J.P. Fredrickson's sister is a nun. We're talking a habit-wearing, convent-living nun. So I teased the 71-year-old runner gently about the division of their genes when I met him for a beer at Spaghetti Western to talk about Sunday's marathon. (The beer-drinking doesn't stop until Friday night, and he said he's been known to indulge on the occasional Saturday before a race the next day.)
Sunday's run isn't just any race for Fredrickson. Or rather, it is for him, but it's much more to everyone else. The Chevron Houston marathon will be Fredrickson's 100th. An impressive feat for any athlete, but especially noteworthy because Fredrickson smoked for 25 years and didn't even dabble in running until he was 53.
He acknowledges that this race is a big deal to a lot of people, like his friends and his running group, Bayou City Running Club (you can find them most Wednesdays at Valhalla), but says, "I really can't wait until it's over so everyone will stop talking about it."
Fredrickson's running philosophy is similar. "The thing I like best about running is when I stop," he says.
He picked up the hobby late in life for health reasons and credits it for curing his emphysema.
Fredrickson embraced his new hobby with vigor. He ran his second marathon just two weeks after barely recovering from his first one (in Houston in 1991). He told his then-wife he was going out for a 10k, but when he saw the signs for the marathon he said he couldn't resist.
So how does a veteran runner prepare for his 100th race? Fredrickson says he didn't run at all for two whole weeks over the holidays, but did 19 miles on Jan. 1. He ran his last marathon in the beginning of December, one of seven or eight he runs each year all over the country.
Although he runs around a 10-minute mile, Fredrickson says his time doesn't worry him.
After the race he'll probably treat himself to his usual: Barbecue ribs.