- June 20, 2017
- Merideth Melville
When I tell people I’ve participated in four Houston Marathons, it never fails to impress.
The weekend race is filled with anticipation and this year was no different — from the press conference with VIPS, journalists, elite runners and the hopefuls to the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute EXPO at The George R Brown Convention Center packed with vendors hawking running shoes, clothes, gloves, sunglasses, hats, protein bars, water bottles, juices, and watches. I’ll be sharing my day alongside 27,000 runners.
Saturday was spent filling out forms, greeting old running buddies you haven’t seen in a year, picking up your bib, t-shirt and getting the lay of the land.
Over 500 pairs of shoes were donated to SEARCH Homeless Services (this now confirms that a size 5 female will indeed be walking a mile in my shoes).
There’s the 5K on Saturday followed by the Aramco Half Marathon on Sunday which provides just the sort of prep I like before the 26.2-mile marathon starts with the shot of the pistol at 7 AM. (I get to the Start Line by 6 AM every year).
The course starts and ends in downtown Houston and takes runners through, over and around The Washington Corridor, Buffalo Bayou, The Heights, West Gray, River Oaks, Upper Kirby, Rice University, West U, The Galleria “outside the loop” (of 610), Memorial Park and then back “inside the loop” and under “Bat Bridge”.
There were times during the marathon I couldn’t hear myself think — over 250,000 spectators and supporters lined the course. This maniacal support is what makes the weekend such a blast.
Discovery Green was the perfect place to hang out to witness runners making it through the finish line — winners all. Men, women, kids. People zipping down the course in cool modified wheelchairs, a teenager racing on transtibial prostheses blades, a band of guys in pink tutus, a gaggle of school kids, besties wearing matching tiaras.
There’s the Skechers Performance Pace Team led by the Houston Marathon Legacy Runners. I can’t be part of the Legacy Club. They only accept runners who have successfully finished 10 or more Houston Marathons. Besides bragging rights, the Legacy Club folks get the good stuff — free merch.
I’ve never been eligible for all these years to cut in front of the masses at the start line. I would have had to run the marathon in less than 2 hours 50 minutes. Yeah, right.
And I’ve never been chosen at random to go on an all-expense paid trip to Greece for a week and run in the Athens Classic Marathon.
Who am I kidding? I haven’t run since about the 4th grade. And even then, I knew I’d only ever be a sprinter. That “talent” came from having to dodge snowballs being thrown at me by the neighborhood boys on my long walks home from Beech Street Elementary School in Wantagh, New York.
Am I obligated to divulge that for four years, I’ve been shooting the Houston Marathon, not running in it? I won’ tell if you don’t.
Merideth Melville got her start writing and producing entertainment documentaries for the original Travel Channel. That work took her to Singapore, Malaysia, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Bermuda and Borneo. From there, she jettisoned to NASA, where she ran the Motion Pictures Division (responsible for all the pre and post onboard films) during the Shuttle years. She then worked with Houston-based Zen Film for many years before starting Boss Media.