Yesterday I posted about the events leading up to Sunday’s half marathon (if you missed it, you can find it here). It was my 6th and final half of the year, and the 3rd state I got to check off this year bringing my quest to do all 50 to the grand total of 10 (I try VERY hard not to do the math of how many I have left!). Today I hope to do two things in this post:
- Review the race – however, I have realized, in reading other people’s race reports, that I either pay very little attention during a race or there is not enough blood flow to my brain to notice details along the course. I’m just trying to stay upright and moving forward – that’s all my brain can handle apparently.
- Recount my voyage home which, really, should be innocuous but, as my friend M said to me, “Why do you end up with all the crackpots on your flights?” The answer: They are always there, it’s just that I will talk to anyone.
Ok, so the race, Rock N Roll San Antonio, started at 7:30am and the hotel was awesome in that it changed its normal breakfast start time of 6:30am to 5:15am to accommodate the runners. I got up at 5:15 and headed down to breakfast…with my cereal concoction that I eat EVERY SINGLE MORNING OF MY LIFE. I mix Shredded Wheat (aka tree bark) with some type of crunchy granola (to add some flavor and sweetness to the tree bark) and then I add milk – I’m not too picky as to whether it’s skim, 1% or 2%, whatever the hotel has is fine. Although I normally have coffee every morning, I NEVER have it on race morning as I tend to have a very finicky stomach on race day. And let’s be clear, on Sunday, those fried chicken wings were still having a party in my stomach.
After breakfast (which was eaten in a restaurant with nothing but other runners with racing nerves (i.e. not a relaxing environment)), I went back up to my room and changed into my race gear – shorts, tank top, racing flats, headband and arm warmers. I wore throw-away tights and a long sleeve top over it all to keep me warm until the race started. Then at around 6:30am, I said my goodbyes (and thank yous!!!) to Jen who had to get on the road and get back home to attend to “mom duties” and I headed to the start line. For other races, I’m careful about figuring out how to get to the start line, mapping it out, printing out maps, sometimes even walking the route the day before (did you know that I’m kinda Type A?). But for RnR races, I know all I have to do is walk out the front of my hotel and join the throngs of runners with the same destination.
I was in corral #2 again (as in Vegas) and so my main focus (stress) was to make sure I got there. And I did.
And then the waiting began – but I didn’t have the 90 minute wait like in Vegas. I knew SA would be smaller (25,000 vs. 45,000 runners) so I wasn’t AS concerned about crowds making it difficult to get to my corral and I ended up having only about a 30 minute wait in my corral which was just fine. They had some “special guests” over the PA system which I mostly ignored except for this guy:
He was running the marathon on Sunday. He has run over 370 marathons. Oh, and he’s 79 years old. WHAT??!!
Then there was the playing of the national anthem and I gotta tell you, I think I’m becoming somewhat American. Not only do I know most of the words now, but I get a little emotional during its playing.
One thing I LOVE about RnR races, and I know I’ve said it before, is that they are SO. WELL. ORGANIZED. These people know what they’re doing. And I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that they have a team of people that travel around to set up and run the RnR events – I recognized so many from Vegas. And what this does is ensure consistency and means that there is EXPERIENCE behind the management of each race. So, the first corral was set off at 7:30 and my corral, the second one, was set off 90 seconds later. Just like in Vegas, I had clear sailing, no runners in my way, lots of room to move around. I am in my happy place.
Ok…so that’s all I can remember until miles 5-7 where this happened:
You know I don’t like hills. And just because I’m in the magical state of Texas does not mean I’m going to suddenly like them. But I made it through and maintained my pace! WOOHOO!
And then, just like in Vegas, it wasn’t until the last 3 miles that I realized, oh no, I’m on that line where if I can maintain this pace I’ll slip in just under 1:40 and if I slack at all, I’ll come just over it. *sigh* So the rest of the race was about me trying to do math dealing with conversions between kilometres, miles, and paces in both…which really amounts to nothing but me being completely clueless as to how I’m going to finish. But, I managed to cross the line in 1:39:52 – YEEHAW!!
So, if you’ve ever crossed a finish line at a big race, you know the volunteers are just trying to channel you through to pick up your medal, get your re-fueling products, etc and it’s like herding cattle, you’re herded into one channel or another, but you’re being channeled through whether you like it or not. So, I’m in my channel, I get my medal and suddenly, standing before me, holding out his hand and saying congratulations is none other than Meb Keflezighi. You know, the first American man to win the Boston marathon since 1983? The guy who has an incredible story of survival in his birth country of Ethiopia and the opportunities the United States has provided him? Yeah, that guy. HE shook MY hand and congratulated ME. It was sooooo cool.
And then I was quickly prodded to continue down my channel some more and the magical moment was over. LOL.
My minor criticisms of the race are as follows:
- Still not enough bands along the route – BUT, more than Vegas, so that was an improvement. Other runners have said that they don’t think RnR can recruit enough bands to come out and play on course.
