Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Race Report: 2014 Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio 10k and Half Marathon

The RnR San Antonio start line
on the morning of the Saturday 10K

I left work promptly at 4:23 to make my 6:45 flight at LaGuardia airport to head to San Antonio for half #12, state #10, and Rock ‘n’ Roll race #7 of the calendar year!  I had to make a connection through Houston (a tight one at that, with only 52 minutes of layover time) so I was skeptical my LGA flight would leave on time and make it to IAH for me to be able to make my connection.  Traffic got us off the ground at 7:30, which terrified me, but we made up time in the air and arrived at IAH right on time.  Thankfully, the inbound aircraft to take me on the short 40+ minute flight to San Antonio was a little delayed coming in from Minneapolis, so there was a bit of wiggle room.  We landed a little after midnight, and my aunt and uncle who live out in Westover Village in west San Antonio picked me up at the airport.

With Meb Keflezighi in front of
the Alamo!
The next morning, we woke up bright and early, for my 9am 10k race.  Rock ‘n’ Roll decided to do a 10k for its last remix challenge, so I was up to the task of finishing a cumulative 19.3 miles of running over the course of the weekend. My aunt and uncle dropped me off at the Alamodome with ample time to spare before my race. It was announced awhile ago that Meb Keflezighi, 2009 NYC Marathon winner, 2004 Athens Olympics Silver Medalist in the Marathon, and 2014 Boston Marathon champion, would be present to grand marshal the marathon festivities and also pace a 7:30/mi pace group for the 10k!  Not one to miss an opportunity to run with an elite runner, I feebishly joined the 7:30/mi group, knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to keep up.  But I did for the first mile!  So I can say I ran with Meb! J  The race began on Cherry Street adjacent to the Alamodome parking lot where the start and finish festival was being held and then curved in and out of streets in northern San Antonio, ultimately finishing 6.2 miles in Alamo Plaza.  There was a brisk wind at the start, but clear skies which turned the temperature up as the day went on, and kept us pretty warm as we approached the finish.  Toward the last mile of the race, I ran into Kelvin, aka Dr. Disco, who I met in Savannah!  Always a treat to see a runner as passionate as he is!

The 10K medal was fun!  Chili
peppers arranged in a floral pattern!
Meb stuck around for a photo op with fans, so I fell in line and waited for my turn.  I mentioned to him I was going to wear the Skechers singlet with the NYC skyline that he wore in the 2014 NYC Marathon in Cape Coral next week, which he thought was fun!  Shortly thereafter, I grabbed my beer, chugged it down, and then headed to the expo to pick up my bib for the half marathon the next day.

My aunt and uncle, who shuttled
me around all weekend!
The expo was pretty large, utilizing the halls quite well.  It seemed that there were other conventions happening at the same time, but the Health and Fitness Expo was sizable and made good use of the hall's space.  Practically every booth was taken by exhibitors, most of whom have been at RnR events all year round.  The highlight was the Rock 'n' Roll Series main booth, where the new Heavy Medals for the 2015 season were on display.  Boy, are they beauties.  There is a Heavy Medal for every multiple event that runners do for next calendar year, up to ten - and then one for fifteen... and they are MASSIVE, especially once you get to the 8, 9, and 10 event medals.  I am super excited to start amassing those as part of my collection next year!

Tex-Mex. The appropriate way to
carbo-load while in Texas!
I met up with my aunt and uncle after a little while in the expo and we headed out for lunch with my cousin Dottie and her husband Amadi for some great Tex-Mex at Chuy's.  After a shower and little rest, we went back on the road about an hour northwest of San Antonio to the charming town of Fredericksburg, which was settled by German immigrants in the mid 19th century and to this day still retains that character.  It has a quaint Main Street with storefronts selling unique gifts and handcrafted items, as well as breweries and wine tasting shoppes.  We had dinner at Der Lindenbaum, a cozy historic restaurant serving authentic homemade German food - I had j√§gerschnitzel with German mashed potatoes and sp√§tzle, and of course a nice sized bottle of Franziskaner Hefeweisse.  We returned back home early (with a side trip to buy a pair of really awesome cowboy boots!) since the morning would be super early for the start of the race!

