ZAP veterans Tristin Van Ord and Tyler Pennel lit up the streets of Houston Sunday, at the Houston Marathon. They both notched new marathon personal bests and top 5 finishes. Whitney Macon, competing in the half marathon, was the first to cross the line. Her time of 1:14:19 was a personal best by nearly 1 minute and set the tone for the rest of the morning.
The original pacing strategy for the 2nd group in the women’s race was to be 1:13:30 at halfway. The day before the race, the decision was made to be a touch more conservative and aim for 1:14:00, given the slightly warm and breezy forecast. Over the opening miles Tristin ran with the 1:14 pace, coming through 5k at 5:40 pace.
From that point on, the pace came forward, settling into the mid-5:30’s. Between 5k and 10k Tristin bridged the small gap between herself and the main chase pack. There were 3 women out front all running sub-2:20 pace. By 10k there was a chase pack of 5 athletes, including Tristin.
By the halfway point Tristin had set out on her own, choosing to run with some men in the open race rather than stay with the chase pack of women. She hit the halfway mark in 1:13:20, on pace to break her personal best by a staggering 2:52.
Tristin kept the pressure on, running under 5:35 pace from the halfway point to 30k, and continuing to increase her lead on 5th place. Once the course made a turn into a slight headwind at 19 miles Tristin’s pace slowed slightly, but the only woman in the race running quicker was the eventual winner. Tristin narrowed the gap on 2nd and 3rd place between 30k and 40k, and continued to widen her lead on 5th place.
When the dust settled, Tristin would cross the line in 4th place as the top American finisher. She was rewarded with a massive personal best time of 2:27:07, bettering her previous mark of 2:29:32 from Rotterdam last year. Her time moves to #23 on the all-time US list (on record eligible courses) according to alltime-athletics.com.
In the men’s race Tyler Pennel rose to the occasion and proved that he will be a force to be reckoned in his 3rd Olympic cycle. Tyler entered the Houston Marathon on the heels of a very challenging last 2+ years. After placing 11th at the 2020 Olympic Trials the racing world shut down for the remainder of the year. Following that Tyler suffered injuries and untimely sickness that took him out of his 2021 and 2022 racing plans. After not racing a marathon in nearly 3 years and fighting to regain his form, Tyler returned in a big way at Houston.
Tyler began the race patiently, passing through 5k alone in 14th place. Over the opening half of the race Tyler slowly moved up from 14th to 12th place, gradually going from running 5:10 pace down to 5:00 pace. He went through the halfway mark in 1:06:26.
After the halfway point Tyler began to click off sub 5:00 miles, and at the 25k mark cracked into the top 10 for the first time. He continued to average sub-5:00 pace from 25k to 30k, faster than anyone else in the race, to move from 10th to 8th. His split from 30k to 35k was 10sec/mile quicker than the lead pack, and he moved up into 6th place. With just under 5 miles to Tyler was over a minute behind 5th place. But in the span of 5k he completely flipped the script, not only making up the gap, but putting over a minute on 6th place.
Tyler would nearly run himself into 4th place, finishing 5 seconds back in 5th. He was the 3rd American to cross the line. His time of 2:12:16 was a new personal best.
Whitney also notched a new personal best of 1:14:19 in the half marathon. Whitney was originally planning on racing the full marathon as well. But after a year of battling achilles tendonitis, she had an untimely injury pop up in November and was forced to change plans and run the half. She worked herself into great half marathon shape, and despite a less than ideal buildup, was able to trim 53 seconds off her personal best.
Joanna Thompson had a tough day and was forced to drop out just past halfway. Whitney is looking forward to taking a light week before turning her attention to a spring marathon alongside new teammate Annmarie Tuxbury.