Right now I’m a giant mess of conflicting emotions after the 2017 Aramco Houston Half Marathon, which runs concurrently with the Chevron Houston Marathon. Writing this recap is difficult.
But first, thank you to all the police officers that made sure us runners were safe during the race. Thank you to the race committee and volunteers for making sure everything from packet pickup to the start line went smoothly. And thank you so much to my family for putting up with me during this training cycle, and to Dr. Pain for keeping me taped up. (Also, thanks to Rock Tape.)
Setbacks happen to everyone. When I sprained my ankle during training, I had a feeling that the full marathon was off the table. On the morning of the race, I had a feeling that the A corral was off the table, too. Here’s how it went down.
The early morning was pretty uneventful. I met up with GCRC and carpooled with Sam – I was so nervous that I couldn’t drive. We parked and walked to the George Brown Convention Center, checked our gear, used the porta-cans, and ran into Sweet Eureka, E-Awesome, Trisha, and Speedy Beast J. I basically stuck with them until we walked to the corrals, then made the decision to line up in A. I had to jog a bit to make it on time. My ankle felt fine.
Here’s the big BUT: we started under yellow flag conditions. It was only in the mid-60s, but the humidity was over 90 percent. H-Town doesn’t stand for Houston; it stands for Humidity Town. I had lined up in the 9 min/mile pace group, optimistically, but realistically knowing I was kidding myself a bit. I chatted with a firefighter who had two calls the night before and a woman from Connecticut who had been hoping to BQ – but thanks to the conditions, that was off the table for her.
Running the Aramco Houston Half Marathon
Then, the gun went off. It took a few minutes to get to the start; I danced to the music and took a picture of the start line. I started running right as I got to the timing mat, and I was going way too fast. I slowed it down to a 9:30-ish mile, which I’m very glad I did. For the first few miles, I fed off the energy of the crowd. I had a couple moments where I glanced down at my wrist (I had written two Bible verses, Matthew 17:20 and Philippians 4:13) and thanked God for the opportunity to run. I thanked Him for the day, for the experience, and for the ability to be out on the course.
I started slowing down around Mile 4. Actually, I slowed down at every single water stop. Yellow flag conditions mean hydrate like crazy! But at Mile 4, my ankle started bothering me a little louder, so I slowed down even more. I kept that pace for the rest of the Aramco Houston Half Marathon.
At 7.5, the race crew separated the half marathoners from the marathoners. I knew, as soon as I split off from the marathon pack, that I had made the right decision. My ankle had started protesting in earnest. It wasn’t “walk the rest of the way” pain, but it was significant. I kept going, determined to finish the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. After the split, the spectators thinned. That was okay; I had plenty of company from other runners.
I was about to give up, though, around 11.5. Then, I saw a woman about my age collapse on the course. She just went down. Her legs gave out. Two men helped her up and off to the side, and I (along with about ten other people) hollered at the race crew to get a medic, stat. I kept going because I had nothing on me that could help her, and I am very useless in medical emergencies. I’m good at calling 911, I would tell Sam later on our drive home.
So, for her, I kept going. I prayed that she would be all right. I grabbed a free pair of Dick’s Sporting Goods sunglasses and kept stopping at the water/Gatorade stations. I teared up, much like I had at the beginning of the race. To my right, I saw the men’s marathon pace car pass me, and then the men’s winner, Dominic Ondoro. More tears, seriously – it is amazing what the human body is capable of, and I was in awe as he passed me to finish in 2:12:05.
As for me, as soon as my watch beeped at me to let me know I had run 13 miles, I booked it to the finish. I had .2 miles to go, and I ran it in 1:37.98. My time was 2:10:27.
Stretching my calves was at the top of my list after I crossed the finish line of the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. So I collected my medal, stretched, and hobbled in. I say “hobbled” because my ankle was furious with me. Like, when I went to collect my finisher t-shirt, it refused to let me stand on it. Same at gear check, when I picked up my bag. I immediately sat down, took off my running shoes, and wrapped my ankle with my cold wrap. I put on flip-flops and hobbled to the food; I felt a little dizzy and weak, and since I didn’t know if Sam had finished yet, I knew I needed food and coffee. The eggs, sausage, and biscuits were underwhelming, but I ate them gratefully, then reunited with Sam. We left; I didn’t really want to stick around. I wanted to go home, shower, and ice my ankle.
I spent the rest of the day icing my ankle after that wonderful shower to wash off the humidity. Amazingly, it felt so much better. I’m optimistic about my recovery from this sprain, but not so optimistic that I’m signing up for another half marathon, or even a full, anytime soon. Right now, my focus is healing my ankle, which probably means walking, swimming, cycling, and rowing.
I am grateful that I was able to run the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, and I am so proud of my friends who finished the Chevron Houston Marathon. I’m grateful I made a new friend and saw an amazing athletic feat on such a humid day.
Mostly, I’m grateful for the people who made it this far, to the end of the post. Remember, I’m mushy right now: I love y’all.