The Illuminations Half here in San Antonio on the 7th was a success! I was part of Team Tinsel which consisted of me, my guide, and some good military friends from Lackland. We were missing a few teammates in the picture above.
I’m happy to announce that I survived the sub 30 degree half marathon! I wasn’t sure how things were going to go which is why the goal I set was just to survive! I’m not as young as I once was and I enjoy the cold a lot less than I used to.
The JW Marriott Resort had a bunch of neat Christmas activities for the families. Packet pick up was from noon till 4 so we headed down early to get my stuff and let the kids have some fun.
They got to write letters to Santa, decorate ginger bread cookies, meet Santa and Mrs. Clause, and basically just run all over the hotel. They had the time of their lives! Their furry little boots drew more attention than anything else.
My guide, who I’ll just refer to as M, showed up a little after 4pm with her teenage daughter who volunteered to help Jesse with the kids.
We piled on the layers and I walked out on the balcony to get a little taste of the cold. The wind couldn’t reach me where I was so I knew I wasn’t getting a good idea of it but I could still tell it wasn’t going to be the most ideal racing conditions. I wasn’t very excited.
If you’ve ever been in a hotel with a balcony you have probably seen those big layered curtains that they seem to love so much. I didn’t open them when I went out, I just snuck through the crack. Well, on the way back in I couldn’t find the split. I groped back and forth for a little while then just ducked down and crawled out from under them.
Of course M’s daughter was standing there watching and burst out laughing.
“That was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen!”
I couldn’t help but laugh too. It’s so nice to be around people who can just act normal and not be afraid of hurting my feelings. That family is open and honest and I love it!
Fast forward 45 minutes and we’re on our way outside. M and I had been training for a few months and she had a good friend, who we’ll refer to as S, who had started running with us. She tried to worm out of the race but we forced her into it.
We lined up with the other runners, people wrapped in lights, girls in skirts, a few Christmas trees, and a guy in little shorts. It was quite the mix of crazy people I must say. Half the fun was listening to the descriptions of the people we were running with.
The first two or three miles were out on the streets around the resort and were pretty flat. Generally I hate the first three miles the most because I’m getting warmed up and finding my stride. Usually once I pass three the cruise control just turns on and things just fly on by. Well, after we got past the first few miles we went up a dirt path on to the golf course track.
Now I’m not sure why this didn’t register until we were running this race but have you ever seen a flat golf course? I haven’t. They’re supposed to be hilly. Guess what , this one didn’t disappoint. There was almost no flat ground at all for the rest of the race. I’ve never been up and down so many hills before.
We were killing it for the first five miles or so even with all the hills and people packed in all around us. The race day excitement and adrenalin was helping us out for sure. All three of us felt great and the hardest part was not running other runners over. You can imagine hundreds of people all trying to pass each other on a tiny golf course track. There was a few times we had to stop or swerve to avoid crashing but my guide passed with flying colors, for the most part. There was a table at a water station around 9 miles that I walked into. Other than that though I didn’t hit anything but the little brown bags with the lights inside that were marking the whole trail. I took out plenty of those.
It was around mile six that we started having problems. M started having issues with her knee. She described it as a “grinding sensation” that got really bad on the hills, which was just about the whole time. It started giving her trouble between miles four and five and she had just been toughing it out but mile six was when her knee started winning. We stopped and walked, while she limped, for a few minutes. After a handful of minutes the pain died down and we took off running again. We lasted a mile or so before her knee was killing her again.
She tried to hand me off to S and said she would just see us at the finish line to which we both refused. I told her that since i made her run the race I’m going to finish it and if she didn’t get going I was going to use our tether as a whip. I’m so motivating.
The funny part was that she got mad at me for her knee. Not seriously, but she called me a curse since every race I’ve run my guide has had serious leg cramps or some other sort of leg issue. She kept the tradition alive so watch out if you’re ever my guide for a race! You could be next!
From miles seven until about nine both of my companions asked every person we came across if they had any ibuprofen. Guess what, nobody did. Not even the medical people sitting at the water station at mile eight, which by the way was the only place on the entire course that had a mile marker. I have no idea who’s failure that was or why they picked mile eight out of all of them to mark but what can you do. It sucks having no idea how far you’ve gone though.
M ended up just having to tough things out until around mile ten when another runner finally came through for us and gave her a handful of pills.
She downed them and the process continued. While we waited for the pills to kick in all we had to do was think about how much fun we were having. It’s sub 30 degree weather, dark, and windy. It was not the most fun I’ve ever had to be honest. They told me that looking across the course and seeing the long winding path of runners and lights looked awesome though. Fortunately for me, those two were very entertaining. I probably spent half the race laughing even through all the hills, cold, and wind.
If you’ve never run a half marathon you would be surprised at how long those last few miles can stretch out. The first half of the race flies by but the last half DRAGS by! It doesn’t help that everyone along the last few miles says,
“Your almost done! Keep it up!”
For some reason those people always make things seem slower. It could just be a mental thing that happens after running ten miles but who knows.
These are the shirts that M and I wore.
I learned the value of shirts like those early on. Especially when I run people over. They get less angry when they know they just got taken out by a blind guy.
During one of our walks a guy slowly passed and said that he loved our shirts.
We chuckled and said thanks and he said that everyone should shut their lights off and run in the dark like I was. I thought this was the best idea of the night! How awesome would it be to have hundreds of people running all over a golf course in the dark looking for a finish line. We decided that if we ever do another night run we’re going to put “Lights Are for Sissies” on my shirt!
We continued our run/walk pattern all the way up until mile 12.5. The excitement of finally finishing gave us all the boost we needed to finish the race off.
As soon as I crossed the finish line I was wrapped up in a hug by my oldest girl. She was so excited and kept saying she was proud that I won my race. The other kids were just about frozen solid so after taking a couple pictures we headed inside.
As soon as we got in the lobby Jesse checked the time and realized we had to run to our room.
The hotel had a bunch of employees dressed up like elves and we were able to reserve a nighttime tuck in for the girls.
We ran up to our room and as we got to the door two little elves walked around the corner on their way to us.
Needless to say our kids didn’t get the tuck in but they still got to talk with the elves who gave them little longhorn stuffed animals and told them that if they went to bed good that night they would tell Santa they had been extra special.
Unfortunately the two youngest failed completely. I guess that means no Christmas for them. to their credit they had developed coughs a few days before and weren’t feeling good at all so I can’t really hold it against them.
Around 11:30pm both kids started crying and hollering and we could do nothing to stop them. I wish they all slept as well as the oldest who didn’t budge at all through the entire 45 minutes of screaming.
We called it around 12:15 or 12:30. We packed everything up, got all the kids out of bed, checked out, and drove home.
A staff member said that night was the busiest they had ever had. We weren’t about to sit in that room and make everyone around us listen to our screaming hollering kids. The drive was fast and fortunately everyone ended up sleeping fairly good once we got home. Nothing like your own bed right?
To sum it all up the day was a big success. The family got to do a lot of fun christmas stuff and I got to run around in the freezing cold. The best part was that my guide finished her first half marathon! I don’t know if she reads this or not but congrats if you do M!
She’s just now starting to talk to me again. The first I heard from her was two days after when she asked me when she would wake up without new body parts being sore ha ha.
Like I predicted, we did get called inspirational a few times and one person even yelled it at me as they passed. You know, because blind people can’t hear well. It was an awesome race though. It was the hardest one I’ve done yet. More hills, more cold, and a lot less room to maneuver around the others but it was a blast!
I’m already searching for the next one! Who wants to come?
Thank you all for reading, sharing, and commenting!