CADENZAHOUSTON—I’m in Houston this weekend for the USA Half Marathon Championships, but my mind is in the ATX on 3M on Sunday. With 3M and the Austin Marathon a few weeks later on February 16th, the crown jewels of the Austin running calendar are almost here.

Both are great races (as is Houston) with national reputations, but to me the most fascinating aspect to any marathon is simply us. You and me.

We are the incredibly dedicated runner who will do just about anything to get ready to run a marathon. This is mostly a good thing. But it’s a very fine line that so many of us tread between determination-persistence-purposefulness and what the rest of the non-running world views as sheer lunacy.

Many of us have come to running after having played other sports as kids or are still playing other sports, but nothing we do (or have done) provides the same level of deep satisfaction or sense of accomplishment as our training and racing does.

For some reason, running seems to pre-select us. We come from different backgrounds, professions and beliefs, but we are a highly motivated, disciplined people who are drawn to a sport which reinforces our deepest traits. We don’t see ourselves as extraordinary, especially since we are surrounded by people who are so similarly driven.

We will do whatever it takes to run and improve. We run through all kinds of rotten weather because that’s what we are. Going to bed early on Friday or Saturday night before race is not that big a deal. Neither is that weekly long run or tempo workout. Traveling to Boston, Napa, Sacramento, Houston or even Killeen for the marathon or sleeping in our own bed for Austin is just one of the things we do.

Running fuels us on so many different levels. We need it. It defines who we are and how we manage our lives.

Non-runners simply can not comprehend why anyone would get up at 5 a.m. for a 20-mile run on a cold Saturday morning. Non-runners don’t understand how anyone could possibly run 26.2 miles. And enjoy it? You gotta be nuts. Non-runners just don’t get us and think marathoners should be committed.

At least they are right about that: We are committed.

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O Houston is still in limbo awaiting the final decision by USA Track & Field whether it or Los Angeles will be selected to host the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. Houston has hosted the Marathon Trials twice and, in 2012, hosted both the men’s and women’s Trials races on a single day to rave reviews. The decision on the Trials site was supposed to have come down in December and certainly before this weekend, but, as we reported in December, there is a fundamental disagreement among the decision makers. The USATF long distance running committee favors Houston, but USATF CEO Max Siegel is leaning toward LA. Jim Estes, the USATF director of events, told Toni Reavis: “We would have made the decision already if it had been abundantly clear where to go. But we needed to do follow up with both Houston and LA and get some additional questions answered. We have all that and are now circling up coming to the final decision.” A decision is expected in the next few weeks, hopefully before LA stages the 29th running of its marathon on March 9th.

O Nicole Bowler, a member of Rogue’s elite team who was seriously injured in a hit-and-run on January 3rd, is – according to Steve Sisson – making a remarkable recovery from her accident and the surgeries she has undergone since then. Bowler will relocate to her hometown of Sacramento to be closer to her family for continued treatment and rehab. Sisson, who has spent many days at Brackenridge with Bowler, said: “With her characteristic humor and mature outlook on life, Nicole is taking all this in stride. While we know where Nicole will be in the coming months, her future is less certain. She takes each day as the gift she knows it is.”

O Bandera hosted its three trail races last weekend, including the USA 100-K national championship. Meghan Arbogast, who is 52 years old and from Cool, California, won the 100-K in 10:12, followed by 41-year-old Liza Howard of San Antonio in 10:39. Five other San Antonio women finished in the top 10: Anabel Pearson of Helotes was fifth, Rachel Ballard was sixth, Tanya Espalin was seventh, Julie Koepke finished ninth and Cara Bass was 10th. The men’s 100-K was won by Jorge Maravilla of Vallejo, California in 8:02:27 with Austin’s Paul Terranova fourth in 8:51:50 and Ford Smith, who is 17, finishing fifth in 9:21:08. Matt Smith of San Antonio was eighth, Dave Brown of Boerne was ninth and Lorenzo Sanchez of San Antonio was 10th.

O In the Bandera 25-K, Erik Stanley of Rogue was an easy winner in 1:42:15 over Ashish Patel and Jody Broccoli-Hickey. Top woman was Yanory Hernandez of McAllen in 2:21:23. Meredith Gardner of Austin was second and Kristin Baucher of Austin was third. The 50-K was won by Tom Steidler of Colorado Springs in 4:18:58 with former UT runner (and current medical student in Houston) Joseph Niland second and Andrew Washburn of Boerne third. First woman was Betsy Kalmeyer of Leadville in 5:16. Nicole Ferstl of Austin was second and Nancy Finfrock of Illinois was third.

O The Shoal Creek “Peninsula” upgrade on the Butler Trail is basically completed and open for business. That means when you’re running on the north side of the trail you no longer have to go on the rough, rocky section along Cesar Chavez in front of the Seaholm Power Plant. The city spent $1 million on shoring up the banks of the trail along the Peninsula (which used to flood) and also added much needed vegetation. The trail in that section is now entirely concrete.

O Matthew Maton, the former Austinite who is now a junior at Summitt HS in Bend, Oregon, made his first international race a memorable one. Maton, who is rapidly developing into one of the best high school runners in the country, ran as part of the USA junior team which went to the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country race in Scotland and finished third in the 6-K in 19:16. Maton is the son of Michelle Maton who was the 1987 NCAA cross-country champion (for Indiana) and is the brother of Ashley Maton who starred at Westlake HS and now runs at the University of Oregon.

O BTW: One-time Flower Mound native Renee Metivier Baillie, who coincidentally also lives in Bend, finished 16th in the women’s division of the Edinburgh race (6-K) in 21:16. Baillie is running the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston on Sunday.

O Also running the USA Half Champs in Houston are Rio Reina, David Fuentes and Rory Tunningley from Austin (all Team Mizuno) as well as Alli Mendez and Scott MacPherson of Rogue. Jose Munoz of San Antonio, Chris Serra reports, is running the USA Champs too. Munoz, who won the ’12 San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, is shooting for a 1:05 in Houston.

O Rogue is hosting two track meets this winter and spring at Cedar Park HS. The first of the Rogue Track Festivals is February 15th and the other one is March 14th. For more info, go to roguetrackfestival.com or call Warren Brown at Rogue Cedar Park.

O As we’ve previously reported the Schlotzsky’s Bun Run, won’t be held during its traditional spring date. Instead, it has been replaced by the Silicon Labs Sunshine Run (5-K and 10-K) on the old Bun Run course on April 27th. But, Schlotzsky’s is still hoping to stage the Bun Run, sometime in the fall. No date or course has been secured yet.

O What I’m listening to this morning: : “Forever Blue” by Chris Isaak.

Have any news for me? If you have something, send it to wish@texasrunningpost.com.