The first quarter of this race was fantastic. We started at the Alamo Dome, then headed north passing the Tower of the Americas, similar to the Seattle Space Needle. It was built in 1968 as part of the World’s Fair hosted by the city. Mile two brought runners past the Alamo. I’d never visited the Alamo so I stopped for a quick photo opp.
After lollygagging my way through the first four miles, I had the not-very-profound realization that this race was going to take an eternity if I didn’t get moving. A pace group came along and I tucked in, deciding that I needed someone with a watch to make me get to the finish with any sort of expediency. Truth be told, I’ve never run with a pace group, but I rather liked it. There’s camaraderie and consistency – both are good things when you made a last minute decision to run and show up to a race without a game plan. The pacer was fantastic. She had a good feel for the group and seemed to know when to talk and when to shut up. This is critical, as there is nothing more frustrating than someone chattering away in the last miles of a race when patience wears thin and you are concentrating all of your energy on taking just one more step. This was a nonissue with our pacer and for that I was extremely grateful.
I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that by the end of the race I was hurting. Therefore, my recall of details about the course is fuzzy at best. There was a mariachi band. There was San Pedro Park. There was a cruel hill in the form of a bridge around mile 12.5. And then, it was over.
There were two race highlights that I do remember.
 The number of runners wearing capes. The race had a superhero theme and people took this very seriously. Capes and spandex were plentiful, as were Wonder Woman and Super Man costumes. The best part was watching the state of the super heroes in the finish area. It looked like everyone had just fought an epic battle – Batman sprawled out on the pavement, Spider Man limping around, Mr. Incredible keeled over.
 The Heroes’ Mile. The race was put on by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society whose mission is to “cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.” In that spirit, at the expo runners with a connection to this mission could make signs honoring patients currently battling a blood cancer or in honor of those who had lost their battle. Hundreds of signs lined a mile of the course. It was powerful. Some runners stopped to walk so that they could read the names and notes. Others were propelled forward by the messages, visibly pushing themselves as they connected with the notes and stories that the signs represented.
The Heroes’ Mile of the course was an out and back, so runners could see the signs from both directions. When I turned to come back, I watched the stream of runners coming from the opposite direction, each running their own race and having their own experience. Each representing their own story, their own reason for being out on the course that morning and their own connection to the signs they were running past. I felt such gratitude for the folks out on the course. Each runner comes to the race for her own reason, but in the end, be it through a direct connection to the mission of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or be it through an entirely separate motivation to run that morning, each runner who had laced up lent their support to a great cause. One for which I was so grateful to be a part.