After 6 runs, I would think that I have seen it all. Same distance, same pre-race build up, same general course, same blisters, same aches, same bands playing along the route, same Elvises, same funny signs along the route, same sprint to the finish line, same sore muscles, post-race euphoria. But each year, there is something new, something different. The first year I signed up because it was on my bucket list. I've always had it in the back of my mind to run a marathon and, a year after my cancer surgery, I decided that life was too short to spend it on the sidelines. When it came time to sign up, I didn't think I had the cojones to pull off a full 26.2 miles, so I went for the easier option of 13.1. I ran/survived my first one sporting a dislocated shoulder, so I guess I achieved my goal. The first one was personal – to say I did it. The second one was just to prove it wasn't a fluke (and see if I could do better). The third one was more of a tradition/rite of passage. Number 4 was to motivate me for a better course time. The 5th one was because, well, I just couldn't walk away with just 4.
So now we come to number 6. I am not really sure of the motivation for this one. Part pride, part tradition, part inspiration, part stupidity. I have always said that this was my annual tribute to being alive. It is purely coincidence that it was 6 years ago today that I went in for my little procedure for prostate cancer. To me, this run is sort of a spiritual reminder (aka kick in the butt) of how lucky I was to have a second shot at life. No matter how much I bitch & moan, how hot or cold, wet or dry, steep or rough the course, cramps & blisters, I always try to remind myself of that. All the little inspirational expressions I keep posting are just meant to inspire.
Either you RUN the day or the day RUNS you.
Sunday’s run was pretty darned near perfect. I really cannot complain. Really. Weather was awesome. You couldn't have paid for better conditions. Clear skies, cool temps, dry pavement, FULL Moon. WAY better than last year. Standing downtown in the predawn light (ala 0630) with 24,999 other
There will be days I don't know if I can do a Half-Marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing I have.
I made it downtown insanely early. Got my same parking spot right next to the convention hall and starting line. I do feel I probably jumped the gun a wee bit early since I got on the lot a bit before 0400, but the lot was full by 0430 and I had a chance to relax stretch before the race.
Will run for Beer/Wine/Scotch
With those kinds of temps/conditions, I chose to go light on the gear. Shorts, shirt, running sleeves. Less to worry about during the run. I loaded up my SPIBELT with the various energy gels/shots, strapped on the iPod Nano, queued up the running music playlist, and waited my turn in the C Corral with for our time to start.
I took the road less traveled by, now where the heck am I?
I won't bore everyone with a mile-by-mile report, but I will try to boil it down to the high points. For most of the course, it was a totally different route. The old route took us over a long bridge into the Heights area of Houston. A very old section of town with an eclectic array of old, smaller shotgun houses. This new route took us through the commercial district before turning into the more upscale neighborhoods. Lots of smaller pubs, bars and restaurants. As usual, with ~25,000 runners, it takes some time to get across the start line after the cannon goes off. From my position in the pack, I crossed the starting line around 12 minutes after the official start. Always helps to note your actual start time against the course time.
That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.
This one hurt more than I remember. I was a bit feeling stiff for the first mile before the knees/legs started to loosen up. I did ok for the first hour. Decent pace, wasn't pushing it too hard. Got to see my parents and brother around mile 6. Was nice of them to fight the traffic/crowds to cheer me on. After the halfway mark, I started to feel my age. First it was my right foot with some stabbing pain (thought I had stepped on something) but I walked it off. Then my right calf started complaining. As long as I kept moving forward, I felt ok. Between 8 & 9 miles, I got a lower back spasm (that one hurt) but I was able to walk that one off as well. At some point after 11, the inner calf started cramping. Last mile was more of a run/walk/run/walk. Gathered enough juice to finish up the last 1/4 mile running across the finish line. As usual, crossing that finish line is a real boost to the ego. A real sense of accomplishment, achievement. I would complain about my minor aches and pains but then I look around me to see others who have way more to challenges that make mine seem trivia. One woman was running this year's half had lost her leg to cancer (was using with a prosthetic blade device). Three years back, I recall running with a blind Army Captain (he had spotters running alongside him). This year, I ran part of the course alongside of Clutch.
Clutch is the mascot for our basketball team. The guy who is Clutch actually ran the 1/2 marathon in full costume to build support for Organ Donations (Donate Life Texas). As much as I whine about my aches and plains, imagine running a half with an extra 20 pounds of costume.
Of course, dressing up in costume for the run is nothing new.
And there is always a sideshow along the route
One more run in the bag. Not sure if I will go for number 7. I am just going to bask in the achievement and go hit the hot tub.