(Originally Published on Runners World Loop 1/17/2012)
Running in 2012 got off to a huge start last weekend. I got to watch a major race, run a marathon, and many of my friends also ran marathons. It was a weekend I’ll never forget!
My adventure began last year in May, when registration opened for the Houston Marathon. My sister-in-law, Amy, had encouraged me to come run the race, which she also planned to run. Amy and my brother, Darryl, live in Houston so it was an easy trip. To add to the excitement, Houston was host to both the Men’s and Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials.
A week before the race, I was feeling great, just a bit tired from working a lot but I thought I’d get to rest up. Unfortunately, on Tuesday evening I came down with the worst toothache I could imagine! The pain was so bad that I couldn’t sleep at all on Tuesday night. I had a very busy work schedule on Wednesday so couldn’t get to the dentist, and Thursday was my flight out. No way was I going to miss out on the weekend’s events because of a toothache!
On Friday, we picked up a friend, Becky, and cruised the Expo. Here’s Amy, Pam, and Becky with their bibs:
Pam and Amy were registered for the Half Marathon (Amy is running the Tokyo Marathon next month so decided not to do the full), and Becky and I were in the full. The expo was a lot of fun – in addition to the usual goodies we got to hear some good marathon advice from running legends Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit-Samuelson.
I also got a chance to meet up with fellow San Francisco Marathon Ambassador, Albert Pham – and realized he was one of the pacers who helped me at the 2011 SFM! Albert was also running the full marathon on Sunday.
On Saturday, we got up early and went downtown to watch the Trials. We found a great spot to watch, at the 2 / 10 / 18 / 26 mile mark (the course was a multi-loop course). It was so incredible to watch the elites racing! I cheered for as many of them as I could, including several of my Tucson running friends who had qualified for the Trials, especially Craig Curley and Alexandra Blake. We took lots of pictures:
Watching the Trials certainly pumped me up for my own race. My tooth was still hurting a lot but I was on a mission. Unfortunately, the pain woke me up on Sunday morning at 2:00 a.m., so I went in to the start feeling tired. My plan was to try to stick with the 3:00 pace group, but I got ahead of them shortly after the start and didn’t see them again until about mile 21.
The Houston Marathon is a large race, with some 13,000 marathon registrants. They only have two corrals and I got stuck a little way back, so the first few miles were fairly thick. I managed to establish a decent pace of 6:49/mile early on, though, and actually did keep it for the majority of the race. The weather was fairly good - overcast and cool, although the sun did peek out for a while.
Another of my brothers, Jeff, flew in from North Carolina to cheer us on. Jeff, Darryl, and my niece Andrea all drove around to various points to encourage me, and that really did help. Here’s a picture that Jeff took of me at about mile 12:
I could feel the weariness setting in around mile 21, and the last 5k was definitely slower for me. I lost enough time to miss out on my sub-3 goal, but I did manage to finish in 3:02:59, which was a new PR by 7:27. I’m pleased with that but still hungry for the sub-3! Here’s the nice finisher medal:
Pam, Amy, and Becky all did well in their respective races as well, and we hung around enjoying the post-race festivities for a while. Amy’s friends made her a nice cheering card:
And Pam got to meet new Olympian, Ryan Hall:
Later that day, I was really excited to hear about some of my Tucson friends’ results from the Rock’n’Roll Arizona race in Phoenix. There are too many to list here but they all did great! The internet has been buzzing with post-race stories and accolades.
So it turned out to be a great running weekend, but as soon as I got back I knew I had to call the dentist. They got me in immediately, and sure enough, it turned out that I had a bad infection. I spent this afternoon in the dental chair as they extracted my tooth and prepared it for an implant. So now I’m missing a tooth, and the pain this evening is more extreme than what I’ve dealt with for the last week, but at least I am now on the path to fixing the problem. They screwed a titanium thing into my jaw so I guess now I am on my way to becoming the Bionic Man. They offered me a vicodin prescription, but I said no – maybe I can go running and get some endorphins pumping instead?
Now that I think about it, you really don’t need teeth to run anyway!