Category Archives: marathon

Terror Can’t Run Our Lives

2013 boston marathon logo

Like most Americans, I’m stunned and saddened by the dual bombings at yesterday’s venerable Boston Marathon’s finish line. But as a long-time runner, it hits me even deeper.

I was never fast enough to come close to qualifying for the U.S.’ most-prestigious marathon in any of my nine 26.2-milers. Boston is a dream race for so many runners. To have their experience and that of their loved ones and spectators shattered and ripped from them is horrible and unacceptable. What should have been a joyous occasion was bloodied by yet another senseless, unprovoked act of violence by cowards.

The marathon is a great equalizer, whether it takes place in Boston, Houston, London, or Surfside. Old and young, fast and slow all run on the same course; all are suffering during the latter miles for just one goal: To cross the finish line. There are few experiences better in life than that.

This is yet another dark day for America. Yet we continue to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and hope for a better tomorrow, especially for our children. We can’t let evil win.

My first Houston Marathon shirt (there were no finishers’ shirts back then)

What I’m wearing today

Today I’m showing my solidarity as I mourn for Boston, the victims, and their families by wearing my 1987 Houston-Tenneco Marathon shirt. This was the first 26.2-miler that I completed (there were no finishers’ shirts back then, by the way). I’ll never forget how I felt when I crossed the finish line in downtown Houston that cold day . . . just like I’ll never forget what happened yesterday at the finish line in Boston.

Like all runners . . . and all Americans . . . I stand united with Boston.

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Running for a New Reason

This year’s fundraising cause

Want to come along with me as I run the Chevron Houston Marathon on January 15? Help me raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

For the fourth straight year, I’m fundraising through the marathon’s wonderful Run for a Reason program. But this time, I’ve changed the recipient. In the past I’ve run for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which is near and dear to my heart because too many of my loved ones (especially my father, stepfather, and cousin Lisa) have died from blood cancers. Plus now my friends’ kids have fought them.

Sheri when she had hair

But this time I’ve been inspired and motivated by a couple friends who are battling breast cancer. Sheri was diagnosed just this fall. We’ve known each other since our #1 sons were in the first grade.

Janet has lost her hair again. (Photo by Janie Picou)

Meanwhile, breast cancer has been a part of Janet’s life since 2001. She and I became buds through her sister Claire, whose #2 son is the same age as my older boy.

I’m counting on the motivation from these two lovely ladies to push me through those 26.2 miles. And I’m hoping that my readers will help those miles count by donating at this link:  Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Let’s kick breast cancer to the curb! Thanks for all your help and for keeping Sheri and Janet 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!

Planning My Pity Party

Dick Jones celebrates his birthday.

Sunday is a day I’ve been looking forward to since last July. It’s our annual Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half-Marathon, the premier running event in Houston.

Originally I signed up for the marathon, because I wanted to try to inspire and take inspiration from Dick Jones, the beloved father of my then-neighbor JJ the organizational whiz. So much has changed since that mid-summer day!

Now Mr. Jones sadly has passed away, JJ and her family have moved away, and I’ve switched from the full to the half-marathon. I’ve been having problems with my left leg, which has meant I haven’t enjoyed exactly stellar training. I’ve finished quite a few long runs, but I don’t have a lot of everyday miles in my legs.

Hopefully, this will be my fifth Houston half-marathon finish. No one is sick in my family, so I don’t expect to have another stomach flu debacle like last year knocking me out of the race. My goal, as it is with every race I’ve run, is to finish, hopefully with a smile on my face. It’s hard to set a time goal when I don’t know how much my leg is going to bother me—the more it hurts, the more I’ll have to walk. And that means a slooooow time.

Of course, this particular race isn’t just about me. I’m running for a reason: I’ve been raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in memory of Mr. Jones, my father, my stepfather, my cousin Lisa, my neighbor Tami’s father, and my friend Karen’s brother. All of them died from these dreaded blood cancers. When I’m out pounding the streets of Houston and hurting, my thoughts will be with them every step of the way. I’m hoping that they’ll lift me up and help lessen my load.

