I had hoped that I would not have to run 29 miles like last year and I also hoped that I would be a great help to everyone on our TEAM out there yesterday morning. After the nice Inspirational Dinner the night before and picking up my race bib to be out on the course running back and forth without people giving me a hard time about it, I went home to lay out my stuff for the morning and I headed to bed around 10:30 p.m.
The alarm clock woke me up at 3:30 a.m. and I was up without even having to hit the snooze button. I took care of battening down the hatches on my hair and getting dressed as well as eating two bananas and a LaraBar. It was 55 degrees at my house, so I left the gloves and trash bag at home. I grabbed the $7 toss-away zip jacket I had picked up at Wal-Mart and I headed out the door for the downtown Hyatt at 4:15 a.m. Once downtown, I found a great parking spot in the garage right next to the walkway into the Hyatt and I found one of the other coaches filling up on Starbuck's at the coffee stand in the lobby. Within minutes the TEAM started making there way out of the elevators for the 5:00 a.m. call. As we were milling around and I was trying to meet and greet as many people as I could to introduce myself or to let them know where I was going to be on the course, the word was out that there was a celebrity sighting! Of course this celebrity would have been all but unknown to the majority of the people in the lobby of the hotel but for those of us that have been running for a few years and who read our Runner's World magazine from front to back each month, this was HUGE! Over in the corner were some of the male elite runners and in that group doing a little stretching was BRIAN SELL. I gave someone my iPhone and set it to the camera setting and nabbed Brian just before he and the rest of the elite runners were headed out the door to take a car to the George R. Brown Convention Center. I asked him if I could get a photo and he was very gracious and said yes!!! Sorry the photo is a little fuzzy, but you can tell who it is. Tim and I were in awe and hoped that some of his fastness (made up word) would rub off on us. It was crazy putting my arm around him because there are not many men who are bony and skinnier than I am, but he was!
After that it was time for a TEAM photo and to head out the doors for our warm up walk to the GRB Convention Center. Once there we had some time for port-o-potty stops (NO LINES!!!), bagels (I passed), gear drop off, and time to chat. Someone on the intercom system announced that it was time to head out to the starting line corrals and the masses made their way towards the doors. It was cool outside, but I knew that It was going to get warm soon after we got going. I took a group of runners out to find the 4:00 pace group. I was seeing so many of my running and triathlon friends and past TNT participants It was funny. Wasn't this supposed to be a marathon with 20,000 runners??? Why was there hardly the mass of people that I expected? There was plenty of room around and we were pretty close to the start line. We got a couple of pre-race photos and then it was time for the start of the wheel chair athletes and then the National Anthem and our start. Trotting down the street in front of Minute Maid park I saw my tri buddy Geoff on the sidelines waiting for his girlfriend, Sarah, to come by. I gave him a shout out and a wave. As we hit the Elysian viaduct bridge to head into one of the oldest parts of Houston, I pulled out the iPhone for a few photos to see how it would do and here are the results... a fuzzy picture of Tim (He already qualified for Boston so he was running slow with me)I look like the Cheshire Cat in this one. Frankly, this picture scares me. It is what I would look like with a bad face lift.Tim trying to get a picture of me as I ran by...
I dropped Tim off at the mile 3 marker and hung out on the bridge over I-45 and waited for more of the TNT group to start working the pack. I had two of my TNT Tri Alumni give me a shout out and I leaped into the group to run with them. Nik and Tori met in the 2005 tri season and they started dating after the Cap Tex Tri. Nik was a mentor for my 2006 TEAM while Tori was up in Cincinnati going to school. He was flying up there almost every weekend to see her. They got engaged the weekend of our 2007 TNT summer season kick-off and I had to help with the scavenger hunt that Nik sent Tori on. One of the stops Tori had to make was the Kick-Off to find Coach and retrieve a clue. I had not seen them in a year so I had a great time running with them for a mile or two and catching up with them. I let them go and backtracked to find the TNT gang.
I worked back and forth through the Heights between miles 4 and 7 running with so many of the group and asking them if they had been drinking and for some if they had started taking in some salt. Everyone was in good spirits. I told a few people to peel off the long sleeve tops if they needed to since it was warming up quickly now that the sun was up. At mile seven at the end of the Studemont bridge over Memorial Dr. and Allen Parkway I found Coach Art and we hung out there cheering on some of the back of the pack gang before we made a mad dash over to Allen Parkway to watch the pace trucks and the front runner go by. At that point he was near mile 24 and the time clock read 1:54 and there was NO ONE around him at all and we did not see anyone for quite some time.
