I completed the Valley Triple Race Challenge by running the McAllen Marathon. It’s the second one held. There were some similarities from last year in silly and very unfortunate ways.
The restroom lines were still long. We were told of some others at a different location, but we couldn’t see it, so most of us stayed in line. Then someone opened the door while I was washing my hands. So much for locks.
Last year, I made the mistake of eating a banana offered during the race. I avoided that, but I was super hungry after the run. I was eating whatever I was handed - banana, sausage taco. Not the wisest move.
This year, the photographers were still there when I crossed the finish line. Unfortunately, they were located after the food, so there was a long line. I couldn’t even take a photo in front of a backdrop, so my family snapped a picture of me in front of a firetruck.
So that was the minor stuff. Now the serious part. Last year, my TNT mentor ended up in the hospital. This year, a few hours after leaving the run, I learned one of the city commissioners who participated in the run collapsed and later died.
My sympathies to his family.
That’s a tough topic to transition from. However, since I mentioned my TNT mentor. It was nice to see her and other TNT alum again.
1. Rock On
This year, there was a remix challenge. If you completed a 10K held Saturday morning and then the half-marathon or marathon Sunday, you got a remix medal. I'm a sucker for these, so I did the 10K.
I did the 10K in a little less than an hour and a half. That's a personal record, so rock on! (Once, again, I am a slow runner.)
2. Not Quite a Veteran Yet
While this is my second year participating, I still made a very newbie mistake. I used the blue zip-tie which was meant for my gear bag to secure the shoe tag. I remember thinking, "This is different." No, it wasn't. It was wrong. I ignored the instructions, so I tried to hide it in my laces, so no one could see it.
3. Does This Shirt Make My Butt Look Fast?
Earlier in the week, the weekend was expected to be cold and rainy. I didn't want to layer too much and get stuck carrying extra clothes. I ended up wearing three thin layers.
I thought I made a mistake, as I was getting a little warm while waiting in the corral. But as soon as we started running, the crowd thinned and I was grateful for the layers.
A few times I thought I might have to take off the windbreaker, but minutes later, the cold hit me again, and I was grateful I wore it. At the end of the race, I was cold and regretted not getting one of those reflective foil-like warmers. I obviously don't know the name for those.
4. Graduate Level
I think I may graduate to an earlier corral, which is a shame as we are the best looking corral. That's not arrogance. The announcer herself said it. She also called us "enforcers," since when the others see us coming, they know they have to up their game.
There was a bit of congestion on the route at the beginning. It's probably just an increase in participants, as I heard many asking questions I had last year. So Corral 29, beware I'm heading your way.
5. Big Race, Small Bladder
Sometimes I think I'm the only participate with a nervous stomach. Then, I saw a group of people head to the port-a-potties, located before the first mile, and I felt better.
12. Not Like The Others
Sister #1 cheered me on at the finish line and commented, "You don't finish like the others." I thought she meant I don't cheer and smile. I don't have energy for that. Instead she said, "They're limping and look exhausted. You just walked out (of the finishers' area)."
She should've seen me last year.
13. Stop eating everything afterwards
The guideline is don't eat anything on the run you didn't train with. But no one said anything about after the run. I grab almost anything that's available, like chocolate mint energy bars and Doritos. That was perhaps not the best mix. I have to learn to control that habit.
13.1 Checkout time
The hotel industry is apparently not aware slow runners participate in the RNR SA. Checkout time is around 11 a.m. with late checkout at 12:30 p.m. This meant my half-marathon was immediately followed by a dash to the hotel to pack.
I didn't have time to shower. I checked out and changed my running shorts for pants in the restroom in the lobby area. I went to a friend's house to get properly cleaned up.
6. A Little Less Pop
I don't know if it was the weather, but the crowd seemed less enthusiastic this year. Maybe it was me, since I wasn't as excited and nervous as last year. There weren't as many people cheering on the streets.
I didn't get to enjoy the man in costume on Mile 8, who brings a smile to my face. Someone stopped to take photos with him, and while she talked to him about the signs, I didn't get to see them.
Don't get me wrong, it was still an awesome run, which brings me to...
7. Screaming Ladies
As I turned a corner, I wondered about a group of screaming women with super energy. I hadn't seen them and thought I passed where they were last year. A few minutes later, I heard the screaming. I hadn't missed them. They had wigs, inflatable guitars and a powerful set of lungs.
Some of the most energetic cheers came from people just standing outside homes... Outside beautiful homes, I may add.
Oh, the hill. It wasn't as steep as I remembered, but as soon as I laid eyes on it, my legs got really tired. That actually happened. I didn't know that possible.
9. Strike A Pose
I see people stop and pose for photos at each mile marker. For the sake of the people they'll share the photos with, I hope they pose differently in each one. Otherwise, that's redundant.
10. Always In Awe
It's always great to spot participants that just amaze me. This year, I saw a boy with a prosthetic leg, a woman pushing someone in a wheelchair, and four people helping a woman cross the finish line. It's inspiring and humbling.
If you haven't already, watch a group of race participants and you'll be pleasantly surprised by different shapes and sizes and all the inspiring people you'll see.
11. Compilation CD?
I listen to my playlist while running, but I usually pause it when I pass the bands. I crossed a duo with a cello and banjo. I think they were unofficial musicians. They didn't have speakers, and I couldn't hear them. Anyway, I wonder if RNR makes compilations of the bands.
Last year, the singer of a heavy metal band did a great job energizing the runners. I think he was in the same spot this year, but I can't be sure, as the singer was in a Santa costume this year.
I got an email from 2RunCrew confirming I am near completion of the RGV 3 Race Challenge. Runners have to complete the Brownsville Historic Half-Marathon, the Harlingen Half-Marathon (or at least the half-marathon in the Fiesta Marathon) and (at least the half-marathon at) the McAllen Marathon.
I stumbled upon a mention of the challenge on their Facebook page, I believe. I think it was a smart motivator to help increase participation in each of the four races involved.
I admit I wouldn't have signed up for the Brownsville Historic Half-Marathon, if it wasn't needed for part of the challenge.
I'll never be an Ironman. But I'm amazed I'm running and this is a fun achievement. Ideally, it'd be great to have the announcer at the McAllen Marathon mention someone completed the challenge as they cross the finish line. But if I understood the plan correctly, the people who complete the challenge will be acknowledged a few weeks later through the mail.
The email was a nice surprise. I was worried my first two names would cause confusion. Sometimes, it's cut off in participant listings.
I hope they announce later how many people completed the challenge. I don't know if my expectation of at least 100 is totally of the mark (as it is based on no information at all).
Former high school water girl (really) finally running.