And as it often happens, before I knew it, race weekend was upon us. I planned to get a ride into San Juan for packet pick-up with my good friend Bridget.
First of all, I didn't even know when or where packet pick up was. Usually races send you emails about this sort of thing, and at least have info on the race site. Oh no, not this race. The only way I was able to find out how to get the race packet was through Ashley. She said the reason I probably didn't have all the info I needed was because the race site was all in Spanish. Yup, that was a problem. So she told me it was at the Plaza las Americas, just outside of San Juan, and give me all the details. OK, cool.
Now neither Bridget nor I had ever been to the Plaza las Americas, but we'd both heard A LOT about it. People rave about it. Neither of us are 'mall people', but we were interested in checking it out. So here's the story: IT'S HUGE. HUGE! There's a supermarket in the mall! So many restaurants! Pretty much anything you could ever want. And in one area there was a large group gathered, about 90 people. They were playing Bingo!
Webb: Who has seen "Dawn of the Dead"? (Don't even try with 2004 - Romero 1978.)
Elle: Ok, so I don't know what Webb is talking about. Moving on....
We headed to the place in the mall where the packet pick-up was located. There were over 1,000 people signed up for this race, so we knew it might be crowded. We got there, and stood in line. And get this. Without ANY planning or coordination AT ALL... who is directly in front of us in line? Ashley! What are the freaking odds!?!?!?!? This bit of serendipity gave me a good feeling.
|Ashley and me at packet pick-up|
Webb: Race Start Times:
Puerto Rico 1 - New England 0
Elle: Having all time in the world to get up, get ready, and putz around was kind of nice. I called an Uber and got to the race site with lots of time so spare. Which was a good thing, because there was a decent race expo with lots of tents and a good amount of swag. Eventually Ashley showed up, and we got ready to race.
A little bit about me and my racing experience: Before moving to Puerto Rico, I'd never raced alone before. It's always been me and Webb or me and friends, but never alone. And not having Webb by my side at any race is kinda sad for me, since we've always raced together. But thankfully Ashley was there, and we walked around and got ready to race.
|Pre-race with Ashley|
|Fun things at the race expo|
Self talk: "Just do your best. It's great that your even out here. Run your own race. Enjoy the experience. No matter what, it's all good."
Ok, ok. Here we go. And then the gun sounded, and we were off. I hadn't reviewed the course (bad runner!), but I figured I could just follow the pack. Everyone around me started off too fast. Myself included. I looked down at my watch, oh shite, I'm running a sub-7-minute mile. Woah Nelly!!! Slow it down, partner! Just calm it down, you'll thank yourself later...
Early on, I spotted a man in a red shirt who seemed to be running around my pace. So I stuck with him for awhile. Then, as often happens, we kept passing each other back and forth. Yeehaw, a race partner! I always enjoy having a race partner, a stranger who's with you for a bulk of the race. Good for pacing, and also pushing yourself that extra bit.
After awhile, things started to get harder. As it should.
"You can do this. The pain is temporary. Winning is forever. You've got this. It's not a long race, it's a 5K! Go! Go! Go! The finish line will arrive sooner than you think! Leave it all out on the course!"
Back and forth, back and forth with my race buddy. Until the last 1/4 mile or so when I dug deep and kicked it up. Then I didn't see him again. And I finished strong.
Now, some strange things about this race:
- No email about packet pick-up or anything, really
- No bag check (WTF?)
- The 'Finish' arch was not at the finish line! The finish line was BEFORE the arch. Way before. So THAT was confusing!
- The finishing chute for this 5K was almost as long as the frickin' Boston Marathon! It went on for at least a 1/4 of a mile.
- Near the end of the finishing chute, just before you get your finishing medal, there is a HUGE bell that you can ring. What? But of course I'm ringing it. That was pretty cool, actually. Now I want that at the end of every race I do....
I circled back to the finish line to cheer Ashley in. I was so excited for her. And there she was, running in for her first official 5K. WELL DONE MY FRIEND!
We chatted a bit afterwards, and then she had to head home. I stayed behind, thinking I may have placed. So I waited. And waited. And waited. Until I figured out THERE'S NO AWARDS CEREMONY. WTF? Ugh, fine, I'll get an Uber home.
So there I was, in the Uber, heading home. Hungry. Tired. A little confused. I remembered that on one of the race info sheets it said that results would be posted on AllSports.com
So I decide to check it out to see if the results were up (AllSports is known for their speedy postings). Lo and behold, the results were there! There were no age groupings, just all men and all women. That's fine, I'm sure I'll be able to find my name on the women's list. I started scanning the list....
3RD OVERALL WOMAN!!!!!
I yelped, and pretty sure that I scared the crap out of the Uber driver. That's fine. I'll take my third place and go home.
|Second race in PR, second time placing :)|