Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Spontaneous Race!

Don't you just love happy surprises?  A running friend texted me a couple of weeks ago to say that she and a couple of girlfriends were coming to Galveston for a few days and did I know of any half marathons nearby that weekend.  Well, as a matter of fact...

The Houston Half Marathon, put on by Luke's Locker running store and Koala Health, just happens to be that Sunday.  It's part of the Houston Warm Up Series leading up to the Chevron Houston Marathon and Half Marathon in January.  We worked out the logistics together and we both registered for the race.  So my friend flew into Houston Hobby Airport on Friday morning, picked up her rental car and met me at Luke's Locker to get our race packets.  We walked a couple of blocks down the street to Cafe Express for lunch, and then she headed back to the airport to pick up her friends and continued on down to Galveston.

We made plans for her to pick me up early Sunday race day morning, so that we'd be together in only one car and so that I could give her directions to the best parking garage.  It was still dark when we arrived and the lines for the porta-johns were really long.  She'd had a long drive up from Galveston, so standing in line was necessary for her and obligatory for me.

Before the race...

Even as the race got underway, we were still squeezing ourselves along the edge of the crowd barrier until we could find an opening into the very crowded start corral.  And then we were off and running. The route made a big rectangle on downtown city streets in Houston and then took us onto Allen Parkway.

This is my favorite Houston race route!  It used to be a 20K race, part of the series of 20K, 25K, and 30K races spaced a month apart from October to December.  A few years ago Luke's Locker added a mile to the 20K to make it a half marathon.  This no doubt greatly increased participation!  But I remember when it was really just nothing more than a big, organized training run.  No finisher medals, just a t-shirt for our efforts.  But running along Allen Parkway is so gorgeous, and the views of the skyline on the return leg are so spectacular that the miles seem to fly by.

Houston Half Marathon route.  Data from my Garmin GPS watch
I enjoyed doing this with my friend.  I could give her occasional little highlights as we ran along....the historic Jewish cemetery, Eleanor Tinsley Park, the bat colony at Waugh Street underpass, pointing out Felix Lugo as he ran by carrying the U.S. flag.

Army veteran Felix Lugo runs in every Houston area
marathon/half marathon carrying this flag the entire way
The route took a jog on Shepard to Memorial Drive and then continued all the way to   the 610 loop, where we turned around and headed back toward downtown.  I pointed out Memorial Park and the joggers running along the gravel trails, told her when we were nearing the Post Oak section of town where the high dollars are spent in trendy designer shops.  The stretch of Memorial Drive between the park and 610 is so tranquil and quiet that it's hard to believe how close we really are to Houston traffic mayhem.
The last couple of miles...returning to downtown and the finish line

As we neared downtown again, my friend paused to take some photos of the skyline.  A few tenths of a mile from the finish line I pretty much cratered, but we finished with smiles on our faces!

My friend Colleen from St. Louis.  Yes, we both got the
memo about wearing purple on race day!  

Whole Foods was one of the corporate sponsors and they had a fun costume booth with backdrop, with a wide assortment of hats, masks, and other costume accessories for photo ops.  We had a bit of fun with this, then went off in search of some post-race food.

We were a little disappointed, expecting more than just bananas, tangerines and bagels from Whole Foods.  At the very least we were hoping for chocolate milk.  And they ran out of beer!!   A live band was playing in the park and a few runners and families were sitting on the grass relaxing and soaking in the atmosphere.
The formal "finisher" photo

We made our way to the car and then left downtown heading to my house to drop me off, but  not before I convinced her to take a spin through the Starbucks drive-thru!   We made plans to meet for a late lunch on Tuesday with her friends before they fly home.

Very pretty medal, with sparkly Texas...and it spins!

Another half marathon done, another finisher's medal for my now-overflowing medal rack.  I already have the state of Texas (multiple times!) so no state was colored in on the map, but it was a fun race and even more fun doing it with a running friend!

The Jazz Half Marathon in New Orleans is this coming weekend.  I thought about canceling out but then realized I'd missed the window for canceling the hotel room without penalty.  Well, drat!  Looks like I'll be driving to New Orleans and running that race.  That will make 5 half marathons in 3 weeks.  [groan].

1 comment:

  1. How cool to have friends come in for an impromptu race.

    5 in three weeks? Do you get several weeks to rest after that?