Disclaimer: I received a free entry to The BCS Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
The BCS Marathon & Half Marathon in College Station, Texas is known to be one of the best running experiences. I’d heard nothing but GREAT things from my running buddies. In fact, according to marathonguide.com, the BCS Marathon is the highest rated marathon in the state of Texas! Now that is a loaded statement. If you didn’t know already, Texas is HUGE. Therefore we have TONS of marathons. So you bet your bottom this race caught my eye! The marathon also raises a lot of money for charities, which I find important. This year, almost $16,000 was raised for the Mercy Project, which helps to end child slavery in Ghana, Africa.
Not only is the BCS Marathon doing great things for the community, the race is know for it’s epic swag and post-race party. They did not disappoint. Upon finishing the race, runners received a SWEET finisher’s jacket (it’s going to be the only jacket I wear forever for the rest of my life) AND there were a bunch of food trucks ready to serve sausage on a stick, pizza, breakfast burritos, margaritas, beer, and more! To top it all off, they had a huge gong for you to bang with a hammer if you PR’d or BQ’d!!! What more could a runner ask for?
Needless to say, I had an overall amazing experience on Sunday at the BCS Marathon.
I drove to College Station, Texas on Saturday (about a three hour drive from Dallas) then headed to the expo at the Baylor Scott & White Hospital. The expo was nice – nothing huge, but had a few booths offering things for sale – where I managed to score a few cute “Run Texas” long sleeves from the $10 bucket, grabbed my bib and t-shirt, and did some mingling. I spent probably less than an hour at the expo then hit a nearby restaurant for some grub in time for early bed time.
I have a bib, so I guess it’s official!
Race morning, I woke up with plenty of time to get ready, drink my coffee, and dilly-dally a little bit (my second profession). It was 36 degrees outside so, naturally, being from Texas, I had no idea what to wear. If I hadn’t known (slightly) better, I would have bundled up. But I went with a simple tank top and crops underneath a “throw away” jacket to wear just until I warmed up. And if you know me at all, of COURSE I wore gloves to relieve my case of chronically cold hands.
So, I’m all geared up, shot a few Insta-Stories and got a few “good luck” messages that made my day, then headed to the hotel lobby for some free coffee! Hooray for free energy and warmth! I get in the elevator and meet a sweet woman named Angie. We talked a bit, then out of curiosity, I asked her how she was getting to the start line. She said her husband was about to driver her over. I told her I planned on taking an Uber and, without hesitation, she offered a me a seat on the ride over. So, I rode over to the start line with Angie and Glen, who I’d just met about 20 seconds prior, and it was great. I’ll never forget my new friends. I’m telling you, runners are the BEST! Not just because I’m biased. 🙂
So, I’m at the race start and I know a friend from Dallas is there who I planned to run with. And by “run with” I mean “chase like a rabbit and try to keep up.” We met up and he had brought me these little hand warmer things. SO sweet! It made a WORLD of difference and I can’t thank him enough (THANKS HECTOR!!!). As a Texan, I had never even seen these things. I just slip them in my gloves and it was like holding a hot cup of coffee without holding a hot cup of coffee. So, basically perfection (if only they could inject caffeine…).
I hit the porta-potties at the last minute just as a precaution, then warmed up my legs a bit, and meet Hector back at the start. We sang the National Anthem. I will never forget this moment. The announcers were struggling to get the recording going as everyone stood their with a hand over their heart. Without hesitation once it was realized that the recording wasn’t cooperating, the entire crowd of runners sang in unison. We stood there, without music, and sang our National Anthem. Loud and proud. I almost cried.
We head to the group of runners near the 1:40 pacer and they let us loose at 7:00am, on the dot. WE’RE OFF! There’s nothing like the adrenaline of a race start. I cross the start line wondering… Wondering if my plan to start at a 7:40 pace was too ambitious. Can I do this for 13 miles? What happens if I die off? Should I slow down? Speed up? I never, ever, in my life before starting running a little over a year ago thought that I would run 13 miles, let alone at a sub-8 minute mile. Heck, if you would’ve asked me if I’d ever run THREE miles at a 7:40 pace, I would’ve laughed. Just two years ago. It’s amazing how far we can come…
Anyway, all these thoughts are going around in my head, then I just focus on following my rabbit (again – thanks, Hector!) and my music. I take in the scenery and enjoy all the spectator signs that read things like “Marathon?! We thought you meant Netflix!” and “An Uber to the finish is only $11.83! Just FYI!” I also got to high-5 some cute little kids in pajamas and got some “Looking strong” comments from adults on the sidelines. All helpful in their own ways. It sounds SO cliche, but I just kept thinking …just keep going. It reminds me not to worry (er, calculate to the hundredth) about how many miles I have left, but to just simply keep doing what I’m doing until I’m past that finish line. Keep pumping my arms and lifting my knees. Just keep doing that.
So I did just that. My goal was 7:40min/mile, and I was going pretty solid for a while – 7:39, 7:39, 7:27 (thanks, adrenaline!), 7:43… and so on. At mile 8, my buzzer went off on my Garmin to show me my mile 8 split… 8:05/mile. “SHIT!” I literally yelled out loud. I know now that even a few seconds can really matter when trying to snag a PR. I didn’t have time to dilly-dally! I didn’t care why I’d slowed down – hills, tired legs, whatever. I just knew I had to keep going. I didn’t come this far to NOT hit one of my goals.
Goals. My ultimate goal was sub-1:40. I’d have been ecstatic with 1:39:59. My other goal was anything closer to that than my previous PR of 1:44. This race was just my second half marathon I’ve trained for, and I realize goals take time, so anything under 1:44 would’ve been worth celebrating!
So, I remind myself I don’t have time to dilly-dally at 8:05 and step it up. I get Hector’s bright red shoes back in sight, which makes me feel better because I know that he is holding a solid 7:40 pace. He’s where I want to be. We agreed that he’d hold 7:40 and my plan was to do my best to catch him. Literally.
I caught up with Red Shoes!
So, I just keep going. Having those red shoes in sight meant I could be less obsessive about looking at my watch and enjoy the scenery and high-5’s. I know running is all about having fun, and I will always remind myself never to lose that.
Next thing you know I just have 4 miles to go, then 3. I realize at this point more than ever that I’m mostly surrounded by men. Strong runners. The people I was running with looked super legit. I felt pretty bad ass to be honest. People were cheering “GIRL POWER” and “YOU GO GIRL!!!” because I was passing up the boys. It felt good. It really helped me push through that mental barrier and forget about all the “what if‘s.”
Hector and I cross the finish line simultaneously and I felt like Super Woman. A kind volunteer placed a medal around my neck and I had just
won the Olympics PRed!!!!! I knew I didn’t hit that 1:39:59 but I knew I was oh, so close. I felt ZERO disappointment. I felt nothing but joy and happiness. I had worked DAMN HARD and I did NOT STOP. I kept flying and smiling. I did it. I finished in 1:42:43 (official time) and I am more determined than EVER to keep going. 1:39, you are mine.
I see you, finish line!
Thank you to my coach at Lifelong Endurance for helping me crush my goals.
I did it! PR!
Also, check out my detailed review of the race itself on BibRave.com here!
See you soon, 1:39.