Thursday, November 11, 2010

Houston Hype 2 - Race Reviews

Very exicited, so I'll just find something to post about, just so that I can talk about it, haha.

Went onto Marathonguide.com to look for notes about the race experience:

FUEL:
- I think that I counted over 15 families that had cut up oranges and bananas along the way. If you for get your GU/PowerGel, no worries!
-  There was lots of fruit on the course and plenty of fluids.
- My only complaint would be that the hydration tables were too short. Twice I couldn't merge quickly enough to get a cup of water/Gatorade. (2009)
- I was disappointed that there was no GU handed out at mile 20 this year, but the beer stop at 21 still remained. (2009)

TEMPS:
- Houston weather in January is a crapshoot, but this year it was pretty perfect.
- Some have mentioned the heat. I don't know what the temperature was, but we were kept abreast via the large signage. Maybe high 60's? There was a bit of a breeze and I personally had no problem with weather. I think the two years prior have been cooler, so I wouldn't dismiss this race due to temps. (2009)
- Although it is relatively cool in Houston, the weather can be tricky and tends to be on the hotter and clear sky-side. (2009)
- What made it more disappointing was that there were several cold fronts for the entire past week and possibly more to come next week. Somehow the marathon had to be run during the two-day heat wave. From a starting temperature of 55 it the high 60's, but the sun just would not quit. At the end, many of us discussed over our nice, warm, free breakfast over how the adverse weather affected our times. (2009)


COURSE:
- It starts off with more of an incline than you expect from the elevation chart, which is surprising, and the overpass somewhere along 15 or 16 was kind of brutal, but for the most part it is flat as billed and should be a PR course if the weather cooperates.

- The course was flat - the only grade could really be felt as you cross bridges.
- Only negatives would be that the course is a bit dull and there is a wicked camber on the roads, something like 2 feet in height between the median and the curb. Felt like I was running on a banked track; I am sure one leg is now shorter than the other!
- The mile splits were incredible - tall banners that could not be missed and officials reading out average split times.
- Half marathoners keep separate from full marathoners... real nice!
- The corral system was ok, either faster or slower, but it worked out fine, since the streets were plenty wide. Lots of porta-potties - I counted at least 300 throughout the race, some 2 miles apart.
- Also, the fact that in the last few miles the half-marathoners and full marathoners were on separate sides of Allen Parkway made finishing much more enjoyable than other races (i.e. ING Georgia), which have both trying to ply the same roads in the last few miles.  (2009)
- Concrete almost all of the way, but it's better than running on some of our city's badly potholed streets.  (2009)
- The only negative is that the streets were pretty rough in the first half (a lot of patches and uneven surfaces), and of course, you have to run on concrete. (2009)
- The course was spacious and well marked. There was never a time that you questioned if you had made a wrong turn. The spectators were fabulous. Every foot of every mile there were crowds of people lining the streets, giving encouragement to the runners. (2009)
- Bibs were HUGE this year - annoying. VERY crowded for the first 3-4 miles. (2009)
- Houston is very spread out, so you don't really run through downtown, but you get to experience all of the great and interesting neighborhoods here. Read up on all of the neighborhoods in your program. Houston is very spread out, so you don't really run through downtown, but you get to experience all of the great and interesting neighborhoods here. Read up on all of the neighborhoods in your program.  (2009)
- There are a few minor hills and one big over pass, but for the most part, it is very flat. You start off running through a not-so-great neighborhood, but by mile 3, the scenery really picks up and you run through some neat areas of town and have pleasant views. (2009)
- The course? Just a small number of minor bumps - they can't even be considered hills. There's one at the start, one just past halfway and then a few between 21 and 23. The rest of the course is flat, flat, flat.  (2009)



SUPPORT:
- Lots of entertainment on the course.
- Somehow, this years' spectators stand out - both the volunteers and sideline crowds were all super friendly and energizing.
- The course is interesting, with lots of fans and music, and the volunteers are excellent.
- The organization is unbelievable and there are spectators throughout the course encouraging you because the bibs are personalized. (2009)
- You want spectators? Try over 200,000 over the entire course. There's never a dead spot. (2009)

PRE-RACE:
- Only problem I had was parking.
- Plenty of lodging options all within walking distance of the start/finish.
- I parked less than 1/4-mile from the finish and was able to exit downtown with NO problem. (2009)
- It is great to be able to wait inside prior to the race and not be crowded, and it's nice that you end in the same spot. (2009)
- We stayed in the hotel that was at the start line. It was nice to roll out of bed and be there with no wait!(2009)

POSTRACE:
- They didn't give you a medal until you passed the picture station and I never found another one in the recovery area.
- The finisher shirt, medal, and mug were great.
- After the race you get funneled back into the convention to pick up your medal, shirt and food. They even provide dining tables where you can sit to eat your post-marathon food. Wow!
- The post-race event makes the Houston Marathon a standout. With a large medal; free finisher shirt; free finisher mug; warm breakfast with an egg and sausage, biscuit and salsa; and bananas, cake, bagels, cookies, and ice cream
- OH, and three days later, the pictures are already posted. (2009)
- Big, honking, silver, dinner-plate-sized medal. (2009)
- The post-race food deserves 5 stars. (2009)

EXPO:
- I have completed 7 marathons, and this is one of my top 2 favorites. The expo was huge!
- I don't think the expo is as good as San Antonio, though. You got a lot more free stuff in S.A. and a lot more variety of vendors. This one had too many vendors with the same stuff.



OVERALL:
- The organization of this marathon was absolutely the best I've seen (compared to Baltimore, Twin Cities, Myrtle Beach, National Marathon).
- Super organization that sets the standard for other marathons.
- The organization in Houston - from the expo, to the start line, the potties, the course marshals, medics on bikes, aid stations all the way to the finish line, medal, t-shirts and family reunion area - was exceptional.
- So many little extras: food was outstanding, finisher's T-shirt terrific, President George Bush at mile 19, plenty of toilets, good water stations, outstanding volunteers... on and on.
- You must do this at least once. (2009)


TAKEAWAYS...
FUEL: I'll be fine with the plentiful water and gatorade, but I need to bring my own gels.
TEMPS: I'll have to just get lucky here.  Plan for it to be warm and hope for the best.
COURSE: Be prepared for concrete.  Minimal hills.  Perhaps camber.  Lots of potties if I need, although I probably won't need them.
SUPPORT: Something to look forward to.
PRERACE: Parking... hard to say.  Lodging... since I have a friend there, may stay with them anyways, although the hotels near the start sound nice.
POSTRACE: Nice swag.
EXPO: Should be pretty nice, very efficient.
OVERALL: Expect top-notch organization and an overall awesome experience.

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