Saturday, November 28, 2009

San Antonio Rock 'n' Trot Marathon

Gail and I needed Texas for another state in our 50 State quest. And yes it will take a ka-gillion years to get them all! But we figured why not go to Southern Texas in November and get some nice weather. We don't really like huge marathons but this one fit into our schedule. We decided to fly into Austin first as I could use my travel privileges to get a us a free ticket there. Plus Olga and Larry live there so we could check out the town and get to see them for a night. Austin has like 50 bars in a 6 block area downtown. So we had some dinner then numerous drinks and had a great chat with Olga and Larry at a bar that was pretending to be Russian.

The next morning we drove down to SA. We checked into our hotel which was right on the River Walk and they said "Yes Mr. Henry we have upgraded you to the Presidential Suite". I play it cool like this always happens to me. Off we go to the 23rd floor and sure enough, we open the door and there is a 8 person dinning table with a chandelier over it. Leather couch, kitchen and two balconies. This is crazy!!! I only paid $134 for this. Well the downside was the air conditioning system on the roof above us made a racket but we soon didn't notice it.

So off to the expo we go and get our bibs. Did I tell you how I hate expo's? What a scam that is. Force you into town to spend money, no day of race packet pick up...waaaa...waaaaa.waaa! :)
But we ran into the "Prez" and "Hollywood" of Maniac fame so that was fun.

We got back to our hotel and walked the river for a bit, then headed out for dinner. It was such a nice night with temps in the mid 7o's. I so enjoyed this over the wet cool NW right now.

The next morning we had to get up around 4:30. This race had 30,000 runners in it so we had to take a bus to the start line. When we got to the bus pick up spot their must have been over 5,000 folks just waiting to catch the bus! It took us over an hour of standing in line just to get on a bus. Then it was only a 10 minute ride to the start line, but...we then had to walk about a mile to the bag drop area. They have a coral type start here depending on your expected finish time. I was in coral 12 our of a total of 38. So we heard the gun go off and they would let a coral go every minute or so. Gail and then went to use the port a johns as the crowds then rushed to start. I knew we would have tons of time so we were in no hurry to join the masses. After that we eased our way into our spot and 5 minutes later we crossed the start line.

The weather was nice for the start but we would pay later on. It was probably 70 degrees and very humid (94%). The course took us back towards the city center. I was going to run with Gail for a bit today so we could just have some fun. As we meandered through the streets some spots would have a few fans and others would be sparse. We had a band every mile but by the half way point in the race most were on break when I went by. Gail and I ran the first 6 miles together which was really nice as we often don't spend more than a mile or so together. I picked up the pace and would look behind me and she was right on my heels. "That is so cool" I would think.

Soon we headed out west of town and started to get into some nice rural park settings. Many folks complained that this was boring but I really enjoyed the countryside. The wind picked up to about 15 mph in spots here so I would try to run in a pack. I was just going to cruise this day, have some fun and finish another marathon. We lost the 1/2 marathoners at around mile 10 so the size got much better (9,000 marathoners and 21,000 halfs). I had a goal of finishing around 4:10 but I could tell that probably wouldn't happen today. As the headwind became a tailwind it got real warm. The temps were mid 70's but the humidity was the tough part. The aid stations were great. Tons of fluids, even one spot had wet sponges! I just had one hand held so I didn't take my camera on this one.(I put that on my belt).

At mile 21 I started to walk. I haven't had to walk in a marathon forever. But my training has been sort of lame the last month and I was paying for it now. I walked for a 1/4 mile then ran for 3/4's of mile. I just didn't have much juice. The last mile I ran the entire way in. I was being pushed by a woman I asked to join me as I noticed her walking. She would pass me later a few times and would invite me on with her. As we neared the finish you had to go through an underpass then back up. I so hate hills at the finish. I saw the line and still just trotted across. I finished in 4:21. That still put me in the top third of all runners and top quarter in my new "old" age group of over 50. This was about my third slowest marathon of the year with my fastest being my last at 3:52.

The finish area was huge, with wet wash cloths, water showers and a fair amount of food. I hung out hoping to see Gail finish. I am trying to stay on my feet for an hour after the race. I am hoping this will keep my blood pressure from crashing and making me so light headed. No Gail, so I walked to were we planned on meeting. As soon as I sat down she walked up. We hung out for a bit then walked the mile back to our room. It was so nice to have such a great temperature and not have to worry about getting cold.

We relaxed in the room for a few hours then headed out down on the Riverwalk for dinner. We had a nice Mexican dinner with tons of Margarita's! Here I sit with this beautiful woman, drinking huge margarita's, in my shorts and tshirt with the temp still 70+. Oh this is the life for me!

The next day we had a long one. Had to drive back to Austin and we left SA at 0430. Then we didn't have positive space tickets so we had to go stand by. We ended up on Southwest for the entire day. Our route home was Austin to El Paso to Los Angeles to Oakland to Portland. Long day but it all worked out.

As I look back I really don't have a desire to do another Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. They are too big, too commercial and way to hard to get around at. If it was my first marathon? Yeah maybe. But it was fun to have great weather, an awesome hotel room and to see some old friends. So whats up next? Not a clue. Gail and I are searching for a race in December but not sure which one we will do. Gail is tired of all the travel so hopefully we will find one close by. I don't care what it is, trail, road, combination or whatever. I am not a trail snob or strictly a road runner. Just point in a direction and say 'Go there!" and off I will trot.


Susan Kokesh said...

Sounds like a fun adventure for both of you! Great work! Those large crowds are a bit overwhelming to me as well.

Sarah said...

Congrats on another state for you and Gail! That's a good time for really humid conditions. I avoid races that require a bus to the start....NYC is probably an exception. I'd deal with the horrible start and huge crowds to do that one again.