2022 Race 1, La Cruda 5K, Jan 1

Photos are here:


BEFORE MY STARTMy 1st event of 2022 was the La Cruda 5K held on January 1st in Helotes,
Texas. Put on by Soler Sports, with timing and results by local race management company iaap, this event was founded by Race Director Tony Garcia and friends.  This event also happens to be held on Tony’s birthday.  This is a very popular event – the best New Years’ Day 5K in our local area – so had a really nice turn-out with 542 finishers.  The course started and finished in historic “Old Town” Helotes.  This event ha a very kind start time of 10 a.m., since New Year’s Eve is the day before, allowing people to sleep in a bit if they went out and celebrated the incoming year. The before-and-after finish area was a nice ‘garden-type’ area behind the building that used to be Soler Sports in Helotes. There were also a few businesses back here, such as a wine shop, an arts-and-crafts place, and others.  Old Town restroom was located here too, which was convenient, and there were also porta-potties, due to the large turn-out for this one. I arrived with about 45 minutes to go until start time and got a few pre-start photos.   As I was doing this, my friend Sally found me and gave me a ‘button” that a friend of hers had made, with a photo of me and my late running buddy Bernadette Beck – one of the first people I met in the running community when I moved to San Antonio, and we so many of the same local-area races for 27 years.  She was my “bestest” running friend and I loved her greatly. During the time of the illness that prevented her from being her active self and finally took her way too soon, at age 64, we talked every week on the phone. So thoughtful of Sally do to this, and when she first sent me a photo of it, my tears were flowing for sure. I wore the button the first time for this event and will wear it now in her memory and honor when I run, carrying my angel-friend with me in spirit. I miss her so much, especially at races, and find myself sometimes still looking around for her when I go to a race.  I thank God for my supportive wife, Gail, who has helped me so much in dealing with this. She is a very understanding woman, and I am so darn lucky to have had in my life two wonderful women like my wife, Gail, and my best friend, Bernadette, the woman I loved most in the world after my wife. May she rest in peace.

ON THE COURSE – We lined up on dirt-and-gravel off-road terrain and then proceeded through the start/finish chute onto a paved road.  We made a right turn that took us past a traffic circle and then went down a flat paved road to a turn-round point. I was feeling pretty good and did my usual 8-minute run/2-minute walk thing. I got to Mile 1 in in 11 minutes and change – way too fast start for me, and knew I was going to pay for that later on the hill part of the course. After making the turn-round, we came back the way we had come out. Back at the traffic circle, we made a left turn, went past the start/finish area, and then the hills began.  The first was a long down incline.  The second was a long uphill incline.  At the top of this, we made a left turn in front of a local church, proceeded down another hill, and then did a flat part of the course to our turn-round point. After the turn-round, we proceeded back the way we had come out.  This meant, of course, our downhill to the turn-round was now an uphill on the way back. The last part of the course on the main road that took us to the finish was a down incline, and then a last long uphill incline right before we made the turn to finish at the timing chute.  Very nicely though-out course, with very wide roads, so room for all, but dang, it sure does give you workout, lol.  As I expected from doing that first mile too fast, I paid for that by doing positive splits for Mile 2 and Mile 3. I ended up with a chip time of 39:02, averaging 12:34 per mile.   I’ll take it.  I am still being treated for my prostate cancer, so I am just happy I CAN still run.  This day was a good day, felt pretty well overall, ran fairly strong for me, had no issues, and thoroughly enjoyed myself, taking photos on my walk breaks and interacting with other participants along the way.  After I finished, I stood near the finish line and got a couple of photos of some of my personal friends and other participants coming in.

AFTER MY FINISH: – First thing, back into my dry shirt I had brought with me, and then get some water. Just sat for few minutes, relaxing and sipping my water and ‘draining”, lol, from the race. Then it was off to enjoy some goodies – I even allowed myself a beer today, I was feeling so good, and behaved myself, one post-race is my limit, per my doc.  Also enjoyed one of the Kiolbassa sausages that were being grilled up.   Then wandered around taking photos of the ‘happy finishers’, their supporters, volunteers, etc., chatting with friends and other participants, and enjoying the after-party.  My friend Sally also took a few moments to do a short ‘in memory” ceremonial for Bernadette – she was so well known in the running community, since she, like me, did so many races over the year, just about every weekend of the year.  All-in-all, this was a great way to start my running and racing year, with a top quality event, and “carrying’ Bernadette with me along the route. We all also paid tribute to race director, Tony, born this day long ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth – just kidding, Tony – with all the attendings singing Happy Birthday, and raising a glass to him. One of the best  ‘good guys’ around you could ever hope to meet, and I count it a great honor to be able to call him a personal friend.

Epilogue:  As noted, this is the best local area New Year’s Day 5K.   Very nicely thought-out course by Race Director Lisa Soler – another great person and personal friend – and one heck of an after-party.  Very nice quality race shirt; and finisher medal for all finishers – I do so many races, I have way too many medals, lol, so I gave mine to a couple who had pushed their little one in a stroller during the race, so the whole family would each have a medal.  A very nice relaxing venue for the post-race activities too. Lots of post-race goodies, water, beer, wine, various types of juices, fresh fruits – courtesy of another friend, Gilbert, who has the best fruits ever from his Farmer’s Market – and several types of freebie give-aways from various sponsors who had booths there.  If you are a local area runner or walker and have never done this one, you’re missing out!  Definitely give this one a try, you will not regret it. .    

MUCHO THANKS TO:   Race organizers Tony Garcia and Lisa Soler, and all their many volunteers that were out there for us for pre-race packet pickup and for all the race day activities. Thanks to all the sponsors supporting this event and to the local police officers out there for our safety. Thanks to our MC Anthony who did his usual great job, and thanks to our Sausage Griller and his crew for the great eats.  Also, many thanks to the Helotes residents and business owners in the race course area for their patience with 500+ crazy people- cuz you know, we runners and walkers really are crazy, lol; in a good way, of course – getting up and coming out to run or walk in their area. If I inadvertently missed anyone, my apologies, and thanks to all of you, also.

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