Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Houston Marathon

On January 19, 2020, I completed the Chevron Houston Marathon. Finishing a marathon has always been on my bucket list. Why? Because it sucks. It's a tough challenge. There's a statistic floating around the internet that said <1% of the US population has ever completed a marathon. I want to be in that rare group.

I was glad to have crossed this off my bucket list. It was brutal. It was the hardest thing I've done. But doing it with friends (and uncle) made it more enjoyable and memorable. We start together. We suffer together. We finish together.

For an event this large (sold out due to reaching the cap of 27,00 participants), it was really well organized. From the packet pick up and race expo to the entire race from start to finish. The weather condition on the day of the marathon was perfect. The temperature was in the mid-40's in the morning and eventually went up to the low-50's. Sunny. It was a bit chilly with the wind but nothing a (throwaway) long sleeve shirt couldn't solve.

Our group before the race.

Nervous? Nah...

My strategy was to go at a slow steady pace for the entire race. If by mile 20 I felt good, the point when most runners "hit the wall", then maybe I could push myself to go faster. The crowd was awesome. So much support and energy. Lots of "Go, slow bro!" and "You got this!" And plenty of funny signs along the way. My favorite was from Anh Vien. 😂

I love it!

The first half of the marathon was going according to plan. If fact, I felt fine up until mile 18 (the right turn on Memorial). That's when I noticed my pace slowing down but I felt okay.

Then around mile 20 my hips started tightening up. Cardio-wise I was fine but my body started shutting down. Later my feet, calves, knees, thighs, hips... essentially the lower half of my body began hurting. At this point of the race, it was all mental. How much pain are you willing to endure? Power through or quit? Quitting was never an option with me. And I never stopped to walk except at water stations (because spilling Gatorade on yourself is a sticky mess), although my pace went from slow to extremely slow.

The struggle is real.

Each mile seemed longer and harder to reach. I found myself just focusing on the next mile marker.

"Okay, mile 22."

"Mile 23. Just 5K left."

"Mile 24. Two miles left. That's easy."

"Mile 25. Only one more mile!"

Then there was the straightaway to the finish with George R Brown in sight. I'm almost there but dammit, it's still so far away. 1/2 mile left. 1/4 mile left. Then I see my family cheering and I get a boost of energy. Shortly afterwards I crossed the finish line and it all came to an end. Whew~

Pure relief...

It took me 5 hours, 30 minutes, 21 seconds to run jog 26.2 miles.

My uncle (10+ years older than me) finished only a few minutes behind me.

We did it!

The moment I crossed the finish line, my body knew it was over and instantly shut down. I could barely walk. It was zombie-esque. If I sat down, it was a struggle to get back up. Everything was sore, tight, and hurting. I thought about taking an Uber back to the hotel (less than half a mile away) but no, I waddled my way back.

My favorite people.

We stayed another night in downtown Houston since everyone had the following day off for MLK Day and made a mini-trip out of it. (No, I don't like using the word "staycation".)

Refueled with burgers (Shake Shack) for an early dinner followed by pizza (Frank's) for a late night dinner.

Exploring downtown Houston.

Where we first met 15+ years ago.

Checking out the MLK Day parade.

Lunch at Understory.

Pasta from Mona for the kids.

Famous Hot Birdie sandwich from East Hampton for me.

A little foosball action after lunch (Understory).

Elliot passed out so it was time to call it a day... Goodbye Houston.

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  1. TryingToNguyen said... January 27, 2020 at 4:12 PM

    Proud of you brother! (Actually cousin, but brother sounds more like what I’d say, and has a better ring to it). Well deserved yummy food post marathon.

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