The self-doubting, as usual, started a couple days ago. The self-loathing will wait until, oh, maybe mile six.
Yes, friends, it’s time for my annual loooooong morning of self-induced torture, also known as the Aramco Houston Half Marathon.
“Race” day (in quotes because I wobble more than run) is Sunday morning, starting and ending at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Today I travel there with my friend Janet B. to pick up my packet at the marathon expo. I’ve attended almost every expo since 1986 (after moving to Houston), and it’s fun to be in such an energetic atmosphere. Plus it’s nice to share my nervousness with others who speak my language.
I’ll be trying for my ninth Houston half-marathon finish, which also will be my fifth straight. You would think that running this event would be old hat by now, but it’s not. Every year presents some new wrinkle (and not just on my face).
This time it’s a biggie!
For the first time since the half marathon debuted in 2003, the course has radically changed. The city told the marathon committee not to count on having the evil, devil-designed Elysian Viaduct available (it’s scheduled to be demolished, thank goodness), so the race has to start in another direction. The end result? The first nine miles are different and, thankfully, flatter.
It’ll be nice having a change of pace (which might cause me to have a faster pace), not that I really remember the course from year to year, because I so often have my head down as I try to avoid the potholes. I do have a plan to try to help me deal mentally with the unrelenting concrete:
The first six miles are for me. Just as I finish beating myself up for having too many pounds and not enough miles in my legs, I’ll turn my thoughts to my friend Janet Ely, who recently passed away after an amazing, long-term battle with breast cancer. I’ll count on her help from mile seven through eight.
After that, I’ll be thinking about my buddy Steve Terese, who unexpectedly died last fall from cancer. Steve was a Houston Marathon veteran and triathlete, a wonderful runner and a caring friend. I’m hoping he’ll carry me through miles 9 and 10.
Before I take back the mental reins for the final 1.1 miles, which I always dedicate to my beloved father, who passed away from leukemia in 1991, I’ll be reflecting on a similar battle that my former brother-in-law, Howie, has just begun. He’s been diagnosed with a different form of leukemia and will start chemo soon. I pray that his outcome will be different and that he’ll live to watch his grandchildren grow up.
Here’s hoping that Janet, Steve, and Howie can help get me to the finish line. The weather has decided to cooperate (Mother Nature owed us big after last year’s miserable conditions), thankfully. Now it’s up to me to do the rest.
Good luck to all the marathoners and half marathoners on Sunday!