Friday – Packet Pick-up Day: I get off work and head downtown to pick up me and Jennifer’s race packets. My first thought before I’m even there is, “How will I find parking?” Luckily I find a metered spot opening as I inch closer to George R. Brown (GRB) Convention Center. There is construction everywhere because of the race set-up. I enter GRB, and I’m in awe. I didn’t realize there would be so many people and vendors! I pick up our race packets and t-shirts for the ABB 5K and Aramco Half-Marathon and decide to walk around for a few minutes just to see what is happening. There are vendors and run shops posted up selling everything. Shoes, clothing, belts, KT tape, foam rollers, you name it. I was tempted to buy a little bit of everything, but I knew that I should just walk out. I leave and my day is pretty much over. I finish drinking my full gallon of water and loaded up on my usual pre-race meal (chicken and sweet potato). My alarm is set for 5:30AM.
Saturday – ABB 5K Race: The ABB 5K is set for an 8AM race time with roads closing at 7AM, so I planned to get there at 6:30AM. I’m up and out of the door. I am layered the eff up because it is freezing. I think my usual thought on race days, “Why the $*@& did I sign up for this again?” I text this to Jennifer, and she laughs because she had originally told me I was going to regret it signing up for this extra race. Indeed, I did. The real reason I signed up for this race was because I would get not two, but three medals for completing the “Houston Double.” I am such a sucker for those extra medals.
I am super early and arrive to a parking lot by the Toyota Center. Parking is $10. I shake my head at the price hike from the usual $5 a day. I drink about a fourth of my gallon of water already, and I’m ready to go. As I start walking to GRB, I see the Hilton hotel. I think to myself, “I bet they won’t let me in because I’m not staying there.” I enter anyways knowing that they have clean restrooms and not port-a-potties. Smart move. I start heading towards the starting line. I see the 13-minute mile time pace group and I keep walking. I am at the 9-minute mile pace and I stop. The crowd starts moving and all of a sudden I’m up at the 7-minute pace LOL. The 5K starts and I’m off. I ran at an 8:04 pace and completed the race with 25:03. I know I could have run faster, but I didn’t want to completely exhaust my legs before the next day. I can live with that time. After I grab my medal, I cross more streets than I need to to get back to my car.
I spend the rest of the day running a few errands with Jennifer. Lunch and dinner are the same meal and I am asleep by 7PM. Yes, you read that right. 7PM. I know that I’m about to wake up at 3AM to pick up Jennifer and leave by 4:15AM. I love my sleep.
Sunday – Aramco Half Marathon Race Day: 3AM. I highly suggest planning what you’re going to wear for a run. I didn’t know what to expect, so I didn’t do this. I turn over to my phone and see 50 degrees. I think to myself, “Hallelujah.” 50 degrees is perfect cruising weather. Don’t need a jacket or tights. I am completely wrong (for the time being). I eat two Honeystinger Organic Waffles because one just isn’t enough, and I start drinking my gallon of water. I pick up Jennifer who has barely woken up and I do my best to calm her already nervous nerves. I ran my first half marathon back in October so that I would know how to help guide Jennifer through her first half marathon. I try to just let her know that I will be there no matter what and we will cross the finish line. If she had to use the restroom I would wait. If she had to walk, I would walk. If she just couldn’t go on, I would carry her.
We’re driving, and we get to the same parking lot as yesterday. I see signs that say: “Event Parking: $30.” I say out loud, “WHAT THE !@#$!?” and Jennifer scolds me as if I’m a student lol. I am so salty at the fact that this $5 daily parking lot has its price hiked up. I knew that it would probably be $20, but $30. Runners and spectators are getting scammed. On the way back from the race, the price dropped to $20. SMH.
We are inside GRB. We decide to use the restroom early because we are well-hydrated runners, ha. We then went to a Catholic mass held in GRB. This was perfect. The homily was exactly what we needed to hear before the big race. The priest who seemed to be an ex-athlete reminded us to think “mind over miles” and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” The latter was definitely a joke. I leave the mass feeling at peace spiritually and mentally. I decide to eat two more waffles because I’m hungry and for that extra energy. We go to the restroom again and the lines are ridiculous. I tell Jennifer, “Let’s keep walking closer to the port-a-potties.” Good choice. The lines are much shorter closer to the entrance but still a pain. There’s no real structure to it.
