Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Marathon #6 - Check

Prepare yourselves.  With much council and thought, I've decided not to sugarcoat.  You want the truth, right?  Sorry ahead of time to the people of San Antonio...

My husband travels for work and so one of the reasons I choose this race was so I could travel with him during a work appointment and fit a race in.  This was one of the biggest redeeming qualities of this weekend.  We arrived in San Antonio Saturday afternoon and had to make a mad dash to get to the Expo at the Alamodome before they shut down.  Looks like we made it.  That Expo was crazy busy with people everywhere.  I wasn't much for crowd surfing, so I didn't look too close at all the boothes. 

Before I go any further I have to say that this race took a little more coordinating than the others because I got a weekend away with my husband for this race!  We left our five kids behind with my mom and sister!  I can't thank them enough!  

Back to business...

We had a blogger dinner planned with Tricia, Leah, Crystal, and Adam at an Italian restaurant right in San Antonio.  It was so fun to meet new friends but I wished we could have spent a little more time together because I didn't get to chat with everyone... make sure to check their race recaps too!  Tricia actually got to interview Meb at the Sony booth during the Expo and finished her very first marathon.  So cool.  Hopefully I'll see them at a race in the future!

During dinner I had one of those killer headaches that make you feel like you're going to throw- up.  I know, yuck.  So I didn't even really eat my dinner and took it back to the hotel.  A few hours later and after some doses of tylenol & advil, I felt a ton better - and I was starving.  So we ordered room service and I had a decent carb dinner - club sandwich and fries.  Yeah, I know, not the greatest, but I made do...

Race morning - I got ready on time, arrived at the runner drop off on time and found my corral #.  I was supposed to be in 12 but while at the Expo I visited the Pace Booth and they moved me up to 7 for a 4 hour finish pace group.

Here's the view looking ahead to the start line.  All the hotels downtown had their balconies filled with spectators. Fun.


View from behind me.  And the corrals actually wrapped around to the left for another block or two.  30,000 people is a lot.

I thought I felt pretty good that morning.  I did everything the same as I always do.  They staggered the race to help have a smooth start to the race.  However I did feel quite claustrophobic running so close to so many.  It seemed to me that this is what an open water swim in a Ironman race would feel like.  I probably got hit and bumped into over a dozen times.  I'd lift my arm to look at my watch and get hit.  I'd move a half inch to the left and get bumped.  The person to the side of me would check their watch and I'd get bumped.  And then not even a mile in we come to a set of train tracks...

Yes, that is a moving train blocking me and a thousand of my new BFF's trying to run a race.  Had to chill for a couple minutes wondering if this was a sign of things to come.

After the train passed and we started up again, I soon realized that the corral start was just about all for nothing.  Except that I learned that they did hold back at least half of the racers at the start line when they got word of the unscheduled train.  But so hard to run with thousands of people stacked up.

So onto the race.  My legs had no juice.  Even from the beginning.  The goal was 8:45's and 9:00's the first half.  If still feeling strong, continue with the same pace through the teen miles and give myself a little leeway of some 10's and 11's for the final 6 miles if necessary.  But truly I was hoping for a 4:00 to 4:10 finish time.  

I could not kick out faster than a 9:30 during the first 6 miles and by 10 miles I was at 10:00's.  My breathing was good, no pulled muscles, just no steam in my legs.  It was not good to feel that way so early on - the mental kicked in or off I should say.  

And note to RNR SA - the course was ugly.  Here's where the non-sugarcoating begins.  We were running along freeway frontage roads, under free overpasses and what I am sure is parts of town that I would not want to hang out on any given day.  We ran by the Alamo - that lasted all of 30 seconds  - and then off to more sad neighborhoods and  non-pretty scenery.  I tried to go to my happy place several times...

Only two weeks ago I was running through the gorgeous greenery of Napa and now I was out in middle of flat ugly.  Yes I was spoiled in Napa but I really was regretting not having done more research on San Antonio.  I figured it was a Rock n Roll race and that it would be perfect, I mean I did pay a grip of money, so it should be pretty near amazing and 30,000 others signed up too, so I wasn't alone.  

But to be honest, you want me to be honest, right?  I would not tell anyone to go do this race.  Is that so sad to say?  Am I going to be struck down by the RNR higher ups?  Probably not.  But it really made me not ever want to do a RNR again.  They were well staffed with great volunteers, water was there in plenty.  They advertised over 70 bands - I'm pretty sure I only saw a band every other mile.  That would make 13 bands plus the bands at the start and the finish.  And did I mention the finish was a huge ginormous cement parking lot.  So congratulations, you just finished running 26.2 miles, pull up a piece of asphalt and rest that tired body.  Seriously.

