Let's Think Big, Real Big

5 International races that will make you crawl to the finish line...but are sooo worth it!

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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

I had been eyeing this one destination race for a few years. It is called Amazon Race Forest. Yeah, that's right. It is in the Amazon Rain Forest. Last week, I sat down and started doing some research of the logistics of the race. I'm looking at pictures of the jungle, sloths, and colorful frogs. Just as I'm getting really excited, I just so happened to jump to CNN and…..breaking news….Tarapoto, Peru was hit by a major earthquake. Needless to say, I'm looking for another race. I made a short list and did some research. Tell me what you think.

Bayon Temple at Angkor Wat

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Angkor Wat International Marathon

Siam Reap, Cambodia

December 8, 2019

In this amazing race, you can run among the magnificent ruins of the Khmer Empire including the famous Bayon Temple. The Angkor Wat International Marathon accommodates all fitness levels including walkers. Half marathons are available. The best way to enjoy this race is to buy as a vacation package. Many companies sell this package. It will include stops in Hanoi, Vietnam and Halong Bay before your run on Angkor Wat. Added bonus: Angkor Wat International Marathon benefits victims of landmines and HIV/AIDS. Take plenty of pictures!

Imagine this for a road block.

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The Big 5 Marathon

Krueger National Park, South Africa

June 20, 2020

This race is hosted by Albatros Marathon Adventures. The Big 5 Marathon combines a challenging marathon course with a full African Safari vacation. This course is hilly with various terrains like concrete and dirt roads and sand. You literally get to run with the Big 5 Game of Africa. That is rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion, and leopard plus other animals like zebra, giraffe, and antelope. This race is limited to keep you as intimate as possible with the game. Participants also enjoy safaris the week leading to the race. Only for the most adventurous runners!

Dracula's Castle

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Transylvania Marathon

Transylvania, Romania

May 2020

For all you Game of Thrones lovers out there, this race is for you. Located Northwest of Bucharest, Romania is the Transylvania Marathon that ends at Dracula's Castle. But, before you get there, you have to brave this ultra challenging mountain race. Pick your distance of a half, full, or ultra marathon. Either way, you will have to navigate through treacherous steep, elevation on road, dirt, and snow. One thing is for sure, you better be trained for this race. It is not for the faint-hearted.

Dram-matic scenery in this Scottish Race.

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Dramathon

Speyside, Scotland

October 19, 2019

Whenever I think of running a marathon, I think about hydration, water, maybe beer, but never Scotch. That is when I found the Dramathon. This race is amazing. It takes place in the Speyside region of Scotland with castles and rich farmland. You get to pass by the most pretigious scotch distilleries like Glen Farcglas, Cragganmore, the Balvenie on this grassy trail race. Choose from four distances: the Full Dram, the Half Dram, the Wee Dram, and the relay (the We Dram). The race ends with a scotch tasting at Glenfiddich Distillery.

Stairway to heaven in the Great Wall Marathon.

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Great Wall Marathon

May 16, 2020

The Great Wall Marathon is known as one of the world's most challenging marathons in the world. In fact, it is impossible to run the whole way through. There are many spots where the crowds bottle neck waiting for their turn to get through treacherous mountain steps. Be sure to include your stair workouts while training. Runners can expect to run up and down 5,164 steps before exploring the surrounding village. This race is sold as a vacation. Runners enjoy sight-seeing in Beijing and the Terra Cotta Warriors.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans outmatched when it counts against Steelers

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Another game, another loss for the Texans. This time it was only a seven point loss to the Steelers as they fell 28-21 in Pittsburgh. This time around, Bill O'Brien looked to be on his game as far as decision-making was concerned. However, there is still room for improvement.

One thing that I did appreciate that O'Brien did was have trust in the offensive line. The Steelers pass rush could be problematic, but their defense overall is very stout. That's how they were able to nearly make the playoffs last year with a Duck at quarterback. While the Texans did give up five sacks, they weren't all due to poor offensive line play. The Texans lost 33 yards on those five sacks. Tytus Howard and Zach Fulton handled themselves fairly well after looking like turnstiles the first two games. O'Brien called longer developing pass plays and play action in spite of this and it paid off with Deshaun Watson and his receivers putting up 264 yards in the air.

There also wasn't an instance of Bumbling Bill this game. At the end of the first half, there was a minute and fourteen seconds left. The Texans were down 17-14 and had all three timeouts with the ball on their 25-yard line. Classic Bumbling Bill situation right? Wrong! Not only was the play-calling on point, but the players executed and the timeout situation was handled perfectly. First timeout was used after getting to midfield with 47 seconds left. Timeout number two was used after a 20 yard gain after the previous play. A 15 yard gain later to the Steeler 14-yard line and timeout number three was used with 28 seconds left. This set up perfectly for them to call a multitude of plays. They only needed one as Watson found Will Fuller in the end zone on a jump ball in which Fuller rose up and was physical enough to grab the ball over the defender. They went up 21-17 at the half.

Bill O'Brien's teams were 37-3 when leading at halftime. I say "were" because they lost this one after not scoring a single point in the second half. This was more on the defense not being able to fight its way out of a wet paper bag, and a lack of execution by the offense. Specifically, the run defense has been atrocious and Watson either needs quicker reads or to stop holding onto the ball so long by making quicker decisions. That's on coaching to put players in positions to succeed, but also the players to execute.

Ultimately, this was on O'Brien the general manager more than O'Brien the coach. This roster is woefully outmatched. The only time an outmatched roster can compete consistently is in college football with a wacky offense. It just doesn't happen in the NFL. Hey, at least Bumbling Bill didn't rear his butt chin today. Today's Culture Map play call menu was brought to you by Pour Behavior. I suggest getting over there and checking out their daily specials.

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