Oh my aching knee

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This sometime blogHOUSTON contributor finished the 35th Chevron Houston Marathon yesterday.

In this day and age of road rage and crime, inconsiderate behavior and selfishness, being cheered on by complete strangers, give or take a few familiar faces, for an entire 26 miles as I finished something very personal to me was nothing short of amazing. Who says Houston doesn’t love a good party?

Highlights: it took quite a while to get used to people saying my name (it was on my bib). I took communion before the race started from a Catholic priest at a Mass held at the George R. Brown Convention Center at 5:45 a.m. I was amazed at how well organized and planned this was. I’ve never done a marathon, but this one seemed well run, no pun intended. The first few miles of the race took us to the Heights, where I saw and recognized a childhood friend cheering us on. I pulled out of the pack to say hi to him. I realized the unfairness of being a chick when we passed several port-a-potty stands and guys decided to use the bushes instead of waiting in line for a turn. I took off my MP3 player around the 6th mile to take in the sounds and sights around me. There was more than enough to distract me from the effort at hand. In West U there was an Episcopalian priest handing out communion to runners while a parishioner sprinkled runners with holy water. There was a water station in Tanglewilde manned by Elvis impersonators as Elvis serenaded us in the background. There were numerous bands playing along the way. There were neighborhood parties in West U and Tanglewilde. There was a water station near the beginning of the final stretch at the West Loop “manned” by belly dancers. And two very dear friends of mine waited by the fountain on Allen Parkway with hand-painted signs to cheer me on. I think I was inconsolable at that point. As I approached downtown, I came upon one runner who had slowed down to gently encourage another on. Unlike runner KRamsauer, I did not look both ways for the train when I crossed Main. With three tenths or so of a mile left, all I could think of was finishing. Being hit by the train would have put me out of my misery, and that might’ve been welcome at that point. The cheers at the finish line were unbelievably deafening and energizing. I only wish I had seen Former President George Bush and Barbara Bush, who were apparently at my left as I finished. Instead, I looked for another blogHOUSTON contributor, whose encouragement along the route is probably the only reason I managed to finish.

People sat out in their yards and handed out orange slices and pretzels. I smiled through the pain when I passed one family with a ghetto blaster blaring the theme from Rocky in a loop. In several spots, P.A. systems had been set up and someone would call out names and encouragement to runners. I marveled at all the well-behaved dogs that joined their owners as spectators. They seemed to be enjoying the party atmosphere along the way as well.

It was an amazing Houston experience, and I’m glad I attempted it. Thanks, Houston, for making it memorable.

Now, if my knee would forgive me for pounding the pavement with it for 26 miles, that would be good.

BLOGVERSATION: Houston Running.

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