So I ran the Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Half-Marathon this weekend. I could go on and on about it. To spare you that, I'll just throw 13.1 highlights at you.
1. In Search of Purple Jerseys
I didn't wear my TNT practice jersey. I couldn't find anyone from the team and didn't know which Hyatt they were staying. I figured if I messed up or couldn't finish, I didn't want to represent them badly.
Racers are put in different groups (corrals) and stagger out every few minutes, preventing street congestion and stopping slower runners from getting in the way of faster runners. I was in the last corral. The sad and amazing thing about corrals is by the time I got to cross the start line, some people were already halfway done with the half-marathon.
I appreciated the corral quickly after the race started. Usually, I stupidly try to match the pace of the faster runners around me. In this case, everybody was near my pace, so I didn't overexert myself at the start.
3. Water, Water Everywhere
I ran through every sprinkler/water hose available, except the last one. (It was a muddy downhill area that screamed danger.) At every water stop, I poured two cups on my head. I got a wet towel and wore that through half the race. People were complaining about the heat. I didn't notice it.
4. Now Isn't a Good Time to Talk
God bless my family. They're supporting, loving, concerned, and clueless about my pace. The first call came after Mile 3, asking what I'd like them to buy me for breakfast. I thought it was a joke. The next call came around Mile 5. As I was trying not to vomit after a hill, I was asked if I had finished yet.
The third call ended quickly after I said, "If you call me again and it's not an emergency, I will hurt you."
5. We Support You... Whoever You Are
People cheered on complete strangers with signs stating just that.
I turned a corner near Mile 2 and heard so much cheering, I thought it must be a giant crowd and a stage. It was a group of less than 12 women, who will probably not have their voices back for a while.
My absolute favorite was two men in heels carrying signs. I kept smiling for the next mile.
I was amazed at the lengths some runners went to. I saw a man running uphill with a toddler in his arms. I saw a woman pushing someone in a wheelchair uphill. My family saw a woman in crutches participating.
7. Picture It... Because I Don't Have Photos
My setup (cell phone pouch, credit card holder, headphones) prevents me from easily pulling out my camera for photos. So, alas, I don't have photos. (The few here are courtesy of others.)
Good news: I just bought some wireless headphones, which should help me with that issues for the McAllen Marathon.
8. I can walk a race? I can walk a race!
Okay, I didn't walk. My habit of taking things very literally always had me thinking that wasn't an option. But I saw so many walkers, it was encouraging to know I can walk if I couldn't run. Plus, I can try to get a family member who doesn't like running to join me.
9. A Vision With A Pitcher
I was running out of water in one of my containers. I was thinking of making a pit stop at a water station and refilling with lots of tiny paper cups. Instead, I saw a vision. A volunteer holding a pitcher of water for a quick refill. It was beautiful.
10. Smart Marketing
I passed by an animal shelter. A woman was holding a cat and waving one of the cat's legs. She said something like, "Good luck. This is Peter. He needs a home."
A bakery had a sign offering free cookies to marathon runners. As a half-marathoner, I don't think I qualified. Plus, as a slow runner, they were already gone by the time I got there.
11. You're Current Pace Is---
I didn't realize how much I depended on my app. When my phone battery died, I was very annoyed by the absence of it telling me my current pace and distance. Very annoyed.
12. Where Am I?
Ah, the finish line. My feet touched it and suddenly the rest of my body flooded my mind with information. You're hot. No. Fine. Go to the med unit. No, don't. Eat. No, drink. Rest. No, walk. Where am I?
13. Strangers Offering Help
I was afraid if I stopped to rest after the run I wouldn't be able to get back up and my phone was dead, so I couldn't call for help. The only option I saw was to walk very, very, very, very slowly back to the hotel. I did.
I lost count of how many people stopped to kindly ask if I was okay. I had bus fare in my pocket, but I couldn't remember which bus number went in what direction.
I feared the timed crosswalks, because I would just barely clear the intersection in time. And steps. Dear God, steps. They were the enemy and two days later, they still are.
Okay, so I've always been skeptical of giving children in sports and academic events medals for just participating. But a 30-something couch potato who runs even a little... I feel I deserve it.
Having written that, I'm quickly humbled by remembering one of the best things overheard during a Team in Training practice. A man said, "Keep your medal. I just want kids to stop dying."
So, new adventure aside, let's help make that happen. Please donate and help the fight against blood cancers.
(Also, the countdown begins for the McAllen Marathon!)
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Former high school water girl (really) finally running.