The Half Marathon
I was up before sunrise to head to the half marathon and marathon start/finish village at the Alamodome.
These two races were clearly much larger than the previous day's 10K. Egress was very difficult. Many areas were fenced off, the walkways were narrow, and the lots were separated by underpasses requiring cramped stairway usage. It was really chaotic.
Nobody was enforcing the corrals. After I crossed the start line, the course was already filled with a number of walkers. Some were walking up to five in tandem! I gritted my teeth as I was weaving around them.
(NOTE: I elected to keep my phone in my runner's belt during the race. Therefore, all photos are from other sources.)
We ran through downtown San Antonio, passing the Alamo around Mile 1.25.
After Mile 2, I took the pace down but the discomfort didn't subside. I kept telling myself, "You're not running this for time. All that matters is getting to the finish line. Think about those medals!" Even so, I was nervous. I paid almost no attention to my surroundings, instead focusing solely on hitting the course tangents. The more you can minimize the distance, the better, right?
I think this picture was taken somewhere around Mile 3:
Finally around Mile 4, my hips and piriformis started loosening up a little. I then relaxed enough to start taking in my surroundings.
We passed by Brackenridge Park and the Japanese Tea Gardens, which were lovely:
I was trying to run up the hills in "low gear" by shortening my stride. Every time we turned a corner and saw another uphill, I heard audible grumbling and cursing from runners around me (which echoed my thoughts exactly). There was a sign that said "I eat hills for breakfast" and it made me groan. I told myself, "Come on, you can do this. Think of the medals. You want those medals!"
The crowd support at Trinity was fantastic. There were so many people lining the streets, waving signs, giving high-fives, handing out orange slices and other refreshments. The campus was pretty, too.
We ran through some business districts. Unfortunately, the temperature was rising, the sun was beating down, and there was almost no shade on the course. I don't remember much other than cursing inwardly for being overdressed and for not wearing a hat. It felt like no matter which direction I turned, the sun was glaring in my eyes.
I started counting down each subsequent mile after Mile 8. "Just five miles to go... just four miles to go... you run this distance in training all the time, you can do this." My hips and piriformis were aching, and now my feet joined in. I tried to alter my footstrike to vary the points of impact.
We ran through some residential neighborhoods filled with beautiful, stately mansions like this:
Somewhere around Mile 10, I started feeling occasional flashes of groin discomfort. What a terrible surprise. It's been years since I've experienced groin pain while running. I've since worked hard to strengthen the areas of weakness which caused this in the past. I was praying to myself, "Please, please, please no explosions! Please hang on for a few more miles!" (Looking back, I'm wondering if my attempt at altering my footstrike contributed to this?)
We ran through some nondescript, industrial areas to which I paid little attention. I saw a 40K sign and tried to calculate the distance in my head. It took me several moments to determine that the marathon and half marathon courses had merged back together. It was a nice distraction to see some of the marathon front-runners zooming by.
I knew the course finished on Cherry Street. When we turned onto Cherry Street, I didn't notice until I realized I could see the finish line looming in the distance. YES!!!
It was more of a relief than anything else to cross the finish line! My official time was 2:18:38.
I wish I had made the experience more joyous for myself. My concern over my physical discomforts overshadowed everything else. The groin pain, in particular, was unnerving. Thankfully, recovery came quickly and I felt completely fine by the next day.
I now think my mental hurdles from the idea of running a back-to-back 10K and half marathon were an even bigger obstacle than the physical hurdles. I know I could have prepared better, which would have made a big difference. However, I am not motivated right now to train for this type of challenge in the future. That is A-OK. You live and you learn.
Or maybe I should say, you run and you learn. =)
And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes my racing season for 2015. Woo hoo!!!
Cheers to a new year coming soon!