|Rocky Balboa as the Italian Stalion|
Who but his amazing likeness, with large boxing gloves, shorts and a shirt identifying himself in bold large letters as "ROCKY", lined-up at the start of this morning's 10K Rodeo Run? Most of the spectators were simply waiting around for the Rodeo Parade which immediately followed the race, so Rocky's presence got their attention - especially as he aped to the crowds with uppercuts and jabs. I appreciated Rocky's antics from my vantage point a few strides behind since the spectators were far louder in applauding for those in his wake.
Nearing the two mile mark, and foolishly thinking that Rocky was weakening I attempted to pass, but with a glare and a quickstep previously reserved only for Apollo Creed in the tenth round he responded. I managed to hold onto my trailing position a few strides behind until just past the half-way point, at which point, thinking of Coach Burgess Meridith, it was me that threw in the white towel.
|Climbing the uphill segments of the Elysian Viaduct|
One of the causes for my suddenly lowered morale results from an unfortunate aspect of the Rodeo Run and all other races originating from Houston's downtown. The event organizers' unfortunately route runners to the north neighborhoods from downtown via the horrible Elysian Viaduct, a completely unpopulated 1.5 mile long four lane concrete road with two elevated bridges over the decidedly non-scenic Interstate 10, a sprawling commercial district and railroad yards. It was at this point in the race, facing the uphill sections and realizing my inability to cool down (the race temperature was 72F with a very humid 65F dew point) I knew that I'd be unable to sustain the 6:47 average pace which I'd managed in the first half. Though "Rocky" and his fans inspired me in the first 5K, I paid for it in the second half by slowing to a comparatively lethargic 7:31 average second half pace.
Repetition of my long-time pacing problem in hot and humid conditions of excessively ambitiously running the first half followed by a second half melt-down didn't squelch my good feelings after the finish. I immediately met-up with a couple of good friends and after we complained about the weather we partook of some much appreciated post-race nutrition. Sadly, I couldn't find "Rocky", as I'd have shaken his hand and thanked him. In any case, I've got next weekend's Texas Independence Relay to look forward to!