2021 RNR San Antonio

The week before Dallas Marathon, my friend and I continued a tradition we’ve had going since 2015 – we ran our last long training run through the streets of San Antonio. In past years, I went as part of Team Chocolate Milk and it has always been a fun way to celebrate the end of marathon training. For 2021, we both had previous registrations (transfers/deferrals) to use, so even though there was no Team Chocolate Milk, there was still a Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio to run.

We headed down early Saturday morning and had lunch on the way. We chat nonstop the entire trip, so it seems like we get to San Antonio in no time! First stop: the expo.

Now, if you’ve run this race series in the past, you would have been disappointed with this expo. It was bare, with very little merchandise, and even fewer vendors. We already knew there was an issue with the race shirts, but that wasn’t a big deal to me. There is no shortage of race shirts in my closet. But I did want to shop to replace some items that I typically purchase at expos, and that wasn’t going to happen. So we picked up our bibs and moved on.

We walked around a little bit waiting for check-in time for the hotel. Since the course wouldn’t run by the Alamo this year, we walked there.

A pigeon. Just because.

After an early dinner, we checked in to the hotel to relax for the rest of the evening.

The temperature when I woke early on race morning was already in the 70s. Sheesh. It was not going to be a faster half for me this time. Humidity was 83% at the start. The plan became to just run marathon pace and enjoy the race.

The Riverwalk is so pretty this time of year.
The photobomb! 😂

By mile 2, I was so sweaty, my tank was stuck to me. For the previous weeks our long training runs had temps in the 40s, so this was quite an adjustment. By mile 4, Garmin had my heart rate in the 170s. But it was the wear blue: run to remember mile that got me. Again. But this year, it hit different. This mile is where they line up the photos of service members lost. Each photo has name, rank, date they died or were killed in action, and age. So many. So young. And as a newer military mom, I didn’t make it through without crying. Once you reach the end of the photos, you see the wear blue volunteers on both sides of the road holding flags and cheering for all the runners. It really is something.

That really spiked my heart rate (the hill, tears, and heat) so I tried to slow it down some more and walked a little to bring it down. My legs felt good. It was the breathing (humidity) that got me. I walked a couple of times, mostly up hills, and just enjoyed the scenery.

Notice the ladies dancing on the bridge. It should take your mind off of the hill, but it doesn’t.

My finish time was 2:13 and I wasn’t disappointed at all. My face was as pink as my tank, and I was glad to be done. We grabbed our post-race snacks (but no chocolate milk) , grabbed a quick picture,and headed back to the hotel. I was in serious need of a shower.

You can see the humidity with the tower in the background.
The only finish pic we got. We dropped the ball this year!

On the trip back home, we discussed different race strategies for the marathon. I had to remind her that San Antonio’s temperature was 30-40 degrees warmer than what we had been training in, and the humidity was extra tough. It was just a training run, and we hoped the weather for Dallas would be much better.

New Year’s Day Half

It’s amazing how getting enough sleep and a reducing some life stress can impact your running.

I found this out when I ran three half marathons within 4 1/2 weeks. With RNR San Antonio, I was dealing with both lack of sleep and a lot of outside stress. My heart rate reflected it in the race too. The next weekend at Dallas, I was still managing some stress, but was doing better in the sleep department. By the time the New Year rolled around, most of the stressful issues had been resolved, and I was doing much better with sleep (thanks to the holidays). But I also had the bonus holiday joy of the few extra pounds. I’ll blame marathon recovery, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. When I scale back on running, but still eat like I’m marathon training, I start to look and feel like Stay-Puft.

I digress.

I have never run the New Year’s Double in Allen, but I’ve had friends who’ve done it. I’m usually so wiped out by the end of the year, and the weather is historically cold and nasty. Plus, I work on New Year’s Eve. The New Year’s Double is two days of races: New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. You can run the 5k, and the half or full, or just choose one race for New Year’s Eve. Then you can come back and do it again the next day.

I had a free race entry to an Active Joe race from volunteering at Cross Timbers, so I figured why not? I used my entry for the New Year’s Day race, the half marathon distance, and signed up with no other expectations than to enjoy a mid-week long run.

The week leading into the race, I was trying to clean up my nutrition and building my mileage back up. I ran an easy 6 miles with a friend the day before the half, and headed to work. I told her I was expecting to be under 2:10, but I didn’t set any specific time goals.

Race morning was a later start than I usually have. I had plenty of time to have my coffee and relax before making the 30 minute drive. I decided not to eat anything, but drank my Ucan as usual. The 5k is up first, and I could see runners on the path, and the start/finish line from where I parked. I had plenty of time to get my packet, and hang out in the car. There’s a place for a bag drop, but I left my layers in the car and took just what I needed for the race. It was cloudy, low 40s, and a slight wind kept it chilly before the start. I grabbed my throwaway gloves, my handheld bottle, and my earbuds. I felt okay, not great, but I was ready to run.

I liked the way everything was set up for this race. There are assigned corrals, even though it’s a smaller race, to help ease congestion. The course is an out and back loop on a paved park path. 2 loops for the half, 4 for the full. I was in the second corral, and it felt a little strange lining up so close to the front for a half marathon.

I started a little too fast because I was so cold. My first mile was just under 9:00. I didn’t worry about my pacing though. I needed to warm up! Miles 2 and 3 were just a touch faster – 8:53 and 8:52. I didn’t worry about it being too fast and just went with how I was feeling. I was enjoying the run.

