Jeff and I drove down to Houston on Saturday afternoon - spent a couple hours at Market Street in The Woodlands - man, do I need to leave my small town more often...this place was nice!!! We went there because it had a running store called Luke's Locker, and I was bound and determined to buy The Stick - my foam roller is great, but you have to have a floor to use it, and knowing that after the race, I was going to be spending a couple of hours in the car riding back to our town, I wanted to get to work on my sore muscles right away. It was fun to shop at such a nice running store - I spent quite some time drooling over all the clothes and accessories (arm sleeves! recovery socks! hydration systems!), and although I wanted to buy a pair of hot pink Thorlo Experia socks to go with my running outfit for Sunday, they didn't carry that color. Too bad - but I know my contact at Thorlo, Tracy Harris, is working on getting more fun colors (side note to Tracy: purple and hot pink would be appreciated!). I looked at other brands that were in hot pink, but was hesitant to try them since the Thorlos work so well for me. Is anybody else that sock loyal (or is it paranoid?) - I hate to spend anywhere between 10 and 15 bucks on a pair of socks that I don't know will feel as good as my Thorlos. Long story short (I know, I know), I left Luke's Locker with just The Stick - which I love!
(I'm sure you are wondering if I am ever going to start my recap. Soon...more shopping ensued that I just know you are all dying to hear about! And yes, please read appropriate amount of sarcasm into that sentence, lol).
Another neat store that I found at Market Square was Lululemon! I've seen their products online, but it was great to be able to walk inside their store and see everything up close! They have some gorgeous, well-made clothes, and I was loving their Define jacket, but at the price of $99, it just wasn't in my budget. They call their clothing an "investment" and I can see why - they do look like they would hold up to a lot of wear, but I will have to start saving my pennies in order to afford it. Someday, Define jacket, you will be mine.
After Jeff and I split a Cuban sandwich paired with yucca fries (yum) and each had a side salad (which ended up being too much food), we headed to our hotel, where I woke up pretty much every hour, waiting for the alarm to go off. I do this before every race - you'd think I'd be a little cooler about it, but apparently there's a five-year-old inside of me who is superexcited about the race! Not knowing how long it would take us to get to downtown Houston, and what traffic we might be dealing with, we left about 6:25 am. And got there about 6:35 am. Apparently there is no traffic going into downtown on a Sunday - who would'a thunk it? (Note: the rubes from the sticks, that's who!) The good thing about getting there that early is that we got an excellent parking spot - about three spaces down from the start/finish line! I picked up my bib, timing chip and quite possibly the ugliest race t-shirt ever, and sat down to wait for Kelly and her family to show up.
Just chillaxin' before the race...I'm actually outside of the restrooms (yay, no porta-potties!) - but I had to include this picture to show you that if you turn *just* the right way and have a great camera angle, you can look way thinner than you are!
Woot - Kelly is finally here!Right before the shotgun start (btw they did not use an actual shotgun - but this IS Texas and you never know). Jeff said I kept posing every time he tried to take a candid picture of me - of course I posed; I always look dorky(ier) in candids! And we're off! Please take note of the man in jeans running to get out of the way - too funny!Can you see me? I'm the one in the hot pink cap and shirt, making a dorky face. Kelly's very tall daughter Rachel is next to me; Kelly is kind of hidden behind us.I look like a doofus when I'm running! Kelly's husband Chuck took this picture as we passed each other on the course (they walked the 6K while I ran). I was on my way back - must have been past the 2 mile marker at this point.Coming in for the finish! Getting closer - I put it into high gear and the announcer called out "Way to kick it, 1672!" - cool to be noticed for that, because I WAS running fast!Right after - my pit crew takes care of me with not one, but TWO cups of water!Kelly, Chuck, Rachel and Charlie - the walkers (although they ran in for the finish) - such a cute family!
Now, a few of thoughts about this race. Both Kelly and I were surprised and a little disappointed that there was no swag - you got your (ugly) t-shirt and that was it. Nothing running-related OR water-related...considering this race had a huge corporate sponsor, we both thought there should have been something - a water bottle, perhaps? And after the race, what little fruit they had was gone by the time I got there. They were, however, handing out chicken sandwiches and greasy tacos from Jack in the Box. Weird fare for after a run - where were the bagels and bananas?
As for the race route, it was on a road - we actually went under a couple of freeway overpasses. That was a little freaky, hearing the cars on the road above us! And the ramps climbed up, which was a surprise - I didn't expect any hills. Luckily, I had just read on Saturday in one of Jeff Galloway's books about running on hills - he said to shorten your stride, so I did, and managed to keep running the entire climb.
Have you heard about runners hitting "the wall" - they get to a place where finishing the race seems impossible, and they have to work really hard to push through that? Well, I hit the wall immediately. Seriously - I kept thinking "I hate this I hate this I hate this, why am I doing this, this is stupid, I'm never going to do this again" - over and over. It was bad. And it lasted for about the entire first mile. Then, I realized that I was ok - my legs felt good, my breathing was better, and I knew that I would be able to keep running and finish the race. I think I have a real problem with running these races alone. I need the distraction of a running buddy to get through the first mile - I have had such different races, emotionally, when I've ran with a buddy. I know I should be strong and suck it up and just run, but for me, it's hard -I always start out too fast, I'm practically gasping for air, the course looms ahead of me, my legskneesfeet hurt, and dang it, I just want someone to say "we can do this" to me! And yes, I feel like a big baby to admit this, but running just isn't as much fun alone. I know it's a solitary sport. Yet for me, I need a "teammate/buddy/partner" and without one, I face huge mental obstacles. Sigh. Don't know what I'm going to do about this.
OK, enough complaining. After the race, since I didn't get any food, we found a Panera (one of my favorite places to eat; sadly we don't have one in our town) where I "fueled up" on a jalapeno cheddar bagel and egg sandwich - so tasty!
This picture is for Lori, who has a Panera in her town and eats a bagel there every Wednesday!
After our breakfast, we went back to the hotel where I got cleaned up. We met Kelly and family for a late lunch at Pappasitos, where I had this ginormous Tequila-Lime salad - yum!
I don't think I even ate half of the salad - but the leftovers came home with us and Jeff ate them for dinner.
It was so fun to see Kelly and Chuck again, and to meet their kids, who are so sweet and polite and fun to be around. All-in-all, it was a fun weekend!