Wow!! That's pretty much all I've got to say about how Skechers treated me today. (Um...if that were REALLY all, I suppose the blog entry would end here... Anyway!) As a thank-you(?) for coming down and racing the Aramco Half Marathon and dropping by the Skechers booth, Skechers set me up:
I'm telling you - it's almost as though these are nice people! ;)
Seriously, they are nice people. Anna, Sarah, Cheyne, Curt, John...the list goes on. Some of the most friendly people I've come across at race expos - where people are being paid to be friendly! Mindy and I were over an hour at the Skechers booth checking out the new gear, and I was like a kid in a candy shop with all the great stuff! In case the cornucopia of apparel they gave me wasn't enough, I bought another running shirt. Skechers gear is awesome!. Of course, chatting away with Curt in the booth gave me a better understanding why their stuff continues to improve. Curt is one of the designers of the shoes, and he's got such passion for the product!
As for Cheyne....when I was in Rotterdam and first met my friend Paul Zwama, I discovered he is a good runner - a really good runner - when he seemed utterly unfazed by my target time for the marathon. Same thing today. Chatting with Cheyne, he asked us our target times for Sunday; 1:08-ish, for me, and he didn't blink. He's aiming for 1:08-ish, himself. Best of luck to you, Cheyne!! I also learned another interesting tidbit...not sure if it's good news for me or not. I opted for the half marathon here partly because of the insane depth in this field. I expected to be running with a whole pack of guys going in and around 1:08, and not being anywhere near the lead. Not quite. The American championship runners will be like that, but that race heads out 5 minutes before the half marathon for the common folk. Best I can hope for is to reel in the championship runners who are falling apart. I may be among the sparse top few of the plebeian half marathon. I mean...I might.......*might*....have a shot at the top spot. It's a sweet feeling to be among the top, but it isn't so easy to dig and dig and dig all alone....
The rest of the expo was pretty cool - especially the free massage - but my legs were starting to get tired. Maybe I was feeling the run this morning, or maybe it was the flight shaking out of my legs, still. Honestly? It was the flight. Running through Sam Houston Park and along the bayou this morning was fun, but not exactly tiring. There are some interesting sights along the bayou that kept my mind occupied even as my legs were unchallenged. Take, for instance, the very strange geese that are clearly very common around here. They look a bit like a terrible growth is sprouting out of their heads....Stranger still were the non-degenerates living under a bridge along the bayou. (Ironically, just steps from a sign that reads "No overnight camping".) These folks were dressed reasonably well, and the woman was diligently brushing her hair as Mindy and I ran past. Confusing...
The walk back from the expo was across the Discovery Green. It's about the size of Queen's Park Circle in Toronto, but a little more manicured.
You probably can't see it too well, but the little white stakes on the path are lights...
Original plans were to fit NASA in this afternoon, then we bailed on that and planned an evening at the Aquarium, and even that eventually fell through. We made it to Boheme Cafe and Wine Bar. Self-declared eclectic, but it lives up to the title:
We had the supremely healthy meal of Vietnamese fries and gourmet pizza. Um...extra calories to fuel Sunday? One of there servers there - who I will leave nameless for his own benefit - told us a number of entertaining stories...except that in most of them he was driving drunk, or waking up drunk 20 miles outside of Houston, or getting drunk and taking a taxi (thankfully!).
After the tasty dinner at Boheme, I went to my very first official pre-race dinner:
Kind of a non-event, really. Food was decent, and we ended up chatting with a couple of coaches - one of whom was a 4:06 miler in his day. (His day was long enough ago that he won the first Houston Marathon. His first marathon.)
A busy, exciting day, and I'm really glad that's all out of the way well before race day. Whether I'm in crowds or not, I want to be ready to go fast on Sunday. Got to be well rested. Good night!