“Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Houston Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
There was lots to unpack from this race so it has taken me a while to compose all of my thoughts and feelings about this race.
We will start with race management. In my mind the race management for the Chevron Houston Marathon knocked it out of the park. There was ample pre-race communication that was excellent and timely without being over done. The website include all of the information a first-time and veteran racer would need for race weekend and didn’t make this information hard to find.
I traveled from Dallas and stayed two nights at a hotel a few blocks away from the convention center. My wife booked this hotel so I can’t take credit for how smart this choice was. They were not only located in a great spot but they offered a very late checkout on Sunday for all of the racers. Thank you to the Homewood Suites Downtown Houston!
I attended the expo on Friday afternoon and it was packed with racers. All of the vendors I spoke with were very friendly and there were tons of deals to be had. The Fleet Feet booth at the center of the expo was quite large, had a wide variety of gear and brands represented and if I had brought more money with me I’d have gone broke! The Packet pick-up prior to entering the expo floor was super easy. All I needed was my ID and the QR code sent to me the week before and I was done with that process in less than 5 minutes. I meet with my fellow Bib Rave Pros, Juan, Jenn and Brenda after packet pickup and I couldn’t have been in better company. Juan is local to Houston and was the very best host. He was introducing us to people that he knew at the expo left and right!
On to race morning. Spoiler alert: The race itself was awesome! I found my fellow BRP’s in the pre-race staging area inside the convention center, got a little more advice, lots of encouragement and some hugs. Since I was in Corral A I needed to leave a bit earlier than Brenda and Jenn, who were also running the full. Being in a downtown area that I am not familiar with I was a bit discombobulated. The volunteers outside the convention center were abundant and very communicative before the race about where each corral was and when they closed.
It was pretty chilly, air temperature in the low 30’s, at the start of the race but a base layer under my shirt and tights under my shorts was sufficient. It was the perfect running weather.
Here is where I need to give a huge shout out to Juan. Without this guy I can honestly say I wouldn’t have finished the race. I came into the race having taken about 3 weeks off from running due to an Achilles injury so while I wasn’t feeling great physically during the run I was never once worried that if I couldn’t continue I would be in a bad place. This injury flared up just before mile 2 and I knew I would be in for a long day. I have pushed through runs with injuries before and I ended up doing a lot of damage. This was my first marathon and I am really stubborn so, as you can guess, I didn’t stop. Even though I felt like I was going to several times I didn’t. Juan met me three times along the course (all after the first half of the race) and I needed him each time. He paced me, he talked me up and coached me. When I thought about giving up I remembered all I had to do was make it a little further and I would get a boost. Thank you, brother, for getting me through this race.
The amount of volunteers and spectators on the course blew me away. I heard cheers that included my name from countless strangers. If you have run a race with good crowds you know how good this feels. Even with a windchill in the 20’s early on the crowds were nuts. I saw lots of great signs and there were plenty of high fives to be had along the way. Volunteers for this race were the best I have ever experienced. The aid stations were absolutely loaded up with water, Gatorade and Gatorade fuel. The medical staff along the course were very attentive to the racers who appeared to need help.
I did plenty of walking between miles 16 and 26 to get me through this. I want to say I would’ve done a lot less if not for my Achilles but I will honestly never know. What I do know is that the cheering coming down the home stretch was amazing. Another shoutout to Juan, whose voice I picked up over the crowd with less than a quarter mile to go.
I somehow found the energy for a kick at the end and the feeling I experienced once I crossed that line can only be described as wow. I cried, I laughed and I smiled. I was stripped down completely on an emotional level. I’ve never been so proud of my accomplishment. And never more physically spent.
Everything after this was a blur for a hot minute. I received my medal, snagged some photos and a couple of bananas and headed inside the convention center. I was very happy to find Jenn just after finishing and gave her a really big hug. Then things went downhill a bit. After the race I had a little bit of trouble warming up and was having a hard time standing. Jenn flagged down a medical staff volunteer who got me back to the first aid tent. There was a perch set up inside the convention center that was looking for anyone that might need help so it was easy for them to spot my friend flagging them down. I spent quite a bit of time in the tent and I was well taken care of. They got me a under a heat sheet ASAP provided me with warm water to drink and a banana for my blood sugar. Since I was cramping up and still quite cold and shaky they had some sports massage therapists come by to help me keep my leg muscles warm and got me under a heat sheet ASAP. They checked my vitals several times to make sure there was nothing serious going on and they were incredibly friendly. They kept me smiling and laughing, which was important because I was not feeling well at all. I can’t speak highly enough of the medical staff at this race. They and the volunteers were OUTSTANDING.
After I was released from the tent I found Brenda and Jenn, who was thrust into holding onto all of my stuff, which included my phone. My wife sent me the sweetest text when I crossed the finish line telling me how proud she was of me. I meant to answer her as soon as I got settle inside but that didn’t happen before I was taken back to first aid. They walked with me to get the post-race meal, which included a hot breakfast sandwich, which was exactly what I needed, and then to collect my finisher’s shirt and sweet glass finisher’s mug. I didn’t expect either one of these things after getting a shirt with my packet so I was very pleasantly surprised.
The course, the weather and the people make this a great race for potential PR’s and for great spectating. I highly recommend this race.
Post-race, I was able to jump on Athlinks.com and claim my race results. You can check out how I did it here, and while you’re at it, jump on and make an account too. Don’t forget to add me as a friend so we can go head-to-head in future races!
If I haven’t mentioned it enough yet I can’t thank my BRP fam enough for this experience. Brenda, Jenn and Juan, all of the advice, laughs and hugs got me through this and you are the reason I will remember this experience forever. Thank you all very much.
Follow Brenda, Jenn and Juan on Twitter and check out their reviews for this race using the links to their blogs in the story above. Don’t forget to check out my race review on Bibrave.com as well as the Chevron Houston Marathon on Social Media: