Greetings again from Houston. I had no idea that the lobby of the Hilton offered free wi-fi all this time...urg! Time to catch up a bit.
Just done after 2 days of expo and about 4 screenings of the movie. Met a lot of great and interesting folks here. And the FOOD - my god, the food. Probably gained close to 3-4 lbs just in the last 2 1/2 days.
Let's start from the top. We checked into the hotel on Thursday and went out for a 3 miler with Cody (who I'm here to pace to a sub-4:30 time tomorrow). After going out to an awesome tex-mex dinner, we come back to our hotel and we spot Meb in lobby! In case you're not familiar with him, he won the silver medal in the marathon in Athens, Greece in '04 and is a very accomplished runner in distancing ranging from the 10K to the marathon. He will be toeing the line with a prestigious group of other elites as well.
Speaking of whom, the following morning a press conference for the elites in both the half and the full took place, and I was about as giddy as they came. The first athlete I spot is elite and Olympic qualifier, Brian Sell who I chatted up a bit and got a picture with. Very nice guy.
The press conference started shortly thereafter and guys like Meb and Sell came onstage as some of the top American names representing the half-marathon field, with Kate O'Neill as one of the top females. On the marathon side, 3-time Houston winner David Cheruiyot (PR 2:10:36) was back but has his work cut out for him as elite runner and 4th place Olympic finisher Deriba Merga of Ethiopia entered for the first time (PR of 2:06:38) is highly favored to win it. Here are some more pics:
The press conference for the elites
Kate O'Neill, who was an absolute pleasure to talk to
David Cheruiyot, another nice guy
Dire Tune - who is not running this year but came to support her friend
Me w/ Deriba Merga, who was on-pace to medal in Beijing but ran out of steam in the final lap
As far as our movie was concerned, I thought it was a success with many copies of the DVDs sold along with some very positive feedback from viewers of the film. I got to meet some fantastic folks whose stories were highly touching and inspirational and something I will not soon forget. There were definitely some lull periods between showings but just tried to make the best of it by either stuffing my face or going shopping - both very dangerous prospects for me.
Runningwise, I did get some modest mileage in (3 on Thursday as I mentioned, 2 + strides yesterday). The unfortunate part of being at the expo for the past two days is that you're on your feet a lot and they are definitely sore. Tonight calls for nothing but a carbo-load dinner and perhaps some jacuzzi time.
Tomorrow morning, they have been forecasting slightly less-than-optimal race weather with high humidity and temps potentially reaching the low 70's. I would love to have 'pace leader' in my resume in the not-too-distant future hopefully so this will be an interesting trial-run of a 4:30 pace group of 2. For myself personally, I'm treating this as a glorified training run before my goal race in Surf City in 2 weeks.
Wish us luck and my best wishes to my friends running PF Chang Rock N' Roll Arizona tomorrow!