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My First Marathon: 2011 Chevron Houston Marathon

February 11, 2011

This post is pretty overdue, as I ran my first marathon nearly two weeks ago. Man time flies.

It’s kind of a lengthy post so if you’re curious to know, in a nutshell, I completed my first marathon on January 30th. It was pretty drizzly and humid, not great for marathon weather, but it was a great race and I felt awesome the whole time.  I even beat my “goal” time. I already can’t wait to run another marathon.

As the weekend approached, horrible thunderstorms were in the weather forecast for 7am- noon on Sunday (exactly when the race was taking place). I and many other runners feared the race might not take place and if it did it would be miserably wet.

As soon as I woke up at 4:15 race morning, I darted to the window to see if it was raining. Much to my surprise, it looked pretty calm, just a little drizzly. I didn’t have any trouble waking up because of my nerves, and I headed straight for the coffee, and started getting my gear on I had laid out the night before.

I packed breakfast to eat on the car ride. The race didn’t start until 7 and I didn’t want to eat my breakfast too earlier for fear I’d get hungry before or during the race. I packed one piece of peanut butter toast and grabbed a banana from my MIL’s house. My friends, my MIL, and I headed downtown for the race (they were running the 5k).

I’m nervous can’t you tell?? Please excuse the sleepy marathoner look.

On the way I was feeling so nervous and it was so early in the morning that I couldn’t finish my toast and I only had half a banana (rookie marathon mistake.) My friends dropped me off at the convention center because the parking situation was pretty hectic. I said my goodbyes and was off. I actually really enjoy some quiet time to myself before a race, it makes me less nervous. I sat down and stretched for a little while inside the convention center, until I headed towards the start.

I was so nervous as they were singing the National Anthem, and of course at straight up 7 o’clock the gun went off and it started raining harder. Throughout all of my training, I was thinking I’d set my goal at a 4-hour marathon, but because of the weather and slick roads I’d decided I didn’t really want a goal anymore and I was just going to try to enjoy my race as much as possible by having fun on the course and feeling like I was pushed myself to the finish.

The crowd was really thick through the first few miles, especially the first; I told myself not worry and just go with it. I didn’t want to weave in and out of people and burn off energy I knew I would need later. The roads were pretty slippery in the first few miles; the first 5k flew by so fast. It felt like the fastest 5k I’d ever run. At the first 5k I passed by the first chip time strip and I knew my family and friends at home would be getting a text update as to how I was doing, this was so encouraging during the race!  I also quickly realized I should have eaten my whole breakfast because I was actually hungry. That had never happened to me on a long run. I stopped for Gatorade at the first two stops to try to get something in my tummy.

My dad was waiting for me at mile 7, so it made those mile tick by so fast until I saw him. There were so many spectators it was really hard to spot him but I found him and he handed me a bottle of Gatorade and gave me a hug.

The half marathoners split off from the marathoners around mile 9 and I had more room to run. Oddly my legs were already feeling the distance and I started to worry a little about what was ahead.

Hubby and 2 of my friends were the next people I knew I’d see so I just kept trucking and waiting to see them (having people along the race course is so motivating!) Around mile 10 it started to rain a bit more and my iPod tried to quit on me, so I had to fumble around to stick it in the pocket of my capris. I was seeing some great motivational signs along the way like “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon” and “How to finish… Right foot, left foot. Repeat.”  I crossed the halfway mark and was feeling really strong and better than I was back at mile 9. I saw hubby and my friends, and one of them had made a sign for me.

I kept trucking along at the same pace, and I even picked up the pace a little bit for a few miles between 14-18. I saw one of my coworkers at mile 16 and she was so kind to hand me a bottle of Gatorade that I carried with me until about mile 18. Seriously, the miles kept ticking and ticking by and I couldn’t believe it when the next mile marker came up. I felt great, the more I ran the better I felt.

Between miles 18-20 I started to see people walking, and cramping up. I kept a positive attitude and told myself to stay strong. To my surprise I spotted my In-laws at mile 21 and I was really happy to see them. It was motivation to keep going.

