So, folks, I have entered Steve in a Speedo's Tales of a Virgin Athlete Contest. I'm hoping to win some new drymax socks -- SJV has been pleading with me to get some new socks (my toes have taken it upon themselves to make the socks a bit more ... breathable. So I have holes in my socks. *sigh*) and this is a way for me to share some great stories and get myself some seriously solid socks. Wish me luck!
Here's the "extended version" of the story that I gave to Steve. The contest rules require 300 words or less, so I slashed and slashed until the story fit. But, for you, I include the Whole Story. Bon Appetit!
It was February 2007, six months after I started running, when I landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A busy career dominated my life; I hadn't taken a vacation in three years. So, I was a little surprised when I decided to run in the World's Best 10k, and go to San Juan -- completely alone.
I checked in at the race's sponsored hotel, after a Kenyan and his coach. I spent the weekend wandering the beach, going to the expo and getting autographs from more Kenyans.
We had been warned to arrive on time for the bus that would get us to the race. (Although plentiful, cabs couldn't take you to the race location.) So, on race afternoon, I went down to the pickup location, a busy street frequented by "friendly" locals, right on time. And I waited. And waited. While boys in el-caminos cat-called, and hollered things that I'm probably lucky I didn't understand. Finally, 20 minutes later, I went back up to the hotel, and learned that the buses had come early. So, I was stuck. I had come all the way from Chicago to miss the race because the bus driver came five minutes earlier. I was crushed.
I then saw three people with race shirts on. Fellow stranded racers! I went to them, explained we had missed the bus, and asked if they knew of any other means of transport to the race.
Then the escalade came around the corner of the hotel.
The three "fellow stranded racers" were the CFO of the main sponsor of the race and his top staff, and they had special race "backstage passes". They offered to give me a lift, and I gratefully accepted. Sweet!
The race was fantastic, but the whole time I ran, I wondered how I would get home. It was dark when we finished, and I was worried. I got through the finisher's chute, and saw a tall gringo-looking guy who was speaking english. "Excellent! I'll ask him where to meet the buses." I did, and he said he was waiting for his fellow triathletes to finish (he was part of a triathlete club -- perhaps a prediction of things to come?), but that they would walk me to the buses. He took a photo of me while we waited, and chatted, and soon his friend Luna met with us. We walked to where the buses would pick me up, and just as I was getting ready to fight the crowds for a seat on one of the buses (which were parked in grassy, bushy, scary areas in the dark of an underpass) they suggested something much more fun. Luna's family was having a BBQ, and they lived just up the road. Would I want to come and be their guest? After a minute or two of cajoling, I continued my walk with them -- my finisher's medal around my neck, and two new friends on either side. So, I spent the evening eating authentic Puerto Rican BBQ, singing "feliz cumpleanos" to her neice, and listening to the frogs chip in their backyard.
It was, indeed, the worlds' best 10k. But the world's worst photo (see below).
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