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5 bucket list races that make 'Merica great

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

Last week, I wrote about some of the world's best bucket list marathon and half marathons. But, what about here in the United States? We got some great places to explore on foot like our National Parks, Wine Country, and let's not forget our southern most state, Hawaii. So, I've made a list of marathons and half marathons to honor some of America's best bucket list destinations.

Red Rock trails​

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Zion National Park Marathon

Zion National Park, Utah

February 20, 2020

It's a steady climb to the road to Zion. This race starts and ends in Springdale, Utah. Runners travel along the Watchman trail to carefully arrive at the mouth of Zion Canyon. Runners can stop and take in the breath-taking views of of cold snow canyons and snow capped cliffs. Better hurry and register because this race sells out every year.

Race fit for a Disney Princess

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Disney Wine and Dine Marathon

Orlando, Florida

November 3, 2020

This popular race takes place on Walt Disney World Resort. Runners get to run wild through the theme park. Make sure to bring your camera for this novelty race. It is perfect for the Mickey and Donald Duck lovers. Stop and take your picture with your favorite Disney characters every mile. This marathon is great to walk and trot to the finish line which is a food and wine festival fit for a prince…or…..princess or……a fairy………or a cricket.

Get hitched on this marathon course.

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Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon

Las Vegas, Nevada

November 16-17, 2020

The Rock and Roll race series really out did themselves with this one. Have you ever wanted to dress as Elvis or a Cirque Du Soleil character, listen to your favorite rock band, and run down the Las Vegas Strip at night? Me, too! This race is definitely on my bucket list. There is so much packed in that it takes an entire weekend. This marathon is literally a night race down the Las Vegas Strip. You get to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of Vegas. You can even get married on course at Mile 3. Bands play at every mile of the race to keep you pumped up. A Rock and Roll race would not be right if it didn't start with a pre-race performance from headliner Kesha. Can I say #StripAtNight?

Run the rolling hills of wine.​

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Napa Valley Half Marathon

Napa Valley, California

March 1, 2020

This is known as the "biggest little marathon in the west." This picturesque course starts at the Silverado Trail from Calistoga and ends in Napa Valley. Runners run past the vineyards and wineries. It is the perfect tour of wine country. This race is not just wine. This road race is a Boston Qualifier. You will truly want to Run.Sip.Savor.

Fun in the sun.

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Honolulu Marathon

Honolulu, Ohau

December 8, 2019

Run in paradise in our southern most state. Sandy beaches, tropical flowers, and palm trees. Kick off the weekend with a luau complete with male and female hula dancers. The 5am start is no hardship with a spectacular fireworks show. The run up Diamond Head Crator is a challenge, but well worth it. You get to experience the laid-back attitude of Hawaiians. It's come one, come all for this race. Everyone and their mama, grandpa, whoever else comes out. There is no time limit or limit of participants. Fun in the sun.

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Urquidy should get the nod over McCullers. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

After being basically overmatched in their season opening loss at Kansas City, the Texans try it this week against the other team vastly superior to them in the AFC last season with the Baltimore Ravens at fan-less NRG Stadium Sunday. They met last year with the Ravens humiliating the Texans 41-7 in Baltimore.

The Chiefs are a tough measuring stick, but the Texans didn't measure up in any area. Meanwhile, in their opener last Sunday the Ravens bashed the Browns 38-6 with reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson completing 20 of 25 passes with three touchdown passes and no interceptions. Jackson ran only seven times, last time he had fewer carries was the season opener last season. On paper there is little reason to think the Texans win. They have no position unit advantage with the possible exception of wide receiver, but given the puny outputs of Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, and Kenny Stills in Kansas City let's see them have a good game before giving them any checkmarks over opponents. The Ravens are seven point favorites.

The playoffs are in sight for the Astros

The Astros continue to slog (slog, not slug) their way to the postseason. Entering the weekend with just 10 games left in this truncated regular season they sit as a paragon of mediocrity: 25 wins and 25 losses. That has about clinched a playoff spot though since in the gimmicky short season postseason format the Astros are a virtual lock to qualify by finishing second in the American League West. They are three games ahead of Seattle. If somehow they wind up tied there is no one game playoff, and the Astros have already clinched the tiebreaker over the Mariners. The Astros play only lousy teams to close. Three this weekend vs. the Diamondbacks, then three to try to polish off the Mariners in Seattle, then four in Arlington at the Rangers.

The Astros' bullpen will be stronger in the playoffs

The Astros' lousy bullpen has been a big weakness in the 60 game schedule and would have been a bigger problem over a 162 game schedule. In the playoffs, that weakness could be greatly diminished. In the opening round best of three Zack Greinke is sure to start one of the first two games. If Justin Verlander makes it back to start the other, that leaves just one starting spot left for Dusty Baker to decide likely between Jose Urquidy and Lance McCullers. That would add Framber Valdez and Christian Javier to the Astros' pen.

Since the Astros will have no playoff games at Minute Maid Park, Urquidy (with two more decent starts) should get the nod over McCullers. It is bizarre that McCullers has been so regularly outstanding at MMP while so often inept elsewhere. In five home starts this season McCullers has a 1.42 earned run average. In four road starts his ERA is 13.50. It's not just a short season small sample size thing. For his career McCullers has 44 home starts, ERA 2.51. 45 road starts (plus three relief appearances), ERA 5.22. It's not as if MMP is a great pitchers' park.

Timing is running out for the Rockets

The Rockets turned out to be irrelevant as real NBA championship contenders go. The Lakers are excellent so there is no shame in losing to them, but the Rockets getting destroyed in the fourth quarter of two games and then not even being competitive in the closeout game made a complete mockery of General Manager Daryl Morey's "we should win this thing" claim. With one of the oldest starting lineups in the NBA the Rockets' future is perilous. Head Coach Mike D'Antoni opting to not be part of it in telling the organization goodbye without even waiting on a new contract offer. If for the third consecutive offseason the Rockets make personnel moves on the cheap, they are not to be taken seriously as a title threat in 2020-21.

The Denver Nuggets should give the Lakers a better series than did the Rockets. That in and of itself isn't saying much, but the Nuggets are younger, deeper, and more versatile than the Rockets.

Last season Kyle Lowry played stellar point guard in helping the Toronto Raptors win the NBA championship. This season Goran Dragic is playing stellar point guard in helping the Miami Heat to within two wins of playing for the NBA championship. Once upon a time the Rockets had Lowry and Dragic on their roster at the same time. The Rockets are at 25 seasons and counting since last playing in the NBA Finals.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Maybe a postseason revival is to come, but Jose Altuve has never so regularly looked so messed up at the plate. His batting average down to .216, Altuve has been by far the worst Astro regular in 2020.

2. Other than at the Masters it looks like it will be a major surprise (and event) if Tiger Woods seriously contends to win another major.

3. Best doodles: Bronze-Yankee Silver-Snicker Gold-Golden

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