Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fiesta Marathon Recap

About a week and a half ago, I traveled down to McAllen, Texas to run in my first marathon. I chose the Fiesta McAllen Marathon as my first marathon because it is a small race and my momma lives in McAllen. Thus, not only did I get to see my BFF mommasita, but I also got to stay at home for free...major bonus points.

I arrived in McAllen on Friday at about lunch time. After Toni picked me up we went get some Mexican food stat! South Texas has the best Mexican food ever and I always have to get my fill when I go home. We stuffed ourselves with Tlapeno soup and a botana platter, and then we stopped by her beautiful store. My Momma is a super talented Interior Designer, and she has some amazing things in her store at the moment. I cannot wait to have my own home and have her use her talents on every square inch!
Beautiful Bed and Art
Wonderful gifts

My car is still in Texas. So after some time in the store with my Momma, I drove on up to Falfurrias where I grew up and my dad lives. My stepmom's German Shepard had just had puppies (12 of them!!!!!) and they were the cutest things. I am excited to get to play with them when I go home for Christmas. After playing with the pups for a bit (they were much more interested in snoozing and eating), Linda, my Daddy and I went into town to have dinner...MORE MEXICAN food! I unfortunately do not have pictures of our dinner but it was super yummy and we had great conversation. I will definitely take a lot of pics of us when I go home again, and I am excited to get spend some more time with them! I love them both!

That next morning I had coffee with Linda and my Daddy, and then drove back down to McAllen. I had to pick up my packet for the race, and I wanted to make sure I got there on time. At the expo/packet pickup, I ran into my high school guidance counselor. His son (who was my teacher in high school) was running in the Marathon Relay Race. It was so nice to catch up with both of them as well as their wives and family.

From Packet Pick Up my Momma and I went to one of the places in Texas I miss the most...HEB!!!! I love HEB. They have the best prices, the best produce, the people are friendly, and it is the best. If you have an HEB, DO NOT take it for granted...because it is fabulous.
Fresh Produce
Why yes! We take photos in the flower section! I LOVE HEB!

After the grocery store we went home, and my Momma made me the yummiest Hot Chocolate. It had been raining all day...which made me nervous for the race. I had picked the race in Texas not only because my family lives there, but also because of the climate. I wanted a nice dry not too cold race day...and usually that is what Texas has to offer...especially when South Texas has not had any rain like all year. However, maybe I was lucky charm or something because it poured all day...good for the land, animals, and people of South Texas....not so good for a nervous first time marathon runner!
Rainy Weather

To calm my nervous, my Momma suggested a bit of champagne. Haha! It did just the trick! **Runners note** In an attempt to stay hydrated, I drank tons of water...but I think I almost over did it because at one point I started to feel sick. My advice for future races and to others: Just listen to your body and hydrate as normal.

My momma made me some pasta for dinner and I was off to bed nice and early. My alarm went off at 4am on Sunday morning. I had some coffee and water with my Momma and a plain bagel, and then I got dressed for the race. It was about 50 degrees outside and luckily the rain had lightened up to a drizzle...PERFECT running conditions. I wore my Mizuno running shoes, my Sugoi running tights (best things EVER), and my favorite t-shirt. I also utilized some anti-chaffing ointment as a preventative measure since I tent to chaff around my sports bra. I wore a white throw away sweatshirt to keep me warm before the race as well as a trash bag...I learned this little technique from Congresswoman Jean Schmidt. She is an avid runner, and the trash bag really does keep you warm as you wait for the race to start.
Ready to Run!!!!

As I said before, the race was really small, I think only about 100 people ran the actual Marathon portion. However, about 2000 people competed in the other events including a marathon relay, a half marathon, and a 5K. The start and finish of the race were at the McAllen Convention center which was really nice. They had plenty of bathrooms which was awesome because I always have to "nervous pee" before a race. At all of the other races I have participated in, the lines have been so long to use the porta potties that I usually just hold it. But because this race was so small, I got right into the bathroom and they were like the Rolls Royce of Porta-Potties...more like a portable trailer bathroom. SOOO NICE. (These things are important people.)

Another pro to this being such a small race was my Mom did not have to drop me off until about 15 minutes from the starting time which was really great since it was sprinkling. While waiting at the starting line I ran into two friends from college who had moved to McAllen since graduation. Catching up with them made the time go by so quickly and my nerves go away, and before I knew it, the race had began.

