When the alarm went off at 6:15am on race morning for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon, I rolled back over. Then it went off again at 6:30am and I couldn’t avoid it any longer. It was time to get up. I truly had no idea how the legs would feel, so I was a little apprehensive rolling out of bed. Luckily, I swung out the legs and they felt better than I thought they would. Whew. This was a good sign.
This was going to be day 2 and the harder part of my Texas Goofy. I kept doubting myself that this wasn’t going to happen, but when I woke up and was walking pretty normal and with the worst pain just in my left quad, there was a little hope that I might be able to do this thing. The weather was still calling for rain most of the morning but a little warmer than the day before. I planned to basically with the same type of outfit the day before: shorts, a short sleeve shirt and my New Balance jacket.
The race started at 7:30am and since we were just a quick 3 minute walk to the start line, we decided to leave around 7am to walk over. If it was pouring I was going to leave later since I was technically in corral 17 and Kristy was in corral 2. It wasn’t really raining, so I went ahead and left with her. As we hit the elevator we both sort of looked at each other and said we both needed to hit the bathroom one last time. After a quick pit stop in the lobby bathroom, we headed outside toward to the start line area.
The road by our hotel lead us to corrals 6-8. After a quick good luck and good bye, Kristy went right up to Corral 2 and I sort of just hung there. I noticed that there were no people policing the corrals like I have seen for other Rock ‘n’ Roll races so I had three thoughts: 1) Turn left and walk all the way back to corral 17 2) Stand there until corral 17 went by and hop in or 3) Just hop in corral 7 area and start there. Now, I am not one that condones starting in a higher corral, but honestly, I wanted to just start this race and get it over with. The biggest push to get it over with was also the idea of a shower. We had a 2pm check out and if I could start as close to 7:30am and banking on minimum a 5:30 marathon time, this was cutting it close. So, there I was. Sitting in corral 7 waiting for the starting gun to go off.
As we waited for the gun to go off it started to drizzle. Since I was standing next to the corral fencing, I made a quick friend with an umbrella and hung out under there until it stopped raining. Luckily they were able to start on time and by 7:37 I was across the start line and on the course for marathon #8 and 6th of the year.
The plan for the race was going to stick to my 4’/1′ run/walk for as long as I could. If I had to go down to 3’/2′ then I would or just walk if I had to. As we started, because I was in a higher corral, I moved over to the right as far as I could. I honestly didn’t feel bad about this as there were so many others not from those corrals starting at the same time. The first few miles you wind through downtown, past the San Fernando Cathedral and over the riverwalk 3 times. As I started up, I didn’t feel as bad as I thought I’d feel, but it was pretty crappy.
Around mile 3.5 you pass The Alamo. Of course I stopped to get a picture of myself, but they also have official photographers out there for you to stop and grab your picture as well. It was also around miles 4-5 that it started raining. I had had enough rain with the Spicewood Half the day before, so I was not in a happy mood when it started. I pulled up my hood and just kept moving forward though. Despite the rain coming, there was still a good amount of crowd support out there. Miles 2, 3, and 4 were 3 of my fastest miles of the entire race as 11:58, 11:38 and 11:38, respectively.
Well, the soft rain started coming down harder and harder through these miles. My miles splits were slowly slipping but stayed in the low 12’s. Mile 5 was actually nice because you run through the Pearl District. There is a brewery there and there was certainly an appeal to stop and just throw back some beers. Thankfully this was a pretty good crowd support area. The one bad part though is that cars were not fully cleared so you were squeezed together in one or two spots. I actually went up on the sidewalk for one stretch.
Miles 7 and 8 would have probably been my favorite on a gorgeous sunny day as we went through Brackenridge Park. However, on this crappy rainy day, they were just interesting. As you start into the park you cross the San Antonio River. It’s funny it’s called a river because it’s really just the size of a creek in my opinion. Well, not today. It was raging! Just before the river crossing through they had a water stop and all you could see was a steady stream of cups going into the river. That was poor planning for sure and was sad to see all of the cups getting swept into the river.
As we went through the park, the river was on the right side for a half mile or so. I looked over and it was just raging way higher than I am sure it typically is. Another couple of feet and we’d probably not have a course to run in some spots. This is also though where some pretty big puddles came in and inevitable could not avoid the feet becoming soaked. Misery level was growing and so was the pain.
It was during these miles that the wheels started to come off a bit. At the end of mile 11 there was an ever so small hill before you turned right toward the half/full cut off. Now, under normal circumstances, this hill is a joke. Considering the hills that I had run before, anything that wasn’t flat was basically like Mount Everest for me. My legs were jello and knowing that the half/full cut off was coming was toying with my mind.
