USA! USA! USA!
Such were the chants of the athletic shoe-sporting rowdy running fans in downtown Houston this morning. I’m pretty sure that if anyone were to dare show up with anything other than a pair of running shoes on his feet, he would have been chased right out of Texas today. What an amazing historical event to witness! It’s a lot more exciting in person than on TV, let me assure you. Many of the elite runners, both men and women, have been featured in magazines like Runner’s World, so I was familiar with a handful of names. I even brought with me a magazine article that focused on the trials because it gave a picture and highlights of each runner’s career…I like to know who I’m clapping for.
It was a chilly but perfectly sunny 43 degrees at the start of the race, perfect for an Olympic style marathon run. While most people were still in the shade and shivering waiting the 1-2 hours for the race to start, the announcer pronounced that she was from MinneSNOWta and sure liked the weather better in Texas. Many of the Olympic hopefuls were around the starting area in warm ups doing their pre-race drills and stretches, and it was a bit like seeing any famous athlete warm up before a game or contest: there were crazed fans swarming a little like a paparazzi, following their every move and snapping pictures of every stretch, jump, and blink. I quickly became starstruck and was feeling more and more inspired throughout the race. Especially when it was announced that the men had finished the first mile in 4:55. That’s a pretty good clip. It is amazing and awe-inspiring to see the front-runners fighting for their spot on the team, far ahead of the others, but when you see the men or women who are the last ones, running alone far behind the winners, knowing that they are guaranteed not to be on the Olympic team, yet they are still running hard and some even cheering back and forth with the crowd, THAT is moving. They knew their dreams would not be realized, and that they missed it by a long shot, but they were still giving it their all. And when the first 3 men crossed the finish line, then later the first 3 women, it was electric. It was heartwarming and to see them with the American flag draped around them, knowing they will be representing our country this summer on a worldwide stage.
My giddy inspiration did falter somewhat, however, when the rest of the runners (after the top 3) started crossing the finish line. They were droppin’ like flies. Somehow I was not so encouraged by runner after runner collapsing in a heap, throwing up or being wheeled off the road in a stretcher 5 feet beyond the finish line. Especially not the throwing up. That was a real crowd pleaser. Apparently a great photo-op too, but luckily for everyone reading my blog, I was probably the only person whose batteries died just in time. But let me just say that he must have drunk about 5 gallons of Gatorade before he ran because that was enough to float a boat. Okay, I’m done.
Anyway, it was a perfect day and a fun event to be able to see. Houston was hoppin’!!!
So, congratulations to our marathon runners who will represent us on Team USA!!
Next up…Texans vs. Ravens! Go Texans!! (Yep, I’m now a bandwagon fan.)