Twenty-six miles and 385 yards is no cake-walk and even for a seasoned runner, requires months of preparation. For many amateur athletes, a marathon is the ultimate goal.
For Army vet John Mueller, competing in his first marathon is both scary and exciting.
“It is mind-blowingly scary. It’s just like, what was I thinking?”
Mueller has already run a number of half-marathons and knows the adrenaline will probably help him survive the hours-long race.
“I think that me personally, I’ll be ready probably about mile 4. At mile 4 I’ll be like, I got this. I can keep going. But up until that first 4 miles, man, there’s going to be so many doubts and fears and everything else. And once you get into that groove, you hit that rhythm, everything else just kind of goes out and you just zone in and you’re happy.”
It’ll be the fifth marathon for Emilia Benton. She first ran in Houston two years ago and three times in New York before that. She says she’s had better results running in Houston.
“It’s a more forgiving course here. It’s flatter here; New York is a lot hillier.”
Whitney Parks from Pearland is opting for the half-marathon this time, her first one. She started running about a year ago in order to get healthier.
“I was just really overweight, really out of shape. My children were picking up my negative habits. And, you know, my son would rather sit on the couch and watch TV than go out and do normal kid things and just getting on the floor to getting up from playing with my kids, everything was physically and mentally exhausting. And so I just decided, enough is enough.”
Since then, she’s lost about 100 pounds thanks to regular exercise and healthy eating. And her kids are following her good example.
“My son will run with me, he’s run a couple of races with me. You know, we go biking together. Just overall physically active family together. It’s been a really, really nice improvement. It’s brought us all closer. Just having more to do and the desire to get up and get out of the house and do something fun together.”
Sunday’s half-marathon won’t be Parks’ last one. A friend made her commit to six more this year and the full Houston Marathon next January.
Both the marathon and the half-marathon start on Congress Avenue downtown at 7 a.m. Sunday.
Organizers expect 25,000 runners.