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Monday, October 02, 2023 — Houston, TX

Owls run past the hedges, into Houston

Photo courtesy Jeff Fitlow

By Riya Misra     1/17/23 11:58pm

The Chevron Houston Marathon, Houston’s annual marathon hosted every January, took place on Jan. 14 and 15 this past weekend. Rice students, faculty and even president alike took part, running anywhere from 3.1 to a whopping 26.2 miles.

President Reginald DesRoches, who ran the half marathon with his wife Paula, said this year’s race marked a milestone in their long tradition of marathon running.

“Paula and I enjoyed running our 10th half marathon this past Sunday,” DesRoches wrote in an email to the Thresher. “As always, we began training after Thanksgiving with the goal of being ready by the time of the run. What we enjoy most is seeing so many different people from all over the city supporting this wonderful event.”

Linda Wu, a Baker College senior, said that her love for running unexpectedly developed during her sophomore year.

“For me, I think [running] came out of a desire to destress. So it’s more for my own mental health,” Wu said. “I used to hate running so much … [but] it feels very empowering.”

Wu, who spontaneously signed up for the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, said she spent the past two months training for the upcoming marathon by running around Rice’s Outer Loop. For other students like Anna Frey, who also ran the half marathon, the decision was more deliberate.

“I had done [the marathon] last year and I had a really fun time. So I decided to do it again, and try and do even better,” Frey, a Brown College senior, said. 

Corina Do, a Sid Richardson College senior, said she prepared for the half marathon by following training videos online in the prior months. The biggest challenge wasn’t the physical exertion, though. According to Do, it was striking a balance between training and being a student.

“I guess balancing it with schoolwork and social life was probably the hardest,” Do said. “A lot of times my friends have late night activities, and it was just hard to sort of sacrifice those events.”

A perhaps unexpected benefit of participating in the run was venturing beyond Rice’s hedges. Yiyi Yang, a Lovett College junior, said that the marathon gave her an opportunity to explore Houston, which they previously hadn’t done.

“I’m an international student from China, and I don’t have a car [here]. So I haven’t been exploring Houston that much. [I enjoyed] just simply running on the street, which I almost never did in Houston — I did a lot in my hometown, but not here,” Yang, who ran Saturday’s 5K race, said.

Although Gustavo Raskosky, Rice’s video and photography specialist, grew up in Houston, he seconded this sentiment of marathons shedding new light on his city.

“This race is a lot of fun because I grew up in Houston. So you see a lot of familiar faces, [and] that’s just cool to see the city in a different light,” Raskosky, who ran the full marathon, said. “There’s a quote somewhere where if you want your faith in humanity restored, stand at the end of a marathon.”

Despite running being a solo activity, Raskosky said that the race brought out a large community of dedicated runners, both from Rice and Houston alike.

“It’s really fun to see people kind of break their own boundaries,” Raskosky said. “And on top of that, the second best thing there is the energy that you feel in the air, whether you’re spectating and cheering people on or you’re in the race. You’re feeling all the energy, you’re making friends along the way.”

Photo courtesy Jeff Fitlow

Now that the marathon is over, many participants say they find themselves wondering about what’s next on their list of goals.

“After this huge thing that you’ve worked towards, [and trained] for so long is done … Now I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s done. What’s next?’” Wu said.

Others are preparing for their next marathons, like Raskosky, who recently qualified for the Boston Marathon. But in general, the most unifying post-marathon feeling is one of satisfaction. Jenny Judge, Rice School of Architecture’s undergraduate administrator, said that crossing the 26.2-mile finish line was as much a mental accomplishment as a physical one. 

“We challenge ourselves sometimes mentally,” Judge, who hit a personal best during the race, said. “Sometimes [you’re] just sore and know that you gave your full effort. And I think that’s one of the things I enjoy about marathons, the difficulty and the finishing of it.” 

Hubert King, a Lovett sophomore who ran the full marathon, summarizes his running experience with the most relatable sentiment of all.

“[I feel] pretty good. Pretty tired. Oh, my legs hurt,” King said.

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