Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Year's Visit and a Long Run

My half marathon running has taken me all over the country.  Along the way, I've met up with old friends, with motorcycling friends, with running friends, and with on-line friends I've never before met in person.

While I was in New England this past October, I finally got to meet a few of my on-line running friends.  They were doing the Hartford Half Marathon and the Newport Half Marathon on back-to-back days... just like me.   I ran a good part of that Newport race with a gal named Sandy, another crazy runner trying for all 50 states and from southern California.   As we ran together, we had lots of time to chat, compare notes on past races, and talk about our respective plans for future races.  When she told me she was coming to Houston to run a race on New Year's Day, I knew exactly which race she was talking about and agreed to try and register for that race and do it with her.  But I also knew it was a very small and very popular race and that chances were slim to none that I'd be able to get in.

As I expected, when I had a chance to log online the following week, the race was sold out and had a waiting list, but that didn't deter me from my promise to her to be available to help with transportation and anything else she needed.  So we stayed in touch for the next couple of months and a plan was hatched for me to pick her up at the airport on New Year's eve, stay at the same hotel in Humble TX, and then get her to the start line of the race in Kingwood.

Her flight was right on time into Hobby Airport and I whisked her off to Fairfield Inn where we both got checked in and then headed out for dinner.  I'd found a nice Italian restaurant nearby that fortunately wasn't crowded, no wait to get a table, nice!  It was New Year's Eve and I was a little worried we wouldn't get a table, but not a problem!

Even though the weather was absolutely gorgeous on New Year's Eve day, it deteriorated quickly overnight into cold rain for New Year's Day morning.  We left the hotel at 6 AM and drove to the parking area near the little park where the race start/finish line was.  I was bundled up in layers, but knew that the car would always be nearby should the weather change and I needed to shed/add more layers.
Packet pickup race day  morning.  Sandy on the left

Sandy in her Michigan poncho, waiting for the start

My walk to Starbucks...3 miles round trip.
I got Sandy to the start line, waited for the race to start, then walked the 1.5 miles to a Starbucks in Kingwood Center for a good hot Vente cappuccino and a croissant.  I lingered over my breakfast, knowing it would take Sandy about 3 hours to do the first two laps of the 4-lap marathon course. Soon after I returned to the park, she texted me to let me know she was about a mile away from the turnaround point and would I retrieve her other headband from her race bag.  Perfect timing!

Sandy at the turnaround point, before heading
out on her 3rd loop of 4 loops

She looked cold and wet, but determined to finish the full marathon. She had the option at that second turnaround point to stop running and clock out with a half marathon finish.  But she was still game to finish the full.  So off she went on her third leg of the race.  I had brought my knitting with me, so walked back to the car and settled in for the next hour, knitting, surfing the 'net on my smartphone, reading.  The time flew by quickly and next thing I knew, Sandy was texting me again to let me know she was within 2 miles of the turnaround point.

Every year a different mascot and matching
squeezy toy finisher's award. 

The plan was for me to join her on that last 6.6 mile leg of the race.  I changed into my running shoes and walked back over to the park.  In just a few minutes Sandy arrived and after she took advantage of the beverage and snack foods at the turnaround point, we took off together for her last leg of the marathon.  It was still raining and it was still cold but moving along at a good pace, it didn't feel so bad.  As I expected it would be, the race course was gorgeous!
I ran ahead to capture some enroute photos  of
Sandy on the race course on lap 4

Data from my GPS watch...last of 4 loops of the marathon

Success for her - a giant finisher's medal in her possession - and a good workout for me.  We went back to the hotel where she'd kept her room for one more night.  We both changed out of our wet clothes, she checked out of the hotel and we found a great steakhouse for her celebratory dinner before taking her to Bush Airport for her late night flight home.

Pizza for the finishers!

It was fun getting together with Sandy and helping her do this race.  We have plans to do Rock 'n' Roll Washington DC together in March and hopefully she be able to join me for the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon in Portland, Maine in July.


  1. Wow, a full marathon. And you helped her finish it out. So nice of you to get to visit and do a bit of running together.

  2. I really enjoyed helping her accomplish this goal! We're already looking ahead beyond the Washington DC race to see what other races we can do together! Fun!