A lot of people really like training for and racing half marathons, but I think the quarter marathon is even better, at least I think that now that I'm not in half marathon shape. Our relay team, "The Hometown Heroes," consisted of Sue, Keith, Jim, and Tonia, all from the Clear Lake Fitness Club. My leg was 2nd, and it was already a little bit warm outside, I wouldn't have wanted to do more than one loop out there today. Luckily the clouds and tree cover kept the sun from killing me, and there was a pretty nice breeze which helped as well. The sun came out and beat down on me the last 3/4 mile or so, and by then I was more than ready to be finished. I was thinking that anything under 65 minutes would be a pretty good finish, considering how undisciplined I had been about my training in the first part of this year, but I thought I had improved considerably in the last four weeks, and that I had an outside shot at breaking 1 hour. I finished in about 61 minutes, and based on how hard it was, I think it's a pretty good determinant of the shape I'm in right now.
After my leg of the relay was finished, and after I recovered a little, I asked where I could be helpful, so they put me back out on the route, to make sure everyone went the right direction. They put me on the trail, at the first major turn, right as the runners began their fourth loop. My position was all but obsolete, because there was a sign with an arrow on it there too. And the crowd quickly got pretty thin, but that meant that I could walk back towards the start and run with some of the runners for a quarter mile or so.
So, I got to run briefly with 50 stater Steve Boone, who I met at the Surfside race too, and Brenda from my club, and our very own Holden Choi, so it was a pretty cool place to be. Steve had already passed on his fourth loop.
And I walked and chatted briefly with a man and a woman for a bit, and enjoyed their back and forth banter. I naively asked if they were up for one more lap and he said "why not, maybe two more, maybe we'll run until it's dark." It turned out this was his 97th marathon, not counting ultras and even 100milers, and I later found out that this was none other than Dr. Muscles himself (Chris Rampacek).
So I think it's a pretty good race, and of course I'm completely unbiased. The heat can be a factor for a race this late in the year, and the humorous part of that is that on Tuesday it's supposed to cool down by 15-20 degrees. I was concerned that the trails would be very crowded, but it wasn't bad at all, so the staggered start for marathon and half-marathon is definitely a good idea. They had signs up every couple hundred feet or so, with running trivia, with the answers a few signs later, and some facts about the runners, including a sign that told Jan's story about weight loss and training for Houston, and a sign about Dr. Muscles and others.
The only suggestion I have for the race director, is basically the same suggestion I have for all race directors, and that is that I think the overall winners should get hit with a pie in the face as soon as they finish. Speaking of that, some dude named Bryan Smith from Louisiana ran a 2:47:22 to win it.