Rice grad student places 11th at Houston marathon
Most undergraduates at Rice do not venture into the dark bowels beneath Keck Hall that house Valhalla, the graduate student pub. We all surmise that amidst the crazy paintings on the wall and the loud music pumping against the walls, some of America's brightest graduate students are sharing a beer or two, discussing ideas far beyond undergraduate comprehension. What undergraduate students do not know, however, is that there is an elite runner among them. Colin Carroll is his name, a native Connecticuter who rises every day at 5:30 a.m. and runs loops around the Buffalo Bayou. At the Chevron Houston Marathon last Sunday, his time of 2:30:26, was good enough for a 13th-place finish overall, 11th among men and the fastest by any Texas resident.
The winner of the marathon was Ethiopan Deriba Merga with a time of 2:07:52, who finished fourth in the marathon at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and led all runners through the firt hour and 45 minutes of the race in Beijing. Not bad company to run with.
Despite hanging with some of the fastest runners in the world at the marathon, Carroll candidly admitted that this was his first marathon.
"I've done some half marathons and other long road races, but this was my first marathon last Sunday," Carroll said.
Despite his lack of entries into marathons, Carroll is no greenhorn to serious running. He ran throughout high school and continued during his years at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., where he earned his undergraduate degree in 2007. He vowed to continue to run while at Rice as a graduate student in mathematics, though he thinks it is impossible to run hills around here.
"I just like getting out and running off stress," Carroll said. "When you run for that long of a time, and for that far, the only thing to train for is a marathon."
Despite his long history in running, each of the 26 miles in the race was nerve-wracking for Carroll.
"With the field that was running, it would have been a stretch to finish in the top 50 of a half marathon," Carroll said. "I found myself behind the lead women at the start, as well as the men. It was hard to figure out how and where to pass, but it was weird to feel great at the beginning [and] know you're still going too fast."
The pro-Rice crowd and the support in Rice Village helped Carroll keep up his pace as well as his spirits.
"I could see some people from Rice, as well as some people from the math department that came out, which is great when you're just running along, feeling like crap," Carroll said.
But not everyone was as supportive. When he was approaching the 13- mile mark, Carroll asked for people in the crowd to call out the time, as there was no clock at the mark. He recalled humorously one retort from a member of the crowd.
"He told me that it doesn't matter what time it is, you're still 10 minutes behind the leader," Carroll said.
After his experience in his first marathon, Carroll plans to continue running marathons. He signed up for the Boston Marathon on April 20, which will provide him plenty of hills. No matter what challenges may present themselves, Carroll's success Sunday suggests that he will meet these with the same vim and vigor he showed at the Houston marathon.
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