For the first three miles we ran around the shopping area that was by the convention center, and I ditched my sweatshirt at like mile 1. I felt great for the first 6 miles. Great pace. Cool air. Less rain. At mile 7, I had a surprise. My neighbor Scott was parked at the mall ready to cheer me on. It definitely helped boost my energy. Also at mile 7 ate a few of my Jelly Belly Sports Beans, but after that I pretty much stuck to Gatorade as an energy source. I felt great through mile 11 (this is also where we split from the half marathon runners) and then at mile 12 I got something every runner dreads....the side-stitch. I had not had one throughout most of my training runs so at first I did not know what to do to fix it. I had consistently been running about a 9 minute mile until this point so I slowed down quite a bit for all of mile 12. It went away thankfully and I got right back on track.

I had been looking forward to mile 15 because that was the part of the race that went in front of my Mom's house...and boy was I excited to see her when I made it there!
MOMMAAAA!!! This shows how small the race was....only one runner behind me.

My mom drove along side me for about a mile and then the course had us run miles 16-18 on a running path. At about mile 18 my tendonitis starrted acting up again. I pushed through it and then my neighbor Scott was along side me again. He had ran the NYC Marathon and gave me a quick pep-talk and I felt motivated again. Prior to mile 18, I would walk through the water stations (which were tiny...only about three steps) to drink my water/Gatorade, but after my tendonitis started I quit walking. It would make the muscle tighten up. Miles 21through 24 went by quickly, but Mile 25 was a pretty brutal (my Momma drove along side me at this point for a bit). At about mile 25.5 I saw my dad, he gave me a bit of last minute encouragement and I kept pushing through. Finally I saw the convention center again, and I knew I had made it. I felt so accomplished and proud. Scott was there again to cheer me on for the final 0.2 miles, and then I saw my Momma at the finish line. I crossed the finish line at 4:05:35...25 minutes faster than my goal. I felt great. I met up with my Momma, Daddy, and Scott. I was so thankful to have them there to cheer me on.
Daddy and Momma at the Finish

Scott and me! My pacing coach for the race!

As we were taking pictures, I realized that I was pretty sure I had placed in my age division. During most of the turnarounds I could tell that I was in 4th place for women overall, and I was pretty sure that the women in front of me were older (you peak at running later in life). So we went over to the awards area to wait for the announcement. I also ran into my high school teacher again while I was there. His relay team had placed first in their division
Me and Mr. Cadena...and my crazy neck vein

As we waiting we realized that a mixture of all of the rain and 26.2 miles of running, my pony tail had turned into a GIANT knot. I mean it looked like a birds nest, but I did not let that get me down because they started announcing the winners....and....I GOT FIRST in my age division. HAHA! I love small town races!
Victory is Mine!!!!

All in all I had a great experience at the McAllen Fiesta Marathon. I came in with pretty low expectations and so I was very pleasantly surprised. It is a small town race. So there is not a lot of hooplah. You have to pace yourself because there are not clocks at each mile and for a good amount of the race I was by myself. There is not a lot of crowd participation, but when there is everyone is friendly and excited for you. Also, you have a chance to actually place...which would NEVER happen at large races like Rock-n-Roll or NYC. I would 100% run this race again. I love South Texas, and I loved having my family there for support.

The rest of Sunday was spent recovering and trying to get my MASSIVE knot out. It ended up taking me two days to get that thing out. My Momma, Daddy, and I had breakfast, and then my Momma treated me to a massage...which was spectacular. That evening Toni and I hungout with our BFF Lily...we ate Christmas cookies and just enjoyed being with one another. Momma and I ended the night by watching the movie Hachiko. It has Richard Gere in it and is about a man and his dog. I bawled my eyes out and I suggest it to anyone who has had a dog.

I slept so well that night and I was definitely sore the next day. My momma and I just spent time together before she dropped me off at the airport. Luckily, it was not a sad goodbye (like normal) since I knew I was going to be back in like a week for Christams. The weekend was wonderful, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

One bit of advice I will leave before I depart is...if you have hair similar to mine (very long with a natural curl) and run in a marathon with a constant drizzle then DEFINITELY put it in a bun. That knot was torture and the only negative to the whole marathon experience. Other than that, it was superb and I am excited to sign up for my next one!

Happy THREE Days Until Christmas!!!!