Last weekend I visited my hometown of Houston, Texas. I got to run while I was there, feeling fortunate to come in during good weather, because last time I was in town, heavy torrential rain kept me indoors. That circumstance and others I have run into on recent trips home, have lead me to believe that Houstonians that decide to take on running are both courageous and tenacious, and extremely patient.
I have found the place is not particularly pedestrian friendly. I’ve locked eyes with people behind the wheel, which I mistakenly took to be acknowledgement, only to have to jump back at the last moment because the driver decided to go ahead through my path, even when I had the right of way. I’ve run all over New York City and Los Angeles, but Houston kept me on my toes. The sidewalks I encountered are not in great shape. I ran across terrain this past weekend that brought forth all my faculties for technical trail running. Sometimes the sidewalk would disappear altogether, either because it wasn’t part of original road planning, or because construction had temporarily eradicated it. Many sidewalks are broken up by the roots of trees, so really, just pay attention to footwork and surroundings.
If you want to complain about it being “too hot” to run, don’t say it within earshot of a runner from Texas. I don’t think I’ve ever come across such a day that qualifies more than those in Houston’s late summer. there are really nice weather days, to be sure, but humidity comes with the heat in Houston, and “suffocating” is the only description you need to fully understand the situation. You either run through it or around the worst of it. Anytime I don’t want to run today because of the heat and/or humidity, I need only remind myself that I have survived runs and races in infuriatingly miserable weather, and that it will all be over the sooner I get started. (This lead to one of the best runs of my life, a 13 miler with NRC, “Nike+ Run Club” when it was just getting off the ground in NYC. It was a hot, wet blanket of a morning, but I put on my big girl pants and managed to run my fastest half marathon at that point in spite of the weather.)
If you are new to/visiting Houston, try and make it to Memorial Park. It’s a 2.9 mile loop around a golf course with water every mile or so, an excellent stretching area, and plenty of parking. The path is not paved and easy on the joints, with trails through the grass worn through in some parts that are fun to navigate. You can extend your run easily onto adjoining sidewalks that are set back from the streets, and not interrupted by construction, though you will still need to be vigilant when crossing streets. Nearby paths along Buffalo Bayou were recently paved as well, and run between the park area and downtown. My favorite part of this run is the people watching, and my favorite thing to do on the run is what is best described as “drag racing”. I pick a person in front of me, and speed up until I’m passing them. Sometimes I’m lucky enough that they make me work for it- fun stuff, right?