Monday, March 5, 2012

The Woodlands Marathon Race Report

Finisher's Medal

Jeff Irvin
The Woodlands Marathon - 3/3/12
Time - 3:06:25
Overall Place - 32/1009
M35-39 AG Place - 4/112
Average Pace - 7:07/mi
Boston Qualify by 3min 35secs

Running is a painful and crazy endeavor.

It hurts, sometimes hurts real bad, but yet we still do it?

It has been many a race when the extreme pain has set in and that voice in my head would start screaming  to stop and debate with me over the very reasons as to why I was doing this to myself.

On Saturday this voice was as loud and persistent as it has ever been, actually deafening, I almost gave in to it's demands - almost.

And when I crossed the finish line and achieved my goal it was at that very moment that the intense pain was replaced by extreme joy and the question of why became irrelevant.

Once in the medical tent that joy went away rather quick ...


Kevin and Jennie made the trip to the Country of Texas for the Woodlands Marathon. Jennie would be running her first half (she did amazing) and Kevin and I would be trying to Boston Qualify. He is younger then me so he needed to be sub-3:05 and I needed a sub-3:10.

With the Boston Athletic Association enacting new qualifying standards this year both Kevin and I had to be 5 minutes and 59 seconds faster than those who qualified last season. Yes, our timing sucks but we were Ironman training last year so we played the cards that we were dealt.

Kevin and Jennie arrived in town on Wednesday evening and the weather was rather hot and humid. However, according to all the forecasts a cold front would be moving through and make race morning comfortable. We got lucky as this is the first time in recent memory that a weather forecast has actually been correct! Race morning the temps were in the high 40's and humidity was non-existent. The only hiccup was some strong, cold winds coming out of the North.

We spent the couple days before the race hanging out and introducing Kevin and Jennie to all the goodness that is Texas. They are awesome people and we all had such a great time with them! Both Annie and I cannot wait to do it all again in Quebec later this year.  I will let them tell you about the trip on their blogs but we all had a blast!

We also had another special guest in for the big race - fellow Texan and friend -  Jason of Cook Train Eat Race Fame, made the long drive down on Friday afternoon to be part of the support crew. It was great to have Jason there before the race as he is always so laid back and keeps us all laughing instead of worrying about the race. Thanks buddy, your support meant a lot!

We had a crew of friends running in this inaugural 26.2 and 13.1 miles races in the Woodlands:

The Runners: Elizabeth, Me, Bobby, Dave, Jen, Jennie, and Kevin

The Race - First 13.1 Miles:

The Elite Race went off at 6:45am sharp. Kevin and I were in Corral A and were lined up right behind the 3:00 Hour Pace Group. We were sent off two quick minutes behind the Elites at 6:47am. Race On!

Don't ya love how my Brooks ID Singlet can be seen from anywhere?

Our goal was to keep the 3hr pace group in sight and try and hit the halfway point right around 1hr and 30mins. This would equate to a 6:52 per mile average for the first 13.1mi. Everything was going perfect as Kevin and I were running shoulder-to-should just clicking off the miles. The course was flat and fast and on the first loop we were able to tuck in behind the pace group when we headed North into the wind.

The pace was fast and uncomfortable but we had both trained for this and we hit the halfway mark right on schedule:

Looking Strong!

We are both still mid-foot striking at the halfway mark!
Second 13.1 Miles:

Kevin and I maintained our 6:50ish pace until mile 17 and that was the last time I would see sub-7 splits on the garmin. The 3hr pace group was no longer in site. Actually we were pretty much alone at this point picking off the occasional slower runner from the Half Marathon Race that started 10 minutes after the marathon.

By the time we hit mile 21 things started to hurt and hurt bad. The water stations were 1.5mi apart and Kevin and I separated a few times over this part of the course but eventually he caught back up to me around mile 22. We may have talked but my memory is a little hazy from this point. I know I was looking at the garmin and trying to figure out what type of pace we needed to maintain but math was not working so well.

We ran together for the next 2 miles and began to catch up to a lot of the half marathoners. In fact, it was getting difficult serving around them as lateral movement was not so easy. Mile 24 was my worst with a split of 7:42 but I got a boost when Kevin dug deep and made a push. He started to pull away and I was cheering for him with all my heart to get in under 3:05.

By mile 25 I was still moving and my vision had started to get blurry and tunnel and white circles were appearing before my eyes. I was actually thinking I might pass out and just kept telling myself to keep moving. Each step hurt more than the last and my body was pleading with me to walk. The 7:39 pace of mile 25 was the longest mile of my life. My entire body hurt and when I finally saw the turnoff to the finish line I damn near broke into tears. These pictures coming down the chute tell the story:

Where is the finish?

