|This is the prototype of the Mars Rover being developed for the manned trips to Mars.
|Sammie skating at Discovery Green
I had already seen quite a few elite runners out running along the Allen Parkway on my morning runs including Shalane Flanagan (Nike), Sage Canaday (Hansons Brooks) and Emily Harrison (Adidas/McMillan Elite). My main run before the marathon was on the Wednesday - approx 15km in 65 mins including 3km @ 3:50/km. Was supposed to be 3km at marathon pace (3:54) but the 3:50/km felt effortless and I was starting to feel like I was in shape for a good run.
On the day before the Houston Marathon, the Mens and Womens US Olympic Marathon Trials were held on a loop course 1 x 2.2 mile then 3 x 8 mile. This was my first experience of watching world class marathoners as a spectator (other than seeing them running past me in the other direction at Boston and Gold Coast) and I absolutely loved it. Our hotel was close to the narrowest part of the loop and so Rox and I were able to walk basically the length of one block and see the runners go past twice per loop.
Before the race started we saw Benita Willis (who ran the marathon the following day, finishing 2nd and qualifying for the London Olympics) and Nic Bideau. Benita was doing some strides after her morning run.
The Men's race started 15 minutes before the Women's race so they completed their 2.2 mile loop and were heading out on the first of the 8 mile loops before the Women started. Ryan Hall took it out from the start and really broke things up from the start.
The photo below was taken at the start of the first 8 mile loop and you can see the gap that has been opened up from the chase pack after only 2.2 miles.
|Lead pack after the first 2.2mile lap
|Chase pack after 2.5 miles including Andrew Carlson, Jason Hartmann and Mike Sayenko
|Hansons runners in chase pack
In contrast to the Men's race the Women's race was a very slow start in a big congested group although the main contenders made sure they were all to the front of the pack.
The same lead pack was together in the Men's race after 10 miles (Hall, Keflezighi, Abdirahman, Ritzenhein, Trafeh -photo below)
|Womens' lead pack including Davila, Kastor, Flanagan, Goucher and Hastings
|Photo from Houston Chronicle website
|Fireworks at Disney's Magic Kingdom
|The totem pole in the incredible foyer of the Wilderness Lodge