Saturday, January 25, 2014

Race Packet Pickup...Excitement in the Air

There's just something pretty special about the whole packet pickup experience before a race.  For me it brings the entire event into focus, up front and center where it belongs a day or two before race day, elevating it above ordinary days that can sometimes get hectic with other demands.

The energy of it all...all the runners lined up to get their packets, the special volunteers who can make the whole experience so fun.   It can be so energizing in fact, that one time a few years ago it even convinced me to go ahead with a race that I had pretty much talked myself out of running - The Houston Aramco Half Marathon, part of the huge Chevron Houston Marathon weekend.  I'd done this race several times - both the half and the full marathon - but this particular year I just wasn't "feeling it."

That particular year I'd had a terrible couple of training months leading up to that race.  So I thought I'd just go downtown to the convention center and  pick up my race packet, claim my t-shirt, shop the huge number of vendors that always exhibit at this fitness expo, then go home with plans to watch the live coverage on TV that weekend.  Well, that plan was out the window as soon as I got to the Fitness Expo, felt the excitement, actually had my running bib in my hands.  I ultimately ran that race, did it in pretty good time, claimed my official finisher's shirt and medal, and thanked whatever it was that motivated me to go ahead and get that race packet.

The line of runners, waiting to pick up
their race packets.  It very carefully
winds around the colon tunnel.
So now here I am in Las Cruces NM heading for the convention center and the fitness expo.  I could feel the excitement for the Biggest Loser RunWalk as soon as I pulled into the parking lot behind the convention center.  The huge lot was packed with cars!  Walking around the side of the building toward the entrance, the line was halfway down the sidewalk.  Wow!

But then one of the many volunteers working this event came down the line, telling us that there was no line for the half marathon packet pickup.  Cool!  A few of us could bypass this really long line and go right up to the entrance door where we filled out a waiver form and then took it inside to the half-marathon packet pickup table.  No line!  I stepped right up to the young man, gave him my waiver form, and it was done!  I had my bib and a cool reusable bag.
Half Marathon packet pickup table

Around the corner was the stage where a fitness instructor was leading a small group through some stretching exercises.
Fitness instructor leading a group through stretches

Around the next corner, more exhibitor tables, and then out the door to the lobby area where I picked up my race shirt.
Adorable volunteers at the t-shirt pickup table.

I realized I hadn't taken any photos!!  So I backtracked into the hall, reversing my route and went back to the packet pickup table, then couldn't resist the handsome Sargent in uniform and just had to get my photo with him....I'm a Navy brat, a Navy mom, and am such a sucker for a man in uniform.

Who can resist a handsome man in uniform!

He directed me to his cadets at the New Mexico State U. Army ROTC recruiting table and told me to make them drop and give me twenty.  Well, I didn't do that but I did introduce myself to them, learned what class they were in - one was a senior, two were juniors, and what their plans were after commissioning.  The senior told me he'll be going into military police work after training in Missouri.

Great guys and our Future Army.

Many exhibits, mostly for health products and services, lined the serpentine route through the hall.

Fun table promoting a Valentines Day 5K

As I left the building and started toward the parking lot, I realized that the large orange Quonset hut-shaped structure that the line was carefully snaking itself around was actually an inflated model of the colon!!  And we could walk through it!! Surely the intent here was for the line to pass through here.  I laughed out loud and said to those within earshot that they were all too chicken to walk through the giant colon.  This got a big laugh!  And some folks did actually redirect themselves into that colon.

That dreaded colon!  Note the line of people in back,
carefully avoiding walking through it.

Before getting to the fitness expo, I spent the morning at the huge Farmers Market in Las Cruces Center browsing and strolling and chatting with some of the vendors.  Some mesquite honey - definitely curious about the taste - and some green chili pepper pecan brittle made it into my bag.  I chatted at length with the brittle vendor.  He makes it himself in a shop nearby, 35 lb batches of each chili, red chili, and plain, available with pecans, peanuts, or pistachios.  Decisions, decisions...!

Delightful couple singing traditional Mexican folksongs
Lots of high school band quartets and ensembles
playing on various street corners.

Afterward I found a Subway shop along the route to the convention center.  Perfect!  A foot-long ham and turkey with spinach, cucumber, black olive and brown mustard - half  for lunch, the other half for dinner later.

Race packet in my possession and food in my tummy, I took the short drive over to historic Old Mesilla and walked the small town center, taking photos, buying hand-dipped chocolates (oops!).

Basilica of San Albino

Now it's time for my usual pre-race ritual the afternoon/evening before...get off my feet, watch old movies on TV, hydrate, then lights out.

Tomorrow:  Biggest Loser RunWalk Half Marathon, baby!

1 comment:

  1. A nice relaxing day pre-race. The colon model looks pretty funky, I'd totally walk through it.

    So, how was the chili pecan brittle? Sounds tasty.