, but there was no response from my legs.  I had pressed too hard in the beginning half of the race to have anything left but to float behind the other runners.

As the straight away came, I knew I was not going to pr, let alone run under 1:05.  I ran home hard only to finish 1:05:38.  At this point; a month and a half later, I feel very pleased with that time and that effort.  Yet, at that very moment I was disappointed.  I almost knew before hand that I was not going to hit the time, that this race was going to be a trial to see how I would approach failure.  Dreams tend to pop in our minds so quickly, and we hold on to them for so long.  But once they are accomplished, we need to look for other dreams.  I feel that it would be dream to make the trials, and that accomplishing it so soon would take away the enjoyment of chasing that dream.  I could have been very discouraged from this performance, but on the flight home I came to realize that traveling to these races, meeting all these great people are what really made this experience worth wild.  Right away, I wanted to race another half marathon and prove that I could run faster.  But as the the steam settled, I knew that it was time for cross country and track!  

Splits [4:54, 4:47, 4:42, 4:53, 4:55, 4:55, 5:00, 5:05, 5:13, 5:10, 5:09, 5:14, ?:??]