In December I finished off 2011's half-marathon schedule by running the "RunGirl 13.1" female half-marathon. The race was a double loop through a State Park and the adjacent roads in a suburb of Houston. The only time I've ever been in Texas was an ill-fated trip when I was fifteen with my family, which, you are correct to infer was torture.
I flew into Houston on Friday night, and made my way to my hotel. Saturday I headed downtown Houston for my packet pick-up which was held at the store Tri-On The Run. Packet pick-up went very smoothly and I picked up my fabric bag with logo, a long-sleeved gender-specific tech shirt, temporary "RunGirl 13.1" tattoos and sticker, and a RunGirl 13.1 knit hat. Also got the usual Lip balm and some race adverts.
Sunday morning the weather was perfect for running, cloudy and in the 40s. I broke tradition and did NOT wear one of my short sleeved "Half2run" shirts, but instead chose a long-sleeved Towpath Turtles shirt.
I love all-female events. They are VASTLY different than regular races. There is an absolute BUZZ of chatter prior to the race and non-stop chitty-chat from the mid to back of the pack until the latter miles. Another difference was obvious at the first aid stop around mile 1.5. Here a woman was holding two boxes of tissues saying, "Kleenex? Kleenex?" Only a woman would think that there would be few blowing "snot rockets" and on a 40 degree morning there would be copious sniffing!
The course bored me TO DEATH. A double loop is NOT my favorite (although I prefer it to point to points), but this flat course wove through the park on a road closed to traffic with NOTHING to look at except trees and road for 75% of the way. When we went around to the start/finish area, it was by a large lake that was beautiful but very windy. Another spot that we actually passed three times was the most ugly area with ramshackle shacks and trailer parks. A rather unsavory looking woman in pajama bottoms, a ratty robe and long, unbrushed blond hair did venture outside of her trailer to cheer. She was quite a character to look at, but I gotta hand it to her - she stood out there cheering for all three pass-bys and was one of two crowds of "fans" who actually cheered on the sidelines.
I have been eating well and am 1/3 into a training plan over the past six weeks so my weight was down so I took this one a bit harder than the last couple. I walked briefly through two aid stations in order to chew and swallow Sports Beans, but otherwise pushed on at a pace that I hadn't maintained for 13 miles in at least six months. I ate at mile 5 and 9, and broke down and put my iPod on to combat my boredom at mile 7.
At about mile ten I was READY to be done. But that is nothing new. I ran a smart race and was moderately happy with my 2:32 finish. The finish celebration was a mess; all of the family members got into line and helped themselves to all of the food/amenities for the runners. Since many of the runners had children and men in tow I was not too surprised, but I was disappointed since I never got to get my authentic Texas breakfast burrito! I did take full advantage of the post-race mini-Bundt cake though...Actually I took TWO. I had to be back at my hotel to shower and check-out so I didn't wait around for raffle prizes or get the massage.
Starting to plan out my race calendar for 2012. I have seven more States to complete my "half2run" quest.