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.


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

When I'm scouting out a new tour route, I go out looking for hip, new places that speak for Houston's hospitality, but make you feel good too. Eado definitely has a lot to offer in this department. What used to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Houston that you would not be caught dead in or else you were "caught up." Now, it is not that way. Eado has become a hub of culture. From Street art to breweries to one of the best burger joints in town.

Eado is great to get exercise. I have used Eado not just for my walking tours, but in my run training as well. No matter if you are on wheels or on foot, there is plenty to look at. I've made a guide of all my favorite places.

8th Wonder Brewery


Amazing view behind David Adickes' We Love Houston Sign

What is not to love about a Houston themed brewery that gives homage to the 8th Wonder of the World, the Astrodome? As you know, I'm an IPA girl, so I always have the Hopston when I go, however, even if you are not a drinker, they have something for you. Try their kombucha or thai tea on tap as well as their cold brew coffee. Here are a few fun facts about 8th Wonder Brewery. The brew master heads the cicerone program at University of Houston. You can take your picture next to famous Houston artist David Adickes sculptures of the Beatles and the We Love Houston sign. 8th Wonder gives massive support to Houston culture and businesses. They devoted the can of the Weissheimer to the Blue Tile Project, an initiative to preserve the first street signs in Houston.

Graffiti Park


Face of Freedom and Justice

Its true, there are many spots in Houston to do some mural posing. I feel, though, that Eado has a huge concentration of them. No wonder, Eado is where many of Houston's best mural artists grew up and congregate. If you want to get the most mural poses in one spot, then head to Graffiti Park. Climb the stair well and take your picture in front of Anat Ronen's chameleon. Are you a UGK fan? Who isn't? Honor Houston's greatest rappers by taking your pic with Big Mo and Pimp C. Gonzo 247 paid tribute to McDonald's or they paid him. I'm not sure. And my favorite black and white stencil painted by Iranian brothers Icy and Sot. Spend some time checking out the details of the intense face.

Rodeo Goat


Burgers and Pile of Chili Cheese Fries

So let me see if I get this right. At the tender age of 9, the owner, Shannon Wynne, spent a considerable time at the Houston Rodeo. Many times, left to his own devices, he would spend his time swindling other kids by getting a rodeo goat drunk and betting that he could ride a goat for the first time. He, of course knew the goat was impaired. The other naive children fell for it and today, we have Rodeo Goat, home of the dueling goats. Dueling goats are 2 burger specials that vie for best burger. This is, of course, is based on sales. I still have dreams about the Bodacious. I also saw this crazy picture of an 8oz. burger with double bacon, cheddar cheese, and fried egg on an iced Shipley doughnut with sprinkles. I'm very afraid.

True Anomaly Brewing


Full Transparency with Barrels right behind the bar.

The new brewery in Houston is full of surprises. First surprise: the owners met at NASA. Houston, we have a brewery started by rocket scientists. That is awesome! The beer is awesome too. I really mean that because I'm drinking one right now. It's the Spotts Park Pale Ale. I never thought that star fruit and mint and beer went together, but they do it right. And True Anomaly? What does it mean? I'm going to make an attempt at making a explanation. In space, (we are talking about SPACE), a true anomaly measures the position of a celestial body in orbit. Did I get it right? Sort of. Google it and your brain will be hurting. At any rate, I trust anyone who understands that with my IPA.

HAM


Fast and Furious cars and racy murals at HAM

Or Harrisburg Art Museum is an urban museum that displays art from the best of mural artist, local and international. Not only that, it serves as a mentorship for budding graffiti artists. You never know what you are going to see when you are there. It could be an open market. Or live graffiti painting. I've seen what was like a scene from Fast and the Furious with hot cars and scantily clad women being photographed with them. Once, I even saw a rap video being filmed by a local Houston rapper. If on foot, HAM adds 4 miles to your course.

Sigma Brewery


Great beer and comfy couches at Sigma Brewing

After such a long walk, you need another brew. On the way back to the main stretch, you deserve a beer from Sigma Brewery. They specialize in IPA's and Pale Ales, but do amazing light and dark beers. Sigma Brewery is bit of an enigma. The owners are obsessed with science fiction and heavy metal. Don't be surprised if you are watching Prometheus while listening to old Metallica. On the other hand, I always recommend ladies go to the bathroom. Instead of a repurposed 5 gallon pickle bucket or port-o-potty, ladies walk into a dimly lit powder room with pastel blue walls and flowers on an antique table. On the table is a tray of neatly arranged feminine hygiene products. Truly the most comfortable brewery in Houston. The sectional in the brew room makes it hard to leave.

So 5 miles later, you just got an amazing time in one of Houston's budding neighborhoods. I didn't even mention how great the views are of the Downtown skyline in Eado. Be sure to take plenty of pictures.

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