Grad student is top local finisher in Houston Marathon

Grad student is top local finisher in Houston Marathon

BY B.J. ALMOND
Rice News staff

While a runner from Ethiopia wowed Houston Marathon officials Jan. 18 by expunging the 20-year-old course record with a finish time of 2:07:52, Rice mathematics graduate student Colin Carroll raised some eyebrows himself when he crossed the finish line in 2:30:26 — the fastest time by a local competitor in this year’s race.

Carroll placed 13th among the nearly 5,400 finishers, 11th among men and second in his 20-24 age division. Not bad for his first marathon!

Graduate student Colin Carroll runs to stay in shape.

“I was expecting to finish under 2:40 and hoping for under 2:30, so overall, I was happy,” Carroll said. He kept up a pace of 5:40 for most of the 26.2-mile trek but slowed to six-minute miles for the final two. “Those underpasses along Allen Parkway can really wreck you after 24 miles,” he said.

As the 24-year-old from West Hartford, Conn., took the tour of Houston on foot, he was treated to a blur of cheering spectators, volunteers handing out water and Gatorade, belly dancers, marching bands, rock bands, cloggers and other supporters along the sidelines. He recalls feeling energized by a band playing “Mississippi Queen” between miles five and six.

He also has fond memories of running by the Rice campus along Main Street and University Boulevard, where he got a mental boost from fellow math students who came out to give a shout-out. “One of the undergrad girls in the class I teach recognized me and yelled, ‘That’s my T.A.! That’s my T.A.!'” Carroll said.

Sunday’s speedy race left him feeling “pretty disoriented,” but by Wednesday Carroll said he could “walk sort of normally now.”

Having run track as an undergraduate at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., Carroll decided to take on the challenge of a marathon while he’s still in shape. He spent the past year and a half training with a friend by doing “mostly stress-relieving runs” of 10-11 miles around the Rice campus and Hermann Park at 5:30 a.m. His longest training run was 22 miles.

Now in his second year at Rice, Carroll is studying analysis in the Department of Mathematics and last week passed his final preliminary exam in the graduate program. He expects his availability to run will become more limited as his graduate studies demand more of his time, so he’s capitalizing on the training he did for the Houston Marathon.

Now that he’s recuperated from enduring 26.2 miles nonstop, he’s all set to do it again. His finish time easily qualified him for the world’s oldest annual marathon — the Boston Marathon — and he’s already signed up to experience the legendary competition April 20.

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