Tag Archives: expo

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Dream . . . or nightmare?

Dream . . . or nightmare?

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.

Thanks to a great half-marathon sponsor (they missed out on the first couple years).

Thanks to a great half-marathon sponsor (they missed out on the first couple years).

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!

New and improved?

New and improved?

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.

A Chamber of Commerce day

A Chamber of Commerce day

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!

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!