Sunday was the Houston Half Marathon.
It’s the first of three parts of the warm-up series for the Chevron Houston Marathon.
I’ve completed this race 3 times, all of which were a little on the chilly side (I am a Texan, after all, so anything below 70 warrants a coat, gloves, ski hat and bourbon).
But Sunday, it was chilly AND rainy.
You’ll see how chilly it is in every single one of my photos from the race (a bit nippy, you might say).
Let’s rewind to Saturday night.
I drove from Dallas to Houston, and met with Amy (she and her fiancé invited me to stay at their house, since mine is currently devoid of all furniture) at Escalante’s for a late lunch, where we proceeded to devour 3 baskets of chips and guac, along with their incredible chicken tortilla soup. We tooted around Highland Village and did some last minute wedding shopping (for her), and then headed to her house to watch the Texas Tech game (which was a really stressful, yet fun, game to watch). After the game, we moseyed up to Central Market to get some pre-race food.
Now, on almost every single day of the year (with the exclusion of my birthday), I am the easiest person when it comes to food. As long as it’s high quality, I will eat everything (except pudding). The only other time I’m picky with my food, is the night before a race.
The night before, I MUST, no matter what, eat a turkey sandwich. And it can’t be made at home. I have to go somewhere, have it prepared by someone else, pick out the perfect side item and dessert, and then feast. When I ran the Seattle Half Marathon this summer with Megan, we spent the entire week leading up to the race, googling places to get me the right turkey sandwich (in case you’re wondering, we ended up at Honey Hole, which was mindblowingly good, and also where everyone in the gayborhood thought we were taking engagement photos with each other [but that’s another story, for another day]).
We arrive at Central Market, I pick out just the right Bosc Pear (race day breakfast), grab a bottle of water, and have them make my ultimate turkey sandwich. We chomp on our glorious manna from heaven and make our way back to the house. Our film du jour was “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” (it’s harder than you think, y’all), and Amy and yours truly both promptly passed out snuggled up on the couch. I woke up around 11:30 pm, went to my room, stripped down and conked out again.
At 1 am, I woke up. Wide awake. I was ready to run. Obviously it wasn’t time, so I caught up on emails, admired people’s photos of clever Halloween costumes, and judged the images of the various characters that girls somehow turned skanky (unless you’re between the ages of 19-22, put on some damn clothes. No one wants to see your 40 year old ba donk a donk hanging out of your skirt. F’realz.). But I just couldn’t fall back asleep (if you know me IRL, you know that I only sleep 2-4 hours a night, every night).
Finally at 5 am, I got up, put on my scarlet and black (Wreck ‘Em!), ate my pear and drove downtown to the starting line. I parked three blocks from the finish, and made my way over to meet my friend Ashley that had graciously picked up my race bib, since I wasn’t able to.
As I was walking, I felt some rain sprinkling on my shoulders. I didn’t know it was supposed to rain, and had not planned accordingly. After searching through multiple trashcans trying to find an extra trash bag, I finally found a man at the food tent who had a bag I could have. Except there was trash in it. Gah-ross. I made the executive decision to take my chances with that bag. I dumped out the empty water bottles and banana peels from the bag and went to wait under the results tent for Ashley.
This look is called Trash Bag Chic. I was soooooo certain this would garner me a gentleman caller, but no such luck.
No sooner than I step under the tent, does it start to rain. Torrential downpour. Suddenly there are 80 of my new closest friends huddled next to me, shivering. Within minutes, we’re stranded in 2 inches of standing water in the grass, which has since turned to thick, goopy, sticky mud. We hear the race directors saying something over the intercom, but the thunder was so loud that we couldn’t hear him.
Naturally, I took to twitter. The fingers that be had tweeted that the race has been delayed an hour. I also find out that a handful of people I know are in the tent directly adjacent to me, but far enough away that I’m gonna get wet. I carefully make my way over to the Chevron Houston Marathon tent (almost face planting it, in the process). Everyone there is just as wet, and cold. A man comes by with extra trash bags, so they all make rain coats (if you’re a novice runner, a trash bag is better than a rain jacket in some cases when it’s raining, because you can just toss it and don’t have to hang onto a jacket once the rain stops, or if you get hot). We’re still all standing with wet feet in the mud.
We wait for about 30 minutes with lightening, thunder and some serious showers pelting down all around us. By this point it was quite a gaggle of gals- some ladies from the Chevron Houston Marathon Committee, Vicky (wrangler of the ambassadors), Kristin (my sorority sister and friend), and a bunch of other strangers are all squished together, when they announce to take our place at the starting line.
Dirty paws. Not just a song.
I was soaked to the bone. And shivering. And there was a 83.96% chance that my feet were no longer attached to my body, because I couldn’t feel them (which is a scary thing when you’re about to run 13.1 miles).
I had a serious case of cold feet.
We meander over to the starting line, and I get my iPhone ready to play my music.
