Way back in August, Whitney convinced me that running a half marathon relay in November would be a good idea. After all, it was split in such a way that she would be running eight miles, and I only had to run five. Sounds easy.
We got to San Antonio on Saturday, with the race on Sunday. After a nice lunch, we headed to the expo in the Alamodome. The Rock ‘n’ Roll series is a very large race series, so they were expecting at least 20,000 runners. The expo was kind of insane, taking up the entire Alamodome floor. We probably spent two or three hours just wondering around looking at all of the stuff.
After the mile walk back to our hotel, we just kind of collapsed for a couple hours. We were waiting for Whitney’s friends to get into town and make it through the expo. One of them was running the half marathon and one was running the full. Neither sounded like fun to me.
We all got together for a nice dinner. I tried to eat fairly light food, because running on a stomach full of last night’s greasiness never works out well for me. We headed back to the hotel and turned in for an early night.
The alarm went off bright and early at 5:00 a.m. The weather was cool and misty. The humidity was high, but the temperature made up for it. All in all, it was a perfect morning for a run.
We found the corral Whitney and her friend were in. There were people everywhere. It’s hard to imagine 20,000 people until you’ve experienced it. We waited for a port-o-potty for a good twenty minutes (and there was a huge line of them). It was disgusting, and I’m glad Whitney told me to bring Kleenex. Ew.
After that, I left Whitney and went to the relay transition point at mile eight. We got there in time to see the half marathon and marathon leaders run by. They were running around five minute miles and looking like they were out for an easy jog. Must be nice.
I knew Whitney was going to be running faster than her usual pace, but she still surprised me when she entered transition. She was flying! I took the drum stick (our relay baton) and headed out. The amount of other people on the course (the “traffic”) was huge. I was constantly running in a mob.
My first mile, when I was still hyped up on adrenaline and excitement, was my fastest ever at around 12:39. I was feeling good. Starting into the second mile I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep the pace, not if I didn’t want to die of a heart attack.
By now, the sun had burned off the mist, and the temperature was rapidly climbing. It wasn’t so bad in the downtown area, where the buildings blocked most of the sun, but once we got out into the residential areas, the heat was brutal.
At one point, a woman sideswiped my arm. I didn’t think anything of it and kept running. Time tends to stretch when I’m running, and a minute takes forever, but I run until my interval timer in RunKeeper tells me it’s time for a walk break. This interval seemed interminable.
I finally broke down and walked. I checked on RunKeeper to see how long I had left in the interval, only to find that the woman who brushed against me had managed to shut down RunKeeper. I must have left the screen on in my haste to get started, and she hit the screen perfectly to turn RunKeeper off. I restarted it and kept on.
By mile four, I was paying for my earlier exuberance. The sun was fierce and the people around me, most of whom were running the whole half marathon, were slowing down. I had a permanent side stitch from running too hard early in the race.
As we closed in on the Alamodome, I started to perk up. This misery was almost over. In one final attempt to break us, there was a steep hill just before the mile 13 marker (mile 5 for me). I tried to run it, but only made it halfway. I was spent.
The last tenth of a mile was a straight flat run to the finish. I was tired, but no way was I not going to run across the line. I started looking for Whitney and Dustin in the massive crowd lining the street. By a stroke of luck, I saw them both, and that gave me the extra motivation I needed to sprint to the finish.
Crossing the finish line was amazing, mostly because it meant I didn’t have to run anymore. Staffers were handing out medals and wet towels. The temperature had climbed into the 80s, and I was drenched in sweat, so a cool towel felt heavenly. There was a crush of people trying to exit the finish chute. I managed to get a drink and some food. The crowd spit me out, and I met up with Dustin and Whitney.
The walk back to the hotel wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I got to shower and clean up thanks to a late checkout. I put my medal on over my normal clothes. I worked hard for that medal, and I was wearing it for as long as possible.
We had burgers and fries for lunch. Nothing had ever tasted better. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by the Alamo and took pictures with our race medals:
Overall, I had a PR for the mile and the 5k. My pace, 14:48, was a PR for a five mile run, and one of my fastest for any distance.