....And yesterday I drove into town to visit the Fitness Expo associated with this race to pick up my race packet with runner's bib and cotton t-shirt. In past years, when I was still working and even after I had retired, I would drive over to the Expo at lunch time. So does everyone else, apparently. The Expo opens at 11:00 AM on Friday, and often there'd be a line at the door and cars fighting for parking spots in the surface lots. What was I thinking all those years??
This year I did something different, not by conscious choice, but because friend Keith and I had tickets for a play at the Alley Theater downtown. It made sense to wait until mid-afternoon to go to the Expo since it's only a few blocks away from the Theater District in downtown Houston. Oh my! What a difference this made! Parking was a breeze, the staff were bored silly with lack of traffic at the bib pick-up booths and the t-shirt pick-up counters. The aisles were nearly empty, no jostling, no pushing and shoving to cruise through the Expo to check out the wares, the vendors, pick up all the freebies. I even had time to sit in the stage area and watch several of the speakers and performers that rotated on and off the stage every 15 minutes. It was so leisurely! I've definitely been doing it all wrong these past 9 years.
This was a day of change in other ways, too. Usually friend Keith and I have dinner beforehand at Biroporetti's or Mingalone's, but I was tiring of their menus, their loud and crowded dining rooms, and just wanted change for a change. There was a write-up about the restaurant, Voices, at Hotel Icon, which is just a few easy blocks away from the Alley Theater. An easy stroll and we were soon seated at the restaurant and reading an incredibly creative menu. The food and service were simply outstanding, and the ambience was one of pleasant quietness, even though about half the tables were occupied. We are going to be regulars at Hotel Icon's restaurant from now on.
The play was God of Carnage, performed by 4 visiting actors from Seattle. Excellent production! The original production won several Tony Awards in 2009 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_Carnage. I wasn't too sure about it, from the synopsis in the Houston Chronicle, but I was quickly sucked into the plot by the really excellent acting by the cast.
So today was a quiet day, spent doing a little consulting work, baking some cupcakes for post-race recovery, and then packing my running clothes into a small bag and heading into town for the night. Yep! Staying at the Holiday Inn Express, just 2 blocks from the start line of tomorrow's race. This is the first time I've done this for the Houston Marathon. I realized, after doing races in other cities, how nice it is to roll out of bed, get dressed and head for the start line on foot, just minutes before the race starts. Add this to the list of firsts for this weekend.
Tomorrow morning I'll wake up at 6:00 AM, eat a light breakfast of Cheerios, then pull on my running clothes and Brooks running shoes and get out the door by 6:45 for a 7:10 AM start.