San Antonio Marathon 2018

San Antonio – Marathon # 59

I had no idea what to expect for this marathon.  This was my first Texas race.

We arrived in San Antonio with beautiful weather.  No rain and in the 70s. The extended forecast was a high of 77 degrees for race day.

I was hoping that we’d be done before the sun baked us! 

The Expo:

I was not impressed with the Expo. I have been to big races like Boston and much smaller races but this race expo was a bit disappointing.  Not a lot of freebies, and sort of hard to find. We didn’t have any signs to direct us so instead we just followed the other runners hoping they knew where they were going.  I also had on shoes from traveling and with my feet swelling I ended up with a huge blister on my heel.  I ended up playing a spin the wheel for a prize and I ended up getting a first aid kit that came in handy! One nice surprise was on the way out we got to see Meb and Desiree speaking.

The race app left a lot of unanswered question like – Where to park for race morning?  There was an option to purchase parking but when I when I went to purchase it they were sold out and it did not indicate where the location of the parking was. There was also nothing on the app to instruct us what happens if the pre-purchased parking was sold out. I had no clue what the race morning would be like but from what I read we would be safe as long as long as we got there early enough before they closed the streets.

The start:

When we finally arrived at the start, the logistics were extremely easy with very large signs directing runners where to go.  We found where to have our gear check before we headed out to our corral. I dropped my bag and the sign above my drop area was “A-Daw” for my last name and Kim and Uncle Charlie kept saying “a duh” after that.  The girl that took my bag didn’t get it and looked a bit puzzled.  Before I forget, when we went to get our gear post-race, every runner that came, the volunteers all applauded for us. That was pretty cool!

It was still dark out when we got to our corrals.  We found a spot to stand next to a bridge and I looked down and got to see the famous River Walk lit up with Christmas lights wrapped around the long branches of the trees.  It was so beautiful.  I wish I knew what type of tree was so I could describe this better.  I remember thinking “I can’t wait till the finish so we could explore this beautiful area! 

We moved up to our assigned corral and that’s when I noticed there were only 3 corrals for full marathoners and the rest were for the half marathoners.  I’m not sure how many half marathoners there were but we walked by corral 22.  There were a lot more half than full. 

Kim and I were corral #1.  We stood there chatting with other runners and suddenly it got quiet.  It’s funny, typically we hear the announcer introduce the singer for the “Star Spangled Banner.  Not at this race.  It was when all the runners stopped talking and silence fell over the crowd when we realized the Star Spangled Banner was being sung.   

It was as much as a surprise that the horn went off and we started to run.  We ended up running with the 3:40 pacer.  I felt pretty good considering that we were only running once per week since we ran NYC in November.  I almost felt that we were running slower than usual. It was good a good pace.  We chatted with some of the runners.  One runner that I immediately reached out to was wearing the “Texas Beef Eater” shirt (an all meat athlete).  I asked him to share what he was supporting and he told me that he was racing for this team that was pro meat eating and the importance of the clean meat he was supporting.  I noticed he was sweating pretty badly.  This dude was at least 6 feet tall. I was thankful that the heat did not affect me yet at this point.

There were mariachi bands that were about every 100 feet just after we started.  It was like as soon as one band finished playing music the next band would take over.  I LOVED this part.  I was smiling and just loving this Texas marathon, so far….   

We continued into the park where this was absolutely beautiful.  The trees lined the path on both sides something like “the mall” in Central Park. Kim noticed all the little train tracks that made him think of Uncle Charlie and the train cars that he builds. He couldn’t wait to finish and tell him.

The colors of the trees were orange and the leaves were falling like in CT.  I’m not sure if Texas has a fall but if they do this certainly looked like it.  The scenery made running on the path effortless.  This section reminded me a lot of the course in Minnesota.  We eventually got to the fallen hero’s section where the path had photos of soldiers that lost their lives to defend our country.  I tried to count them and to make a point to look at each photo and how young they were.  It was so emotional.  I kept thinking that these young kids sacrificed their lives for our freedom. After the photos,  the path was lined on both sides with people holding the American flags and cheered for us.  There was so much cheering and crowd support going through section.  It made us almost forget we were running. (Almost….)

After we left the park, I maneuvered to the front of the pack of the 3:40 marathoners and met Cam, the pacer.  I asked him what he typically ran.  He told me that he runs a 3:00 marathon.  He also just ran the NYC marathon and wasn’t sure if he should commit to another marathon so close after.  We shared stories for a few miles until I had to stop for a bathroom break. I was still feeling pretty fantastic after and continued on our journey. 

