The Expo was on Friday and held at The Woodlands Methodist Church. They had a few vendors, but not enough to spend a lot of time browsing. The packet pick up was pretty simple. Tony complained that you had to know your bib number instead of having it organized by name. We were pretty much in and out of there in about 30 minutes max.
The course was a 13 mile loop that you did twice. The half marathoners did it once, obviously. I actually liked this because it condensed the crowd and water/Clif shot stations. The downside was having to pass half marathoners who were walking their first lap while we were finishing. Had to do a little "LEFT!" action. The course was also flat! Thank goodness because our first marathon was so hilly! That really made all the difference.
I was so pumped because one of my best friends, Sarah, and her whole family (3 kids & husband) came out to watch me run! They looked for Tony too, but he was too far ahead of me for them to see him too. Sarah and I actually met when we were running cross country in middle school, and she ran through high school and some college. So she definitely knows about running races! They were amazing cheerleaders and were at mile 18, 20, and 25! Her daughter was dressed in her Texas cheerleading uniform too and was pointing me out, waving, and yelling with Sarah. It was so great and really made my race! I will always remember that! It made me smile and gave me an extra boost. Plus, they have 3 kids! They could have very easily not come out because it's got to be a lot of working getting them all ready to go. I was so thankful they were there and at some of the most boring miles too. :)
The finish was really cool because you ran along the "riverwalk" area and finished by the park by The Pavillion. You had a longish tunnel of crowd watching and cheering for you. So that was a nice little boost at the finish. Here's my finish...
The race started at 6:45 am, on time. They even started the half marathon 5 minutes early. I hope everyone was there already and didn't miss the start. That would be a bummer. The water/Gatorade stops were every 1.5 miles and there were 3 or 4 places to get Clif Shots. It was nice because you felt like you were always coming up on one of those and made the miles go by faster. Parking was also close and easy to find. My Dad, who came later with Cole, ended up parking farther away. But we were able to get in and out quickly.
Tony ran a super speed 3:17:56 (7:30 pace). He finished 9th in his age group and 45th for men, out of 589. This was 30 minutes faster than our Big Sur time. We didn't run together this time, but he did awesome!
I ran a 3:38:18 (8:16 pace). I finished 4th in my age group and 23rd for women, out of 420. I was surprised how much better I felt during this run. When we ran Big Sur, I was spent after mile 20. This time I was able to keep my pace and really finish strong. It gave me a totally different opinion of the marathon. I'm actually not dreading doing another one someday. AND I almost qualified for Boston with my time. Technically, if I could run this year's race, I would have made it, but they lowered the time for the 2013 race to 3:35. I guess that means I'll have to do another marathon and make a go for it.
My Mom had signed up for the marathon, but has been plagued by some injuries, and changed to the half. It's the furthest race she's ever done and she didn't even have time to fully train for it. And she still did great! She finished in 2:33:32 and was able to run more of it than she thought she would. We are so proud of her! I hope that she's able to do a marathon soon.
They had plenty of drinks right at the finish of the race and since we were doing the marathon, a lot of the half marathon crowd had cleared out by the time at least I was done. This was the only downside of the race...the post-race food! They only had an orange and this turkey and rice dish that you got a scoop of. That was it! You could get samples at a few other booths, but you had to walk around to each one to get those, and I wasn't feeling up to that. I couldn't even eat the rice dish my stomach just wasn't up for that. So I had an orange, and we went to get a full lunch/breakfast afterwards.
Cole's Marathon Experience
My Dad took care of getting Cole up, fed, and to the race on Saturday morning. He was Super Pop Pop! I was the only one that Cole got to see finish though because he slept until 8:00 and my Dad had to wake him up to get him going. Cole got to hang out in the stroller and watch all the people, so I think he enjoyed that. Plus, he got his first "kids meal" at Black Walnut afterwards. The grilled cheese was a big hit. He wanted to eat it like a big boy too.