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Off to the races!

Last July or August Bill called me one day and said … “hey, the Houston Marathon sign up is today … do you want to do the 1/2 with me again?”

He said “again” because we ran it in January 2007.

That was the year that I trained all the way up to mile 8.  The night before the race we went and did our carbo loading pasta dinner and I told him I didn’t think I could do it.  The kids were little and I hadn’t gotten to train like I wanted.  He said … and I quote … “if you can do 8 miles, you can do the whole thing.”

And by “whole thing”, I thought he meant all 11.3  miles of it.  I had confused that with the 13.1 miles that is an actual half marathon.  (Had I trained or read up on anything about 1/2 marathons - or listened to Bill better, I would have known it was 13.1.  I have said before … I am not very detail oriented.)

I learned of my “snafu” on mile nine.

I squealed “only TWO more miles!!!”

He looked at me in shock.

“It’s four more miles”.



Runners began looking at us … and I’m sure were horrified that a runner was in the 1/2 marathon and didn’t know how far it actually was!

I realized he was right and I was wrong … I put on my IPOD and vowed to make it the rest of the way.

And I did make it.

It was awesome.  Running across the finish line with the crowd screaming … might as well have been the Olympics for me.

So back to 2009.

I said yes, I’ll run.

And I meant to train.

I really did.

I ran in the summer at the gym but once school started and my fall got super crazy, my training … and all running came to a stop.  Plus I got that snuggie and when you have one of those all you really want to do is lay on the couch.

I ran in August and again on Thanksgiving Day with my sister.

And then yesterday, I ran (every.single.step.) of the 2010 Houston Half Marathon.

Oh yes I did.

The crazy thing is … we didn’t decide until about an hour and a half before race time to do it.  Saturday night we went to a friends birthday party at the horse race track.  I put a $2 bet on a horse named “Bad, Bad Billy” and my horse won.  The pay off was 10 stinkin’ cents.

We had a fajita dinner there while runners across the city were eating pasta.  We went to bed at 11:30 - hours after the “serious” runners.   In fact, I couldn’t even find all my running gear.  Bill loaned me some runner tights (it was 42 degrees at the race start) and we decided to set the alarm at 5:10 am.  We agreed that we’d decide then if we wanted to go or not.

I woke up with a terrible headache (I mean really, it was FIVE in the morning) but took an aspirin, had a Diet Coke (the drink of sports champions everywhere I’m sure) and me and my “bad, bad Billy” were off to the races.


When we got downtown I saw runners running towards the convention center.  I would yell … “save your energy!!!” but the windows were rolled up so they couldn’t hear my advice.

Then I tried to help Bill get a closer parking place.  We both died laughing that I was about to run 13.1 miles but wanted a closer parking space.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but Bill had a VIP pass to the parking garage across the street from the race.  (Working for one of the major corporate sponsors of the event has its privileges!).

At 7:00 AM we began to run.  My thinking was I’d run 3 miles which I can always do easily.  Mile 4,5 or 6 would be bonus miles which I could probably do on adrenaline.

But you know what happened … adrenaline, determination … I’m not sure … something got me all the way to the finish line.

The pictures from the actual race don’t get posted until later this week, but I did take one at home with my medal after the race.

It is crazy that I finished.  Crazy.  A slower pace than last time but that was to be expected.  Duh.

I will say this though … my knees are absolutely killing me now.  I’m walking like I’m 102 years old.  I’m hoping that will improve because Bill and I are planning on running a full marathon in October.

We got engaged at the Lincoln Memorial.  This summer we celebrate our 20th anniversary and we thought it would be cool to go to D.C. and run the Marine Corps Marathon which runs right past the Lincoln Memorial.  So much symbolism, dontchathink?  20 years later, still running the race of life together.  I love the idea.  I just hope my knees feel better before next October!

One new addition to the Houston race this year was that they added the runner’s name on their number bib.  That way people on the side could yell out your name to cheer your on.  Seeing how Bill I didn’t commit to the race until an hour or so beforehand, we didn’t have anyone to yell for us.  Bill could care less about anyone yelling his name but I LOVED it. NEEDED it.  Thought it was awesome.  In fact, if I was feeling sluggish I would actually ask people to call out my name.

Bill was mortified.

The very best was when we ran by a DJ who had a microphone and speaker and was yelling out various people’s names.  He also had a cheerleading team next to him so they made a lot of noise.  I held my bib up so he could see it and he called out my name.  LOVED it.  Then he said “PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR FOR DARLA!!!!!” And everyone did and I thought it was awesome.

So awesome in fact that I started jumping up and down.  Which is why I partially think my knees are killing me.  Next time … no more jumping up and down.

Another thing I love are all the funny things people have on their shirts.  Sometime I want to take a camera so I can remember all of them.

One lady put “Race Official - Do not pass” on her shirt.  Another said “how’s my hair?".  I loved the one that said … “At what point did I think running this race was a good idea?”.

The people on the streets had good signs too.  One said … “worst parade EVER”.  Another said “if you don’t want to look like me, keep running.”  And trust me … it was some motivation.

So that was my exciting Sunday.

A little recovery time and then me and “Bad, Bad Billy” will be off to the races again!

You can bet on it.

Comments: #

Chelsea - Jan 1, 2010

Well done, Darla! I’m impressed. I’d probably collapse after mile 1!!

Deanne - Jan 1, 2010

How fun!! I am SO PROUD of you! You can do anything you set your mind to - including the race in October. Happy Training!

cristina - Jan 1, 2010

hilarious! i sure wish i could have seen you there.

the october marathon sounds great!

happy training!

Teresa - Jan 2, 2010

Man, I wish I could run a race without training! Congrats! :)

HoustonGurly - Jan 2, 2010

Awesome! Congratulations on ‘Just Doing It!’ Maybe someday I’ll have enough courage to even attempt it. :)

Deb - Jan 3, 2010

I have had more than one conversation in the last 24 hours discussing this whole phenom.. I’m just speechless over the whole thing!

I could MAYBE (and that is a really BIG MAYBE) run 1 mile if some ax murderer was chasing me. To run 13.1 with no training, on no sleep and with only a Diet Coke to sustain you is seriously not normal! You never cease to amaze me!

Beth - Jan 1, 2010

Only Darla!!! Girlfriend, I will be at the Armadillo Dash (the name of which I think is hilarious!!!) However, seeing that I’ve never run a race before in my life, (other than the “mega-race”. Do you remember that?) I don’t think I’ll try the whole half-marathon with only 5 weeks to train. I’m sticking with Sharon for the 5K. I’d probably be able to do the 10K, but Katie doesn’t think they have one. So, maybe next time…. I’m SOOOO proud of you!!!