The Woodlands Half Marathon Review & Recap: Third Time’s a Charm

I ran my third ever half marathon on February 28, 2015, and my first-ever half marathon where I traveled more than a few hours’ drive: The Woodlands Half Marathon in The Woodlands, Texas, just north of Houston.

The Woodlands Half Marathon Finishers
That’s me on the left and my friend Vicki, who also crushed it.


I live in Massachusetts. We’ve had a horrible winter, so almost all my training – and definitely the last five weeks leading up to it – were done on the treadmill. I did three runs per week: one interval run, one tempo run, one long run. Every four weeks, I replaced the intervals and tempos with recovery runs. The longest run I did prior to the half marathon was 11 miles, and I brought my iPad with me to the gym and watched videos I had downloaded to pass the time. My last run before the half marathon was actually outside; I went on a run with the Luke’s Locker group in The Woodlands on the Thursday evening prior. It was a very friendly bunch.

The rest of my training was resistance training. I did full-body routines with metabolic finishers at the end three times a week. I also spent a great deal of my time with my foam roller and stretching, especially since I started taking ballet classes just a few weeks before the race.


I brought everything I would need, plus extras. I have a Travel Roller, and I stuffed it with my running capris, sports bra, and two different tops: a short sleeve top in case it was colder, and a singlet in case it was warmer. (I wore the short sleeve tech top since the temperature at the starting line was 40 degrees Fahrenheit.) I also brought:

  • My trusty Asics Gel Nimbus 15s
  • Thorlo socks
  • Arm huggies/sleeves
  • Hair ties
  • My running/gym pouch, which has safety pins, lip balm, Body Glide, a giant wipe, Band-Aids, deodorant, Advil
  • A hat, just in case it drizzled
  • My running water bottle
  • FlipBelt
  • iPod, preloaded with my 13.1 playlist

My race nutrition presented a small problem, though. I didn’t want to stuff my GU in my bag and risk TSA stopping me, so in the end I left my hairspray and dry shampoo at home to accommodate 3 GU Roctanes. I didn’t want to take a chance that I wouldn’t be able to get them.

Pre-Race Fuel

My best-laid plans were sidetracked when my father and I went out to lunch on Friday (which is when I start fueling). I was unable to obtain a chicken burrito, so I opted for a chicken Caesar salad. It was delicious, but I was a little anxious about how it would fuel me. I stuck to the rest of my ritual nicely: a mini Clif bar for an afternoon snack, rice/salmon/green beans for dinner, pudding and a banana for a bedtime snack, and my peanut butter and jelly sandwich two hours pre-race. And I hydrated like mad.

The Race

I lined up in the C corral (which I suppose was the faster half marathon corral) by 6:40 a.m., just as the sun was starting to rise. I gave my dad a fierce hug, and I remembered why I was doing this: Grandma Ethel. I chatted with a guy who was doing his first half marathon. I did squats and split squats and stretches. I jumped up and down a little to stay warm, since I was freezing. And finally, we were off, and about two minutes after the gun went off, I was crossing the start line and picking up my pace. My first mile was a bit disappointing, but I reminded myself that it was just a warm-up. Then I began pushing a little harder, and a little harder, until I was somewhere near my goal pace. I went into The Woodlands Half Marathon with a goal of 1:57, which was my last half marathon finish time. Since I had spent so much time on the treadmill, I didn’t expect to be faster.

The Woodlands Half Marathon Course

The course was mostly flat. It was a nice change from the terrain I run in my neighborhood. There were the usual shivering spectators, cheering for us and high-fiving us, and I cheered with them. I chatted with a few fellow runners, and then we parted ways. I was admonished by one runner to save some energy for the bridge, which was supposed to be a killer but was more of a bunny hill. I had all the usual thoughts: wanting to nap, wanting to slow down, wanting to keep running, and hoping for a PR. Around Mile 9, I started telling myself, “Just four more miles, and a sprint.” And after I passed Mile 13, I went into a semi-sprint on my tired legs, wanting to cross the finish line. I forgot about my dad shivering in the cold; I forgot about everything but just moving forward.

My chip time was 1:55:38.2. I hit a PR by over 2 minutes. For someone who only took up running 3.5 years ago, the sub-2 half marathon is admirable. I placed 53rd in my age group, out of 397.

The Aftermath

I fully admit to being sore. Even after stretching and walking around and a hot shower, I was sore. My father and I went to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and toward the end of our visit, I had to sit down. My legs were really tired, and my hip was nagging at me. I kept hydrating and eating and took Advil, and by Sunday, I was almost back to normal.