1. Purple Haze
I had wanted to dress up for the event as there was a costume contest, but I've worn some pretty cumbersome costumes that I know I couldn't run in. In the end, I figured I'd just wear purple and paint my hair purple. I didn't order a wig, because it would be hot…. and then the day ended up starting in the 40s.
I bought a can of purple hair color and I am surprised I'm still alive. It's flammable and has a rather strong odor, which is apparently still there. As my sister pointed out later, "Why did you color your hair? You're wearing a hat." " …Because I said I would."
2. Something's wrong. I'm comfortable.
As mentioned, it was in the 40s when the race started. I got to the Team in Training tent and everyone was shivering. I was fine. Someone even noticed it and mentioned to me.
To be honest, I was very proud of my four purple layers, but I know my body heat would rise when I started running and I'd have to shed a layer, which was a shame. I just bought the clothes. And of course, the thrift store shirt was my base layer. The others were things I thought were on sale and ended up not being on sale.
3. Potty Time
McAllen had their much-appreciated portable toilets with A/C, sinks, soap and actual doors at the race. I was fooled into thinking there wasn't a line. Until I opened the door and there were 10 women squished in the small lobby-like area. We were packed in so tight, it was difficult for someone exiting a restroom to get out of it.
When I was leaving, I asked what I know appeared to be a very stupid question. Pointing to the exit, I asked, "Does that door work?" A woman slowly replied, "Uh… yes" with an obvious but silent "duh" reaction. In my defense, I hadn't seen anyone use it. I was beginning to think we were all just stuck in there.
4. Meet Olivia
Olivia, who's part of Team In Training and did the San Antonio RNR, was assigned to walk alongside me. Betsy, my Lower Valley teammate, also had a partner assigned. Betsy's partner was redirected for a bit. So the three of us completed the course together.
Betsy is a much faster runner than I am, but fortunately, for me, she walks most of the course.
5. Thank you but no
As we ended the first mile, I noticed an ambulance near us and slowly driving just ahead of us. I know they're there for my benefit, but they were making me nervous. Then I joked, "If I were them, I'd be betting on runners I think wouldn't make it. That guy. That girl over there. That man. That girl with the four layers of purple and partially painted purple hair… "
6. Where do I go?
Somewhere along Mile 2, everyone disappeared. Betsy, Olivia and I were pretty much the only ones on a stretch of road, not counting the volunteer cyclist keeping tabs on us (which required he travel the slowest possible speed on a bike).
But during a few of the turns, there were no signs and no runners ahead of us to follow. They were relatively short areas, and I'm grateful I had company during them. "Are we going the right way?" A minute or two later…. "Hey, arrows! Okay. Good job."
7. And the Crowd Roars
We turned the corner in a neighborhood and there were a group of cheerleaders and a tiger mascot with signs ready to cheer us on.
I was a little ahead of Betsy and Olivia at the time, and I heard Betsy say, "She always speeds up at crowds" and something about egging them on. I laughed. I would've turned around and denied it, but I was too busy yelling at the group, "What? I can't hear you! What!?!" and then high-fiving the mascot.
8. Shed some layers
I'm amused by the clothes dropped along the route. Race organizers collect the items and donate them to a charitable organization. But if someone passed the area and didn't know about the race, they'd probably figure there's a bunch of streakers around.
Betsy had a quick break along Mile 6. (I swear there's something about Mile 6.) I took the opportunity to get rid of two layers. I'm not sure how my TNT jersey, the top layer, got sweat when the others didn't, but it did. Either way, that was my team shirt and had my bib on it, so I kept that layer. Not a great feeling putting a sweaty jersey back on.
9. Terrible Vision
"Betsy, is that a bear?"
"Is that a bear mascot blowing a horn? I think I see ears."
"…. No. It's just a man. He's wearing a hat."
We're taught and warned NEVER stray for our running routine. On race day, eat the breakfast you're used to eating before running. Wear the shoes you normally wear. Wear the running clothes you normally wear. If you just drink water when training, don't try Gatorade on race day. Don't take supplements you haven't tried before. NEVER stray from your routine.
And being the genius I am, I broke that rule. It was just a tiny piece of banana.
The two ladies there with treats were like sirens, near Mile 8. "Apple. Banana," they offered. Sure, I thought, totally avoiding the apple. (Apples and my running are a horrible combination and that's an entirely different and embarrassing story.)
So, this is the prelude.
11. Bananas Part II
Actually, there wasn't much between the banana and this next part. "Betsy, that banana did NOT agree with me." And it was intervals of a oh-so-fun mix of cramps and stomach gurgling.
12. My Love-Hate Relationship with Mile Markers
My reactions to:
Mile markers 1- 4: Okay, good job. Another mile done.
Mile markers 5-7: Hey, you beautiful sign! Look at you!
Mile markers 8-9: Okay, making progress.
Mile marker 10: *Blowing kisses* You freakin' gorgeous sign!
Mile marker 11: Where the hell have you been!?!
Mile marker 12: What!?! Shouldn't I have seen you like 10 minutes ago?
Mile marker 13: That can not be 0.1 miles to the finish line! That looks a lot longer!
13. Toenails are for sissies.
That's what one of the signs read along Mile 12. Betsy saw it first and laughed. Then I saw it and got worried. You see, along Mile 9, I swear my right sock shifted. It felt like the seam was just pulling up the nail on my little toe. I was… concerned. Please note, this was in conjunction with the banana situation.
13.1 Honest to God, I'm running
My dear Mr. Mendez and my mother were waiting for me at the finish line. They congratulated me and then my mother, who cheered me on at the San Antonio RNR Marathon, added, "You were running this time."
"… I was running last time."
So, all those highlights aside, there was some bad news at the event. My mentor, Lori, was taken to the hospital. She was participating in the marathon. I understand she's doing better. Please join me in praying for her speedy recovery.
McAllen Marathon Kickoff
Tonight, the team met for the McAllen Marathon runners' kickoff. We got our official team jersey for the run. I was very excited for my teammates when they got their jerseys for the earlier races (Rock 'N' Roll San Antonio and the Nike Women's Run - San Francisco).
Unfortunately, I didn't feel as excited when I got mine. I was distracted by the board below.
You see, the board shows that I raised the least amount of money. I'm $52 shy of the $250 overage everyone else reached. So, I need to send out some reminder postcards to see if I can fill that gap.
Anyone interested in buying, uh, a wedding dress? Birds of Prey comics? Pride & Prejudice the board game? (I need to get more marketable hobbies.)
You can help me reach my goal and more importantly help the fight against blood cancers. Please donate.
It's seems odd that as much as I'm running, I'm finding shortcuts for very easy tasks.
I don't have to tie my shoelaces anymore. I bought Lace Locks. On regular shoes, they'd look ridiculous.
But with my mismatched running clothes and socks, the bright elastic bands fit right in.
I don't bother trying to get all the water from a cup into my mouth when running.
My hydration belts have nozzles that keep things neat. But at water station with cups, it's a whole other story. I've learned to just toss the water in the general area of my mouth. If it makes it in, great. If not, no big deal.
I'll go ahead and say it. I don't have to shave my legs for this. Hello knee-high compression socks.
So those are unexpected turns in my training.
Now that I got that out of the way, I just want to remind you it's Giving Tuesday. And here's a great chance to give and help fight blood cancer. Donate to LLS.
Meanwhile, the countdown to the McAllen Marathon continues.
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!)
Former high school water girl (really) finally running.