- It drives me nuts when you get to a water station and volunteers are standing there with their arms outstretched with a cup in their hand…but not a word out of their mouth as to what it is. And it’s never consistent as to whether water or Gatorade is first, so I often had to ask. I know its hard, these are volunteers and they’re often organized/led by non-running people, so it’s up to RnR to help correct this. And really, it’s not likely going to ruin my race if I grab a water instead of Gatorade at one of the stations…but I’ll tell you, when they were handing out vaseline on popsicle sticks and NOT SAYING A THING, I so wanted to yell out, “It’s vaseline, not gel!!” because you know some people were popping that stick in their mouth thinking they’d get a sweet treat!
- As you’re being channeled through the finishing area, you’re offered bottles of water, bottles of Gatorade, granola bars, bananas, etc…I ONLY HAVE TWO HANDS. They need finisher bags (reusable ones…donated by some sponsor…)
Other than that, it was a great race for me!
I went back to my hotel as soon as I found my way out of the finishers area, showered, stretched/foam rolled (yes, I seriously packed my foam roller in my suitcase…which is likely why the TSA searched it to begin with!) and then headed out to do some final sightseeing.
I went to the San Fernando Cathedral (from the Mission era and played a role in the battle of the Alamo) which is one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States.
Then it was on to the Spanish Governor’s Palace. It is a National Historic Landmark marking the original residence and office for the captains of the Spanish military from 1722 until the early 1800s. The problem is that SO much has been reconstructed to resemble what it originally looked like and all the furniture has little signs that say something along the lines of “Although this is not an original piece from the residence, it is believed to be of that era”. Yeah, kinda spoils the magic. It is not a must-see attraction.
After I was done there I decided I was tired (I wonder why!) and headed back to my hotel and literally just lay on my bed watching TV (an old western which I found very fitting!) eating MY NEW FAVORITE TREAT. I love chocolate. And I LOVE M&Ms – just the plain milk chocolate ones (don’t add nuts to my chocolate!)…but in SA (I’m not sure we have them here!!) I found these:
You can ALWAYS add mint to my milk chocolate. LOVE LOVE LOVE.
At around 5pm, I ventured out along the Riverwalk in search of a non Tex-Mex restaurant (yes, I had had my fill!!) and settled on Luciano’s Restaurante. It’s nothing spectacular but my waiter was lovely and my plain penne pasta with a tomato based sauce was EXACTLY what I needed.
That and a glass of wine. *bliss* After that I went back to my hotel room and was asleep well before 9pm.
Fast forward to the airport the next morning. Checked my luggage, got selected for expedited security (woohoo!), grabbed some pizza (again, still couldn’t look at Tex-Mex) and found my gate. Made friends with two young guys sitting near me who were from Michigan and had been in town for the race as well. For one of the guys, it was his first half…and he could barely walk when I met him. Me and the other guy made fun of him of course. LOL. After a 30 minute delay, I found my way to my seat and settled in for the 3 hour flight with plans of sleeping and reading my book. That was until my seatmate appeared. His name is Brad and I am not kidding, he did not stop talking to me for the ENTIRE flight. And he was a riot. He has ADHD and he recognizes his areas of need…one of which is STAYING ON TRACK during a conversation. So he started making a list, using his napkin, of topics that would come up during another topic, but that he didn’t want to forget to go back to later on. And of course, wrote my name so he wouldn’t forget that either.
I had a great time – he is a very intelligent and interesting person and the 3 hours FLEW by. We took a selfie before parting ways at the Detroit airport.
I had a 3-hour layover in Detroit…as I made my way to my concourse, I went through one of my favorite parts of this airport.
And then I naturally headed to an Irish Pub for a beer and some onion rings (I don’t know why, I was just craving them!). Soon after, a woman sat down in a chair one over from me and asked if I minded if she put her bag on the chair between us, alongside my purse. Then what I thought was her cell phone kept chirping (actually it sounded like her ring tone was a “squawk”) from inside her bag…and she kept telling it to “shush”. After about the 5th time I pretty much just asked her WHAT IS GOING ON? She smiled and opened up one end of her bag to reveal Red:
She had been willed this bird and was transporting it from Florida to Sault Saint Marie (northern Ontario, Canada)…poor, bird! LOL!
Finally it was time to get on my flight…made my way to my seat and soon after was joined by my seatmate who both intrigued, entertained and terrified me. He was returning home to Ottawa after spending 4 days in Philadelphia recording music (rap) with some top record execs. But the stories he told (and pictures he showed) of the culture of violence he not only has grown up with here in my hometown but what he encountered in Philly was horrifying to me – mostly because of how normal this all was to him and the complete lack of a desire on his part (or the people he’s working with) to change the culture or at least not contribute to it. That being said, he was very nice (and told me I looked MUCH younger than my 36 years! Bonus points for him!) and we laughed a lot during the flight but, it was an eye opening experience and I have happily returned to the bubble of happiness and ignorance within which I live!
I can’t believe my long anticipated trip to Texas is over, but I have many wonderful memories and I hope to return to Texas…but I have a few (lol) more states to go before I can start repeating visits!