Category Archives: half-marathon

Running for Another New Reason

It’s a badge of honor!

Now that I’ve logged a 10-mile run, I can somewhat confidently look ahead towards my ultimate goal: Finishing my eighth Aramco Houston Half Marathon on January 13.  That date will be here before we know it, and I’m hopeful that a few more long runs will make me believe that I’m ready to tackle those 13.1 miles without cursing the cruel racing gods for not blessing me with decent running DNA.

Helping to ease the pain (“Ease his pain”—remember what movie that quote is from? And, yes, I did whisper it.) of my ornery right foot that starts burning after six miles and make me go the distance (yep, same flick) is the knowledge that for the fourth straight year I’ll be running for others.

Thanks to the Chevron Houston Marathon and its attendant half marathon’s Run for a Reason fundraising program, I’ve helped raise money for the the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in 2010 and 2011 and Susan G. Komen for the Cure this past January.

For 2013’s race, I’ve selected yet another new cause: The American Heart Association. My father suffered a non-fatal heart attack in the early 1980s, while my dear cousin Eileen has suffered with heart problems. I have friends who also are dealing with heart issues, while others, including our good friend Eric, have lost their fathers due to heart attacks.

Obviously, it’s time to kick heart disease to the curb! Won’t you join me in this fight by donating? Any dollar amount is appreciated. Just click here.

Thanks for helping me make a difference!

Sidebar: “Field of Dreams,” of course! Love that movie!!

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Another Half-Marathon Finish!

There are lots of runners in front of me as we heard towards the starting line.

Except for needing some kind of mechanical lift to get me out of my office chair, I’m feeling pretty darned good after finishing my seventh Aramco Houston Half Marathon yesterday morning. As usual, my feet took a pounding from all the concrete, and my neck hurts from looking down so much as I tried to avoid tripping and falling.

Doing a faceplant in front of thousands of runners and spectators? Definitely not priceless.

Plenty of runners are STILL ahead of me as we come off the evil Elysian Viaduct.

Yesterday was a great day for running: 43 degrees at the start (plus Beatles music was being played; always a favorite); in the 50s when I finished. They call it a “no-excuses” day, but I’ve yet to meet a runner who doesn’t have a bagful of excuses ready just in case. Mine begin with “slow running DNA” and end with “didn’t train hard enough.” I seem to repeat those every year, unfortunately.

Fortunately, there were lots of noisy spectators, music, and some great signs along the course that kept us entertained as we motored along. My favorite posters read “Chafe now. Brag later.” (I did the former but not the latter.) “Run faster! He farted.” “Run a better race than Perry.” (Ha ha!) “I thought you said ‘RUM!’”

She told me she was praying for me during mile 11 . . . and I needed it then!

What really helped push me through the 13.1 miles along the uneven, hard Houston streets was remembering who I was running for: Sheri, Janet E., and Rob T. I mentally hoisted my gal pals on my shoulders right at the start, while Rob “joined” us at mile 10. Whenever I saw the prayer stations, I prayed for good healing vibes for my trio as well as others who I know are ailing. This really lifted my spirits!

It was an honor to run for my friends—they are true warriors. They made the pain bearable.

A medal is a great fashion accessory!

Of course, the finishers’ t-shirt and medal are great pain medications, too!

Weather Watching Again

The weather according to my iMac

Yes, I’m at it again—for the seventh time I’m running the Aramco Houston Half Marathon through the streets of Houston Sunday, which means I’ve been obsessively checking out weather websites all week.

Accuweather’s take on the forecast

Like most runners, I prefer cool temperatures for long runs like this 13.1-miler. But I don’t like it cold (it was 27 degrees overnight, so I’m glad the race wasn’t today) or too warm like last year (60 degrees). For me, about 50 degrees with a light breeze is just perfect. But like me, Houston’s weather tends to be far from perfect, especially on race day.

Here’s what the National Weather Service says.

As you can see from the three photos, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on what the low temperature will be Sunday morning. But I have a feeling it’ll be about 45 degrees, which means a short-sleeve t-shirt and shorts for me (the temps were similar in 2010). It’ll be chilly at the start, but it shouldn’t be too warm by the time I jog past the finish line (hopefully).

After that, I’m looking forward to resting my legs and rooting our Houston Texans on to victory against the hated Baltimore Ravens in the NFL playoffs. Gooooo, Texans!

Running for a Reason

It’s not too late to help me raise money for the Susan G. Komen Run for the Cure! I really appreciate the support. I’ll be thinking about my friends Sheri and Janet as I’m jogging along—they will inspire me to keep pressing onward. Plus I know I’ll get a lift at mile 10 when I remember Rob T., who just underwent a long, harrowing surgery for neurofibrosarcoma. There’s no way I can have my usual pity party there when I consider what he’s had to endure (he’s also a stage IV tonsilar cancer survivor).