I hit play.
I look at Kristin, panicked.
MY $#!?&*@ MUSIC WON’T WORK.
She looks at me calmly and says:
I just lost a tooth.
And swallowed it.
Things were going from bad, to worse.
And then the gun went off.
So we did what any normal humans would do. We ran.
I continued to mess with my music, but all I got was silence.
Irritated, I left the device alone and started to fidget with the bag I had placed on my head for warmth. Besides looking good, I clearly possessed the most aerodynamic makeshift hat of any homeless person running the streets of Houston. It was driving me bonkers, but I couldn’t risk getting colder, so I finally just left it alone. And went back to figuring out why my music wouldn’t play.
The first three miles felt surprisingly good. I wasn’t ready to shed my fierce outfit made by Glad, so I kept on trucking through the cats and dogs.
Sexy times with Kristin and our ensembles.
I saw Vicky (ambassador wrangler extraordinaire) a little bit ahead of me, so I unhitched the trailer, and tried to keep pace with her. We chatted briefly (said hello to Nick as he whizzed past), and then put our heads down to pound the pavement in the relentless rain.
Suddenly, mid-step, my music came blaring on! Never in my life have I been so happy to hear Petey Pablo. I kinda freek-a-leeked out, I was so excited.
Around mile 5, I started to finally feel warm again (hallelujah!), and just happened to spot two cute guys in Ironman shirts, so I sprinted ahead of them and proceeded to rip my trash bag off as provocatively as possible in the middle of Memorial Drive. . .in a thunderstorm.
And my friends wonder why I’m single.
Those men must have liked what they saw (that was hard to write without laughing), because they joined me as we trotted past the halfway point. We flirted and were discussing other races and what not, when a man tapped me on the shoulder.
I looked at him and had never seen him before in my life.
Stranger: I would really like to meet your brother. He sounds like a really neat man.
ANB: [blank stare]
Stranger: You’re Avery, right?
ANB: Yes, but I’m a little confused, have we met. . .I don’t recall-
Stranger: I read your blog. About the marathon.
HOLY HECK. Someone besides my mother has read my website (in truth, I don’t even think my own brother reads this verbose blather). I wanted to hug the man, but tried to play it cool.
ANB: Oh wow, I’ll have to tell him he has a fan.
And then the Stranger ran past me. (also Stranger, if you’re reading this, thanks for reading!)
I turned back to the two dudes. They weren’t impressed with my badass fan. Whatever, I didn’t like them anyway. Jerks.
We turned back towards downtown at the 610 loop, and I had to make a potty break (good job Houston Half for having ample port-o-potties), so the two guys carried on without me.
As I kept on trucking in the rain, I started to feel defeated (I wasn’t even that tired) and began mentally beating myself up for not training. And I started to walk. And walk. And walk. For no reason. My lungs weren’t tired. I had no cramps. I just felt like walking.
I walked miles 8, 9, and 10. And not a power walk, but a lazy stroll.
And then something happened. I feel another tap on my shoulder.
It’s a lady I met at the Lucky Trail Marathon Challenge a few years ago and have run several races with her since. Her name is Theresa and every time I see her she brightens my day. She is such a genuine and lovely person, it’s hard not to be happy when you’re around her. Y’all she had her 14th wedding anniversary this week, and equally as impressive, Sunday’s race was her 50th (FIFTIETH!) half marathon (which, she PR’d!). Talk about someone to admire. She gave me some words of encouragement (she reads my blog too! I mean, that makes me a Houston celebrity now, right?), and I ran with her for the next two miles or so.
She picked up her pace, and I wasn’t about to keep up with her, so I jogged my way into the finish line a few minutes behind her. I don’t really care about times (because, I finished! I didn’t poop my pants!), but I did okay at 2:19:20, considering my training consisted of drinking margaritas and shoveling queso into my mouth. I also didn’t feel so bad about my pace, when I took my shoes off (first time to race in them), and discovered I had identical hives covering both feet (I later found out my shoes have latex in them, which I’m allergic to [and one of three reasons that I’m the perfect woman, but this isn’t the time or place for that list]). So when it was all said and done, I was happy. And happy to have another medal to add to the growing collection.
Like I have said a million times, I’m sooooooo NOT a runner, and sometimes, I really don’t even like to run (see mile 8, 9, 10). But even with cold wet feet, matted hair, and freezing my patookus off, this race reminded me why I still run.
It’s the community. Seeing people that are encouraging, happy and full of energy (even after 13.1 miles) brings me so much joy. Week after week, it’s the same smiling faces pounding the pavement.
Maybe running 13.1, 26.2 or even 50 miles doesn’t interest you.
I get that. Believe me, I get it.
But don’t have cold feet. Go give a 5k a shot. You might just make some new friends.
See how happy
Frida Kahlo I look. Even though it was freeeezzzzzinnngggg.