A much needed visit to New Mexico to check in on Alex. Texting & weekend phone calls just weren’t enough especially since we dropped him off on Aug 17th and he wont be back in town until Dec 13th. I needed a visual in between those four months!
The weekend was just perfect. I landed in town right as he got out of his last Friday afternoon class at 2pm. I rented a car and got in to the hotel by 3pm and was picking him up to go dorm room supply shopping by 4pm. We found a Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner to combine World Series viewing with food and then went back to my hotel to finish watching the game and play a round of Phase 10 (no, I didn’t remember to pack my cards – yes, they had it at the Wal Mart!) I dropped him back off at 9pm and prepared for the most challenging part of my whole weekend: a 6 mile Sat morning run.
Since I’m training again for a 1/2 marathon I need to run longer distances on the weekends. I REFUSED to do another round on a treadmill after that awful experience in Salt Lake, so I did a google search to find safe running trails/routes in the area and up popped the Albuquerque Road Runners Club. This very active group of runners have planned weekend runs and it just so happened that Sat the 25th was a 6 mile run at the Bear Canyon Arroyo trails. Visitors welcome the site said, so I emailed the organizer to let them know I would be dropping in and the response was immediate & welcoming. Still, I was nervous meeting them at 7:30am on Saturday! Luckily the meeting spot was 10 minutes from my hotel (just about everything was that weekend as it turned out – seems like there’s about a 5 square mile radius of the town with the University in one corner and all other places we wanted to go were contained in there.) My biggest challenge was the run itself – turns out this “older” group of runners were all quite seasoned at altitude distance running and were quite easily setting a 9-10 min mile pace. Meanwhile, there was me – a 10-12 min mile runner at best down at sea level! There was one other runner who was slower, but she only ran with us for 3 of the 6 miles. I felt bad about making them stop and “regroup” for what must have seemed like forever to them waiting for me to catch up, but they were all really very gracious and even applauded me as I came in for the final mile 🙂 When I checked my phone, I had actually completed the route at just under a 12 minute mile pace, but let me tell you, it FELT like I been moving through molasses and there were several times when there was literally no oxygen in my lungs.
From there it was on to a quick breakfast & cleanup and then I picked up Alex from campus to drop him off at the offsite rugby pitch for the afternoon’s matches. Then I went to buy a chair to sit in because there was no way I was going to stand all day after that run! I left the chair with him to use for future games. Normally the team plays on a field on campus right by his dorm, but for this match they were on a large group of fields near the airport. There were 2 games. The A side which was the main event and then the B side for the younger players (like Alex). They were playing Colorado State which was ranked #10 at the time. UNM is not ranked and in fact is win less within the D1a west division, but that was to be expected. Still, the A side got close a few times and (we think), the B side actually won! I didn’t care – it was just so nice to be back out there watching Alex play again in person 🙂 We had a quick dinner after and then I dropped him off to go socialize…err…party…errr..bbq…errr….well..it’s rugby! Apparently the Colorado team stayed the night and joined them at their party and everyone was “chill” and had a great time. The house where they gather is about 2 blocks from the dorms – I saw the route – it’s perfectly safe and well lit and an easy stumble back in the wee hours of the morning :)) (again, it’s rugby!)
We regrouped back at Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch on Sunday and some leisurely football viewing and then made our way out to the Sandia Peak tramway to ride up to the mountain peak and watch the sun set over the Albuquerque basin. Then we had dinner up there with a view of the twinkling city lights below. When I dropped him off Sunday night, there was not even a hint of sadness. He will be home for semester/winter break in 6 weeks and now I have seen with my own eyes that UNM really is the perfect spot for him. He’s got everything he needs either on campus or just a block or two away and the rugby team is a great match for him socially. Some of them also live on campus so he walks with them to weight training and practices and meets them for meals. The bottom lines is, they are a great bunch of guys. Fun loving of course, but also smart enough to keep priorities in order. The main reason for the party that weekend was because one of them is graduating at the end of this semester and this was his last game with the team. He’s in good hands with them.