Houston Marathon Finish

Finish Line at the Houston Marathon

This past weekend the Olympic Marathon Trials took place in Houston, Texas. A day later, there followed the Houston Marathon. This also happened to be my birthday weekend, so what better way to celebrate a birthday than to watch some amazing athletes and then run a marathon?

It was a great weekend. I knew it would be something special when within a few hours of getting there last Thursday I’d already met up with a half dozen people I knew (and all at random, none of it was planned.) That night, my wife and I crashed a local running club’s pasta dinner (okay, we were invited, but it’s more fun to say we crashed it.) The next day, we met up with a friend of ours that was also in town to take a tour of the Johnson Space Center, and then I spent the afternoon at the Expo trying to drum up business for my book.

Olympic Trials

Women at Olympic Trials

On Saturday, we watched the Olympic Trials. I had 3 teammates competing in the women’s race, and a few other friends spread between the two races. The men started first, at 8:00, running a 2.2 mile loop downtown before starting out on the first of 3 eight mile loops. Where we were watching, we were able to run back and forth between the blocks and see everybody so we saw the men 3 times before the women even began at 8:15, and then saw the women 3 times before the men made their way back past us. By now you have no doubt heard that Meb, Ryan, Abdi, Shalane, Desi and Kara are all going to the Olympics.

That afternoon, my wife and I decided to run to Rice Village for lunch, which was about a 5 mile jog from where we were staying. We actually went to the Chocolate Bar first to get some ice cream, then went to lunch. Rice Village strikes me as being similar to Freeport if you cut Freeport in half. After lunch, Erin took the train back downtown and I decided to run through Herman Park and then back to our hotel, making it about a 13 mile day right before my marathon.

Brian Sell and Blaine Moore

Meeting Brian Sell

That night, we’d been invited to the Trials after-party at a restaurant right around the block from our hotel. I got to meet former Olympians, quite a few people that competed in the Trials that morning, and was even speaking with Meb’s coach at one point. He was in a very good mood!

Erin wasn’t too happy that I’d been up drinking until 11:30 the night before my marathon, but it doesn’t seem to have affected me too much. I felt fine the next morning, made it to the starting line early enough to get a photo with the Maniacs, and seeded myself around the 3 hour pacer since I honestly had no idea what sort of pace I’d be able to run and figured the best I could do would be 3 hours and a few minutes.

A few miles into the race, Gary Allen was running next to me and spotted me, so we decided to settle into 6:50/mile pace for the next hour since Gary’s “A” goal was just to break 3 hours. Of course, that never happened. We were busting out 6:43s no matter how hard we tried to slow down, and this turned out to be one of the best paced races I’ve run at this distance. Overall, I ran a 56 second negative split and my 5k splits only varied by a second or two per mile. At the end of the race, I got passed by a couple of people in the last 4½ miles, but I passed 25 people. My final time was 2:55:40.

It was a lot of fun, even if I don’t really care for all that concrete that they use for roads down there. I don’t think I’ll be very likely to go back, as I also prefer smaller races, but it was worth running for sure.