I kept saying to myself if I was hurting to the extreme and didn’t feel that I could finish, breaking off to complete the half would be better than a DNF. Well, as we came to the split, volunteers were pushing marathoners to the left side. I told myself suck it up, make it happen and just finish. Even if it took you 6 hours or more, I was focused more than ever to actually finish this marathon. A random volunteer as I passed by the split handed me a salt package. I figured it wouldn’t hurt, so I pretended in my mind I was following it with some tequila and off I went to complete the rest of the miles.
I started chatting with some ladies at the split and explained I had run a half just the day before and their comments to me really gave me a huge push! Just what I needed when I was starting to feel down and out that I might be pulling a DNF. Just after mile 14 you started the almost 5 mile out and back portion of the course. It really was a kick in the gut as I was just starting this and the top marathoners were running past to mile 24. I knew I had almost 2 more hours before I would be there. That was tough to digest.
It’s definitely a kick in the gut when you see have a good 4-5 mile out and back where you are seeing everyone going back with only 2-3 miles to go and you still had 2+ hours to go. However, I will say, most runners were pretty awesome and were cheering all of the runners on. That was a huge boost to have that. This was also an interesting part of town that we were running in. There were still spectators out there, but some parts just definitely seemed to not be the best. At one point I think I saw a random yard with a few donkeys in it. Just random.
It was during these late miles that I started to drop the 4/1 ratio and moved more toward a 3:30/1:30 and even a 3/2 at times. And at some point, I just walked to a sign and started running. From miles 17.5 to 21, we ran through the out skirts of the San Antonio Mission National Historical Park. It was also in these miles where it started raining again, but luckily it did not last long. About mile 19.5 I had my come to Jesus moment. My legs were hurting. My back was hurting. My hip was hurting. I did not want to be on this course anymore. The crappy part was that I was just out there in the middle of no where. I told myself to buck up because I had just about a 10k left. Somehow it worked and I was off for the last part of the race.
So all that stood between me finishing this Texas goofy was about 10k left of pavement. As I was now heading toward the finish line, there were still a lot of runners headed out toward the turn around. Of course, just like the runners did for me, I cheered them on and even gave a few high fives. What’s amazing though is they cheer for you right back. Running is truly a supportive sport and this race really showed that. Around my mile 23 I saw the last marathoner with all the trucks and police cars lined up behind her. She was smiling and looking to still have a good old time out there. It was around her mile 15.5 and kept one foot in front of the other. All of the city truck workers were cheering the runners on and were enjoying our slow parade. Then all of a sudden some spectator handed me some jolly ranchers. Why, yes sir, I will take that sugar and enjoy it!
As I was coming out of the out and back portion of the course, I shared about a half of mile with this couple. It was his first marathon and he was doing so great. He wanted to quit, but he kept going and was cursing himself for drinking one night and agreeing to run a marathon. I told him, well, I must be permanently drunk because this was my 6th of the year and I had run the half the day before. His reaction was priceless but also gave me a huge momentum boost to hit the last miles.
The second little hill came around mile 24.5. Let me tell you, again it was a joke of a hill because it really wasn’t a hill, but I was done. I wanted someone to carry me up, but no one was around. For the last mile or so we ran through Southtown. This was made up of some gorgeous houses and a fair of amount of spectators drinking beer. I was slowly still moving along, but the walk times were increasing every break. At one point we came to second to last turn and had to go left to do about a 50 year turn around. From there there was one more turn and you were at the finish. I actually wasn’t computing how close I was though. It was hitting me I was around mile 26, but not sinking in.
Then I saw it. The finish line was like a lighthouse on a stormy night. It was there and all I had to do was get there. At this point everything hurt and I was starting to cry. Those last 200 feet were painful and yet some of the most memorable steps I’ve ever taken. I know so many people go out and do their own little Goofy’s or even do back to back marathons, but this was something I had set out to do a year ago and was literally seeing the finish line. With all of the doubt I had prior to the race weekend and even during the races, I was finishing with so many tears in my eyes and joy in my heart.
As I made my way through the finishers chute, I could tell I was wearing the biggest smile. I was kinda of hobbling along and had no real time to stop. My first goal was to the finishers area to pick up my marathon finishers jacket! From there I had to ‘sprint’ to the hotel to ensure I got a hot shower before leaving for the airport. I was starting to really get cold and the shivering was not stopping. Slowly I made my way back to the hotel. I stopped at the lobby to ensure the hotel key would work as I didn’t want to get up to the room to only have to come back down. While I was in the lobby though, I nearly got a standing ovation from visitors hanging around. Everything was cheering for me like I had just won. Certainly I was far from winning, but their kindness only made me realize I did complete something amazing today and I should be proud of myself.
Overall, the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio marathon was more than just a marathon. It happened to be my last race of 2016, my 6th marathon of the year and certainly the most fierce challenge I’d completed to date. It provided an opportunity for me to prove to myself no matter what, I can do anything I set my mind to. Even with the rain, there were still bands out there rocking away and lots of spectators to cheer you on. I couldn’t have imagined any other race to end my 2016 races.
Official Finish Time:
134/191, F 30-34