Still cannot see it?

There it is!

Finish - 3:06:25

I hit the finish line and Kevin was there to catch me - and I needed to be caught! He informed me that he finished in 3:05:12 and missed the BQ by a mere 12 seconds. Broke. My. Heart.

It was hard to be disappointed because he just set a marathon PR by over 15 minutes with that 3:05 but he deserved that stupid BQ!

We were both in severe pain when Kevin made his move at mile 24. If he would have just hung back and been happy finishing it still would have been a heck of a race for him. He gave everything he had and I could see it in his eyes that it hurt like hell. He left it ALL on the course. The race he ran took skill and determination. The last 2.2 miles of the race was nothing but sheer guts. I averaged a 7:35 pace over the last 2.2mi when we split and he picked up 1 minute and 13 seconds in that span - THAT is the definition of Badass!

I am a firm believer that in life we are presented with few opportunities in which our true character is given the full chance to shine. Those last 2.2mi on Saturday I was able to see Kevin's character shine and am proud to have run this race with him and even more proud to be his friend. You killed it dude!

Post Race:

I was a wreck. Kevin walked me to a golf cart and the next thing I remember is sitting in the medical tent telling a Doctor he looked blurry. It was cold and he was thinking I may have had too much fluid (Hyper-something, Jason knows the word). Anyway, they made me stay for about a half hour until I felt better. I really didn't feel better but was sick and tired of being in the medical tent. Best part is I was lying on a cot and speaking with a women about how I felt as she was asking me question after question. I opened my eyes and it was Annie asking the questions. I did feel better after seeing her.

After the med tent I took a leak and this is when I realized that I was in bad shape as my urine was filled with blood. Not good times.

We found everyone and got some food in me and I started to come around.

**Edit: All is good now and I'm back to having nice, clean pee!


Huge Thanks to Kevin for pushing me the entire race. The race I had would not have been possible if you would not have been there.

Thank you to Annie and Jason for being the world's best race sherpas and photogs! And how awesome is my wife to be sitting in a medical tent with me and not be freaking out at all? Most spouses would be wagging the finger saying this is was your last race!

Congrats to Jennie for killing her first half marathon, to Jen for setting a new half PR, to Elizabeth for running a 1:50 a few short months after baby #2, to Bobby for completing his 10th marathon, and to my good buddy Dave for getting like a 45min PR with a 3:23 Marathon!

The hard work you all put in inspires me each and every day!

Thanks for Reading,


P.s - Ironman Mont-Tremblant Training begins today!


  1. Forgot to add that this was the most painful thing I have ever done. Period. Ironman, ultramarathons, they do not hold a candle next to racing a marathon a top speed.

  2. Wow... what a great race report! I'm so sorry that you ended up in the medical tent and peeing blood, but it was so worth it, wasn't it?

    Broke my heart to hear that Kevin missed the BQ by 12 seconds. He's truly an amazing guy and to drop 15 minutes off an already badass marathon time is damn impressive.

    So glad that you guys had a good weekend. Makes me want to come to MT even more now to sherpa and spectate! :)

    1. When I was peeing blood - no. But it is now (-:

    2. Congrats, awesome RR! Peeing blood is never fun, it is amazing how little blood it takes. I find it interesting that they said you may have been over hydrated. I have had that a few times, typically when I dont drink enough.

  3. Congratulations on your BQ!

    How do you feel now? Blood in your urine = scary. Hope that's back to normal

    I'm sure Kevin will get his BQ real soon.

    1. Sorry, left that open-ended huh? I am fine and all systems are working flawlessly again - except for my legs - they are going to take a little more time.

  4. left so much out.....haha! Bill's Cafe? How is that on the cutting room floor?

    Eating rice after the race when just about everybody else threw that stuff out. 77 boxes of pizza for lunch/dinner. Skipping alive that was just a kicka$$ weekend and I'll be blogging about it this week too.

    I had a blast and watching Kevin's face at mile 26 when there was nothing there but guts and determination was incredible. Then a brief moment later you came around the corner and I was just yelling at you to keep in moving and that you had it.

    I seriously spent more time looking at my watch and calculating race splits for you guys than I ever have in my own marathons.

    Congrats on the BQ.....we earned and deserved.


    1. Common symptoms include:

      Abnormal mental status


      Decreased consciousness


      Possible coma

      I had all of these except the Coma, the coma would have really sucked, glad it did not get to that point. LOL!

