Kathleen and I raced the '4 the Park' four-mile fun run at Memorial Park yesterday, Saturday April 3. The course was flat and fast (with a few sharp turns in the first mile or so but after that ok) and the after party is one of the best in Houston. There must have been in excess of 20 food and beverages stalls with a taste of everything from gourmet chocolate to vegan fried rice, ultra light beer to fruit smoothies, burritos, hummus, fresh cut fruit, breakfast tacos, bagels, and many more. We had a blast. So thank you very much Michelob Ultra, My Fit Foods, California Pizza Kitchen, Smoothie King, Whole Foods, Los Cucos Mexican Cafe, Hungry's, Banyan Foods, El Rey, Freebirds, the Hot Bagel Shop, Firkin Phoenix, Sicilian Village, the Fruit Palette, Beck's Prime, Caceres, Candelari's, Latin Specialties Produce, VitaminWater10, Salata and Tintos. We will definitely be back next year!
The run itself was pretty good too - Kathleen ended up grabbing 2nd place in her age category. Well done! I made a real rookie mistake by leaving my timing 'chip' at home. No chip, no time... Unofficially I clocked the 4 miles at 28:58 which I was very happy with, considering the warm weather.
I like the fact that the race benefits Memorial Park Conservancy and particularly a plan to build a running center close to the new natural bridge which provides a safe way to cross Memorial Drive which bisects the Park. Runners are forever supporting someone else's causes such as alopecia or melanoma, supporting the arts or in aid of Sudan. I have no beef with that, but it was a good feeling to run in support of something that would directly benefit regular users of Memorial Park.
Kath and I also participated in the first of five consecutive Thursday afternoon races in the annual spring 'Tour de Bayou' cross-country race series presented by the Houston Area Road Runners Association (HARRA). These are fun but sometimes very taxing events ranging from 3 to 5 miles, with most of the organization handled by Roger Boak, a well-known (and fast!) veteran of the Houston running scene. The Tour de Bayou series is laid-back and free with a minimum of hassles: no need to remember your timing device as there aren't any. Even so, they are very competitive with some of the city's fastest runners coming out for bragging rights. Interestingly, the results are age-graded which is a big incentive for some of the more 'mature' runners to measure themselves against the speedy youngsters. Last Thursday's course laid out in Spotts Park at the intersection of Waugh and Memorial Drive, was diabolical. A steep uphill right out of the starting block and it gets worse after that! By the time we had gone twice around, out and back, there was not a runner present who hadn't tested his or her heart rate limit, if they tried to stay with the pack. Hopefully next Thursday's course at White Oak Bayou will be a little less strenuous. We'll see!