My favorite moments as a Mile 9 road guard

Why you should volunteer at the 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon

Jovan Abernathy

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

It's January. And January, in Houston, always means the Chevron Houston Marathon. Since I ran my big race in October in Iceland, I was not running Houston. I still wanted to take part in the festivities of the race, so I volunteered. This was my first time to volunteer for the race. It was such an amazing experience that I made a list of my favorite moments of the Chevron Houston Marathon.

1. Recruiting volunteers.

Cold, willing, and ready.

Sure I host long distance walking tours in Houston. What I'm really doing is trying to get everyone to run a half or full marathon. I saw the Houston Marathon as a great way to plant some seeds. It didn't surprise me that finding volunteers was so easy. Houston is such a hospitable city, I knew there would be no problems. In the end, Houston Tourism Gym donated 10 volunteers to the marathon. Not bad for a first time.

2. Making motivational running posters.

On Friday, we met for final details and to make motivational posters for the runners. Some of the volunteers, like Paula, were born clever. She proudly holds up her poster that said: "Hurry up, its cold out here." For the rest of us, we depended on A website called BestMotivationalRunningPostersEver.com Just Joking. There were some good articles online on the topic though.

3. Waking up in the cold.

Paula had a damned fine point. On Wednesday, it was apparent that this marathon would be cold. Some dropped out, but most of us grinned and bared it. On the day of the race, to beat the road closures, we had to get up at 4:30am. We kept reminding ourselves that the runners needed us.

4. Getting our official race crew jackets.

Our sector captain came bearing many gifts. The coffee, kolaches, and donuts were cool, but everyone was waiting on their official race crew jackets. We all lined up for our very own navy blue windbreaker jacket with the Chevron Houston Marathon Logo and RACE CREW printed across the back.

5. Seeing the wheelchair contestants whiz by.

Hell of an arm workout.

I love seeing the wheelchair racers. Even if I am running the race myself, I make sure that I get at least one picture. They make the coolest pictures, but you have to be quick. Those guys are fast. Can you imagine a 26.2 mile bicep and tricep workout.

6. When the elite runners pass by.

That's some high quality H2O.

You can always tell the elite runners. They look like graceful gazelles. Sometimes I laugh when I hear beginners talk like they can actually win the race on their first try. The marathon committee knows the top four or five people who are competing to win. I saw the proof on Sunday. These tables were set out marked for the top elites. Each elite has their own water bottle to drink from. As soon as they pass, they take down the tables.

7. Serving the gummy bears, jelly beans, and pretzels to the runners.

I remember when I ran Houston in 2008. When I was just leaving West Park and coming onto Richmond, there was a 10 year old girl with gummy bears. She offered me some as I passed her. I literally stopped in my tracks and ran back to her to get my gummy bear. I was forever grateful. I mean forever because that was 10 years ago. So my volunteers and I paid it forward. The runners definitely appreciated it.

8. Cheering for the runners.

James is soliciting high fives.

Everyone of my team did their best cheering. Mother and daughter, Juanice and Aneysia, cheered together. One thing is for sure. This is not their first rodeo. I hope they still have their voices. Houston Thanks you!

9. Performing our job duties.

We were the official road guards of Mile 9. We were stationed at Rice Blvd. and Greenbrier St. We were charged with keeping the runners on course and the spectators off the course. Rice University is not a defiant area. This made our job easy. Andrew, another volunteer, is an officer with the US Customs and Border Protection. Nothing got past him. At one point, I saw a gentleman step too close to the course and quick as a flash, he commands, "I'm going to need you to step back sir." Well done. I would not argue with that.

10. Electing the most impressive runner.

Let's get this straight. All of the runners were impressive. We really loved the duo of Superman and his hot dog. I saw a couple of Wonder Women. A guy was running while carrying the American flag. But, the blind runner being led by his pacer always gets me. And some people say they can't run.

11. "Running" into my old classmate on the course.

It happened while I was soliciting gummy bears. A tall guy almost got clothlined by my arm. I quickly moved out of the way to see that it was Lee Risinger from high school. I yell at the top of my lungs, “Go Lee Risinger! It's Jovan from Dickinson High School." I could hear him say hello from down the street.

He is one of my Facebook friends and I remembered seeing him post pictures of him running races. When I got home, I sent him a message. We got to catch up,but I really wanted to know how his race went.

It turns out that Lee started running about 5 years ago and lost 120 lbs. This was his first full marathon. Despite a nagging ankle injury, he finished in 6 hours 07min before collecting his medal. According to Lee, his favorite part of the race was all the support and hospitality. He loved the course and the port-o-potties were immaculate. His next race is the Seabrook Marathon. You go Lee!


Lee shows off his medals.

The road blocks have been picked up. All the trash is gone. You have a whole year to think about and train for the 5K, half, of full marathon. If not, at least volunteer. It is well worth it.

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After rallying in the ninth inning in Game 1 to take the pivotal opener of this best-of-three ALWC series, the Astros were in the driver's seat to try and end the series on Wednesday with another win at Target Field. Here is a quick rundown of Game 2:

Final Score: Astros 3, Twins 1.

Series: HOU Wins 2-0.

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier.

Losing Pitcher: Cody Stashak.

Houston gets the first hit and first run in the fourth

Through the first three innings, neither team could get a hit off of Jose Berrios or Jose Urquidy, though the Twins did load the bases in the bottom of the first on two walks and an error, but Urquidy would strand the runners before getting 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.

Meanwhile, the Astros lineup was retired in order in three perfect innings by Berrios. That changed in the top of the fourth when Houston would get back-to-back two-out walks to set up the first hit of the game, an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Dusty Baker makes another early call to the bullpen before Twins tie it up

Urquidy was able to keep the 1-0 lead by working around a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth, the first hit for the Twins. He returned in the fifth, allowing a leadoff single before a strikeout for the first out. Dusty Baker would pull another early hook, like Greinke the day prior, dipping into his bullpen early to end Urquidy's day at just 76 pitches in the fifth. His final line: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 76 P.

Brooks Raley was who Baker called on to face the top of the Twins' lineup. He would walk his first batter, putting runners on first and second, get a strikeout for the second out, then allow an RBI-double to Nelson Cruz that almost scored a second, go-ahead run. Instead, the runner was out at home thanks to a terrific defensive play by Carlos Correa, bulleting the ball to Maldonado at home, who made a great tag to save the run and keep it tied 1-1.

Correa homers, Astros advance to ALDS

After Raley completed the fifth inning for Urquidy, Cristian Javier was the next reliever out to begin the bottom of the sixth. He would toss a 1-2-3 frame, sending the tie game to the seventh. In the top of the seventh, Carlos Correa broke the tie with a long, loud two-out solo home run to center-field, putting the Astros back in front 2-1.

Javier held on to the one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh by working around a leadoff walk, then returned for the eighth. He would get through it scoreless, despite allowing a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz, who would be pinch-ran for by the speedy Byron Buxton. After a strikeout for out number two, Javier would catch Buxton between first and second base in a rundown, getting the big final out of the inning.

Houston added insurance in the top of the ninth, getting two on base before an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, his second of the day to make it 3-1. That left things up to closer Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance of the postseason. He would notch the save, advancing the Astros to the ALDS for their fourth-straight year.

Up Next: The Astros will now have a few days off to travel to the west coast before starting their ALDS with the winner of the A's / White Sox ALWC series. Game 1 of their ALDS will be on Monday, October 5th, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, with start time TBD.

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