Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The first race we ever finished...but never started

Weekends in San Juan tend to be good, despite mishaps.  I’m sensing a pattern here.  Nothing goes completely according to plan with us, but we end up having the time of our lives anyway.

Last weekend, the PLAN was this:
-Leave Guayama at 10am. 
-Spend 2 hours tops at Plaza las Americas (the gigantor mall in San Juan)
-Spend the afternoon lounging by the pool or on the beach at the El San Juan Resort and Casino
-Dress nicely and eat a quality dinner
-Dress to impress and go to Brava (free entrance and short lines since we were staying at the resort where the club is housed)
-Sleep until check-out time
-Sunday afternoon: undecided.  Pool, beach, or sightseeing.
-Run/walk in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K at 5pm.
-Return to Guayama.

Nothing goes completely according to plan.

First, as we pulled out of Guayama at 10:30am (our usual half hour behind schedule), it began to rain.  The rain continued all afternoon…giving us an excuse to spend not 2, but 4-5 hours at the mall.  (I came away with yet another 2 pairs of shoes…)

The rainy drive
We checked into our resort, the El San Juan, with no problems (save confusing the gentleman working the front desk:  “Welcome to the El San Juan.  How was your flight?”  “Actually, we live on the island, so it was a drive…but it was nice.”  … “Just staying the one night?  Are you leaving on a cruise tomorrow?”  “No…we’re teachers, so we have to work during the week.”  I’m sure our American appearance threw off his carefully rehearsed normal schpeel). 

We spent an hour or two enjoying the pool as the sun set around us, then showered and went to dinner at Lupi’s, a Mexican restaurant within easy walking distance. 

After dinner, according to plan, we dressed in our clubbing best and headed down to Brava.  Aside from the fact that the woman letting us in originally had a different name listed for our room and us having to go back to the front to have them print out the correct names, that part of the trip, too, went according to plan.  The club played great music, and as the night got later, the club got progressively packed with people. 

After sleeping and checking out at noon, we spent the afternoon soaking up the sun poolside at the hotel, since we’d been unable to do so Saturday afternoon.

Right on schedule, we left the hotel and followed the tourist desk lady’s directions to get to the stadium where the 5K was to take place. 

As we turned into the Coliseo (Coliseum…means stadium), we were met with a HORRENDOUS traffic jam.  The green left turn arrow would come on, and people coming from the right took that as THEIR turn to come through the intersection.  So of course when our green light came on, no one could go straight, because apparently at that time, red meant go, and green meant…fight your way to get anywhere if you want to move.  After edging our way through the turn and watching spellbound as several vehicles nearly collided, we made it to the stadium.  We crawled our way around it for 45 minutes (traffic was not letting up.  So much for being early for the race…) only to come to a semi-empty parking lot with no sign of pink balloons, race beginnings, or people proudly sporting their breast cancer pink.  We decided…we were in the wrong place. 

NOT the right parking lot

With the help of some friendly strangers who’d been tailgating (or something…sitting around peacefully?) in the stadium parking lot, we found the CORRECT stadium, and all of our pink-bearing people.  Only 30 minutes after the race had begun. 

This is more like it!
So what did we do?  We followed the end of the race back about a quarter mile, until the route turned, and we hopped in and finished the race.  What else? 

Let me tell you…finishing felt great.  So many people cheering us on!  Smiling, supportive people at the finish line handing out water, bananas, and our finisher’s medals.  It was quite empowering. 

I’m sure it would have been even more so had we fully earned it.  J

Nevertheless, we enjoyed being part of the event and took heart in the fact that our registration money still went to a fantastic cause.  And I, for one, was truly inspired by the sheer number of people present showing their support for the fight against breast cancer.  I’m so glad we decided to go…late is definitely better than never.  

Even the Coliseo got into the spirit with some pink lighting!

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