Monday, January 19, 2009

The Houston Marathon

Yes you're done! Half marathon finishers running under the finish-line banner at the Houston Marathon on Sunday 18 January.
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Last Sunday I found myself in unfamiliar territory as a spectator at the Houston Marathon. Other than on a couple of occasions, I have been a participant in either the full or the half marathon pretty much every year since the early 90's. But not this year. A balky knee (tendinitis) had me sidelined, but I was there early to drop off Kathleen for her half marathon race. She did well, finishing in just slightly over 2 hours with not a whole lot of training. With a little work, I have no doubt that she will be able to qualify for Boston one of these days. Kath was happy to score two finishers t-shirts as well!

It felt rather strange to see everybody rush off to the starting line, with just a handful of people remaining behind in the massive pre & post race area inside George R. Brown Convention Center. Just before the start, once everyone was in place in their various corrals, I made my way up there to get a few pics. It was quite something to actually see the start, although it was too dark early on to get any useful pics. Since the time when I ran my first one in 1991, Houston has matured into a real big city marathon with all the excitement and drama of the better known large marathons. Sometimes I'm not so sure if bigger is better in this instance, but this race is extremely well organized and slickly executed. It can definitely lodge a legitimate claim as the premier winter marathon in the USA. Once again this year, the weather cooperated. The start was a little on the warm side but the temperature actually dropped by a few degrees after 0900A. I would have loved to have been out there!

My own running is on hold right now, will hopefully start to do some easy short distances by the weekend. I have been getting some treatment (ultrasound and laser) as well as instruction on a series of strengthening exercises and stretches, at a nearby orthopedic and knee center. Hopefully that will take care of the problem, otherwise I will definitely feel Boston-jinxed, having had to miss last year's race due to achilles tendinitis. Same left leg. Yesterday I took Daisy out on a light jog around the neighborhood, wearing my brand new knee strap for the first time. It felt awkward but there was no pain. You won't hear any more comments from me about people running around with knee straps, braces and other supporting devices. I'm one of them now. By the time I'm obliged to start wearing a strap on both knees, I might have to re-consider my future as a runner...

An early morning scene just before the start of the Houston Marathon

And they're off...

Another view near the start line, with Minute Maid (baseball stadium) in the background.


Yet another shot at the start line of the Houston Marathon

Once the runners were underway, I trudged back to the George R. Brown for a cup of tea. Here is the view over Tranquillity Park just as the sun was coming up.



At around the 2 hr mark, a steady stream of half marathoners were coming down the home stretch on the edge of downtown, toward the finish.


This pic was taken from behind the finishing line; from here the runners turn to their right and walk into the George R. Brown Convention Center, for a hot breakfast (scrambled eggs, sausage, buttermilk biscuits, coffee, etc). Or not. They can opt for bananas, oranges, bagels, muffins, cookies, ice-cream, yoghurt, bottled water, iced tea and various other post-race food items.

Another view from behind the finishing line.

4 comments:

Burger said...

Sorry to hear about the knee and I'm sorry I missed ya. Houston was a great time for me and I will be back one of these years!

johnking said...

Bert,
Im sure it was tough not to run the hometown race. When I finished Boston last year, the following weekend I was in Louisville for the KY Derby one and had to be a photographer also. it is cool to see the other side of things though. Great pics also. Hope the knee is doing well. You'll be in Boston!

Daleen said...

Bert,
Ek het simpatie met jou besering,joune gelukkig nie kronies nie.Ek ken die frustrasies!Kry vir jou n lekker mountainbike,Houston het mos lekker fietsry paadjies.
Dit lyk vrek koud by julle,heerlik warm hier,kortbroek en T-shirt weer.
Mooi bly .
F.d.P.

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