I completed the first of those three marathons on New Year's Day. I wasn't fully trained for it, but did manage to complete it successfully. It would seem that from here on out, subsequent full marathons over the next three months would get easier to do, since I had a nice mix of half marathons sprinkled in among them to maintain training.
My second full marathon of 2017 was January 29, 2017. It was in the nearby city of Sugar Land, just 30 miles away. But because of the very early optional start time for the race, I went ahead and booked a room at the Hilton Garden Inn through the race website lodging portal. It gave me a very good room rate and still allowed me to collect Hilton Honors points for my stay. The hotel went above and beyond for those of us there to run the race. They had special welcome packets for us, a special pasta dinner the night before, early bird breakfast the morning of the race, and shuttle service to/from the race venue for those who didn't have cars or didn't want to drive. It really was a very nice touch, given that this is not an especially large race event.
I took advantage of the pasta dinner and then returned to my room, laid out my running gear, and set my smart phone alarm for a 3:15 AM wake-up (ugh!).
The next morning I got up, got dressed, ate my Cheerios, then left the hotel, grabbing a banana on the way out. It was just a short 2 mile drive to the race venue. I signed up for VIP parking and as I got into my car, attached the silly window flag they gave us so that parking attendants would know we were eligible for the VIP parking lots close to the start/finish line.
|window flag for VIP parking. Interesting....|
I got there plenty early and easily parked up close to the action. There were about 50 or so of us for the early start. This early start was provided for those who needed more than 6 hours to complete the marathon. It was dark and very cold at 4:30 AM! At the last minute I added a lightweight fleece jacket, thinking if I got too warm I could remove it and tie around my waist.
Soon we were crossing the start line, with a police car escort to get us out of the U. Houston campus and across a major roadway, through the Smart Financial Centre complex and then, 2 miles later, back across that busy street to the paved sidewalk on University Boulevard.
We ran 7 miles down University to a turnaround point then returned back the way we came. It was very dark, and we were advised to bring our own hydration, as the water stations would still be getting set up as we ran past. The sky began to lighten at around mile 9 and the water stations were fully open by about that same point. At about that same time, we saw the first of the normal start time participants coming the other way on the roadway. For the second 13.1 mile loop for us marathon runners, we would be heading back out on the now-closed roadway and returning on the sidewalk on the other side of the street. This explained the great distances between the porta-potties on our side of the street, a fact revealed only after daylight when we could see the other side of the roadway.
|13.1 mile loop, data from my Garmin GPS watch|
When I got to within a mile of the turnaround point at the start/finish line, I realized that I just wasn't up to the task of doing a full 26.2 mile marathon. I had that mile to give it serious thought and consideration and to weigh the emotional fallout of dropping out after doing only the half. This is "territory" I've visited twice before and successfully negotiated mentally while doing the Texas Metalsaw Marathon. I now realize that I'm better off not doing marathons that consist of multiple loops!
As I neared the timing mats at the finish line/turnaround point, I actually ran across the mats, and headed back out for the second loop, but within a few yards I decided there was no way I could head back out there. I stopped for a few moments giving myself one last time to talk myself into or out of it. It was so frustrating to be facing this mind-over-matter situation yet again. But this time I just couldn't continue.
So I walked back toward the finish line, carefully avoiding the timing mats, and approached the timing tent to let them know I was dropping out. I was disappointed in myself. As I walked back to the car, I considered returning to the race course and continuing, but just wasn't sure. Hem and haw, hem and haw. Ultimately I realized that if I was questioning myself this much, I needed to just walk away.
|Nice finisher half zip top|
The good news is that I did complete a half marathon, and I am happy about that. I have three half marathons in February that I'm looking forward to, The Mercedes Marathon/Half Marathon in Birmingham AL, a couple of half marathons in Texas (Austin and Baytown) and will have another chance at the full marathon in Little Rock AR in March.
Meanwhile, I just need to not beat myself up for crapping out on the full marathon this past weekend.