Honestly, the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon might have been my most meaningful race of the year.
After I finished it last week, I said:
The race contained many opportunities for self-reflection. I’m mostly going to reserve that story for another day so that I can digest it a little first.
With a little time between then and now, I can say that it wasn’t that it was super challenging – not any more than any other race – it was just that it was different.
In most races, I’m running with someone else. It’s a social situation. Because I have a low level of competitive drive, I mostly approach races as a way to have a good time. It’s fun for me. I’m shorter races -5 or 10k – I usually start with Kevin it another friend and then we see what happens. We rarely finish together. In longer races, however, I let whoever I’m with take the lead. If they want to go slow, I’m good with that. If they want to go fast, I do my best to keep up. Mostly, though, it’s chatting, looking around, seeing new things and finishing. I’m not there to win it and we all get the same medal in the end.
In Seattle, I kept Kevin company through his injury (which is still ongoing and hindsight dictates he probably never should have done that race in the first place!) In Vegas this year, Courtney and I spent the duration of the course catching up after years of not seeing each other.
At RnRSA, however, things were different. I was on my own and I *literally* had to run my own race. I didn’t know a single person there. Originally, Kevin was supposed to be running, but a flare up of his injury prevented that. It was hard on both of us – physically for him because, of course, he was on a lot of pain and emotionally because it was the second big race he’d missed this fall, not to mention that he’d invested a LOT of time and effort into getting better. For me, I wasn’t mentally prepared for the responsibility of managing myself and my performance for 13.1 miles. I spent a lot of time going through it – mostly unknown – in the days and hours leading up to the race. I knew I could finish, I was just fretful and how exactly.
Kevin, bless his heart, got up with me in the morning and walked me down to the start line. As in many other ways, he and I are opposites in our starting approach. He likes to be there early whereas I like to spend as little time as possible milling around. With me being the only racer on this day, we went with my preference and had a leisurely wake up and walk over.
When we got there, the corral ten ahead of mine were at the start line, but unlike Vegas, runners were moving through the start area pretty quickly. I’d say we probably only waited about fifteen minutes before it was time for me to say goodbye and enter my corral.
When I’d walked away from Kevin, I was pretty nervous and emotional. When I collected myself a minute or two later, I looked back and he was gone. I looked up the street back towards our hotel and I couldn’t see him there. It was like he disappeared! I thought maybe he’d gone into one of the port-o-potties lining the streets or that he’d taken off right away because he wasn’t feeling very good.
I got my game face on and it was almost immediately after that when we started running. It was crazy efficient – especially with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Vegas (aka total mayhem) as my last reference point.
Imagine my surprise when there was Kevin standing right on the start line waving to me. It was a wonderful and happy way to kick off the race!
I started strong and I felt really good. There wasn’t much scenic about the start of the route, but it was neat to run by well established cactuses and observe a totally different horticultural landscape. The course was super flat and took us through the city and out along some highway infrastructure for the first maybe 8km before returning us back into the city to see some of the monuments that I recognized from our bus tours the day before.
I was really excited to see this Christmas tree in Travis Park, but I was even more excited to turn a couple of corners from there and see Kevin on the side of the road, looking for me and waving.
I made a mention of how much fun it was to see him cheering us on from the sidelines in Vegas this year. And I’m going to revisit that again now. It’s one thing to go out and cheer on runners at any race. If you’re the kind of person that does it, you’re an angel and you may never know how much it means to the people you clap for, high-five or even just smile at. It is so meaningful. But if you are the friend or family member of someone who is racing, their heart may very well explode if you surprise them at the side of the road in the middle of a race. When I saw Kevin smiling and cheering and saying I was doing great, it propelled me forward, but it also made me want to cry with joy. It meant everything to me. If you get the chance, please do this for your family and loved ones. Or strangers.
We headed north from the downtown area and out toward the San Antonio Zoo. Once up there, we did a turnaround and came back through Brackenridge Park, another example of a different natural setting that was new to me. Part of the fun of running in a strange city is to see new things and this portion of the race was a highlight.
The temperature was about 21° throughout the race and very humid. Fortunately, until around this point (8-9 miles/13-15km), we’d been in the shade for most of the race. The remainder of the course would have the sun shine on us almost constantly and it would also introduce some decent elevation, though thankfully, in short bursts. We also returned to the city atmosphere, running roads from here until the end.
I mentioned a number of times that San Antonio is a city in which art is immersed at every opportunity. Whether through murals or structures, music or some other unexpected dose of beauty, the city is rich in culture.
I don’t know if I’ve ever taken a selfie while running before, but I really loved this mural!
The last miles of the race are a blur. We were mostly on neighbourhood streets with some good sponsored cheer squads working hard to keep us moving. Eventually we returned to the area near the Alamodome and I knew we were getting close to the finish.
I was spent by the time I crossed the finish line, but I was also pretty proud that I remained steady throughout the course and that I’d been consistent with my hydration. I knew I had some blisters that would be a problem and that I had to give some thought to new shoes, but I also felt strong. I’d proven I could run my own long race after all and that felt really good.
And as soon as I came out of the chute, there was Kevin waving and waiting on me. ❤️
I gathered my loot and we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the next event on our short vacation agenda.
I loved the RnR San Antonio. Of the three RnR events we did in 2018, it was my favourite. They’re all visually pleasing in their own ways, but as far as destination, organization and overall vibe, San Antonio takes the cake.