Calling it quits for the day on my soft piece of pavement.  I even wore my Red Rock Relay shirt to bring me good luck.  That couldn't even save me.

As we made our way back to our car there were lines of beer cans and bananas as far as the eye could see.  Didn't help the scenery...

We get back to our car and find this on it.

A nice little orange warning sticker over the driver's side.  I guess we missed that No Parking sign somehow.  I'm pretty sure it was supposed to read: 'Unless it is the weekend of the RNR SA'.

My husband subscribed to the text updates to know how I was doing along the course.  When I got back to the hotel we got the text that I had just come across the finish line.  Thanks for the update - an hour and a half late.

I finished with an unofficial time of 4:47 but on the website we can have a recalculated time because of the train.  So officially probably a 4:44 or 4:45.  Is that crazy or what?

After a quick ice bath, a shower, and a quick nap we went out to dinner with my cute cousin Kelli and her husband Alex and their kids.  She ran the half marathon, which was her first big race!  So proud of her.  She will back me up on the hard race day and the not so lovely race course.

So, luckily we were able to salvage the weekend.  I will have San Antonio Part II post later this week.  For now I'll leave you with this little ditty from our afternoon on the Riverwalk.  Love it!  Make sure to notice the guy on the violin - he was the best!


  1. Uck, sorry about SA - I heard that race is always a big question mark and your RR makes me never want to venture down there to run it. But it's a check mark, another marathon done, and there's something to be said about that!!! Congrats!!! Oh, and I'm glad you got a weekend with the hubby sans kiddos :).

  2. YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! Number 6 wow!! I can't believe how crowded it is! I like eating french fries before a race too! Ha! Parking police should have known not to give you a warning!! Love the video!!

  3. hey i'm new to your blog...but another dawn will be accepted here, right?

    i'm so disappointed that it was such an ugly awful experience for you. i've only been to SA once with family but it was such a nice town...i would have though that they could find a good route.

    i did run san diego rnr and they sound pretty similar, except for the train :) especially the ending in a parking lot!!! it was a nightmare. i can't even imagine someone going through that for their first marathon. yay-you just accomplished something you never thought possible, now wait in line in the sun for three hours so we can shuttle you back to the parking lot. nightmare!!!

    great race report though and i do love the honesty!

  4. This is not funny, but at the same time so funny, but THAT was EXACTLY my experience at RNR Half Va Beach. 1,000 people in each corral, dead legs, ugly as sin course.. I swore I would never do another RNR again. Yea, just put that one out of your mind and never ever think of it again.

    Congrats though, to your pushing through the nonsense.

  5. I'm not a bit offended that you didn't love SA. Though I was born there and then lived there for a few years while my husband was in residency, I would NEVER choose to live there. There are some good parts for sure--the bluebonnets in the Spring, Sea World, etc. But overall not the place to live. Thank goodness we live here, right!!

  6. wow. i'm so bummed! i mean, your time is nothing to scoff at, as it would likely take me that long to DRIVE the course... but between the parking ticket, the miller light cans, the claustrophobia, the detour through the ghetto, and the late text message... i'm bugged.

    although SO glad you met some bloggy friends. some of the people i've met through blogging have become close friends, and as weird as that seems, it's really cool.

    mad props to SnC for keeping the kids.

  7. so sorry to hear that the race was a crappy one! :( And a train?! seriously?! haha! wow...
    Atleast you got to have a bloggy meetup right?! :)

  8. Awww hun, I'm so sorry we didn't get to talk more. I didn't even realize you weren't feeling well :(


  9. Does RNR give refunds??? Would be asking for one on this race. Sorry it turned out to be lousy ... good thing you had some things to keep your spirits up (family and a few tourist sites)...Keep up the awesome work.

  10. Yeah, I'm looking forward to doing some other (half) races with pretty scenary and less ghetto AND less people and beer cans... :) Still kinda laughing about the guy with the vaseline though-entertaining for sure!
    P.S. Love the mariachi!!!

  11. Sorry you didn't have a good race! I agree the race course was kinda...lackluster, but I think not having distractions made me run faster. :)

    Great to meet you at dinner, and looking forward to reading about your next marathons! I've been to Vegas, Tuscon, and the DV area and would probably suggest Tuscon for the scenery (though, of course, depends on the area). And if you like hills and nature - Austin's Marathon has tons of both (the half just about killed me last year)!