In a mere six days, I’ll be running the Aramco Half-Marathon, the shorter version of the Chevron Houston Marathon. The Sunday before that pivotal day is one of growing excitement, as the reality of the upcoming event crashes head-on into the reality of one’s lack of good training and fitness (e.g., an ever-hurting left leg).
In years past, I would stew and grumble about how awful my training had gone while wondering how race day a week away would be. But this year all of that changed . . . thanks to a long-distance race that involved our community.
This is the second-straight year that USA Fit, which is a national marathon and half-marathon training program, has put on its USA Fit Marathon and Half-Marathon in the Houston area. Dubbed as “everyone’s marathon,” its draw is that it has a generous eight-hour time limit. That’s two hours longer than our Chevron Houston Marathon allows. USA Fit especially appeals to walkers; the Houston Marathon doesn’t, as is its right. When Houston decided to finally strictly enforce its six-hour time limit two years ago, USA Fit jumped in with its own event.
Sidebar: Every year around this time I read where faster runners snootily decry slower runners and walkers, saying that anyone who finishes a marathon slower than they do isn’t a marathoner. Last time I checked the dictionary, the definition of “marathon” is a distance, specifically 26.2 miles. Complete that distance? You’re a marathoner, no matter what your time is.
Last year the race was at a small, cramped venue. This time it was moved to our local University of Houston campus. The course was such that it circled our four-mile loop during its out-and-back route (twice for the marathoners). With only 1,500 runners and walkers, it didn’t inconvenience us very much. But it did serve to inspire me!
That morning, which was a chilly 25 degrees, I ran six miles while watching the runners and then walkers travel parallel to me (I was on the sidewalk, while they were on the coned-off street). Even though it was cold, they were ready to try to achieve goals they had set months ago when the temperatures were much too warm.
Sidebar: Oh, how we long for those too-warm days when the temps are in the 30s and below!
As I watched them, I discovered that I couldn’t wait until it was my turn to be out on the streets of Houston, traveling 13.1 miles from start to finish. I was cheering them on as I jogged along only to find that they were the ones spurring me on! I just hope it’s going to be good karma that will push me towards the finish line Sunday.
After I finished running, I stopped at my house and grabbed my Nikon dSLR with its Nikon 105mm lens. I wanted to document this event that was happening a mere five minutes from home. Unfortunately, the participants were so strung out once they reached our community at a little over seven miles from the start that there weren’t many groups to shoot. Ah, the loneliness of the long-distance runners! I know it well, being as slow as I am.
Even though I didn’t get to take many photos, it was nice being among the competitors and thinking about what they were experiencing as they pounded the pavement. My final thoughts as I headed home? In one week that will be me going the distance and, hopefully, finishing my fifth Houston half-marathon. Sure glad it won’t be as cold!!