Wednesday, January 22, 2020

2020 Aramco Houston Half Marathon Spectator's Recap!

Really pretty medal this year - I love all the bright enamel colors!

On Sunday I got to spectate the Chevron Houston Marathon/Aramco Half Marathon once again.  We had a small group of Renegades running the half marathon this year thanks to babies being born and other stuff going on - it was just Jeff, Karen, Diane, and Andi.  Except for the strong north wind, the weather was perfect for running a long race and everyone ended up doing really well, which was nice to see. But I'm getting ahead of myself - you know it wouldn't be a recap written by me if it didn't contain tons of sidetracks.
The race expo started on Friday at 10:00 am, so Jeff, Diane, and I drove to Houston and arrived shortly before the expo opened.  Karen and Jimmy met up with us and we went through the line quickly - they simplified the packet and participant shirt pick up process which was wonderful after several years of organized chaos.  This year there was organization but no chaos.  And you got to get the t-shirt right as you entered the expo instead of having to walk allllll the way to the back of the building - I'm sure the runners appreciated that. 
The participant's shirt was technical fabric instead of the usual cotton t-shirt.  I think it's a nice color and design.  The finisher's shirt was white technical fabric, which...ehh.  It's sheer and just not as good as it could have been.

There were some different items for purchase at the expo which made it fun - Jeff got a cool hat:
Astros colors - I would have loved this on a shirt.

We both tried to win big at the Kendra Scott booth:
I ended up with nail polish and he got a canvas tote bag.  Nice prizes, but no jewelry, which they were giving away as well; Karen won a necklace, that lucky duck!
Photo ops were everywhere - this one was cool.

We didn't stay too long - it got loud and crowded and overwhelming.  We drove home, only to repeat the drive the next day.  But on Saturday, there was invisible construction on the highway, which made the drive pretty miserable - they'd bring the lanes down from five lanes to two for miles, and then open it back up again - with zero construction happening.  This went on a couple of times and by the time we made it back to downtown, we were over it.  We parked, grabbed our luggage, and walked into the Marriott to check in, only to discover that we were actually registered at the JW Marriott, not the Marriott Marquis, which are both downtown and within half a mile from each other.  Ugh.  When you register for a hotel for the race you go through the Chevron Houston Marathon website, and while I swear I clicked on the Marriott with the picture of the Texas-shaped swimming pool (as does Diane), somehow we ended up at the other hotel.  So we schlepped our luggage the half mile to the other hotel because taking the car out of the parking garage would have probably cost us $20 (no joke, it was $24 for the few hours the day before at the expo) and we didn't want to then park at the other hotel for even more money.

Needless to say I was in a bad mood.  Actually I had been crabby the day before because it was really irritating to be at the expo and not be a runner.  I had been having such a good running season last Jan - March, and I was going to sign up for this race, but then my back blew up and of course later on my brain did as well so this was just more of a reminder of what didn't happen.  When I made the reservation last June I was in massive pain and also on Gabapentin, which made my brain extra stupid, so I'm sure that contributed to the mistake.  But in the last couple of weeks I'd also discovered that I'd paid my gas bill twice for January, and as well as registering Jeff twice - once in July and once in September after my back surgery - for the same damn race that is coming up this weekend.  I used to not make so many stupid mistakes; who knows what else I'll discover I've's like lately I'm on an unpleasant Easter egg hunt.  So while I was trying to not be pissy around our group, it wasn't easy and of course that just made me feel worse.  Definitely an I hate everything moment.  Or hour.  Or day.  Diane did make me laugh when she showed me the giant beam in her room:
The hotel is in an old 1930s skyscraper building and these beams are original to the building.  Not every room has one but she got lucky.
She also let me steal her Nespresso pods because she doesn't drink coffee.

The next morning we got up early and made the trek in the cold and wind to the other Marriott, where we were meeting up with Karen, Jimmy, and Andi.  At least I remembered to bring my knee-length down coat this year, along with the knitted hat and scarf that I've been wearing together all winter, so I wasn't freezing. 
Jeff, Diane, Karen, and Andi - Renegades, ready to run!
Jeff and Karen toasted with their UCAN drink, and then they were off to their corrals.
After we left Jeff and Karen, Jimmy and I headed to the start line, were we got a great spot.  This was just before the race began - the starting gun went off and the pace vehicles took off fast, which was good because the first group of runners - the elites - were a blur, they were so fast:
Here they come...
And there they go!

Next corral was Karen's:
We saw her, yay!
Selfie time while we waited for Jeff's corral to start.
He's in there somewhere...
Right in the middle, just beyond flag guy.

After Jeff ran by, Jimmy and I got to experience the best part of not running the race:
A leisurely hot breakfast in a nice restaurant!
We watched the race on TV and got to see the finishers of the half marathon cross the line - everyone cheered!

Eventually Jimmy left to go to the finish line for Karen; I'd already told Jeff that I did my duty last year standing in the cold at the finish line for hours (short people problems - when you get a spot in front, you can't give it up), so I headed up to our room where I got to watch more of the race on TV while drinking coffee:
And that's why I needed all of Diane's Nespresso pods, haha.

One by one they all finished - even with the wind that never seemed to be at their backs no matter which direction the course turned, everyone had a great race and they all were happy with their finish times.  Karen had already left by the time they took this picture:
Jeff, Andi, and Diane - happy Houston half marathon finishers!


  1. It's fun spectating a marathon, but it's exhausting! When I spectated Chicago this past fall, I swear, I felt like I ran the whole thing. Congrats to Jeff, Diane, and Andi!

  2. I love your idea of going to your room and watching the race on TV! Much better than standing in the wind! Also, your breakfast looked great!

  3. Any Houston Half that doesn't include barfing is a total win for the Renegades, right?!? I totally understand your grumpies about the whole thing, but it looks like you did just what you needed to do to take care of Shelley - good for you! Congrats to the finishers.

  4. I love the steel beams in that hotel room! I feel ripped off now about the so-called race expo we had when I ran a half marathon here. There were no games or giveaways or nail polish or jewelry! I want my money back :) Guess I need to come to Texas to run from now on!

  5. I bet they totally understood you feeling pissy. I would after that stupid hotel fiasco! WTF! Ugh. I hate when crap like that happens. And I am sorry you are still finding out you've paid things twice and signed up for things twice. That sounds so infuriating.

    Kendra Scott being at the expo is amazing :)

    I like the phrase "invisible construction." I am going to share that with Steven. The city of Milwaukee (and the road to it from our house, for the last few years) has been like that since I moved to IL in 2007. Their construction methods astound us - if they need to redo the whole highway, they cone the entire highway up - miles of it - even if it's not going to be worked on for months. It makes us mental and they are having fatal accidents every week in their construction zones :(

    I hope you recover this year and can participate as a racer next year!


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