I knew my dad planned on being around mile 23 again so I kept an eye out for him. Somewhere before I saw him I felt my pace slow a little bit, but I told myself no and picked it back up. I spotted my dad and he ran with me for a couple seconds and said I looked great still. After I saw him, I knew I had this race in the bag. I was all smiles for the rest of the way.

When I hit mile 24 I knew I was really close and I was going to reach my goal- I started gaining some energy. After mile 25 I picked up the pace, I was passing people right and left. The last mile led us back into the buildings of downtown and I just bolted for convention center straight ahead.

I rounded the last corner and saw the glorious finish line. I sprinted towards the finished and gave the spectators high fives along the way. I crossed the finish and threw my hands up in the air. Wooohoo I’m a marathon runner!!

Official time was 3:54:51- a pace of 8:57 per mile!

Garmin Stats:

Mile 1: 9:19

Mile 2: 8:44

Mile 3: 8:51

Mile 4: 8:48

Mile 5: 8:52

Mile 6: 8:46

Mile 7: 8:52

Mile 8: 8:53

Mile 9: 8:59

Mile 10: 8:46

Mile 11: 8:44

Mile 12:8:52

Mile 13: 8:56

Mile 14: 8:46

Mile 15: 8:56

Mile 16: 8:48

Mile17: 8:37

Mile 18: 8:41

Mile 19: 8:49

Mile 20: 8:58

Mile 21: 9:13

Mile 22: 8:55

Mile 23: 8:43

Mile 24: 9:01

Mile 25: 9:20

Mile 26: 8:45

Mile .56: 4:20 (8:02/mile)

Total: 26.56 miles @ 8:52 pace (according to Garmin)

Geez that looks like a lot of miles!

Nutrition During the race:

  • Gatorade at the water stops for mile 1.5 and 3
  • Clif Shot taken at mile 5, 11, and 17 (with a cup of water from the aid station)
  • Carried a bottle of Gatorade for miles 7-9, 16-18, and 23-24
  • One cup of Gatorade and one cup of water from aid stations at 14.5, 19, 20.5
  • Endurolytes at mile 19 when I started to see people cramping

Things I learned for Next Time:

  • Finish breakfast!
  • Prepare for crowded first few miles
  • Prepare for crowded aid stations or to completely stop for a few seconds for aid station
  • Because I felt so energized at the end and was able to pick up the pace, allow myself to pace a little faster in the beginning
  • Take more pictures!

 I feel wonderful post race and I’ve really shown myself that all things are possible. With diligence, persistence, and patience I was able to reach my goal. The act of completing a marathon is so powerful and encouraging; I feel as if I can set out and accomplish anything in all aspects of life. As long as I set my mind to it, the prize is mine.

My first marathon experience was so positive and such a joy; it certainly won’t be the last marathon on my books.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. Lori permalink
    February 12, 2011 8:48 AM

    One of your friends made the sign? That would be me…your bestest friend! Congrats Brinney! Can’t wait for you to finish the next one!!

  2. February 13, 2011 2:08 AM

    Wow! I’m in awe of you!!! =) You ran a strong and FAST race – and it was your first marathon to boot! Great race recap, too!

    I just saw your workout plan for the current week and I thought it was funny that our Sat/Sun runs lined up. My thought was to run a 5K on Saturday and then my long run on Sunday since that’s what I am going to have to do next week with the Chick-fil-A race. I am thinking of only hitting 7 tomorrow, though, but we will see. I feel all motivated now that I read this!

    Hope to meet you in person next week! =)

    • February 13, 2011 8:30 AM

      The marathon was a wonderful experience. I usually do a quick faster run on Saturdays and a longer run on Sundays.

      We should plan to meet up Saturday!

  3. February 20, 2011 7:54 AM

    Congrats on finishing your first marathon- that’s an awesome time! I run Houston every year & it’s such a great marathon, too bad the weather was so nasty this year. What other marathons are you thinking about running?

    • February 20, 2011 3:09 PM

      Thanks so much! I wish the weather was better too but I still enjoyed myself. I’d like to do the bigger Texas races Cowtown, Big D, Rock n Roll San Antonio. I probably wont do another one until next year, I’m going to work on speed for the shorter distances and maybe a few triathlons. Thanks for stopping by. Maybe I’ll see you at Houston one year!

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