Thanks for being on my shoulders Sunday, Sheri, Janet, and Rob!

Hot Running an Almost Half Marathon

A day late and a dollar short

There’s a running rule of thumb about the weather: Conditions the day before and/or the day after a long-distance race will be better than the day of the event.

I would like to turn in for evidence yesterday and today. Right now as I type before 10 a.m., the temperature in the Houston area is a wonderfully refreshing 62 degrees. Oh, what a beautiful morning!

My view of the race start

Yesterday at 6:45 a.m. when I was standing at the start of a half marathon in my little town outside of Houston, it was 72 degrees. As in waaaaaay too hot to be running 13.1 miles, especially for slowbos like me who suffer from asthma. It was awful from start to finish.

Was it a good thing that the course was only 12.63 miles, according to my Garmin GPS watch? Well, not for those who wanted to run an official personal best. I knew instantly that the route was short when we made a u-turn along a 4.1-mile double-loop stretch and hit the seven-mile marker. I checked my watch and saw 6.59 miles on it. What the heck? Unfortunately, whoever set up the u-turn didn’t look at the official course map and put it in the wrong place. Pretty disappointing.

Unusual music is played on the final stretch.

I always think that signing up for a race and plunking down your hard-earned cash (or really the Mister’s hard-earned cash) enters runners into a contract with the event. We’re promised a safe, accurate course; in return, we should be adequately trained for the distance.

I think this particular race broke that promise (it also didn’t help that the first water stop was more than two miles from the start on such a hot day). Hope it doesn’t happen next year, because it benefits some good causes.

Plus it’s close to home (about 10 minutes away) with plenty of free parking. I’m all about convenience when it comes to running . . . no matter what the weather.

Half is NOT full

Want to know how to rile up a runner? Call a half marathon a marathon.

My friend Stacie, who runs but doesn’t enter races, told me a few weeks ago that our mutual buddy Lana was going to be running a marathon soon. I asked her if she meant the half marathon the last Sunday in March. Maybe, she replied.

So I e-mailed Lana to ask what race she had entered. The marathon in our city on March 27, she said. You mean the half marathon? Yes, that’s the one, she replied.

Lana, Lana, Lana! There’s such a huge difference between the half and the full marathon. It’s not just the extra 13.1 miles. You need to experience that last 10K (most marathoners will tell you that the race truly begins at 20 miles) to really understand why it’s such a great yet hard accomplishment. A half marathon is a walk in the park compared to its 26.2-mile older sibling. Especially when that half is almost a half-mile short!

Lana is about to finish! (Photo by her husband Mark)

By the way, Lana finished her first almost half marathon with a smile on her face. Congrats to my wonderful pal who is turning 50 this Wednesday!

Houston Half-Marathon Finish #6 With a Heavy Heart

What happened to the top of this downtown Houston building?

My heart is very heavy today, and it has nothing to do with yesterday’s Aramco Half Marathon, which I finished in the second-slowest time of my six total mostly due to the first five miles that felt like we were running in a sauna.

Remember all that nerve-wracking pre-race weather watching, which included a warning from race officials that if there was lightning the event could be delayed or even, perish the thought!, cancelled? I awoke yesterday to dry conditions outside. Normally, that would be good, except this is Houston, home of horrible humidity any time of the year.

That meant that the Chevron Houston Marathon and my race, the 13.1-miler, would at the very least be run in the muggiest of conditions: Temperatures in the 60s (nice for spectators, not for runners) with the threat of rain. It finally, blissfully, started to pour after about an hour. That helped to keep us cool, but most of us were already cooked from the earlier steam bath.

Fortunately, the rain didn’t keep the spectators away. Houstonians love to support the runners! They hold up great signs (“Worst Parade Ever” was my favorite this year), make a lot of noise and even sing (loved the triple Elvis impersonators!), and encourage us to keep on going. The event showcases everything that’s right about Houston, which really boasts some of the nicest people in the entire world.

This year’s Aramco Half Marathon finishers’ medal

And, as always, the best feeling in the running world? Crossing the finish line and receiving a great-looking finishers’ medal.

Still, as I was slogging away and trying to keep from falling on the uneven city streets, I couldn’t help but think about the two high school kids I was running for as I raised funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I’ve written about Stephanie, my younger son’s classmate, before.

Tanner plays percussion in our high school’s marching band.

But now I carried in my mind during the race a new young warrior whose battle is just beginning. Tanner, the high school freshman son of my good friend and masseuse Tina, was diagnosed with large B cell lymphoma today. Tina had told me last week that he had cancer and that they were waiting to find out what kind. Tanner and my #2 son played recreational basketball together years ago, so we know this fine young man. I feel terrible that cancer is hitting my friends’ children.

