Sunday, October 27, 2013

Weston Wright 10K: better than a PR


Yesterday I woke up early, hit snooze several times and then hurried to Roosevelt Park for the 5th annual Weston Wright "Lighting the Way" 10K.  

Several hundred people were there, and the race was professionally organized by iRun TexasSplit Second Productions with a great crowd of racers, supporters, volunteers and Lighthouse for the Blind staff.
Are there post-race scooby snacks?
 Lots of raffle prizes (multiple $100 and $50 gift certificates for running stores, restaurants, museums, movie tickets) and if I’d known about the used-shoe drive before leaving El Paso, I would’ve encouraged my entire Wave Rider collection to serve a better purpose.  


The race registration/packet pick-up began at 7.  Chip timed races (10K and 5K) began at 8.  I had not been to this park before but people held signs directing drivers to the race area (so helpful since I am not familiar with the neighborhood!) which set the tone for this extremely well organized race.  I arrived later than expected (Snoozy Susie) but I found parking, picked up my number and race shirt and visited the toilette all in about 30 minutes.  The only problem is that we used the park’s restroom facilities, which, while way nicer than a portapotty, meant there were only 2 stalls per gender for the entire crowd.  Still, there wasn’t a very big line.  I had to hurry from car to registration and back, but I also arrived 30 minutes later than I planned.  Planned.”

The race course is on the Riverwalk- but by Riverwalk, I mean the extension of the Riverwalk south of downtown and the Riverwalk you’re thinking of.  It’s the Mission Reach trail, heading quietly for the Mission San Jose and others. The gentle riverbank hills were very pleasant and the entire course is contained on the pathways.  The race organizers had placed mile markers and cautionary “Runners on Roadway!” signs to warn fellow trail users.  The aid stations were at mile markers 1.5 and 2.5 of this mostly out-and back trail.  The 5K split from the 10K just after the 1.5 mile aid station, with a little loop off the main trail, then joining up for the return trip.

I loved that at all turns and intersections, several people held large arrow signs pointing exactly where to run.  No confusion there!  

I ran the first mile too fast: 7:22.  At mile 2 I was at 14:48.  Then I became a reasonable person and slowed down, drank some water, and finished 48:27 meeting my goal of running (barely!) in the 7:40s.  I PRed and took home first overall female but I’ve got to hand it to the men’s race, those guys were incredible.  The top several guys were running 5 to low 6 minute pace.  Yikes!!  I am not in that league for sure.

Proof, because I don't believe it either!
 Weston Wright (bib number 1!) was there with his family.  He looks about 8 or 9 years old and he is blind, like many of the participants and volunteers.  This is his race and has been for the last 5 years, and it specifically supports the Blind Children's Education Fund.  The San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind oversees this event with the support of their employees, members and board of directors who showed up in force to run the race and create the event.  Beamer, the stuffed lighthouse mascot was there too.  Yeah, I had to think about it for a sec, too :)

Beamer!  Or there's a barber at the finish line.
 In other news, despite what the race pictures probably show, I did not knock down a blind woman at the finish line!!  I just happened to round the final corner and come up behind a woman who dropped her red-tipped cane right in front of me.  I stopped to pick it up for her but she was able to recover herself but I am very nervous that the finish line photos show what looks like me, grabbing a cane and deciding to fell a blind woman to beat her to the finish line.

I met many great people and their families and this race has the cozy feel of a tight-knit family reunion.  The friendly folks at www.iRunTexas.net produced the event and invited me to come to their running store’s weeknight social runs – I’ll try while here in town.  I felt so personally welcomed that I want to check it out.  Runners in general are such a friendly bunch.  Except for me, per the finish line incident photos :)
 
I was inspired by a very nice large woman in her first 5K run/walk, huffing and puffing slowly up the inclines and walking much of the course but I tell you this race is a far bigger victory for her than me regardless of what the chip time says.  No I don’t think she is also visually impaired but if you really want to be extra inspired, we can just say that she is.  She is the reason why San Antonio wins.  

The price is beyond reasonable - $30 – and students get a $15 (50%!) discount.  I think an entire high school cross-country team showed up!  I consumed about $50 worth of coffee, bagels, donuts, fruit, beer, water so I should probably write Beamer a check :)

If I’m in town next year at this time, this race is on my MUST DO list!  5 stars!

It didn't rain but it wanted to
 Next up, I registered for a Turkey Trot 5K/10K nearby on 23 November: the Boerne YMCA Turkey Trot.  Boerne is hilly, so I’ll consider myself warned.  That’s my last weekend here in SA but I’m glad to have found a Turkey Trot held before Thanksgiving Day as I will be driving across Texas that morning.  I’ve done one every year since 2012 and I’d hate to miss my 2nd annual.