Run Houston Race Series: Minute Maid Park Recap

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Back in March, I ran the Run Houston! Race Series Minute Maid Park 5k.  The Minute Maid Park race was the second in a five part series of races all around the Houston area (I missed the very first one at the Sam Houston Race Park, but made up that run virtually) and the first I was able to participate in this year.  I found out about the race series when I went to the Houston Marathon Expo back in January - I've been doing 5ks for a couple of years now, but hadn't done any with finishers medals and I decided that this year I was going to do at least one race with a finishers' medal.  Well, it turns out I'll be doing 5 races this year with finishers' medals because not only do you get a medal when you finish each Run Houston! race, all those medals fit together to form a star!!  Sweet!!!

Race day started out at the ass-crack of dark - the race itself started at 7am (that's half an hour before sunrise, ya'll, and I am not a morning person).  I woke up easily enough because I was excited for the run, but Dennis and Jack, not so much.  I dragged them along with me to spectate, but in hindsight I probably should've just let them sleep.  They're both troopers, but were a little on the grumpy side that morning.

The morning was a bit chilly and windy and I think we all assumed that once they let us inside Minute Maid Stadium things would be a little warmer (side note:  it was super awesome to be inside the stadium without a baseball game going on and with most of the lights out), but the roof was open and it was WINDY inside.  I made sure to take the opportunity to take a selfie in front of the winner's podium because that's as close as I'm ever going to get to the podium.

Finally it was time to line up for the start of the race.  I staked out a place at the back of the pack because I'm slow and I know it.  Dennis and Jack waited at the start line to see me off and then it was time to run!  I was really surprised at how crowded the race was - it's' definitely the biggest 5k/10k I've participated in and things were a little bottle necked at the beginning - not that I have that fast of a time to try to make, but I was kinda hoping to PR (hahahahahaha) and the start was definitely crowded with a lot of walkers that should've been farther back of the pack.  Navigating past the people who were actually slower than me was a tiny bit frustrating, but they were all having a good time so I wasn't that annoyed.

I think I did pretty well for about the first half to three quarters of a mile before I really needed to slow down a walk a bit.  Someday I'll run an entire race, but I was still pretty out of shape in March and even though I hoped to PR, I didn't want to push myself into an injury.  The race took us out of downtown and over the Elysian Viaduct (a really long bridge that went over the bayou and nearest freeway to the neighborhood north of downtown) and back again.  I'd driven over the bridge a ton of times and was really excited to get to run over the viaduct, but hills, omg, hills and out of shape Jess don't necessarily mix.  Most of my pictures ended up blurry, but that didn't' stop me from taking them.

By the time I reached the turn-around I figured I had no chance of a PR because my legs felt like lead and even though it was a cool morning, it was muggy and I was feeling really hot.  I've never had a negative split in my life (where the second half of a race is run faster than the first half), so I upped my walking to running ratio and even stopped for a selfie with downtown in the back, lol.

I managed to run my way across the finish line, but couldn't find Dennis and Jack anywhere.  That's because Jack had gotten so grumpy that they took a walk and didn't make it back to the finish line on time.  Like I said, I probably should've just left them at home, but they did so well at my last race.  Oh well, hindsight.  I was a little disappointed that at the finish line the finishers' medals were handed out still wrapped in plastic instead of being hung around our necks like in the movies, but I still got a medal and immediately put it on.

We hung out long enough for me to enjoy the post-race snacks (very well done, I might add - fruit, bagels, juice, coffee, and grilled chicken), but didn't stay for the post race party.  Jack could not have handled that.  All in all, I'd say I had a great first 5k of 2016 - the run was very well organized and I got a finishers' medal (everybody's a winner, lol).

The funny thing about my finishing time is that if I wasn't going to PR, I hoped to at least go for a sub-40 finish, and as you can see, I came in at 41:13.  Maybe if I hadn't taken so many selfies on the course or pushed myself just a tiny bit more, I would've gotten that sub-40!  Next race, I'm not going to throw in the towel half way through!

Have you done any fun 5k's lately?  Do you try to PR or do you just enjoy the fun run distance?  Have any finishers' medals?  What's your favorite one?

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