  5. I am so proud of you! And for the record you are going to Boston!

  6. FUCK YEAH JEFF!!!!! holy shit, you killed it!!!!!

    see you in beantown next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Congrats on the BQ and the PR! Way to hold on and fight for your goals and dreams. See you in Boston next year! :)

  8. freaking love this.
    look at all those photos - you have a great camera woman!!

    SO FREAKING happy for you.
    And YAY for clean pee!!!

  9. That is a sick finish time - way to go. Sounds like one hell of an effort. Good luck with Ironman training.

  10. You really didn't read my book, did you?
    Hyponatremia is in it.
    You obviously have you life insurance paid up, that's why Annie wasn't freaking out.
    Now pissing blood, that's where I draw the line..
    And that girl behind you at the finish... hmmmmm, is she moving??

    1. I asked Jason like 27 times how to pronounce Hyponatremia! Knew what it meant, probably from your book, but could not remember the name.

      Just looked at that picture and it does appear her feet are trapped in the concrete. The girls were saying the HM started about 8mins behind us so that would put her right around the 3hr mark.

  11. So proud of you both! Congratulations on a well-earned BQ!

    You told me earlier that your mantra was "Medical Tent or Bust"...

    So, with that said- Let's decide that your future mantra will be:

    "Win a million dollars or bust"

    Still can't believe you came in 3rd with such a ridiculous fast time. The Kenyans must have had the 35-39 age group stacked.

    1. If that would work lets do "Win a Billion dollars or Bust"!

      IT was a fast marathon field the winner did it in 2:17 and the female winner was 2:37 - that is some serious speed!

  12. Dude, I am seriously impressed with the both of you. Great job and I am glad you are doing better. I think pissing blood would freak me out!

    1. I knew it would pass (literally). It was from the banging of 26.2 miles and not pissing at all during the race. I was sort of proud - was in the men's room and made my buddy Dave walk over to the urinal.

      Me: "You think that is normal?"
      Dave: "Um, no."

      It has never happened from racing or training before but when I had a broken rib once it went on for like 2 weeks. That really sucked.

  13. "Most spouses would be wagging the finger saying this is was your last race!" Yep that is so true..! after long beach I was admitted to the ER and then admitted to the cardiac unit for observation and my husband's first words were "no more running" yeah that did not happen....ran 4 other half marathons since that one...!

    Huge congrats to you Jeff!!!
    I am so happy for you!

  14. Stellar performance, Jeff! Vivid and captivating recap, too! Huge DID it!!!!! :)

    Now I wonder if someone will create a special award for you...sort of like a Pukie... but having to do with running so hard it makes you piss blood. Glad that resolved itself so quickly!

  15. Contgratulations on your first marathon. Your account was inspiring, yet filled me with fear of my far away October effort.

  16. Awesome!! WOW!! Way to push on, I can only imagine the pain and the loud voices in your head telling you to stop. Hope you are feeling alright!

  17. Holy shit man! Those pictures of you coming into the finish tell. it. all! Shear agony!!!

    Man, your build up was incredible. You ran, and ran......and ran some more in hopes of a BQ and YOU GOT IT!!!

    I am not sure I ever want to experience what you just put yourself through. But wow! What an amazing job you guys did!

    Wish I could have been there to see it.....but this time I get to! In Canada!

    Rest up! Those crazy Canadians are calling our names!

    P.S. Glad the blood has cleared out. Not cool!

  18. I am SO HAPPY for both of you guys. You crushed it!!!! Amazing job!!! Congrats on the BQ and way to push through and overcome the pain! WOW...just wow!!!

  19. Congrats on the BQ. That is what we call Beast-mode . Well done

  20. Awesome report!!!

    Just finished up mine. Lot of emotions came back writing it.

    Thanks again for all your support along the way. Training together made it so much easier and more fun. Just think about how IMMT training is going to be with even more people training at the same time.

    You met both of your goals - BQ or Bust and Medical Tent or Bust. Glad that it didn't turn out to be serious though. What is a little blood in the urine when it comes to Boston?

    Way to dig deep and push hard all the way to the finish.

  21. One more thing, what's in the handheld at the end? Curious as to what is your fueling bev of choice. Thanks

  22. I'm glad you walked to the edge of the abyss and then, you know, told it to go "f" itself. THAT builds character. Congrats on your PR, what are you gonna do with it?

  23. PS I meant "BQ" not "PR", sorry.

  24. Way to go, Jeff! You're a stud an did so great to BQ! We're all proud of you, buddy! I know it was probably one of the hardest things you've ever done, but you did great!

    Aren't Kevin and Jennie just awesome? My Jenn and I love hanging out with them. They are just a blast. You guys are going to have so much fun with IMMT.

