"You have to respect the distance."
That sentiment was expressed to me close to a year ago when I fancied I could handle the White Rock Marathon in Dallas. Instead, I opted to stick with the White Rock Half, and I'm glad I did; 13.1 miles really kicked my butt last December. After missing the boat for the Austin marathon in February (for which I am still thankful; it was COLD that day), I vowed to complete at least one marathon in 2006.
White Rock was a strong contender until my ("volunteer") position with the Steele & Clemens swim teams came along, so I backed it up a few weeks and signed on to do San Antonio, in spite of the ill I had heard after last year's disaster of an event, complete with awful weather and an even worse 2-loop course. The 2006 San Antonio Marathon was held today, November 12, and I don't think I could have asked for a much better baptismal marathon. Here's how it went.
Perfect weather (clear-to-over cast skies with temperatures in the 40s at the race start, high 50s at the finish) and a new single-loop course. The course was slated to begin in Alamo Plaza, wind through the King William area, then hook up with the Mission Trails to take runners past all five of San Antonio's Missions. The "running tour of San Antonio" aspect really worked to my advantage, as, at the start, Just before the start, I met a guy from Connecticut who was here to run the race and then tour San Antonio with his family for the next couple of days. He agreed to pace me (3:30 was our target finish), so I played tour guide as we made our way around town.
Long lines for the 2649 race participants -- 30 port-a-potties for greater than 2500 race participants, plus spectators. Incidentally, of those who finished, only 965 were there for the full-bore marathon; 1684 did the half. I also didn't care for the options of only water or Gatorade at the aid stations. In my old age, I've grown not-fond of the ultra-sweet taste of Gatorade whilst running (or cycling, for that matter). Since Hammer Nutrition was a sponsor, I'd fully expected to see HEED on the course. Further, something other than water or Pepsi products (no Gatorade this time) to drink at the finish would have been nice, too. (Can you tell I post on SlowTwitch?). Oh, yeah -- $10 for parking at the Alamodome?! C'mon, guys...hide that crap in the race fee or something.
Mid-course nature breaks aside, the grimace on my face at mile 23.whatever when my right calf cramped could not have been pretty. Also, while technically after the race, some guy was side-swiped in the parking lot. I didn't see the crash, but I did see the impacted car spinning after the distinctive sound of screeching tires and scraping metal. To make matters worse, that car was a rental, and the guy who'd just finished the full marathon was not happy. I'm just glad my race finished better than his. Incidentally, neither driver was injured.
Total time: 3:31:00.3. Pace: 8:03.2 min/mi. Placement: 14th AG, 101st gender, 119th overall.
The Thank Yous
Obviously, all of this is D---'s fault. Yes, I now respect the distance and look forward to respectfully running Austin in February 07. However, I could not have kept anywhere near that pace today without the guidance of P---, vacationing running dude from Connecticut. Mad props, too, to the countless volunteers (outnumbered race participants, I'd wager) who helped keep everyone on the course hydrated and motivated.
And there you have my final race report of the year. My 2007 season is beginning to take form, with early contenders being the Austin Marathon in February and the PlayTri half-IM in April. I'll likely do CapTexas again in May (great way to end the school year) and Small Texan in July. The late season will be decided, based largely on how I do at PlayTri and CapTexas. But more on that another time.
As always, thanks for reading. //d