Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spur-of-the-Moment Trip and Race

A friend of mine lives outside of Austin - in Round Rock - and I decided that he needed a "kick in the pants" to get himself back on track to losing weight and walking/running.  You see, he's lost over 100 lbs so far and somewhere along that weight loss journey of his, he actually trained for and ran the Tulsa Half Marathon with me in November 2012.  But he still has a little ways to go to get into a healthy weight range and he's not been running at all - and walking only intermittently.

So a week ago Friday I called him early in the morning and said, "Let's do the Biggest Loser Half Marathon next Sunday.  I'll walk it with you...it's very walker-friendly, has a 5 hour time limit."  He said he'd think about it and call me later in the day to let me know.

That call came and he said, "I'm in!"

So together, with our phones on speaker, we registered on-line and then posted our registration badges on Facebook for all to see.  One good way to hold ourselves and each other accountable!

We then made a plan for the weekend.  Friday night a very good live band, Newsboyz, was playing at Steiner Ranch on Lake Travis.  A most excellent venue, with good dining, beautiful outdoor patio with fire pit and a view.

Saturday morning a Meet-up group of his was meeting at Ski Shores Cafe for brunch.   Then Saturday evening he wanted to take me to a restaurant that he likes in Georgetown.  And on Sunday, of course, we'll do the half marathon together.

On the way home from the brunch on Saturday, we stopped at the fitness expo to pick up our race packets.

A couple of the race-packet pickup volunteers

Saturday evening, I disappeared into my friend's guest room to read and wind down.  Early to sleep was in order after a late night at Steiner Ranch.  And I had my alarm set for 5 AM as we needed to be out of the house by 6 AM for the 30-40 minute drive to the race venue.

Up and at 'em, we actually got on the road about 6:10 AM but there was absolutely no traffic and we made it to the race venue by 6:35 AM!  It was still dark and it was cold so we sat in the car for a while, both with our noses in our smartphones checking emails and then posting nearly identical check-in posts on Facebook.

At 7:10 AM I met up with some other Half Fanatics for a group photo.  This really makes doing destination races fun!  Nearly all of the time, I'm traveling by myself and know no other runners, so meeting other Half Fanatics, even running with them is a real treat. I've stayed in touch with a couple that I've met, with plans to meet up again at races in the future.

I paid the extra $25 for VIP amenities (a real bargain!) which got me parking in a lot close to the start/finish, access to a VIP area with its own porta-potty, and a nice pre-race breakfast spread and after-race luncheon buffet.   I'd pay 4X this much for these benefits!

We were let go in waves, and my friend and I managed to get let loose in the third wave.  And we were off, walking at a very good pace.  In the beginning we were being passed by runners, but by the 3rd or 4th mile we were beginning to reel in other walkers.

We kept a good 15-minute per mile pace the whole way and reeled in a whole lot of other walkers - even some slow runners - on the race route.   .  I stopped at mile 9 for a porta-potty break and told my friend to go ahead, not wait.  So then my objective was to catch him before we reached the finish line.  As a result of this incentive, I maintained a 14:30-minute per mile pace and caught him just yards before crossing the finish line!

I lost sight of my friend in the finishers' chute and with no hope of finding him, I wandered over to the stage area to get my photo taken with the Biggest Loser celebrities and to get some food in the VIP area. On the way there, I met up with my Half Fanatic friends, where one wanted to get a photo of the two of us with our finisher medals.  Munching on fruit and cookies, I waited for the awards ceremony to start.

With Elizabeth Ruiz from season 10, Marie Pearl from season 15
and Vinnie Hickerson from season 12 of Biggest Loser

I was pretty certain that I'd placed in my age group based on my recent past performances and on the size of this event.  My friend was still nowhere to be seen.  And sure enough, when the announcer got to the 65-69 age group in the walking category, my friend's and my names were announced at first place.  I collected both of our awards and then headed to the car, figuring that by this point he was probably waiting for me in the most likely spot.  My friend was incredulous!  He was having a hard time processing the fact that he placed 1st in his age group.
Another medal to add to my collection.

A stop at Starbucks on the way to his house and then, still in my running clothes, I packed my car and hit the road for home.

1 comment:

  1. What an awesome spur of the moment trip and race.

    Congrats to you and your friend for placing in the race and to you for being an inspiration and motivation for him.