Ran in the Chevron Houston Marathon last weekend. What a great weekend! Weather was great. People in charge of the marathon were fantastic. The expo was very well organized with excellent vendors with just about anything you could ask for. As I go to each marathon or ultra-marathon that I run, I find it interesting to compare the outcome of all of the organization and planning that goes into each race. Houston was at the top of the charts in just about every category.
The course is a fair and fast one with a few hills but very good surfaces and mile markings. At each mile marker there was a volunteer calling out split times and letting you know by wave how you were doing. It was great!
The morning of the race was really well organized. Signs were posted everywhere showing runners, either marathon or half-marathon, how to get to their respective corrals. The 7:00AM start meant that the race would start in the dark so lighted directions were vital. Then there is the ever important race for the porta-cans. No need to in Houston. I have never seen so many. Both all around the start area and then also in the corrals. There were also more than enough porta-cans along the course. Not just one or two like most races.
Aid stations were staffed by wonderful volunteers that really knew what runners needed. I carried a hand-held bottle and they were always ready to fill it up with either a pitcher or multiple cups to speed my aid station time along. That really makes a difference. The crowds were amazing and very encouraging. It seemed like there were people watching the entire length of the course.
Now the fun stuff. Mr. Organized here had his first race where gear things just didn't go well at all. The waist pouch (The brand name I don't know. The tag is missing or I would reveal what a piece of junk that it was) where I keep my tubes of powdered Heed, Perpetuem, and Endurolyte caps from Hammer Nutrition, broke at mile 1 and fell to the ground with a "Oh no that can't be happening" sound. So I picked up the pouch and carried it in one hand and my hand-held bottle in the other for the remainder of the race. It was difficult getting things out for each time that I needed them but it worked out and although some time was lost, I got pretty good at stuffing things under my arms when it came time to fill a bottle up. On top of that, the afternoon before the race I was putting my timing chip on my shoes when I realized that I had put it on the wrong pair of shoes. So a trip back to the expo to get extra ties (yes I do put multiple ties on the chip, never have trusted just one) was in order. Mission accomplished. Now the hunt starts for a new waist pouch that will last longer than three marathons.
I also am a creature of routine basically the minute I step on the plane or in the car to go to the race until the finish of the race. At this race, there was the traditional pasta dinner at a fantastic restaurant near the hotel which I did as usual. But the twist this time was that instead of going back to the hotel and pace back and forth until the 4:00AM wake-up call, we went to the Rockets/Heat NBA game. Outstanding! What a routine breaker that was. But all was well.
As I crossed the finish line at 4:01:52 I thought of many things. I thought about how blessed I was to have the opportunity to do my running thing. I thought about my wife Berta who cheers me on at races and follows me on training runs and meets me with my stock of Hammer Nutrition products. I thought about my son Andy who didn't get to run this race with me because his dog Monk had major surgery and he wanted to be near him during the hours of recovery. A good decision. Monk needed him. Andy is also trying to get an ankle better for future races. I thought about my daughter Kelsey who makes signs for us all and makes me laugh at some of the crazy things I do to get ready. I thought about Larry and Sheri, our amazing friends. Larry ran a fantastic race and Sheri was there to take pictures of the race and cheer us on. And then as I walked on past some medical people and volunteers who asked if I needed anything, I thought some more and said, "No, things are just great!". Thanks to all of you who bring a bit of sunshine each day to the world around you!
Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!