Yesterday's Houston Marathon started in a freezing monsoon.
As soon as the gun went off to start the race the skies opened up. The temperature was in the 40's. The rain was falling. The wind was gusting. My oldest daughter said the starter must have shot a hole in the sky.
Last year I had a problem with my knee that caused me to drop out just a mile-and-a-half into the race. No such bad fortune this year. I plowed through the rain and cold as best I could with shirt and sock changes along the course thanks to my support crew (thanks, Barb).
By the end I was tired and sore and wet and cold but I crossed the finish line. My time was nothing to write home about (5:37), but after last year it just felt good to run the race and finish. This was my 14th finish in the Houston Marathon and my 20th marathon finish overall. I am sore this morning and not looking forward to appearing in family court.
Now a few observations from the race...
To those of y'all who were slowing down other runners because you were texting, tweeting or e-mailing - leave the goddamn phone in your bag or in your car. Are you so addicted to shiny little electronic devices that you can't put them down to run a marathon? They were all over - with little baggies over their phones to keep them from getting wet. I enjoyed being alone with my thoughts for five hours or so without a phone tethered to me.
I saw a barefoot runner. We were near each other at the start. My wife said he was a few minutes ahead of me at the 23 mile mark. When I saw him I couldn't help but think of the book Born to Run. There are quite a few folks out there that believe the worst thing to ever happen to runners was the invention of the running shoe. The theory goes that if you run barefoot you will not strike the bottom of your heel on the ground because of the pain it would cause. You would strike the outside part of your heel and then turn your foot so that you pushed off with the ball of your big toe. Running shoes tried to straighten everyone's foot out and has led to a myriad of foot, knee and back problems. I haven't had any of those problems in the 15 years I've been running marathons but then the wear pattern on my shoes indicates I'm doing just what I would do if I were running barefoot.
He also didn't have to deal with wet socks.
Thanks to all the volunteers along the course handing out water and gatorade and to the medical staff with their assortment of goodies. While we got the glory for running 26.2 miles through the city, they had to stand out in the driving rain and cold to make sure we were okay. This race doesn't happen without those folks.
It was fun - despite the nasty conditions and the pain in my calves this morning - but I'm not in the shape I once was and I don't put in the time that I once did. My long distance running days are coming to an end soon. Not this year and probably not next year, but there will come a day in the not-so-distant future when my marathon days are over.