I had the BEST. WEEKEND. EVER!! I went to the Houston area for Brazos Bend 100 – but I only ran the half marathon. So many Renegades were running it that I couldn’t resist the opportunity to hang out with my awesome teammates! Seven of us were running the half, one was running the full marathon and four brave souls were attempting the 50 miler. Side note: I was originally signed up to run Big Cedar with this group and I dropped that race to attempt to qualify for Boston. Even though I know it was the right decision, seeing them attempting the 50 really made me want to be out there with them – and made me a wee bit jealous!
Fellow Renegade Jeri and I made the trek down to Houston on Friday afternoon. We met the crew for dinner, then brought Renegade Melinda back with us as the three of us were all staying at the same hotel. (Somehow, we didn’t take ANY pics of the group at dinner!!)
We got up before the ass-crack of dawn and started the trek to Brazos Bend. Thankfully, we had an uneventful trip and arrived right on time. The parking gods were smiling down on us (probably because Melinda is SO NICE) and a park ranger waved us onto the grass to park (we had heard that the grass might be off-limits). We were LITERALLY as close to our Renegade camp as we could get. Sweeeeeeeet!!
I went to pick up my bib and then started going through my pre-race routine. I stopped to go cheer the 50 milers on as they started on their long journey. I spent a little more time getting ready then went to see Ashley off on her 26.2 mile stroll (which was actually closer to 28). Before I knew it, it was time to head to the start line for the half!
I really had no specific goals for this race. Even though this was technically a *trail* race, the *trails* were gravel and smooth, for the most part. And even though these trails were to be easy and non-technical, I didn’t expect to run as well as I do on asphalt. I decided to run the best I could but play it smart and hold back, if needed. With Houston only 5 weeks away, I had no wiggle room for nursing an injury – especially if it was a result of my stupidity.
I started out a little bit fast and decided to ease up a tad around mile 3 and let myself get into a groove. Still, I managed to somehow get away from the pack and found myself alone when I came back around Elm Lake – the wind coming off the lake was frigid and I wanted SO BADLY to have someone in front of me to block it. As luck would have it, there were a couple of guys not too far ahead of me. I caught up to them and they were running a pace I could live with so I decided to draft them for a while. I hung with them for a couple of miles until it seemed like they were slowing down (or maybe I was finally warmed up) so I broke up with them and went on my way.
At this point, I was running 8:15-8:20 miles and it felt like such an easy pace. (Add THAT to the list of things that I NEVER thought would come out of my mouth….seriously.) I figured I would rock along and start kicking it up as I got deeper into the race. I didn’t account for the swamp section of the course, where the road was rutted and muddy and I had to run around the puddles in the grass. I felt like this was slowing me down, but the gospel according to Garmin says that these miles were 8:05-8:10 range, so I suppose that was all in my head. I passed Brent and Tim as they were coming back down this stretch – they were nearing the end of their first loop and they looked strong and seemed in good spirits.
I rocked along until mile 10 and decided I should probably try to get myself into the pain zone some, so I tried to kick it up a little bit. I’m not sure if my quads were tired from the surface – it definitely was an easy trail but it wasn’t asphalt – or if it was from the flat course. In any case, I felt a little fatigue in them. I still managed sub-8 on miles 11 & 12. I slowed some on mile 13, but was able to finish strong.
My time: 1:52:37 (the course was actually 13.78 miles). I finished 35th overall, 9th in women and 1st in my age group (40-49). I was VERY pleased with the results!! Garmin clocked my time at the 13.1 mark as 1:46:31 – only about 1 minute off my road PR. Something worth mentioning is that my heart rate on the 1:45 road race was in zone 5 for most of the race. My heart rate was in zone 3 for the majority of this race and the temps and conditions were similar, so YAY for improving fitness!
After the Half
After I cleaned up, there wasn’t much to do but wait. And eat. And wait some more. Ashley came in from her first loop looking strong and under her time goal and headed out again. Then the other half marathoners started coming in. Brent came through to start his 3rd loop. Tim came in not too long after Brent. He was dealing with some plantar and tight calf issues, so I stretched him out and massaged his calves while he grabbed some food. We got Tim on his way again and then Ryan came rolling through. We took care of him and he was off in no time.
Before Brent went back out, he mentioned one of us coming pace him on the back side of the course. Some time passed and Karon mentioned that it was about time to go find him and that I would probably be the best one to run him in. I went to put on my wet, stinky, cold running clothes back on and headed out to find him. I was pretty sure I knew where he was, but ran into Ashley as I was headed that way. I asked if she had seen Brent, but she didn’t remember seeing him – this was on the section of the course that was out and back, so I knew she would have passed him. I should have kept going but I was afraid that he was back up the course in the opposite direction, so I ran in a bit with her until we ran into Karon. Luckily Brent called Karon right as I walked up. He was actually on the part of the trail I had been headed down, after all. I felt TERRIBLE because of all that time I had just wasted. So I headed BACK to find him….. I also felt horrible skipping by all these 50 and 100 mile runners. They had been out there so long and I had eaten, cleaned up and taken a nap in my warm car. I had only run 14 miles, so my legs were relatively fresh. I kept telling them I wasn’t racing – just headed to pace someone. Seriously, it’s such a defeating feeling when people whiz by you like that – it has happened to me during marathons with people running the relay. I knew Brent had 7 miles to go when I left Karon and I expected to run into him by the time I got to mile 4, but nope. When I started coming up on the last aid station where the course turned around I started to get worried because…..WHERE WAS HE?!? As I got closer, I saw him over at the aid station just snacking and talking. Off we went to run in these last few miles. As soon as we got within sight of the finish line, he took off in a sprint…..and met his goal of coming in under 9 hours! I felt so honored to be able to be a part of that!
Unfortunately, Jeri and I had to head back home and I wasn’t able to see Tim, Ryan or Melinda finish. I really hated to miss it but I also didn’t want to be driving up I-45 after midnight! But in February….when these guys run the 100 miler…I WILL be there!! Plus I get the honor of pacing Melinda on her last lap. I’m beyond excited! It is so much fun being able to cheer on your teammates and see them crush their goals!!
Until then, I have my eyes set on Houston. It’s not going to be easy but I am starting to believe that I can do it!! Less than 5 weeks to go!!
Happy Tuesday 🙂