Last December I won an entry into any Rock ‘n Roll race. I decided to do the San Antonio marathon to end the 2016 race year. I really wanted the marathon jacket they gave out so I thought this would be an awesome idea. Well, then I started to think some more and did a quick search for half marathons within driving distance the day before. I figured there wouldn’t be one, but I was wrong. There before me was the Spicewood Vineyards Half Marathon. At this time I was in much better shape and in a better relationship with my running, so I pulled the trigger and created my Texas Goofy Challenge.
For this trip, I headed to San Antonio on Thursday night after work. I spent most of the day on Friday enjoying touristy things and then headed two hours north to Hill Country. I stayed in a cute town called Marble Falls, which was about 20 minutes away from the race. I got in about dinner time and so the first thing I did after checking into the hotel was find food. I really did no research on this, but I ended up stumbling upon an awesome local restaurant, the River City Grille. It was an excellent place and really enjoyed my dinner.
After settling back into the hotel, I started pulling out the gear for the next day’s race. They were calling for high 40’s, wind and rain. Not ideal at all. I wanted to get some sleep, but ended up getting caught up watching Christmas with the Kranks, so it was about 11pm that I finally get some shut eye.
On the race website they touted this race as a challenging and hilly course, but being from Pittsburgh, I questioned this. There really were no course details other than it was an out and back in the part of Texas they called Hill Country. The race had an 8:30am start with packet pick up that morning at the vineyard. I got up around 6:30am and was on site about 7:30am.
I easily picked up my bib and shirt and joked with the people about the course. They warned me it was hilly. Since I had some time to kill, I just hung out in the car until about 8:10am. They had the vineyard tasting room open for people to hang out in, so I decided to hit the bathroom one last time and then headed to the road for the start.
Since this was the first race of the weekend and I had the full still to go, I had no plans to race this. In fact, I wanted to go pretty slow. I was aiming for 2:45 slow. I decided to start with 4:1 run/walk and move it down if I needed to to slow myself down. This wasn’t a huge race but had a few hundred people between the 10k and the half.
As I mentioned this race was a straight out and back. There were maybe 2-3 turns you had to take to different roads. You were definitely on country roads out there. They were paved, but you were in the country. God’s country. It was a much different feeling racing in a place like that versus a city race.
Along the course we also had 12 cattle crossings we had to go across. Since we’re basically running along the road to ranches, they said cows could be out there. They also said not to pet the cows. Boy was I disappointed. I was more disappointed that I really did not see any cows out there. I did see one when I pulled into the race who was chilling on the side of the road, but otherwise, there was not a cow sighting until about mile 8.
Within the first 2 miles of the race, I came across a guy who seemed to be struggling with a muscle issue. Sure enough as we started talking he mentioned he had pulled his hamstring but was determined to do this race. We ended up running a few miles together and ended up picking up another runner, Heather. It was nice to have some company out there as I was afraid I’d be all alone the entire time.
The first decent hill came around mile 2.5. It was a decent climb, but nothing crazy. I thought okay if this was what they called hill country, this wasn’t bad. I could do this. Along with making sure I did the run/walk, I also decided to basically walk the hills as well, even some of the downhills. I didn’t want to crush the quads any more than what was already happening.
Then around mile 4 we hit the tough part. This is when I apologized to Texas and said you win. These hills were serious. After the race a runner mentioned some of them were 5% grade or higher. I believed that. They were just never ending. You thought you were up to the top, but no, you went down a little and then back up. However, as hard as the climbs might have been, the views from the top were just amazing. Even on a dreary, rainy day.
We also had a small creek crossing along the way as well. Just before the race started, the race director mentioned the half marathoners would be doing this crossing and I had no idea what to expect. Well, in the end, it wasn’t really a true creek crossing, but more standing water along the road. They were nice enough to put across pallets for us to use. That was certainly a first.
It was so nice to get to the turn around point. However, it also was tough knowing I had the hills to get back up and over. I was tired and could already feel my legs tiring out so I really tried to slow down this back half. Truly, what was the rush to get back? At this point I was maybe 10th from last and I really did not care.
I ended up hooking back up with Heather from about 6.5 to mile 10. She was an absolute sweetheart and I gave her credit for coming back out multiple years to do this race. Just short of mile 9, I noticed there was a long horn sitting pretty close to the road! I was stoked. I had not seen any cows so to see a long horn just sitting there was awesome! Of course I stopped to get a selfie with him and then Heather snapped a few of me with him as well. Just as I got into place, he turned and posed with me.
In a weird way the longhorn gave me a little push. No idea why, but I knew at this point I could finish this race and be okay. I had a little pick up, but was still pulling back to ensure I wasn’t going too fast. Then around mile 10 though it just started raining harder. It was miserable. I started to feel even more miserable. I was over the wind and rain.
The course itself was open to traffic, but through the entire race, maybe 4-5 cars actually passed us. They were very respectful to slow down and make sure they got over. I never felt they were an issue. Then at mile 11.7, you made the second to last turn onto the road taking you back. Well, I could see some cars were coming out of the road to make the turn to the main road. As I went to make my race turn, one car just didn’t want to stop and kept coming through the gate. There was a cattle crossing and my only safe way across was the plywood they put down so I was a little pissed. Finally they realized what they were doing (maybe from my glaring look) and pulled up some and I was able to cross through. I mean come on, you are a runner, give the runners who are out there a break!
Once I hit mile 12, I felt this last mile just seemed to go on forever. Another runner caught up to me so we actually took it into the finish line together. Again, I was so happy to have the company out there. I never mind running alone, but when I was trying to slow down, the company was truly welcomed.
Once through the the finish line, I got my medal and headed to the tasting room. They had a huge spread of food. I actually was starving so I got a plate of BBQ, green beans, pasta salad & a roll. Since we were on the vineyard we also got a finishers wine glass and could sample 4 of their wines. I honestly wasn’t too interested in any, so I went for the beer. They had 2 options, which was nice. Quite the spread! I ended up eating about half of my food and taking only a few sips of my beer before deciding to head back to the hotel. I was freezing and couldn’t feel my fingers. A hot shower is what I wanted before getting back in the car & heading the 2 hours back to San Antonio to meet up with Kristy.
Overall, even with the hills, I am glad I did this race. As I mentioned, it was such a different atmosphere being out on the country roads versus in the city. The medal itself was good, the spread of food and drink afterwards was amazing and the hospitality was just fantastic. I also couldn’t say enough about the volunteers out there. They were just standing there in the rain but were so supportive at every water stop. The biggest issue I had with this race was the price. I think starting price was $80? I just think that’s a lot for a half, but I have to remind myself you did end up getting a lot at the end.
Once back in San Antonio, Kristy and I took it easy and got an early dinner of some Tex Mex. She let me pick since I was doing the full and while I went back and forth to get pasta, I said screw it, let’s eat good Tex Mex. We went to Acenar, a recommendation by Lauren, and it did not disappoint. Luckily, I ended up not having any GI issues either. Whew. We were both pretty tired so we were back in the hotel room early. I stretched and used the stick on my legs as much as I could. I was scared thinking about how my legs would be in the morning, so I just kept trying to work them as much as I could. Sleep came pretty early and so did the first day of my Texas Goofy. One day and one to go.
Official Finish Time:
20/23, F 30-34