The weekend of November 17, 2013 is definitely going to be one I will never forget. I’m not really sure what I expected going into a weekend that involved several plane flights and two races in one day. For those of you unaware with the Rock ‘n’ Roll #SA2LV challenge, here is a really quick recap.
Sunday 7:30 a.m..: San Antonio Half Marathon or Full Marathon
Take a plane from San Antonio to Las Vegas
Sunday 4:30 p.m..: Las Vegas Half Marathon or Full Marathon
For me, I would be doing the San Antonio Half and the Las Vegas Full.
Our story begins with San Antonio.
More specifically, it begins with a train ride to San Francisco. I traveled fairly light, a carry on and a back pack. I rode BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to the SF airport on Friday morning and boarded a plane to San Antonio. After a delay in take0ff due to a malfunctioning light on some door or something and sitting on the runway for an hour, we made our way to Los Angeles, then over to San Antonio. Thankfully, I had no plans Friday and used it as a travel day, so nothing was lost, but I was hoping it wasn’t a bad omen for the weekend.
Saturday morning quickly arrived and on my way to the expo, I made a slight detour to visit The Alamo. Thank you to all the friends on social media that recommended I check out the basement. I wanted to make sure that I took in the sights and walked around, but also didn’t want to be on my feet for too long as Sunday was going to require all the energy I had. Thankfully, both The Alamo and the expo were close enough to my hotel.
After picking up my bib, packet and shirt at the expo, I made my way over to the #SA2LV booth to gather all necessary information and last-minute instructions for race day. It’s funny to think, but running was going to be the simple part. It was the logistics that could throw a wrench into things. Luckily enough, RnR superstar and CGI staffer Shayne was there to help us out. We were provided with a sheet of instructions letting us know where to go and where to be in San Antonio and Las Vegas. We were also provided with a backpack with some swag (water bottle, inflatable neck pillow for the plane, and a USB drive — to store all of our amazing photos we were going to take).
Anytime you get a bunch of runners together, we are going to want to eat. Anytime you get a bunch of CRAZY runners together who love social media, we are going to come up with any reason to take photos. We ended up eating at a host hotel that was having an all-you-can-eat pasta dinner. It was low-key, but had several pasta options, soup, salad and dessert. Pretty much the basics for a runner who might be doing a couple runs in a couple cities in one day… ya know?
Many of us met each other for the first time, but a few of us knew each other from social media or previous RnR races. We quickly got into typical runner conversations about where we were from, which distances we were doing, what races we had done in the past and how we were planning to survive the following day. Those conversations quickly turned into inside jokes and who was eating the most pasta or drinking the most water or hydrating with other adult beverages.
If this dinner (or these initial photos) were any indication of how much fun this was going to be… we all had made the right decision to take on this challenge.
And so it begins… with logistics. Since most of us were going to be leaving from the finish line to the airport, we had the option to leave our luggage at the finish line. RnR secured a storage room at the Alamo dome which was conveniently located next to the start/finish line. Along with holding our luggage, we were provided with shower facilities (if time allowed). There were several shuttle options that would take the finishers directly to the airport. The shuttle that I was taking would be the first one, leaving at 10:15 a.m. to catch my 12:15 p.m. flight. With a 7:30 a.m. start time and projecting to be done in under 2 hours, that would give me roughly 45 minutes after the finish line to shower and change and be on the shuttle.
It all looks good on paper.
They arranged for a pre-race photo for all of the #SA2LV runners. It was estimated that around 200 people originally signed up for both races, but around 80 were out there to take on the challenge. We were all pretty nervous to be THAT close to the timing mat. We are crazy, but we are serious about our times. LOL.
Mile 1: 8:03
Mile 2: 9:09
Mile 3: 8:31
Mile 4: 8:46
I started off running with Michael Hawley, a runner I met in San Jose and somehow convinced to take on this challenge. He was doing the half/half and the goal was to keep around a 9 minute pace. The challenge is that I tend to drift closer to 8:30 and didn’t want to pull him too fast in the early miles. We stayed together for the first few miles.
Mile 5: 9:55
Mile 6: 9:13
Mile 7: 8:55
Mile 8: 8:51
Mile 9: 8:46
Mile 10: 9:03
Mile 5-7 was the incline part of the course. Nothing that was “too extreme,” but this is coming from a runner used to San Francisco hills. The humidity was on full blast after mile 4. I definitely was not used to running in these kind of conditions. If it gets over 70 with ANY humidity, it’s all foreign to me. HA.
I did a good job of taking in water at all the aid stations and mixing in some electrolytes as well. I definitely wanted to keep the finish time in under 2 hours, just from a logistical point of view. I really, really wanted to be able to take a shower before I boarded a 3-hour flight… and since my shirt had been soaked in sweat since mile 3, the person sitting next to me might appreciate it as well.
Mile 11: 8:30
Mile 12: 8:39
Mile 13: 8:18
13.1 miles: 1:56:19
I was able to crank out some quick miles at the end and take advantage of the decline-to-flat finish. I was pleased with the sub-2 finish and considered part 1 of 2 races a success. I made my way through the finish chute grabbing my medal, chocolate milk, banana and other goodies. I grabbed a couple waters and a Gatorade as I needed to begin the recovery process immediately.
After exiting the finish line area, I decided to swing by the Heavy Medal tent to check out the line. Since this was RnR race number 6, I would be able to pick up the “superman 6” medal. If there was any kind of a line, I would have to pass in order to make my shower/shuttle deadline. Thankfully there was no one in line and I was able to swoop up on that beautiful piece of blue glory.
I made my way back to the Alamo dome, showered, grabbed my bags and made it onto the 10:15 shuttle bus with plenty of time… well, not like I was sitting there for 20 minutes twiddling my thumbs, but I never felt rushed. I enjoyed talking and exchanging race-morning stories with my fellow #SA2LV-ers — some of us showered and some us not, but we were all glad to be on the first shuttle and on our way to the airport. I considered stage 1 of 3 (race, travel, race) complete.
Being on the first shuttle and arriving at the airport with plenty of time to make it through security was a blessing. I can’t imagine how it would have been to have the need to run through security, post race, with luggage on your way to board only 1 of 2 flights that would get you to the Vegas start line in time. Logistically speaking, I was sitting pretty. Some of us runners split into two security lines and joked back and forth on who would make it through first. Humor was keeping us loose and building a bond that made the weekend special. With enough time before we had to board, I grabbed a slice of spinach and mushroom pizza purchased a way-too-expensive water and enjoyed being surrounded by fellow crazy runners. We snapped photos, talked with each other and answered a bunch of questions from the other people on our flight wondering what the hell we were doing.
The flight took off on time, with everyone on board and we even managed to get some stretching done in the aisle on the plane… although I’m not sure the crew or other passengers appreciated it much, but we tried to be considerate. I even managed to take a quick nap mid-flight.
When we landed in Las Vegas, Jon (above in the Run All Day blue shirt), who I met at RnRLA and sat next to on the plane offered to give some of us a ride to the Tropicana, where he was staying and was close the start line.
It would be the begining of my Las Vegas adventure… coming up this week:
Are you exhausted yet from part 1?