There was a timing mat and clock for the first loop. I switched my Garmin to see total time. 59:xx. Oh wow, I could run sub 2 if I could hang on or negative split the second half. I had a new goal.

The advantage of running a looped course, is that you know exactly what’s coming for the second half – where the hills are, aid stations, road conditions. Some people don’t like those kinds of courses, but for me on this day, it’s exactly what I needed.

My mile splits were consistently just under 9:00, but my Garmin is always off. Plus there was a little tunnel we went through four times total, and it threw my GPS off. There were mile markers though, and I used those to keep tabs on my time. At mile 11, I was still on track for sub 2. A couple of times, a thought would try to creep in that it was hard, or I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I pushed those thoughts aside, and I didn’t take my foot off of the gas, just like when I ran the 10k in Dallas.

 

Focused and Flying

My breathing sounded like I was running a 5k, and in the last mile, I was completely focused on getting through the finish.When I crossed the line and saw my time, I almost cried.

Look at that halfway split!

Ok, so I did cry a little. But it was because I feel like I won a mental race more than physical. I didn’t quit on myself when it got hard. My body cooperated, but my mind was the big win of the day. I wasn’t lamenting the “faster me” from several years ago. I was genuinely proud of what I ran, working from where I am now, not where I used to be. It felt like a turning point for me. Also, 40 degrees is my jam.

To top it all off, I placed 2nd in my age group!

Cutest medal! It’s a turtle!

So, I’m excited. I feel like my year was off to a great start. I didn’t have one half marathon last year under 2 hours. The closest I came was San Diego was 2:00:53.

I can’t wait to see what else 2020 has in store for me.

Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio 2019

I know this post is a little late, but December got away from me with all the races, band concerts, and Christmas to dos. But I want to give each race its due, so expect to see some “catch up” posts in the next few weeks.

Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio is a favorite trip that my friend and I take each year. It’s a nice little quick getaway, and I get to represent Team Chocolate Milk.

This year had a little different feel to it, because we both had a lot of stuff going on. I had some stress and lack of sleep because of life stuff, and her new position at work is taking a lot of her time. So we decided we were going to just enjoy the break and relax. And by relax, I mean run 13.1 miles. 🙂

We left for San Antonio early Saturday morning, and made our way to the expo first for packet pick up and some shopping.

I think you can see how tired I am!

 

 

We decided to eat an early dinner before checking in to the hotel, because the line was pretty long. We found a new to us Italian restaurant on the Riverwalk, and it was so early, there was no wait. Then we hit up CVS for some snacks and headed back to the hotel.

It’s kind of funny, because this is the first year we haven’t really explored the Riverwalk or the Alamo area on foot. We were just worn out, so after checking in to the hotel, I kicked my feet up to rest and she worked on her computer for her job. I had one of those times when I was so exhausted that I just couldn’t sleep. But I was happy to just be still after the week I had.

The weather on race morning was a little cool, but humid. Tank top is pretty much a given in San Antonio.

We walked out of our hotel to the start corrals – 5 minutes tops. That has been one of my favorite things about where we stay each year.

Start Corral

For my longest run since the Fort Worth Marathon in November, my plan was to start conservatively and negative split to finish strong. I wasn’t sure if I could pull a sub 2 hour half, but the plan to finish strong would help me take my mind off of the time and put it on the effort. The course had changed from previous years, no running by the Alamo this year, and I think they stuck in more hills. What is it with Rock ‘n Roll Races and hills. Dallas, San Diego, San Antonio…just from my experience. But thankfully, I’ve been tackling hill repeats with one of my running friends lately, so I was prepared. What I was not prepared for was the Wear Blue: Run to Remember mile. Again, crying while running is hard. If you’re not familiar with this, my friend captured a picture of part of it. Basically it’s photos of service members we’ve lost, lined up on both sides of the road for a quarter to a half a mile. The picture also has their age and rank. As a wife of a Navy veteran, and mom to a soon to be Naval Officer, I didn’t make it through this section with getting choked up. When the pictures stop, then you have people on both sides of the road holding flags and cheering for you as you continue to climb the hill. Some of them are in uniform, some in the wb:r2r shirts. This section of the race means so much to me.

I continued to keep an even effort, not draining my energy on the uphills. My pace ranged from 9:05-9:20 for most of the miles. My plan to negative split the second half didn’t pan out, but I tried to not lose any ground. Then at mile 11, on the way up another (final) hill, I dashed into a porta potty, and lost some time. I came out and walked for a few seconds up the hill, my heart rate was so high, and then I rallied my strength to finish. Only when I crossed the finish and stopped my Garmin, did I look at my total time – 2:06:42 (official). I’ll admit I was a little disappointed with my overall time, but I sat down near a tree with my water bottle to catch my breath and evaluate the race. My heart rate had been high for most of the race. I was tired. I was under a lot of stress with factors out of my control. It was my longest run since early November. It was humid. By looking at it this way, I actually felt pretty accomplished completing the race.

I headed to the chocolate milk tent to start my post race recovery. You can read all about the science here: https://builtwithchocolatemilk.com/science/workout-recovery

Time to Recover!

 

It’s important to remember that I do this because I enjoy it. Not every race is going to be an outstanding time. Sometimes my body isn’t on board. But I enjoyed my trip, time spent with my friend, and running through San Antonio. I will celebrate my half marathon finish, and keep doing what I love. 🙂