Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My First Rodeo

I lived in Texas for a few years in my early 20's. I mostly remember finishing my third year of law school at Baylor and partying with my friends. We were young, had money for the first time, and the drinks flowed. It was fantastic. I've got some of the absolute best drinking stories from my time in Texas (including being kicked out of a martini bar in San Antonio...I'll tell you about it in person if you want to hear it). Those years were really fun.

The last time I was in Texas it was in 2004 when my sister and I packed up my apartment, and I officially moved to Virginia. It was a sad time with a lot of change. I mostly associate Texas with my first time really being a grown up, and I also associate it with the demise of my first real adult relationship. It's a weird connection.

Last year my best friend moved to Austin, a city where she and I have spent many nights imbibing in cocktails, dancing and singing along with the musicians in the many bars on 6th Street. I went to visit her last week, and it was a very different feel 12 years and five collective children after we were last there together.

My son and I flew to Texas on Wednesday. It was his first flight, and he was a baby rock star. A number of people on the plane commented on how good he was. I was so, so proud. Exhausted but proud. It turns out traveling alone with a baby is hard work. As we were driving away from the airport I had a knot in my stomach. Texas looks and feels like nowhere else. It's hard to explain. When I moved there from mountainous West Virginia I would sometimes feel lonely when faced with the vast expanse of space. Those first few moments were disconcerting, but it passed quickly.

My bestie and I have known one another for 13 years. Other than that first year of nights we don't quite remember in Texas we've lived far away from one another. It isn't easy. But I've been able to visit her when her kids were born. I was in Sweden when her oldest daughter (my goddaughter) was baptized. We were there for one another when both of our dads passed away. She was here in Michigan when my son (her godson) was baptized. As an avid running it only seemed fitting to be there for her first half marathon, the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon in San Antonio.

I admit it - I'm not a great spectator. I'm not great at planning ahead like my husband who will map out points to see me. I also find myself being a little (ahem a lot) envious of being on the sidelines instead of running. I know it's important for me to rest right now, so I was trying to keep my envy level at a dull roar.

We had a lovely few days enjoying the gorgeous 60+ degree weather. We had Mexican food outside, played on the playground and just enjoyed being together. It was awesome. On Saturday my friend and I headed to San Antonio with just my little dude. We did the typical pre-race day stuff: went to the expo and had dinner at a lovely Spanish place on the San Antonio Riverwalk.

It was weird to not be racing. I felt both calm and agitated by not running. I did get to enjoy a few glasses of wine with dinner and relax on race morning. We walked to the start, and I was struck by the pre-race energy. I love it. We took photos and I hugged my friend as she went off into her corral. I was so excited for her that I could barely stand it. The first big race is such an exciting event.
After the start we headed back to the hotel for breakfast, and I took a shower. We then walked back toward the finish to see Charlotte. Online race tracking is an amazing tool. I knew she'd be finishing just around 10 a.m. I ended up right by the finish line and got to see the first four male marathoners cross the finish. It was insanely awesome.
I was so emotional at the finish. In typical fashion my son was asleep during the chaos at the finish. I was dancing to the music, singing and cheering for runners. When I saw my friend I thought my heart would explode. I was so thrilled for her. She looked great and had a really good time.
What happens when you've spectated more races than your mom
We met her in the family reunion area, and I was just so, so proud. I wonder if this is how my husband and friends are when I race. While I love being on the course, it was nice for me to be on the other side. Charlotte had a great run, and I loved being there to cheer her on and give her unsolicited running advice.

I've run 20 half marathons, four marathons, and dozens of shorter races, but this was my first half marathon as a spectator. The atmosphere is electric. I love seeing it from that angle. I am so thrilled that I got to be there for my friend's first half. My first spectating rodeo was fun, but next time I think I'll stick to the course. I learned that I love racing too much just to watch. I'm not really a watch and see kinda girl.  
Don't mess with Texas or these dimples!

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