Along the half-marathon race route, Houston’s Christian radio station had two prayer stations. As I jogged past, I thought about Stephanie and Tanner and prayed that they will be healed (Stephanie is in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma). Maybe some day both of them will run and raise money for a cause that’s near and dear to their hearts, too.

I hope you’ll keep both of these brave kids in your thoughts.

Weather Watcher

The unanswered question: When will it rain on Sunday?

Just about everyone who is participating in, volunteering at, or organizing Sunday’s Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon has had one website on the equivalent of internet speed dial (e.g., bookmarked) for the last month: AccuWeather.com.

Like everyone else, I’ve been monitoring AccuWeather’s Houston forecast almost daily in hopes of figuring out what to expect on race day when I hope to finish my sixth Aramco Half Marathon. It’s one thing to control your training (which for me was pretty good long runs and too-few short, daily miles). But you just can’t do anything about the weather except hope it won’t be too hot, too cold, or too wet. I’ve run through a couple frigid Houston Marathons (one was 27 degrees!), and I’ve finished several 26.2-milers and half-marathons that were a bit steamy. All of them were pretty tough.

My favorite running temp is around 50 degrees . . . for the entire time I’m out pounding the pavement. Which usually is impossible, because I’m a turtle, not a hare. As you can see from the above graphic, Sunday looks like a wonderful day for spectators, as long as the rain holds off. It’ll probably be too warm for runners, especially for us slow-bos in the half-marathon. Not that that matters. What’s important is crossing the finish line and hanging a medal around your neck.

Looks like a loooong way to run even on the map!

Checking Sunday’s possible weather for the past month has been interesting. It started out with the forecasters warning us that a norther could roar through either the night before or while we were standing at the starting line, waiting for the cannon to boom and disturb the downtown streets at 7 a.m. That would mean cold temperatures, wind, and probably rain. Not good!

Soon after that fortunately inaccurate forecast, the morning temp was expected to be 37 degrees. Then 31 degrees. Then 38 degrees. Then 40 degrees. Then 48 degrees. And, now, 53 degrees. Kind of like watching the stock market rise, fall, and rise!

The wild card in Sunday’s forecast is whether or not it will rain during the race, which rarely happens. A running friend wrote on Facebook that his mom always said that a little rain never hurt anyone. That’s true, but one thing rain can do is cause blisters . . . and those sure can hurt!

Good luck to my fellow participants in both races! May the temps stay low while we’re on the course, the wind be light and at our backs, and the rain hold off until after everyone finishes.

Oh, and may the second toe on my right foot not cause me pain, like it has on my long runs!

Sidebar: As I’ve noted before, I’m running the half-marathon as a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. My honored patient is my younger son’s classmate, Stephanie, from whom I draw so much inspiration. Thanks to those of you who have helped me exceed my $1,000 goal (I’m currently at $1,300)! Anyone who still would like to support this cause, please click on the link and donate. It’s much appreciated!

A Charming Marathon Expo

Is that all we get? Half a t-shirt? (Olympus Stylus Tough camera)

One highlight of Houston’s annual marathon and half marathon is the expo, where we pick up our packets a day or two before the big event. As well as great deals on clothing and gear plus freebies and food.

We’re fortunate that the Chevron Houston Marathon is staged at the George R. Brown Convention Center, a great place to go before the start and after the finish. It’s also terrific for the expo.

Which one is Janet and which one is the mannequin?

My friend Janet and I have driven together to the expo now for six straight years. It’s become a ritual for us. We get to catch up on what’s going on with our kids (her daughter is the same age as my #2 son) and talk about our goals for Sunday’s race (she was running the marathon). It’s something to look forward to all year!

Got a proofreader?

One new expo wrinkle, at least for me, was that those of us who participated in the Run for a Reason program earned a special packet, which included a hat. I almost didn’t want to wait in line to get my goodies because of the “HEROE’S” mistake. Move that apostrophe in back of the S!

As always, Janet and I scored some bargains and a few cute freebies as we walked among the many booths and vendors.

Very charming!

Then we saw a new vendor that we just had to investigate. Marathon charms! What an interesting idea!! Well, until I looked a little bit closer at one of the “charms.”

Not so charming!

According to the website, the outhouse charm is “a fun way to remind you where you spend some of the time on the race course!” Yeah, right! Would any runner really want to proudly display a port-a-can charm on their bracelet?!?

Janet always says that going to the expo with me brings her luck. Did it work this year? Well, she finished the marathon in 3:50:54. She qualified for the prestigious Boston Marathon!!

Looks like that makes me a lucky charm!