Remember when I said Las Vegas was my final half marathon of the year? Yeah, I lied.
A couple weeks after the race, I felt the urge to run the final Rock ‘n’ Roll half of the year in San Antonio. It cost a little bit of an arm and a leg, but I loved the headliner medal for running nine Rock ‘n’ Roll halfs and was excited to see the city.
Little did I know the weather would be, well, horrible.
I got into town late Friday and worked from the hotel Saturday. It rained for most of the day. After work, I hit up the expo for packet pickup and realized just how crazy the weather was. It was raining hard, there was a ton of ponding on the roads and a decent amount of wind — Sunday’s race was not going to be fun.
After the expo, I walked over to the Alamo — the one thing I knew I had to see on the short trip. It was great walking around and reading up on the history of the place.
Then, I walked along the riverwalk for a while. It exceeded my expectations and was so cool and pretty. It’s too bad the weather wasn’t great, that would have made it even better. I popped into a bar for a couple beers before meeting up with friends for dinner. On the way, out it was dark and the trees above the riverwalk were all lit up with lights. So pretty!
We ate at a great Mexican place that ended up not being too far from my hotel. I’m so glad I got a really good Mexican meal in this trip — wish I could have gotten more. I settled into bed around 10:30 Saturday night and spent a lot of the night tossing and turning, letting my mind worry way too much about the possibility of a continuous, hard rain on race day.
I signed up for VIP for this event partially because of its indoor venue before and after the race. The fact that a bunch of runner friends I’ve met this year were also VIP sold me on it. I ate breakfast at my hotel and headed over to the other hotel where VIP was being hosted. It was less than a block from the race start and I was so happy it wasn’t raining at all on my walk over. No need to get wet BEFORE the race even begins.
Luckily, the VIP area also had the much-needed necessity for this race: plastic ponchos. Seriously, I don’t know how I would have made it through the race without that. The cost of VIP was worth that poncho alone. I’d tried to get one at CVS the night before but they were totally sold out. Note to self: Stock up on those AND buy a rain jacket for running.
I met up with up with the runner friends and after a potty break (yay indoor restrooms), we headed out the door a few minutes before the race start at 7:30.
The wind was blowing and it was raining a little and I thought “oh, no, here we go.” I threw my poncho on and got in the closest corral — it ended up being corral 7, not my designated 12.
The wind and little rain quickly died down — completely. A miracle. It didn’t rain a drop until somewhere around mile 4.5. And then, it started pouring. And the wind picked back up. For a good 3 miles. That was not fun. It was about 50 out but with a 10-15 mph wind it got chilly, fast. I couldn’t help but think that this is what running in Hermine should have been like at Virginia Beach, except warmer and windier.
I kept counting down the miles — one more mile until there’s only 6 more miles, one more mile until there’s only 5 more miles. Basically, I focused on each mile I was in and on my music (I don’t normally run with headphones on race day, but with the crappy weather knew I’d need something to help me along).
I knew I was getting grumpy when the guy running with the boombox got near me — two or three times — and I wanted to yell at him to turn it off. I just wanted to focus on my music (though I did pause it when a live band was coming up). Finally, somewhere between mile 9 and 10 the rain slowed and then totally stopped.
I kept trying to avoid puddles on the road and avoided the really really big ones, but it was impossible not to get my shoes and feet totally soaking wet. There were so many puddles and mini-rivers running down the road. At one water stop somewhere between mile 7 and 8, the volunteers were standing in ankle-deep water (while wearing rain boots) handing out cups that when tossed floated down the road in a big stream. It was crazy weather, guys.
Even with the poncho — which I’d taken off at mile 1, kept (no way I was getting rid of it!) and put back on at mile 5 — I was totally soaked. But the poncho was keeping me warm, so I kept it on. The long-sleeve shirt I’d worn over my T-shirt also came off at mile 1, and never got put on again. It got completely drenched in the downpour.
A little after mile 10, my legs began protesting. I’ve definitely tired them out this year — completely. I focused on the mile I was in and not taking walk breaks until I got to a water stop, but there were two little hills on the last two or so miles that I ended up taking walk breaks on to save my legs from hurting so much.
The last couple miles were rough on my legs, but I didn’t feel anywhere near as bad as the Vegas race, and took that as a clear sign that Vegas was just a weird race with the wedding stop and being on my feet all day before running so far in the evening, when I normally almost never run.
Still, San Antonio also clearly showed it’s time for a break from long-distance running. I finished in 2:27:59 and don’t think I could have fun any faster. The weather certainly slowed me down, as did my legs in the late miles.
After a couple hours of refueling, enjoying some beer and getting a massage, it was time to head back to my hotel, get a shower and head to the airport.
This race was really hard mentally — and even physically in dealing with the wet and cold. Yet, I still enjoyed parts of it — especially those early miles without rain. 😉
Rock ‘n’ Roll did a great job of communication leading up to the race to let folks know everything was going on as planned. I also can’t thank the volunteers and spectators enough. They stood out in the rain for who knows how long to help us all out — it really shows how much races bring communities together.
I can’t believe this incredible race year is now over, and I can’t believe all I’ve done. So what’s next? More on that later!