Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon Recap
San Antonio is the perfect nudge for an end-of-year destination race. The Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon & ½ Marathon features shorts-friendly running weather, a gorgeous River Walk to traverse, and the historic significance of The Alamo. Aside from an excuse to visit this beautiful city, my motivation to run this event was to eek out one last race to gauge my fitness heading into the new year.
Given that my brother and I were in San Antonio for only the weekend, our original plan was to get in and out of the expo as quickly as possible. But as we entered in, that irresistible urge to get all of the unnecessary free stuff possible took over and we had happily spent over 2 hours wandering the expo hall.
We picked up our bibs and we were thankful that the race shirt was one that we would wear publicly. We visited the official Brooks merchandise area where we couldn’t resist purchasing a souvenir tech shirt made of a super soft material that felt like high thread count bedding. I rode a giant mechanical shoe, hung on for 17 seconds, and earned a free t-shirt. And at the Humana booth, we made giant photo printouts of our heads that could be turned into race signs to cheer us on. It was just too much fun to leave.
From “A” to “B” and hopefully not to “C”
Race day was upon us and it was a perfectly comfortable 9°C for race start. We got into one of the first race corrals and we had a little fanboy moment in being able to snap a quick #runfie with 2014 Boston Marathon Champion, Meb Keflezighi.
Standing in race corral is always a surreal moment. It’s a pause in time where I often ask myself a series of unanswerable questions: “What the frick am I getting myself into?” or “How much suffering can one endure before they explode?” or “Do goals really matter?”
With the last question in mind, I started self-negotiating my goals for this race. My “A” goal was to go for a sub 1:35:00 with my “B” goal to beat my recent Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis Montreal Marathon time of 1:37:29. I didn’t even want to think about my “C” goal that would probably involve some form of crying.
A race of three phases
Every race has multiple phases and this one was defined by my pacing, the course elevation profile, and inevitably, reality.
1: The happiness phase. As with most races, this one started in a happy place. In order to reach my “A” goal of sub-1:35:00, I needed to maintain a 4:30/K pace. The primary challenge in the first part of this race is in navigating the shortest route amongst all of the turns in the course. The first 8K were relatively flat and I was able to maintain a chipper 4:26/K average pace. An awkward grin was probably plastered on my face as I thought to myself, “Oh man. I actually have a shot at my “A” goal!”
2: The hilliness phase. As the race course zig zagged towards the San Antonio Zoo, I was warned that there would be two big hills right after one another. Assuming that this would be the worst of it, I pointed my eyes up to the top of those hills and pumped my arms to keep my legs going but I could definitely feel the burn. While I was still recovering from the first two hills, my eyes must have bulged out at the site of yet another two hills to climb as I asked myself, “Oh man. What is that “B” goal again?”
3: The hang-on-for-dear-life phase. The remaining portion of the race featured a much straighter route with minimal elevation change. My legs, however, were a little beaten up from those hills and it was a constant head game to keep pushing. My pace was slipping into the 4:40/K range and I knew I would have to fight hard for a decent time. As I headed into the final straightaway, I could see the finish line off to the distance and I imagined it as a tractor beam (I just had to get one Star Wars reference in here somehow, OK?) towards the finish.
I ended with a 1:36:45 which was a solid “B” goal accomplishment and a great baseline to work from in preparing for my first Boston Marathon next spring.
The perfect ending
This race event was a fantastic way to close out the running year. The expo was fun beyond expectations. The city provides a scenic, historical, and hilly backdrop for an exceptionally well-organized race. The course was well marked, with plenty of volunteers, great rock bands and cheerful aid stations that were on point throughout.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series sure knows how to throw on a good race and I highly recommend their events. If you’re interested in running any of their first three races in 2016 (Arizona, New Orleans, and DC), you can use promo code “ANDREWCHAK” for $15 off any full or half marathon distances.
Rockin’ and runnin’,
December 12th, 2015