Still, I know that I’m going to throw myself a pity party somewhere along the course. Every long run I’ve done has included one of these negative “celebrations.” I allow myself to pick one—and only one—mile during which I can feel sorry for myself. Sunday it will be mile 10. That’s a good time to assess the first nine miles and then try to re-energize for the final push along Allen Parkway to the finish line.

Ah, the finish line! The reason we do these races. I don’t care how much you’re hurting and cursing your lack of training and good eating habits during the event. Once you cross that blessed finish line, everything feels so much better. That pity party at mile 10? Forgotten! All is right in the world.

Well, until you start walking and find that you can’t climb up a curb, because you can’t lift your legs that high. That’s when it’s time to hit that ibuprofen bottle!

Good luck to my fellow marathoners and half-marathoners Sunday. May the weather be great and the wind be light.

Running for a Reason

My dad in 1969

My dad in 1969

In 1986, my parents were driving from their former home in Virginia to their new abode in the Los Angeles area where my father had gotten a new job. When they got to L.A., my mother called me and said that my dad hadn’t been feeling well, and that she had driven part of the way.

Ever have warning bells go off like mad in your head? That’s what happened to me when I heard the news. My father NEVER let my mom drive. It didn’t matter if they were going a mile down the road or cross country. He was the master behind the wheel. I immediately knew something was wrong.

A few months later I got the frightening call from my mom: My father, at age 57 (a year older than I currently am), had been diagnosed with leukemia. Back then he was too old to qualify for a bone marrow transplant, so his prognosis was bleak.

At first I went through the range of emotions that affect most of us when we hear that one of our important loved ones is terminally ill. But then I got busy. I had been running avidly since 1978, but I only had participated in 5Ks (3.1 miles) and 10Ks (6.2 miles). I decided in the fall of 1986 to train for and run the Houston Marathon the following January in honor of my dad and to encourage him in his fight against leukemia.

I finished my first marathon in January of 1987. My dad, who was touched by my efforts, passed away in March of 1991, almost a year before my #1 son was born. I ran a four-mile race right after he died, and I still can remember crying away the miles.

I’ve finished several Houston marathons since then, but I’ve switched to the half-marathon distance, because it’s so much easier to train for and complete. I haven’t trained for a marathon since 2001, and I only miss those 26.2 miles when I’m watching marathoners finishing. Ah, but then I remember the hours of running and the aching muscles and the agony of mile 23, and I’m glad that Houston started its half-marathon tradition in 2002.

Dick Jones celebrates his birthday.

Dick Jones celebrates his birthday in happier times.

But then my next-door neighbor JJ the organizational whiz’s father, Dick Jones, was suddenly diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma this past spring. It has been a tough, hard battle for him . . . kind of like a marathon. And that got me thinking (always dangerous for me!)—I need to draw inspiration from Mr. Jones’ fight as well as try to encourage him and help raise money for a cause. Why not train for and complete the January 17th Chevron Houston Marathon in his honor?

lls_c_hi_res_jpg

Fortunately, the Chevron Houston Marathon has a long-standing Run for a Reason charity fundraising program. I’ve signed up to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), and I hope my readers will help me inspire Mr. Jones. Here is the link to my fundraising page: Run for a Reason. Let’s show Mr. Jones that he is not alone in his war against this dreaded disease.

In addition to running for Mr. Jones, I also will run in memory of those who have died of leukemia: My father; my stepfather, Earl; my friend Karen R.’s brother, Ron Kalteyer; and my neighbor Tami’s father; as well as my cousin, Lisa, whose life was cut short by non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I hope to gain strength along the route from all of them.

Please join me in my efforts to raise money to help find a cure for blood cancers. I’ll do the running; I hope that you’ll support me by contributing to this worthy cause.

Let’s fight along with Mr. Jones!