On Sunday I ran my 14th half marathon…and boy was it a doozy! It was far from a PR but I had fun and got to see a new city in the process.
I traveled to San Antonio with my blogging friend Nicole and her fiancé Will on Saturday morning, the day before the race. We checked into our hotel, the Mariott Riverwalk, which was across the street from the expo and the start line (couldn’t have been more convenient!) and then headed to the expo. The expo was a breeze and we were in and out within a half hour. Then we headed to the River Walk for some lunch at a Mexican restaurant. The weather was perfect: 75 and sunny.
After lunch, we strolled over to the Alamo, San Antonio’s big historic attraction. It was a little underwhelming to be honest – it was so much smaller than I had imagined!
After that, we went back to our hotel to relax for a bit and then headed back out to the River Walk in the evening. It didn’t seem like there was much else to see in San Antonio besides a few other historic churches that we weren’t interested in!
The River Walk was decorated with holiday lights so we decided to do a boat tour, which gave us some of the history of the city as well. We timed it perfectly so that we got on the boat just before sunset, and there were no lines. Everyone was waiting for sunset so they could see the lights lit up – but by the time it was dark, the lines were over an hour long! I would definitely recommend getting on just before sunset, because by the end of our tour it was dark and we got to see the lights, while also avoiding the lines.
We walked around the crowded River Walk for a while trying to find dinner but there were huge throngs of tourists and long waits at every restaurant. Finally we found a deli on street level that served breakfast for dinner, and we were so exhausted and hungry that we were happy for anything at that point! Then we went back to the hotel and watched a few episodes of Friends while getting ready for an early wake-up call the next morning.
I had stalked the weather in the week leading up to the race (per usual) and knew that it was going to be hot on race day. It ended up being a predicted high of 80 for the day, but since we were starting at 7am, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad? WRONG. It was 98% humidity when we lined up at the start!
I decided to stay with Nicole for as long as I could, since I had no idea how my IT-band was going to behave and if I would be able to “race” the whole thing or if I would have to stop and walk. Nicole was planning on running the first two miles, then doing run/walk intervals of 4 minutes running, 30 seconds walking, until the final two miles. That sounded like a good plan to me since I wasn’t trying to PR. We decided to make sub-2 our goal.
Once we started running, I felt the humidity almost right away – 98% humidity is no joke! It also wasn’t a very scenic route, especially in the beginning. We were running mostly on empty streets with closed stores. A lot of the old-fashioned storefronts looked like the businesses had permanently closed down, and with the misty fog it felt like we were running through a scene of a Wild West movie.
It was a really rough first 10K…and then it started raining. The rain was very welcome by that point, since at least it cooled me down. I didn’t even really care about my pace at that point. I could tell it was going to be a difficult run!
The crowd support was great, and we ran by the Alamo (I barely saw it) and Will took some photos of us even though we missed him in the crowds.
After that we ran through a park, which was my favorite part of the course. We ran through a section of military volunteers holding American flags, which was kind of cool (and felt very Texan)…but the part was beautiful. Unfortunately, just about then, the rain stopped and it was sickeningly humid again – except now we were wet and soggy!
We also ran under an overpass with a couple dancing to Flamenco music in costume – so cool!
Shortly after that, Will spotted us again and it gave us a boost to see someone we knew.
Will also spotted this cool holiday train on the course, which I missed!
After that, it was just the final push to the end. Around 9 miles Nicole and I decided to listen to our headphones – the bands along the course were fun to hear but they weren’t really frequent enough to give us a constant boost, and we still had hope for pulling off a sub-2 negative split.
We tried to pick it up in the last 5K, and those miles were really hard. My IT-band was hurting but I decided to ignore it and just push through (smart, I know).
Finally we made it to the finish line and crossed in 2:01:58!
We were both a little disappointed to not have run sub-2, but it was such a difficult day and I honestly don’t know where we could have gone any faster. I knew going into it that the conditions of the day wouldn’t reflect my fitness, so that’s something I’m learning to accept about Texas running. I’m not sure I would be a runner if I had started out in Texas – and as it is, I’m finding it hard to keep up my motivation on the hot and humid days (of which there are many!)
We collected our medals and headed to the Finish Line Festival, where there was beer (which we didn’t take) and rock bands playing music, which was fun. We didn’t stay too long since we were cold and our clothes were still rain-soaked, but we could hear the music from the balcony in our hotel room so we weren’t far from the party!
After showering and a little stretching and recovery (Will thought my leg-up-the-wall recovery pose was so funny that it warranted a photo for the blog!) we headed to Chipotle to refuel, and then made the 1.5-hour drive back to Austin in the afternoon.
I was glad to have the excuse to explore San Antonio and Rock n’ Roll races are very well organized with great music and crowd support. Although the course was flat, I didn’t love the scenery, and I didn’t love the weather (although that was out of anyone’s control, of course!) It was a fun weekend trip and I’d like to go back to San Antonio to be able to experience the nightlife, which we didn’t get to do this time around since we were in bed by 10pm.
Last year, Rock n’ Roll had a special medal for runners who did both the San Antonio and Dallas races. I haven’t heard anything about that this year but I might run Rock n’ Roll Dallas anyway – I love a weekend racecation!
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