in the beginning… (rock n’ roll san antonio)

Posted: November 27, 2008 in marathon, my favorite runs, my trips 2008, running
Tags: ,

pb150136“You’re not going to make it!” The man points this out to me as the door to his bus slides oh-so-slowly-open.

“Just get us to the starting line please.”

40 minutes after the San Antonio rock n’ roll marathon had started, I was at the finish line begging the shuttle driver to drive us back to the start line of the race.

Everything that could have possibly gone wrong had happened in the one and a half hours it took us to get to the limited parking spot at the Alamodome in San Antonio. We had left our hotel a little after 5:30 in the morning. We had allowed ourselves more than an hour’s allowance before the official start of the race. We were headed towards the Alamodome (8 minutes away according to my GPS and the finish point of the race). The plan was to drop the car off and then take the shuttle back to the start line. GPS in hand, Vicky and I got into our rented car. We were freezing but in high spirits. The temperature had dipped into the low 30s from 60’s high the day before.

As soon as we made the turn to leave our hotel, we encountered the first ominous sign…a ROAD BARRIER with flashing lights! The roads downtown were already closed! No problem! Just let the GPS recalculate another route. Two minutes after this, we found ourselves caught in the middle of a traffic jam. All hell broke loose from there. We couldn’t turn back into our hotel anymore. Soon enough we found ourselves in a highway heading out to Sneaky knows where… north, south, wherever! We were hopelessly lost and at the mercy of road signs that didn’t really make any sense in our heads.

Vicky sighs… “So near…yet soooo far!”

I had signed up for the San Antonio rock n’ roll marathon without any real plan in mind. I didn’t know anybody there. I had no friends or family in the area. Vicky ended up there because her cousin was getting married. Serendipity! We decided to meet up. But she was also a visitor. All we wanted to do was run. We didn’t realize that we were going to get a whole lot more of running than we bargained for.

It was impossible to get downtown. The traffic jam on the highway just to get to the exit was more than a mile long.  The smart thing to do would have been to find a parking spot somewhere, anywhere and just walk to the start line. But then again, not knowing anything about the area, Vicky and I were not certain we would find our way back there after the race. I could handle getting lost. Eventually I’m sure Vicky and I would have found our way back to the hotel. But I couldn’t lose a car. Especially one that wasn’t even mine to lose in the first place!

10 million moving violations and a whole lot of desperate pleas for direction and a number of wild U-turns later we finally make it to the  Alamodome parking lot. I looked at my watch and it said 8:19am. There were 8 buses parked on the leftmost side of the lot. The last bus in the queue was about 100 meters away. We weren’t even out of the car yet when I noticed that the first bus had started to move out. I jumped out of the car and just kept running after the buses. I caught the last bus just as it was about to slip out of its slot. I rapped on its door like a madwoman. From the corner of my eye I could see Vicky sprinting right behind me. The startled driver gave me the look! I lifted my hands up at a loss for words. I was out of breath and couldn’t even form a single word in English or in any other language in my head. He beckoned me in with his hand. Vicky was huffing and puffing right behind me. We both crashed into the front row seat. We were the only ones inside the bus! The driver then turned to tell us quite sternly that we were very late. I could only nod in agreement but I was grinning from ear to ear… ROCK N’ ROLL MARATHON, here we come!!!

I tell the driver we are from Manila. And yes we are late but we have no plans of missing this run. So please, just get us to the start line and we will run even if we are the only two runners left on the road.

“All that way?” He asks in a very surprised tone. Then he switches his hazards on. And then he tells us; “I’ll do my best to get you there as fast as I can!”  And just like that, we are on our way to the start line.

As we were cruising down the highway Vicky and I spied the early wave of runners running right below us. “Vicky, look!” I shouted out excitedly. Then I fumbled for my belt in search of my camera. I had no camera! I had no fuel belt! This meant that I also had no money, no means of identification, no nothing. But I did have my car keys clutched very tightly in my hand. I uttered a silent prayer asking my overworked angel to please, at least, make sure that the door to the car had banged shut! Forget about locking it. I was dead sure I hadn’t done that.   In my panic I had left everything behind in the car. Even my breakfast…

The driver dropped us off about half a mile from the start line. When we got there we realized it wasn’t as as bad as we had thought. Vicky and I were ready to run that route no matter what. We were ecstatic to know that we weren’t going to run it alone. There were still thousands on the road who were just making their way to it. The start had been delayed by about 10 minutes. The organizers had planned to get everyone off the start line 45 minutes after the first wave. It had taken far longer than that. The queue to the start line was half a mile long.

As soon as Vicky and I got off the bus, we had a laughing fit. We were nervous, we were excited and quite suddenly I also realized that I was very hungry.

We make a quick stop at one of the hundreds of portalets lining the park. Then I go run and grab a banana from the organizer’s stand. Vicky gives me some water from her fuel belt and one of the pair of gloves she was using. My hands were so cold it was refusing to peel the banana properly! I warm it up a bit as we proceeded with our trek to the start line. And for the rest of the race I am holding on to this glove like a security blanket of sorts. At this point they were already calling out wave #18, which was Vicky’s original corral. There were more than 30 in all.  I was supposed to be in corral 13 but that had left even before we had made it to the starting area. We finally ended up joining wave #21 or #22. I give Vicky a quick hug and a thumbs up sign then I remind her that we are meeting up under the letter M in the family reunion area.  And then we hear the signal and finally, finally we are off and running back to the finish line!

Rock and roll!!!





As usual, I’m going backwards to move the story forward…

to be continued… .

  1. kingofpots says:

    mesh, super pagod ako reading your pre-race experience. hindi pa nagsisimula yong race, nakaka-stress na kaagad..hahaha! i am sure i’ll enjoy more reading your next post.

    BR, 🙂 Ganyan lang talaga, bawian lang! Super pagod rin naman ako after the BRTEAM’s speed training! Hehe. It’s very good though. I can’t thank you guys enough. And I can’t wait for after the SG marathon when I can focus on it… At oo nga, mala amazing race kami ni Vicky before the actual SAT Rn’R race. But then again, running the actual race and getting to the finish line is always just half the story for me. Thanks for the visit!

  2. prometheuscometh says:

    yahoo! finally the second most awaited story i have been wanting to read! the first of course is your soon to be singapore adventure!

    Singapore? Who is going to Singapore? 😉

  3. Gigi says:

    Wow!!! I can’t wait for part 2! 🙂

    Hi Gigi! 🙂 I know you asked for pictures. I remember I promised pictures. But sometimes I turn out being the girl with more camera lenses than brains. Anyway, I did try to tell a decent story to make up for the lack of pictures so I’m glad you were partly entertained.

    Well, the year is about to end. I hope there is a road race out there where I will finally get the chance to say hello in person. I hear you have ULTRA in your mind right now? Haha! Welcome to the Dark side! 😉

  4. DATC says:

    Your journey to the starting line is at least as interesting and suspense filled, if not more than, the journey to the finish line.

    Ika nga ni Pareng Eli,
    There’s a fruitcake in everybody
    There’s a fruitcake in everyone
    There are b-sides to every story
    If you decide to have some fun

    Ewan ko na nga lang what that really means. Napapakanta lang ako.

  5. sundaywarrior says:

    Wooh Mesh, napagod ako even before getting to the middle of your story (BR is right), the suspense was killing me on what happened next, ha ha

    :-)So true! Driving to the start line was a lot more tiring than running to the finish line for me!
    When we finally made it to the start line I only got a banana for all my hard work and frantic driving. At the finish line, they handed me a mug of beer plus a medal! Haha.

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