- Side Note: During my time waiting for Jennifer to use the port-a-potties, I discovered an easy chick magnet. Hand sanitizer. Yes, I’m serious. Fellas, just wait outside the port-a-potties and display that you have hand sanitizer in your hands. Don’t be a creep about it doe. Ladies will flock to you asking for some of this magical soap, which is limited inside the port-a-potties. Strike up a conversation maybe and bam. You have just gotten yourself in the door. “Can I have some hand sanitizer?” “Sure, so uh listen, can I have yo numba?” I am half kidding, but half serious. I have something going on. Try it out.
JENNIFER’S EDIT: NOT THAT JOSEPH WOULD EVER TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS BECAUSE YOU KNOW… HE’S DATING ME. AHEM.
We go to the bag check-in and I turn in my one piece of warm clothing. Mistake. The weather has dropped to 40 degrees outside. Anytime the weather is in the 40’s I pretty much always wear tights. I’m in shorts and a tank. We start heading out to where the corrals are lining up and I feel naked. I am so cold and can’t feel a thing. I feel stupid. We walk, and we feel wind chill. I feel even more stupid. The corral feels like a mile away. We hear the race announcements starting at 7AM. Everyone is eggcited. We don’t cross the starting line until 30 minutes later. Are you serious?
During the race, I am chilling. I am right there with Jennifer racing along. Everything is feeling good. My IT band is not flaring up like usual. We get to about the 3 kilometer marker and I see one of the gym members from my workplace cheering me on. I feel really appreciative because I am always cheering on the gym members who take my INSANITY class (or yelling at them).
We get past mile 5 and see Jennifer’s co-worker and her husband. Jennifer gets an instant boost and her pace increases a bit. The crowd of the race is amazing. I am in such high spirits as I hear music and banter going on. I want to yell and jump and dance. I decide not to. I am just talking bit by bit trying to make sure Jennifer is okay. Her face tells me to shut up. I do. Her students know this face well. We get to mile 12 and I see signs for free beer. I didn’t get a cup, thinking to myself, “I’m going to keep this paleo thing going on.” I regret it. Never pass up free beer. During training, Jennifer only got to 11 miles so I knew this was an accomplishment for her already. I ask if she’s hit the wall and she nods. I tell her how great she’s doing and to keep pushing past the wall and break through it. We are about 13 miles in and I know she is tired. She sees her supportive friends near the finish line and pushes that last leg. We both finish at 2:31:32. Her goal was sub 2:40. At this point I have to help her walk because she is a bit lightheaded. Words can’t express how proud I am of her. To think that this girl has just had foot surgery in the summer, recovered, and trained until this point. To think that a few years ago, we were barely doing 5K’s. This girl accomplished something that she had talked about. She was walking the walk.
The race is over and I realize I haven’t sweat at all. WHAT A GREAT RACE. We grab our finisher shirts and there is an abundance of non-paleo foods being passed out. I check my Polar M400 and it says that I’ve burnt 2114 calories. I say screw it and eat till my heart’s content. Ice cream!!! I grab one for me and one for Jennifer, which ended up being mine hehe. I am in the fat burning zone after a long workout so I felt like it was a well-deserved meal.
Some random thoughts while running:
- There are way too many people running in Nike Roshe Runs. I know it’s called a Roshe Run, but they are not meant for running. They are cheaper than real running shoes for a reason. I love Roshes myself and it feels like you’re walking on marshmallows when you wear them. Don’t run in them. Please.
- In two weeks, I will be doing double this at the USA Fit Marathon in Sugar Land. EFF MY LIFE.
It was such a great race weekend that I decided to sign up for the 2016 Chevron Marathon. I thought I was done with racing, but this was an awesome race. The support from the crowds was perfect. The signs were hilarious, although some repetitive. “I just pooped my pants too!” “Need more Vaseline, eh?” I remember people started cheering “Go Joseph!” and I was surprised. How do these random strangers know my name??? I remembered, “Oh, my bib has my name” lol. If there’s one thing that stuck with me the whole race, it was some lady shouting, “YOU RUN THIS CITY! YOU LITERALLY RUN HOUSTON!” I felt empowered by this for some odd reason. I run this city and I will continue to run this city in years to come. Cheers to all those that completed any races this weekend! Sign up for next year and run with me!