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January 18th, 2010:

Houston 2010 Cheveron Marathon Experience

Yesterday I participated in the Houston 2010 Cheveron Marathon. My third time for Houston. I did pretty well and improved my time significantly over last years time.

2009 – 5hrs 17min
2010 – 4hrs 23min

Not bad eh? That’s a P.R.* in my book! This year’s marathon differed from the two prior in several ways. One of the main differences was my ability to have brought more “awareness” of myself, the run and my surroundings more than I have in the past.

It is without a doubt that my awareness has been heightened lately, partly because of a refocusing on it as witnessed with the latest blog posts here, as well as the recent interactions I’ve been having with my parents and a very nice new young lady I have recently meet. These exposures have been leading to more insight, which I am working out here on the blog.

So what did I noticed this year on the run?

  1. The start song to the second wave was Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills. Totally rockin’ song, but totally not the best song to start with, except for the lyric refrain of  “Run toooo the Hilllllllllllllllllllllllllllls! Run foooor your LIIIIIIFE!” The song is actually about Native American’s attacking the white settlers. Maybe they were referring to a revival of the KARANKAWA INDIANS to the area?
  2. I was MUCH closer to the start line than I have been in years past. I had expected to take up to 20 mins from gun start to actually crossing the start line! Not so this year, it only took 2 mins.
  3. I was witness to 1 person falling and saw one person already downed. Plus I heard several ambulances AND ran by a patrol officer calling in another! Wow. It was a lot of accidents for perfect running conditions.
  4. Starting closer up to the front had me placed in with lots more people around me while running. This was good and bad. Bad: all the people irritated me. Not at first, but it did get irritating after a while. Especially since I could get my actual run pace at the beginning of the race. I was REALLY looking forward to the Half Marathoner’s turnaround point so the crowd would THIN out. Not so much, because I was running much faster than years prior AND I had started much closer to the start line, I was in the PACK of people. I think the prior years I was so much slower I was simply among the last of the runners! In short, it wasn’t til much further in the race, past the 13 mile mark, did it “thin” out from the people. The Good: Having that many people in the beginning, actually kept me from starting TOO fast in the race. This ends up assisting me to have  the negative split for the race. First half run slower than the later half. I enjoy thinking of myself as the “negative splits man”
  5. I really need to remember, use bathroom before starting the marathon. I don’t think I need to say anything else about this.
  6. It was really great seeing many of the coaches & assistant coaches and friends from HoustonFIT Yellow group out along the course. Running with them or having them cheer me on, friends help out alot! This of course goes without saying how wonderful and supportive it is having my support team of my Mom and Dad out on the course meeting me at the designated meet up spots. They rocked it for me.
  7. 5 G.U.’s and a little bit of some sticky nut trail mix, doesn’t make for a good fuel on the course. BUT I did participate in the weigh in prior to the race and then weighed after the race. Only lost 2 lbs!  I must have been doing SOMETHING right!
  8. I ran this race quite solo. My “training” partner of two years, didn’t run this year and I never really buddied up with anyone from the training group. It was quite lonesome there at the starting line. But it was good. I was focused on “what am I doing” mentally. Still stark comparison from years prior. I wasn’t even with the Yellow group. I think they were behind me at the start line. I dunno, just that I started the race “alone” this year. Not a bad thing, but I definitely noticed it. I think that this was a major reason I was able to notice all these things this year. Not too many distractions.
  9. Speaking of distractions, I was totally expecting to be preoccupied in my thinking about a person, but ended up not as much.  Partly to the forcing of my surroundings, but also because of an article I had read the night before about Managing Stress Through Mindfulness by Catherine R. Barber, PhD. In the article it talked about being in the present moment with the activity at hand. Maybe it’s because I was running, but it was actually kinda hard to be lost in my thoughts outside of the marathon! 4 1/2 hrs of mindfulness!
  10. I noticed when I really “dropped the hammer” on the running around mile 18. My vision focused and I became much more singleminded about my running form. I began to take more much narrowed attention to my actual running. People around me had less focus, although it was during these last 8 miles I saw the most people I know!

All in all, juicy stuff. Certainly a memorable Marathon. I am certainly thinking about running it again. But after that, I’m not so sure. I feel like I have a sub 4 hr marathon in me. With a running program that carries me through out ALL year long, I’m sure that next year this will be possible, bar any accidents or injuries. The question is, after that, what next? I don’t think the next level of physical challenge is what I will really be looking for. Not sure where this will lead me.

* P.R. = Personal Record