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. 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.
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.
If you don't know this about me, I'm a bit of a misanthropist. Maybe a nicer way to say it is that I have social anxiety. Either way, people, especially in a large group, and me don't mix well.
So when I became part of Team Unicorn at the Color Run in Brownsville, I just tried to take deep breaths and not freak out.
I was expecting to have a simple morning of giving out water. I had volunteered to be part of the Color Run, which was benefitting LLS. I was moved to a color team, which didn't seem bad. But then one of the organizers noticed my teammates and I were a small group and he still needed help with the mascot, which was a Unicorn.
The organizer eyed my teammate Jose for the role. I volunteered, but they didn't want me. I first thought it was because I was short, but then I realized the Unicorn had to be a guy.
While I knew the mascot role would be trouble, I find hiding behind a mask is easier than the job I would have. I was the handler. I had to stop people from bombarding the Unicorn. I had to corral people into some sort of order so everyone could get their photo taken.
And not just people. People who were pumped up from the run and all the excitement around them. I don't blame them. I just wanted to avoid them.
I washed my hands like crazy when I got home. You see, I would take the photos for people with their own phones. And cell phones are filthy, filthy things. People take them to the bathroom. They use them while eating. Very talented multitasking mothers use them while feeding children or changing diapers. They're dropped on the ground and inside purses, another germ-infested place.
But I digress. Let's see I got whacked with a color pack. It was headed straight for my face, but the camera I was holding up took the hit for me. And then I dropped the camera.
I played the villian at times. "No, you can't take a picture with the Unicorn. He needs water."
When it was time for his second break, it felt like we must've been there for hours. Surely, it's probably 1 p.m. It was 11. The Unicorn did some more rounds. The event was wrapping up. We happily packed the Unicorn costume away. We went to sign out. Mostly everyone was gone. But, alas, we didn't get signed out.
We got reassigned again. We disassembled some barricades. Jose stopped me from trying to carrying the heavy parts. I moved the smaller parts. And that's what I was doing, when I felt that familiar tug on my lower back. Ouch.
Jose and I signed out a few minutes later. We grabbed some bottled waters on our way out. Jose got one and asked, "Are these free?"
I replied, "I hope so" and grabbed four bottles. "I've been taking them all day."
Former high school water girl (really) finally running.