Well. I never should have made my inaugural race, one from the Rock & Roll series of marathons. Last November, when I ran in the Rock & Roll San Antonio half marathon, the standard was forever set. That will always be the standard by which I measure all future races. Well, maybe not always, but for now it's all I've got. More on that in a moment.
Today I ran in Scott & White Healthcare's Miracle Match Marathon, as part of a 4-person relay team. The race was to raise awareness of the Be the Match Donor Registry program, as well as raise funds for it. Our team ran in honor of our friend and fellow church member, Alan Caruthers. Alan was diagnosed in 2006 with a rare bone marrow disorder, called Myelofibrosis. Over the past few years, he has tried several different experimental drug therapies through MD Anderson, and now (and it is really his last option), he is pursuing a bone marrow transplant. My cousin actually works for Be the Match, and she was telling me recently how rare it is for someone to actually be a perfect match for another person, for these transplants to be possible. So raising awareness is good-- it's important. The more people they can get registered, the better the chances for people like Alan to find a match. To keep living life. Today at the race, participants and spectators had the opportunity to get on the national bone marrow registry.
What I actually didn't know prior to registering for the race, is that Alan was selected as this year's Miracle Match Marathon's honorary race chair! So Alan (and his son Sammy) actually got to say "Go!" and blow the starting horn! It was very cool!
The first leg of the race for our team, was run by my friend Jessica. Leg 1 was around 5 and a half miles, and went primarily around and through the Baylor University Campus. Leg 2 (which is the section I did) was around 8 miles, and went through downtown, historic Austin Avenue (gorgeous!) and other residential areas in Waco. Leg 3 was around 6 miles, and was run by my friend Ruth, and it went along Lake Shore Drive and Lake Waco. The final leg was about 7 miles and our friend Joel did that one. It went through beautiful Cameron Park (and up and down its relentless hills!).
There's a lot that could be said about this race. And especially how it met (or didn't meet my expectations). Overall, it was a LOT of fun. I loved running on a team with my friends, and I loved running for Alan! The race route was quite beautiful, and the water stops were more than adequate. I wasn't sure they would be, once I realized how small the race was. I think there were 300 participants or so. Which may not seem small-- but compared to the 20,000 people in the San Antonio race, it was quite a change!
I was disappointed when I went to the race "expo" yesterday to pick up my packet and there was only a handful of vendors (which is actually fine, since it kept me from spending money). Mostly I was disappointed that there was a problem with our race bibs and I was forced to pick up my race packet on race day, since they were going to have to reprint the bibs (which, if you know me, you know I like to have everything laid out the night before, and I don't like to have to worry about doing things like picking up my race packet on the morning OF). I was disappointed that I didn't get my own timing chip (which may be normal for a relay team?), because that meant that no one on our team could get their split times. I was disappointed that the "reprinted" race bib was just a blank bib that they had stuck a new number on-- and the new number had been printed on an address label on somebody's home printer (Again, it was no big deal really-- it just didn't look as cool as other bibs do-- ha!).
I was SUPER disappointed in the level of community involvement as spectators! In San Antonio, there were people everywhere. People out on their front lawns, cheering for the runners as we ran through their neighborhoods. People crowded in front of the Alamo as we ran by it. Thousands of people lined up along the finish, cheering people on as they approached the finish line. There wasn't any of that today. No one was in their front yard, cheering for runners. No one was lined up along the downtown streets as we ran through. Hardly anyone was lined up at the finish line to cheer on the finishers. The only people out there cheering were the people manning the water stations. Again...it was fine. It just made for a very different racing atmosphere than I had previously experienced. And, while this didn't have anything to do with the race organizers, really, my least favorite part of the whole experience was the stray PIT BULL that was wandering around during one stretch of road. It made me very nervous. And because there were so few people out there, I felt oddly alone as I ran by that dog. I was hoping he'd leave me alone. And he did. But I get nervous anytime I see stray dogs while running. I love dogs... but you just never know about them sometimes!
But what I loved? I loved running the streets that I run everyday. The hills I ran today weren't new to me, and I knew when to anticipate them. While on the course itself, I actually LOVED that it was such a small race (other than the lack of spectators/cheerleaders, of course)! I didn't have to fight crowds. Didn't have to elbow my way through packs of people just to advance. I didn't have random people coming to a stop in the middle of the course, like happened in San Antonio. It was so...nice! It was a very relaxing run. I also loved that when I had one mile remaining, the youth from our church were out there, manning one of the water stations! They cheered for me, high-fived me, and gave me water. Just the extra boost I needed for that last mile. I loved that because the race was so small, it was SUPER easy for our team members to drive ourselves to our starting points for each leg of the relay. There was no real traffic to fight, so I actually got to leave my end point, then drive home for a quick shower, AND drive right up to Ruth's end point, and see her finish! Then it was no problem driving to the finish line to cheer on Joel as he crossed the finish line. This sort of thing would have been impossible in San Antonio (or any large race, really). I loved the free fajita lunch (oh so yummy) at the finish line, and above all, I loved the cause we were all supporting.
All in all, it was a very fun morning. It was good to be out racing again...now the countdown can officially begin for Dallas Rock & Roll in March!