My new cowboy boots!  Stylish, eh? :)
My clothes all laid out and ready
to go the night before!
The following morning, my uncle took me to the race at a little after 6.  Traffic started to become a bit of a nightmare near the Alamodome already, and I jumped out of the car to head to gear check, while at the same time being berated by a police officer who told me I wasn't allowed to unload there - oh well, I was in a hurry, it already happened... so I just kept going.  Now, the Alamodome area is massive - and the parking lot, where the start and finish line festival occurred (not to mention, the area where all the port-a-potties were), was cut off by a railroad, and runners had to go through a path underneath the railway, plus a bunch of stairs.  A planned photo with the Half Fanatics was to happen at 6:50, but that time came and went, and I had the hardest time trying to locate everyone.  I gave up and decided to drop off everything at gear check and rest up a little before the 7:30am start.  I headed to corral 11, and waited to go... it was a little after 7:45 when I finally crossed the start line.  The weather was decent - cloud cover, but no threat of rain, and maybe around 50 degrees.  Pretty awesome weather, actually.

The start line for corral 11, taken by Competitor
Group photographers and featured on the
Competitor website!  Look, it's me, front and center!

The first few miles of the race were a blur - much of it was a repeat of the 10k the day before, however, we ran along Alamo Plaza first before heading north through zig-zaggy roads around the north part of downtown. Around mile 4, we started to enter an area that was more residential and headed northeast toward the San Antonio Zoo.  At about mile 5, the urge to pee was so great, and there was finally a restroom building that didn't seem to have a line... but I disregarded the actual bathroom and went behind the building to pee.  Twenty seconds later, I was back out on the course, feeling a bit more refreshed and recharged... until I realized, we were hitting our first big hill of the race heading up toward Trinity University.
My vantage point of the start line!

I will now forever associate Trinity with having the most inopportune hills I've encountered in a race.  They were truly pretty rough.  We ran through campus and then through some affluent neighborhoods that were still just as hilly, and finally made it "out of the woods" when we made a left turn onto Main Street for a long stretch, hitting mile 7 through 9 as we reentered the central business district of San Antonio.  However, it was through this stretch we encountered some awesome crowds along the course who were cheering us on - so for that, I was very grateful.  It even helped me get some faster miles in late into the race!

We continued to zig zag on south, passing the Alamodome on the left, in the distance - which was where we were ultimately headed but we still had to go in the opposite direction before turning back around to head to the finish line.  A few more turns, and past Brackenridge High School at Mile 11 and a much needed GU stop, we finally made the last stretch, finishing mile 12 and then heading back north along Cherry Street with the finish line in the distance.  I was confident of getting a sub 2:15 half; any hopes of getting close to 2:00 were dashed by the hills at Trinity U, so any minutes I could shave off of 2:15 would make me happy.  In the end, I crossed the line at 2:10:22, currently my fourth best time of twelve halfs.  Not bad, especially after a 10k the day before!

Victory Headstand for Half #12!
I quickly retrieved my medal, and headed toward the Heavy Medals tent to get my remix challenge medal and my highly coveted "Rock Legend" medal for finishing seven Rock 'n' Roll events.  And then came the reality... gear check was in the Alamodome.  This is where I believe Rock 'n' Roll may have dropped the ball.  I know the last couple years of the San Antonio race, when it was held in November, were unbearably hot and humid, so the change of using the Alamodome for Gear Check may have been a result of that.  However, forcing runners who have just finished 13.1 miles or more to go down and up a flight of stairs in order to traverse a railroad track, then walk all the way around the building to the "entrance," then back down a flight of stairs (mind you, there are escalators in this building that they decided to turn off!) on extremely tired legs was a big mistake.  And then the volunteers manning gear check didn't even have scissors to cut off zip ties.  I was grumpy.

Showing off my coveted "Rock Legend" medal!

Super sad to be leaving San Antonio.
Until next time!
Anyway, I left the Alamodome and headed off to meet my family over near the Alamo for my ritual victory handstand photo, which i wanted with my new cowboy boots and all my medals, with the iconic Alamo in the background.  We took the photo then headed off for a quick bite to eat (steak and a massive 20 oz Margarita, yum!) and then they dropped me back off to the airport for my 2pm flight through Houston back to NYC.  And with that, my tenth state was marked off my list; half number twelve; and a great experience in San Antonio!

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