Houston Chronicle - - TEXANS EXTRA - By Richard Dean Richard Dean is a free­lance writer.

The mes­sage is clear for the marathon and half­marathon par­tic­i­pants, es­pe­cially the non-elite run­ners. Slow down.

It is go­ing to be un­sea­son­ably warm for Sun­day’s 45th Chevron Hous­ton Marathon, which starts and ends at the Ge­orge R. Brown Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.

“Slow down, slow down, slow down,” said Dr. John Cianca, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Hous­ton Marathon Com­mit­tee. “It’s go­ing to be hot and hu­mid, so run re­spon­si­bly and ad­just your pace to re­duce the risk of over­heat­ing.”

Race of­fi­cials are stress­ing that the 27,000 run­ners Sun­day should not be at­tempt­ing to set per­sonal records. Rather en­joy the event for what it is.

“This is not the week­end for the PR, they need to en­joy the (crowds), en­joy down­town, go through the neigh­bor­hoods and look at the beau­ti­ful com­mu­ni­ties we have,” said Wade More­head, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Hous­ton Marathon Com­mit­tee. “Just slow down and have a fun day on Sun­day.

“The only way you can con­trol your core tem­per­a­ture is by re­duc­ing the amount of en­ergy you ex­ert. It doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean you need to in­crease your hy­dra­tion, but you need to slow down. Main­tain your same hy­dra­tion plan and slow down a bit.”

The hu­mid­ity is ex­pected to be close to 90 per­cent, with a tem­per­a­ture in the mid-60s for Sun­day’s 7 a.m. start.

Sun­day’s race will be­gin un­der the yel­low cau­tion flag, in­di­cat­ing a moder­ate risk for par­tic­i­pants and po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous con­di­tions. A gen­eral rule among marathon run­ners is that tem­per­a­ture more than 65 de­grees and you dip down a se­cond or two per mile.

“You can’t let the weather men­tally ruin your race be­cause ev­ery­one has to race in it,” said Tim Young of Fred­er­icks­burg, Va., whose best time is 2:14:40 at Chicago in 2014. “A lot of peo­ple get ner­vous about the weather, but you can’t change it, so you just em­brace it.

“It might mean a slower time, but you can still race and you can still run re­ally well.”

There will be 5,200 first­time run­ners in the Chevron Hous­ton Marathon and Aramco Hous­ton Half Marathon, and they will run­ning in less than ideal con­di­tions. The run­ners who put up slower times will be out on the course for a longer pe­riod and will get the warmer tem­per­a­tures to­ward the end. At 10 a.m.

the hu­mid­ity is ex­pected to be about 80 per­cent but the tem­per­a­ture will be 68. By 11 a.m., the tem­per­a­ture is ex­pected to climb into the lower 70s.

“You may not run the time you wanted to, but you’ll fin­ish the race, you’ll have a great race re­gard­less,” said Young, 29. “It’s more im­por­tant to fin­ish the race than try to get a PR and you won’t know what will hap­pen. You may end up drop­ping out, you may end up walk­ing more.

“Drink those flu­ids. If it means you have to slow down at those fluid ta­bles to make sure you’re get­ting enough, I would rec­om­mended it.”

For Becky Wade, this will be her third con­sec­u­tive marathon to start un­der the cau­tion flag. Sun­day’s race will be more moder­ate than her pre­vi­ous two marathons.

“It re­ally turns into more of a race than a chase for a par­tic­u­lar time,” said Wade, who comes into the marathon with the sev­enth-fastest time among women. “So it’s go­ing to be a com­pe­ti­tion and we’re go­ing to be less fo­cused on stick­ing to a cer­tain pace.

“We’re not go­ing to be nec­es­sar­ily shoot­ing for a big PR. If the weather al-

lows for it, that would be great, but if not, that’s fine too be­cause so much of what’s fun about this event is, it’s dra­matic, in­ter­est­ing and no one knows how they are go­ing to hold up to the weather. So it will be an in­tense com­pe­ti­tion.”

Wade, who lives in Boul­der, Colo., and was a star run­ner at Rice, said nonelite run­ners should treat Sun­day’s marathon and half marathon as an en­joy­able pur­suit since heat will be a fac­tor.

“Be ex­tra con­ser­va­tive at the start, go a lit­tle slower than you think you should,” said Wade, 27. “And if you feel good for the last 10K, that’s when you

go for it. But in these con­di­tions, I think be­ing safe early on is the best thing to do.”

Kenyan Mary Wac­era, the 2016 Aramco Hous­ton Half Marathon cham­pion and the top con­tender on Sun­day, doesn’t be­lieve Hous­ton’s un­sea­son­ably warm weather will be a ma­jor fac­tor for an elite run­ner like her­self.

“I don’t think it will af­fect us that much be­cause in Kenya right now, it’s a bit warm,” said Wac­era, 28. “I’ve been train­ing in warm con­di­tions, so I think it will be good.”

Marie D. De Jesús / Hous­ton Chron­i­cle

Fey­isa Lilesa, cen­ter, of Ethiopia and Mary Wac­era, right, of Kenya are back to de­fend their ti­tles a year af­ter win­ning the Aramco Hous­ton Half Marathon.

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