    Good luck with the training, and let's keep the blood out of the urine!!!

  25. Congrats, just happy you didn't get chik'd at the end. :) Can't believe you finished 32nd but only 4th in your age group - that's a tough group!

  26. Congrats!! I am so happy for you!! Amazing race!!!

  27. Completely awesome! Congrats on the BQ!

  28. Confession here--sometimes I get a little bored reading race reports. NOT this time! This was such an awesome day for your guys. I loved reading about the whole thing. Totally relating to trying to do math in the midst of pain--been there before and it's not fun!

    You guys are really amazing. Love how you both gave it your all. So sad that BAA doesn't allow the extra 59 seconds anymore. Anyone who can go 3:05 and change deserves to run Boston. Kevin will get there.

    CONGRATS for such a hard earned reward! You guys both are badass!

  29. Wow, what a report! Tremendous work by both you guys! I know this probably rings hollow, but hopefully Kevin doesn't worry about those 12 seconds. He will definitely his BQ next marathon.

    It sounds like both you guys ran pretty much perfect races. You sounded like you were in really rough shape at the finish though. Pissing blood sounds scary to me! Weird that over-hydration can cause blood in the urine too. I thought that was only caused by being dehydrated.

    And I am curious about one statement you made, you said that racing a marathon is more painful than doing an ironman. Not sure if you can expand on this thought next post or something. Not sure if you say this because by racing a marathon your heartrate and effort is likely at max near the end of the race, making your body work insanely hard? I've only done 1 marathon, and the end of the race was the most pain I've ever felt in my life period (by far more than any other race I've ever done)

  30. Annie must have one hell of an insurance policy on your head that she was so calm ;) hahahaha.

    Great job man, seriously this was FREAKING AWESOME!

    It's hard to be super happy for you because I am pissed off for Kevin still. Regardless, if he were an old fart he would have had his BQ time in the bag ;)

    I know the pain (somewhat) of mentally fighting your body. I love that sensation... those are your own limits. Once you find them and push them, that right there is one of the best feelings and sensations in the world. As sick as it sounds, that is why I do endurance sports :)

    Congrats buddy, that was an EPIC (yes, I used this in Kevin's blog too) race on both of your parts. GREAT JOB!!!!!!!

  31. OH, and since you set your mind to a goal and achieve it... how about I give you money to buy a lotto ticket that you are CONVINCED you will win? Deal? I will even split it with you :)

  32. Congratulations again! You had an absolutely amazing race. It was awesome to be there to see you accomplish your BQ goal. :)

    Thanks again for having us! We very much enjoyed our trip to the great country of Texas. Can't wait to see you and Annie at IMMT!

  33. Woohoo! Congrats on your race and your BQ! I am soo happy for you! Those pictures of you coming to the finish are priceless!

  34. That was an exciting report. Its amazing how you have run longer distances and, now, for you first "official" marathon, it felt harder. I think it has to do with the fact that you wanted BQ. Congrats man! You ran this like a 5K!!!

  35. great race report!
    what a run!!!!!!!!!!!!
    super happy for you - this is an amazing feat
    The new BQ times for guys are really difficult and this is just huge!!! When I see a guy in a BQ jacket year dated 2012 or later - this is way more badass than someone wearing IM gear...even Kona
    I have felt the pain of "racing" a marathon and the final 5k beatdown....but mine was at a much slower pace and total time of 3:30....cannot imagine what sub 3:10 was like for you guys!
    such a great effort - way to go
    and now this sets you up in such a perfect frame leading into IM training cant wait to see how your summer goes and what you can do in the IM.
    Huge congrats again:)
    BQ !!!


  36. obviously havent seen a 12' Boston get the jist
    WHEN i see a guy in a Boston MAry jacket with date 12' or later!


  37. Wow, a 3:06 finish? That's rad! But blood in your urine? What in the world causes that? Diet? I've never heard of it before!? WebMD, here I come...

  38. Sorry for the late comment, but great race. I feel you. Your race report appears eerily similar to mine from a week ago, also a 3:06, same kind of last few miles! I hate the feeling of everything falling apart at the end!
    And I came pretty close to damaging my kidneys, too; the temps were higher than I thought because it as a rare low-humidity day in New Orleans. I felt kidney pain around mile 16 and luckily was able to rehydrate and finish pain-free.
    The thing about your race, though, is this was your first marathon-only event. Even though you're familiar with the distance I still think you "learn" the marathon. I'm not the fastest or most experience myself, but I have gotten much, much better at reading my body and adjusting.

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