Off we go in the gloaming. The park is very quiet this morning, partly because we're early but also because all the runners are either competing in the Houston marathon or watching it. We get to the underpass at Eldridge, only to find a huge digger blocking the trail, so we have to free-style up to Eldridge proper and onto the sidewalk. I promptly miss the turn and have to double back. Louis waits for me but my other two buddies disappear. We soon regroup and pretty quickly clear the park. A decent wind out of the northwest makes us think a bit along the I-10 stretch but we get it on our backs down Barker-Clodine, which was fun.
Into George Bush proper and Paddy puts the William Tell overture on his iPod. I can't resist - I shout Tally-Ho, wave an imaginary sabre above my head and launch into a full-on sprint. Paddy chases me but the other two have more sense. Naturally Paddy and I end up maintaining a pretty hot pace all the way to the end, where there is a straight section that we usually sprint. Paddy gets past me but I'm able to hold on, before he eases up and we coast to the end of the park.
Dave and Louis aren't far behind and we huddle to strategise. Paddy initially wants to turn around and just do the 38 miler (he's just coming off a bout of pneumonia!) but Dave goads him into riding the full 60. I don't want to do 60 and neither does Louis, so we decide to all ride together to Bear Creek, where Louis and I will push on down Eldridge, and Dave and Paddy will turn around. A good run through Cullen Park, although once I again I fail to spot the dangerous dobermann (even Louis saw him this time!).
In Bear Creek we go our separate ways. Louis and I have a good run downwind along Eldridge, then work away along the south side of the Addicks dam, onto Kirkwood and back to the trail. A gentle run back to the Beltway (too much traffic to go any faster) and Louis is pretty glad to get off his bike.
It's a gorgeous morning as we say our goodbyes and I head home, just in time for a staggeringly long honey-do list -