I think this is the first time I’ve done a race where the full and half split after several miles and I split with the half. That’s the time when you’re running the marathon and you think “wouldn’t that be nice to head back to the finish already….” and the course gets a lot quieter. Well let me tell you, I love marathons, but it is indeed quite nice to head back to the finish at that point. I ran a pretty good race, I started a little fast and slowed a little the last couple miles, and finished in 1:47:55, which is the fastest half I’ve run since 2014, and almost two minutes faster than my last one in November, which at the time was my fastest since 2014. The results show me finishing at 1:51:03, because the timing mat at the start line didn’t pick up my chip and it apparently took me a little over 3 minutes from the gun to cross the start. I sent an email, but if the official results don’t get fixed, it’s not that big of a deal. (Edited: I sent the email Sunday night with a link to my garmin file, by Tuesday morning the marathon fixed my result!)
|Love the shirts and medal this year|
But enough about that. The absolute best part of the day was seeing my “baby runners” finish. Last spring a girl that I met at the RRCA Coaching Certification course asked if I had any interest in coaching the Champions Fit group that was kind of regrouping after their organizer and coaches all left last year. I decided to give it a shot even though I’m definitely not the leader type, and am usually the one that turns off the alarm in the morning (if I even set an alarm), rolls over, goes back to sleep and blows off the group run.
We met up for the first time in July. It was a small group, and then we lost a few to Harvey and injury and such, but we also gained a couple as friends saw their friends running longer and longer and wanting to try themselves. We met every Saturday at Ground Up Athletics for our long runs, and some Tuesdays at the Klein High School track for speedwork. I think the small group kept everyone even more accountable, because it was noticeable if someone wasn’t there! Our first goal race was the Cypress Half Marathon in November, and I was so proud when all three finished strong, one of them a brand new half marathoner.
|Cypress Half Marathon finishers in November|
We continued training through the holidays. Those that had already run their race kept coming out to run with those still training for Houston.
|My Saturday mornings from July through January|
We met up Sunday morning at the convention center before heading off to our respective corrals. Cherissa and Patty were both running their first half, and Himanshu was running his first full.
|Before the start|
I had them all loaded into the race’s tracker and planned to go back after finishing and cheer them on. I finished my race, put on warm dry clothes, got something to eat, and saw that Patty was almost done and Cherissa was right behind her. I was too tired and cold to move at that point, so they got no cheering on from me. They didn’t need it – they were both finished, faster than they thought they could, and were on cloud nine when I caught up to them in the convention center after the race. I met Cherissa’s mother-in-law (who also ran the half, and PR’d), and Patty’s sister and friend. Himanshu was still on the course. I was watching his splits and proud he didn’t take off too fast, and was planning on heading back down the course to check in on him when he got closer.
|Happy half marathoners! Me with Patty and Cherissa after the finish|
|Even spectators can benefit from foam rolling (Patty's sister and friend at the post-race festivities)|
Somewhere around the halfway point Himanshu slowed down according to the race tracking. We (me, Patty, her sister and her sister’s friend) watched, then devised a plan. We drove to brunch a block off the course around mile 23, and after eating they’d get their signs out of the trunk to cheer him on and I’d run with him back downtown to get his mind off whatever was slowing him down. Of course as soon as they brought the food, we saw that he’d sped up a bit and would be there soon, so they boxed up the food to go and we walked up to the course. By the way, I am a horrible spectator, but they were awesome. The cheered for all the runners, then when we saw him coming, they yelled for him like he was a rock star. I jumped in and ran/walked with him until we got to downtown, where they start fencing the course off to spectators. He had slowed because he started getting cramps, which had never happened in training, so was both painful and frustrating for him. He was in pretty good spirits; I would not have handled it nearly as well as he did. He ran off and finished his first marathon, while I walked back texting and IM’ing others and checking his progress. And nearly walking into a wall and tripping over a curb in the process (see, I am a horrible spectator, I should have been cheering people on, not messing with my phone).
When I was waiting for Himanshu to get through the finish area, Jaye and Dana from Cypress Fit, the coaches I met at that RRCA class last April, were walking out with a group. We said a quick hello and congratulated each other on our races, but what I wish I’d said was how thankful I was that they got me into this. I had no idea how much it would mean to me to help other people get into running and reach their goals.
Over the last six months, I got to watch people run longer than they ever had before, week after week. I saw determination and guts and sometimes frustration. I heard a lot of laughter. I ate a lot of kolaches (thank you Devin and Ground Up Athletics!). I got a lot of “is this normal?” and “what should I do?” and “do you think I could…..” texts. And I watched this random group of people turn in to a tight-knit group of runners.
I have this group of online running friends, and I mentioned my Champions group a lot in our conversations the last six months. I would get so excited to see them growing and doing new things - one friend called them my “baby runners” and it stuck. So my baby runners didn’t know it, but there was this group of ladies around the country that became invested in their progress and virtually cheered them on. (My runners also didn’t know that we referred to them as baby runners, so if any of them are reading this, I hope they know we meant it in a good way.)
So thank you Jaye for thinking of me when Champions Fit was looking for a coach. Thank you Ken and Lauren at Ground Up Athletics for doing all the hard work up front, for being there throughout the season, for opening the store for us every single Saturday morning (and to Devin for being the one that actually opened the store and provided us with Gatorade and breakfast every week), and for the discount on several pairs of running shoes! Thank you Debbie at USA Fit for answering all my stupid questions and helping me figure out what I was doing, and to both the Cypress and Houston Fit groups for looking out for the little guys at Champions. Thank you to Mike for putting up with my alarm clock going off every Saturday morning, earlier and earlier as we ran longer and longer and I had to get water out on the course before meeting up with the group. Thank you to Heather, Julie, Himanshu, Mark, Patty, Cherissa and Thanh for putting up with me all these months and making me look good. Congratulations on your races! Congratulations also to all my CRC friends on their BQs, PRs and fun race experiences yesterday. And congrats to my super speedy neighbor that went out and ran a 2:52 marathon, NBD. Okay, this is not the Academy Awards, just a middle-aged chick that likes running, so I'll stop now.
Today I rest. Tomorrow I get back out there. The Woodlands Marathon is coming up in March, followed by Boston in April. I’m also signed up for duathlon in February and a 10K in March. And will probably do a 5K or two along the way. The older I get, the less likely I’ll get back to the paces I was running in 2013. But the older I get, the more I’m learning that that doesn’t matter as much as I thought. I’m just going to keep running and racing. And coaching and helping other runners.