We got to the ½ marathon split and I thought to myself, I feel pretty awesome. I think this is going to be another 3:40 marathon.  Little did I know that the hot Texas sun would come out full strength and this changed my expectations.  I said to Kim, “Maybe we should slow down our pace and shoot for a 3:45”.  Kim said “Let’s just run in the groove and whatever we finish we finish”

I have to admit that I looked at the results for the 50-54 female age group and know what they did last year.  I had been running this pace the last few marathons and felt that I may place based on the last races.  Then it hit me around mile 16.  I started to have a real difficult time.  My breathing was off.  I was having pains in my ribs and shoulder.  Of course in my neurotic world I was having a heart attack.  I said to Kim, “I am having that pain in my side.  It hurts to take a deep breath.  He said, let’s walk and see how you feel.  We did this on what I called “the concrete path that never ends”.  When I say it never ends, I mean it.  It reminded me of Big Sur. When you turn a corner, there it was another incline to nowhere.  I really hated this part.  The sun was out at full blast.  We were running directly into it.  This went on for about 5 more miles.

We did a walk/run though this section.  When the pain subsided I ran and then walked when it bothered me again. 

Finally we were off that path.  We were now on the streets that reminded me of the end of San Francisco.  Industrialized concrete jungles of long straightaways that seemed to go on forever!  Kim and I continued to walk/run from light post to light post, then from light post to yellow signs that looked like the shirt Uncle Charlie was wearing.  From this point on it was all about survival and finishing.  It took everything I had inside me to keep going.  I pictured myself having to DNF. Kim was optimistic.  He said no way,” we can walk from here and finish”, and he took my hand and we walked.  I looked at him, smiled and thought “I just love this man”.  Having him say that made it all “okay”. 

Then we started to play the game, “Let run to that light post and then we can walk again”.  As we approached the light post, Kim would ask “are you okay”?  Then I would say, Yes, let’s keep running to the next” and we kept running.  This went on for some time.  Like I mentioned earlier, we switched into survival mode.  It was all about finishing now. 

We got to a section that we had to down under a train over pass.  When we crested the top where the mariachi dancers were dancing on the overpass.  It was so cool.  Then I started to fail again.  Kim was pulling away and I started to run with a woman that had the Texas flag outfit on.  We chatted for a bit and she said “I live in Austin and it’s much warmer than usual”.  There was a turn around and I started to walk. Kim was already on the other side and when he saw me he said “I’ll be walking and waiting for you” and as soon as I got to the turnaround I started to run again. 

There was a dude from Mexico that I noticed that we would pass him, and then he would pass us.  I started to chat with him and he said “I’m not used to hills. I talked to him here and there and mentioned how he thought this such a tough race.  I totally agreed. 

Kim and I did a walk run until about mile 25.  We were now in neighborhoods.  There were families out on their lawns cheering us on.  I noticed the dude from Mexico was walking and I said to him, “come on, lets finish, and we all started to run together.  Toward the end Kim said to me, “do you want to walk?” and I said, “No, Let’s just get it done”!

The last mile was nothing but mental toughness.  My legs, my body, and my mind had, had it.  I turned the timer on my fit bit to a minute to just get me through until the end.  Kim said to me “look for Uncle Charlie” as he was wearing a bright yellow shirt.  I started looking on both sides of me for Uncle Charlie until I heard Kim yell, “Uncle Charlie” and I saw him like the best thing that I saw all day. There he was with that smile!  The absolute best crowd supporter EVER.  He had been there 4 long hours waiting for us.  He should had gotten a medal! 

Kim and I finished holding hands and I have never been so happy to get that medal.  I had serious doubts that I would finish.  I said to Kim “I will NEVER run this race again”.  I HATED it!!!  I told Uncle Charlie that it was the worst EVER.  We took photos, went down on the River Walk, had a boat tour and then delicious Mexican food.  I had a beer and a margarita.  Then it happened. I can’t believe what I just said “I can’t wait till next year”?? Everyone looked at each and kinda just chucked and shook there heads.

We got home and I was looking at race results.  This was a marathon that I really struggled to finish.  It took everything that I had.  Kim had mentioned “Jeanne, you should see if you placed”, and I said, I highly doubt I placed.  He said “if you struggled probably everyone else felt the same way with the sun”.  When I looked up my time I found out that I came in 3rd for my age division.  WOW!  Are you kidding me???? For all the walking (and crying) that I did, I never expected to place.  Next year, new age division, better planning, I’m totally coming back!

Uncle Charlie, Bonnie, Glen, get our room ready!  We are coming back!

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