Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kudos to the Chevron Houston Marathon

Marathon #3 was certainly my worst marathon in terms of time, but I have to be honest....I think it was still my favorite.

The Chevron Houston Marathon committee knew what they were doing.  A lot of folks were pretty peeved at the idea of a lottery and I have to admit that at first I was upset, but only because I am a brat REALLY wanted to run this marathon.  I understood their reasoning - it has become a very popular and elite marathon over the course of the last few years, and last year it sold out in only 2 days, overloading the registration system.  In order to make it fair they had to enact a lottery system.  Luckily they allowed "group" registration so you didn't end up becoming the only person amongst your friends to get a spot or be the only one left out.  There were five of us that registered together and were lucky we got selected.

The George R Brown Convention Center was secured for the expo, start and finish.  We booked the hotel that actually attaches to the convention center, so I never actually had to walk outside until the start.  To be able to congregate inside the convention center was really comfortable.  But what really impressed me was the little details prior to the race that don't seem a big deal unless you're a runner and have been in some badly organized races:
1. They had church services inside, complete with worship music.  NICE touch. Especially on a Sunday.
2. Pre-race water table
3. More port-a-potties than we knew what to do with - never had to wait more than 5 minutes to use one.
4. Volunteers that moved with lightning speed at the baggage check...that place was packed!
5. Two separate lines to the start line - I held back because I was looking for my running partner (never found her) so I don't know how congested the front was, but the two lines seemed to be a smart move to keep things going.  And shocker - the race actually started on time....both waves!

During the race....even in my misery...I was moved at how wonderful the spectators were.  Here we are, in humid rainy conditions and there were so many people out there cheering us on, making a point to read our names on our race bibs, and talk to each of us individually.  And 99% of them said the right thing.  Only once did I even notice someone say "you're almost done!" even when there were 10 miles to go.  When I would encounter people while on my walking breaks they made sure to tell me I looked great and was doing fine. They encouraged me to keep going, high fived me, and just made me feel so much better.  It was hard not to smile during the whole race.  Okay, to be honest, around mile 23 I think I stopped smiling for awhile.

During some spots in the race course there were prayer stations.  I have to tell you, this is part of the reason why I love Texas. People aren't offended by God.  It's part of life here.  I can't even begin to tell you how many prayer stations I encountered - there were just so many of them. To see the signs that said "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13) reminded me that I was capable no matter how badly I felt and there were other ways to find strength to finish. I gave a thumbs up to every one of those signs along the course.

And then there was the finish line.  I said before that I had a big mental and physical boost during the last mile. When we turned to go down Lamar Street and I saw all the flags lining the street, the spectators yelling at each of us, and the convention center in the distance it was thrilling.  Even though it was a pretty long stretch of road, they chose a perfect spot to finish the marathon.  There's just something about having those huge buildings all around, the wide street, and the noise. And to have my friends just happen to see me and able to yell to me was an even bigger boost. I couldn't wait to be done and it was only a few minutes away.

The one thing I could've done without?  The jerks spectators who lined an overpass right after the 10k point with signs advertising a February Houston 10k race.  The signs said "If this was a 10k, you'd already be done." Yes, I almost flipped them off.

So thanks, Chevron Houston Marathon, for putting on a great race.  I will be back.


  1. I KNOW I commented on the race recap, but now its not there. Hmmm...


  2. LOVEEEEEE the prayer stations! Go Texas! Stupid California would never do that. ;)