Coach Art and I started running up Allen Parkway, backwards on the course to go back to mile 21 and into Memorial Park to start meeting our front runners. We got a lot of funny looks and people telling us we were going the wrong way. Um, yes, we know that. LOL! I was the rabbit chasing after our front runners guys. They were happy to see me and for the most part they were feeling good. I gave them some information on the next water stop and told them they were Winners and Heroes and sent them on their was after running with them a half a mile or so and then I ran back to the Budweiser beer truck to wait for the next person.(Bud truck in the background.)
I saw Damon and Stacey who I was at the start line with and they were tired but feeling good other than that. One of the other guys, Lee, was hanging on by a thread. He had a great pace, but he was fading from cramping. I dug out my electrolyte capsules out of my Batman Utility belt and cracked open a capsule in my hand and told him to grab as much as he could and put it on his tongue no matter how bad it tasted. He obeyed and apologized for putting his messy fingers in my hand after they had been his mouth. They were not too wet so I knew he was dehydrated. I got him some water and gave him another electrolyte capsule and sent him on his was. I heard that he finished but he was in bad shape and his family took him home pretty quickly after the event. I worked the half a mile between the Bud truck and the water station after the 21 mile mark for quite some time. I saw Greyhound and ran with him for a while. He hit the 21 mile mark right at 3:00 and he said he was off his pace for a 3:40 pace. He said the pace chick for the 3:40 group was running a 3:35 pace and after 17 miles it had taken its tole on him. He ended up with a 3:49 finish and a PR. Way to go Greyhound!!! I saw lots of non TNT friends and they all had a smile on their faces and gave me a shout out. I got a hand off from Coach Art to run with Matthew. I could tell he was hurting but he would not admit to it. Finally he had to stop and stretch. He said he was cramping up and again I pulled out the electrolyte capsules and pumped him full salt and got him some water. I handed out Motrin to Coach Luke, Skylar, and Tim. I gave out Bio-Freeze to Jim, Dani, and Christine. I handed out Clif shots, Shot blocks, and band-aids. I started to slowly make my way back to Allen Parkway running or walking with people who really needed some companionship to keep them going. I got people to port-o-cans and aid stations to take care of bladders and blisters. I talked to take their mind off of the pain and told funny stories to get them to laugh. They all apologized about going so slow and I told everyone of them that this was not my marathon, but their marathon and I was going to make sure that they finished no matter what. I told them that they were heroes and that there were lots of cancer patients who only wished that they could be out walking or running on such a beautiful day rather than lying in a bed looking out a window or being in too much pain to walk or run.
I made it into downtown and started running the last mile with people and gave them advice for an awesome finisher's photo and held back the emotions as they started to cry from the pain and the sight of the finish line as they told me thank you for everything that I had done for them that morning. I punched through my watch functions and found out that I had run almost 25 miles!!! I decided that 26.2 would be the end for me and so I ran with a few more people and ran back to a point on the course that would get me the full marathon distance and found Tracy. It was her first marathon and she was all smiles. I showed her my watch and told her that it would be an honor to finish with her. She was so happy with her finish. I took her to get her finisher's photo and then inside to get her finisher's medal, weighed in, her finisher's shirt and finisher's mug. I asked her if she was hungry even though I knew she was going to refuse. She did refuse but I told her she needed the food and got her some scrambled eggs and a bagel.
When I got back to the TNT tent I heard that Matthew had told the staff members that I had saved his life in the park and the electrolyte tablets had gotten him to the end of the race. He also asked if they had seen my huge honkin' utility belt. He said it was pretty funny that a little person was wearing that huge belt and running with it, but that I had saved his life. Awe, that made me feel good. :)
I grabbed a bag of mini Oreos for Buddy to take home and a handful of some mini 3 Musketeers candy bites and ran, yes ran, back 10 blocks to the Hyatt to get my car and head home to the family. So yes, I had an awesome day and yes I got a marathon's worth of running out of it. My feet hurt and that is a sign that it is time for new shoes. Today I have to teach class and I better be going.