Right after I finished running the San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll half, I decided I needed to register for another half, ASAP. I went to the most reliable source for all things running, The Twitter, and asked for some ideas. Thus the brilliant idea to register for the Shiner Beer Run Half Marathon was born. I’ve been putting off writing the recap for this race because it was both good and bad, and I can’t really decide how I feel about the whole experience. Part of me wishes I’d never signed up at all, but (spoiler alert) I PR’d, and that’s always a good thing.
I knew going into the race that it wasn’t going to be easy, due to a sore hamstring and some pretty crappy training runs in the two weeks leading up to it. But that was ok, it was just for fun, and the beer.
Shockingly, I actually woke up before my alarm to the sound of rain. I love lying in bed listening to the rain. But not on race day. Crap, now it was not only going to be painful, but it was going to be soggy. Shiner is a tiny little town about 90 minutes north east (maybe, I kind of suck at navigation) of San Antonio. My friend J and I left town around 5:30 and drove straight toward the lightening and rain. I always laugh when people ask if a race will be cancelled due to rain, but I honestly wasn’t sure if they’d cancel the race due to lightening.
We got to the Spoetzl Brewery and easily found a spot to park. I was worried about parking, since the map showed all the overflow parking to be in grass fields. Not a big fan of parking my car in a big soggy, muddy mess with the potential to get stuck. We were early enough that we were able to park in the brewery’s parking lot, even though it was so dark I didn’t know we’d managed to snag a prime spot. We hung out in the car and I told J that the rain would stop at 7:30, because I needed to pee and I didn’t think I could wait much longer than that.
And just like that, the rain stopped at 7:31. It’s like I’m magic or something! We hopped out of the car and got in the line for the porta potties. Since it was still early the line moved quickly. We went back a second time and the line was MUCH longer and I think we waited about 20 minutes.
The race start was a mix of the 5K and the half marathon runners. J and I tried to make our way up closer to the start line, but it was pretty packed and we couldn’t get very close. We started on time (maybe even a few minutes early) and J quickly left me behind. I am glad she did though, I didn’t want to slow her down and I knew I didn’t want to feel pressured to run faster than my hamstring was capable of.
I may have mentioned a few times on The Twitter that I suck at reading elevation profiles. This became REALLY obvious during miles 1-13. I knew the course had some hills, but I thought they weren’t going to be too bad. Oh how wrong I was. We’d run up and up and up and up, then a tiny down, and then up and up and up some more. And let’s not forget about the humidity, which had to have been about 130%.
Miles 1-5 I was feeling pretty good during the first part of the course. I was trying to keep a pretty slow pace, because despite the constant hills, my hamstring felt great and I didn’t want to push it and end up in pain. I averaged about 9:30 during these miles and it felt easy, I wasn’t breathing hard and figured that if I could keep this pace I’d be happy at the end of the day.
Miles 6-9 Right before mile 6, maybe about 5.5 we reached the top of one of the bigger hills, and someone had kindly written “Top of Hill.” Except that right after that was an even bigger hill to climb. I was thinking some pretty unkind thoughts. There was a water stop at the top of that hill and this is where the wheels started to come off. Going up that hill I started to feel some pain in both my knees. By the time I got to the top it was pretty awful, I wanted to cry and wasn’t sure I’d even finish.
About the halfway point we started running on a packed dirt/gravel road. I knew this would be part of the course, but I didn’t anticipate how hard it would be on my knees. I’m not sure what happened, but the pain I’d been feeling exploded and it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. I kept running, not wanting to walk, and told myself that I could take a walk break at mile 10. I didn’t make it that far, and took a walk break right around mile 9 for about three minutes. After that I started doing intervals, running for five minutes and walking for one minute. Walking didn’t actually feel any better, but mentally it helped me get through the pain.
Miles 10-13.1 (or 12.9) These miles were relatively flat, though there was a steep up right before mile 11 where the race photographer was sitting. EVERY runner ran by the photographer at the base of the hill and walked up the rest. I walked up the hill (obviously) after what I’m sure was a super dorky picture was taken, they always are.
The pain I was feeling in my knees was incredibly intense, and I can honestly say that if it had been an option I would have stopped and hitched a ride to the finish. It probably would have been the smart thing to do, I’m still not sure how badly I injured myself. These miles though…I knew it would be a good idea to quit, but mentally I didn’t want to.
I do not pride myself on being mentally tough when I’m out on training runs. The mental part of running is really hard for me, usually my mind quits long before my body does. But on Sunday my mind pushed my body to keep going. With two miles to go, I knew I was done walking and wanted to finish strong and was helped with a nice downhill stretch. For reasons I’m not going to delve into, those miles were really emotional for me, and it’s hard to run and cry, but I did my damnedest Miles 11-12.9 were at an 8:00 pace, I wasn’t breathing too hard but my knees were screaming to be done.
My official time was 2:11, my Garmin has me at 2:09, but I tend to use the official time, since it’s official and all.
The good news is that after the race we were given FOUR beers. And I’m not talking little tiny cups of beer, but four full size glasses of Shiner. Sadly I was driving and I can’t really hold my alcohol so I limited myself to just one.
Now the hard part is trying to figure out how I feel about this race. I think I’d definitely do it again, despite the life sucking humidity and the hills, because it’s very well run. And I got a PR, woot! But I got hurt too, boo.
Did I screw up my chances of running a sub 2:00 in four weeks? Probably, because I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to run it. The knees are feeling better, but I have no plans to run this week. BUT…but…This course was tough, the weather was less than ideal, I did NOT push my pace at all and I was hurting. All of those things add up to me thinking that I CAN push myself to that sub 2:00 on a good course, fully healthy and with the proper training in the weeks leading up to it. But I am not healthy enough right now to put in the proper training.
I’ve got a tough decision to make right now. I know it’s a total first world problem, but it’s mine. I don’t have a lot of time to decide on this, and ultimately if I’m not 100% healthy it is stupid to even attempt the half on January 20th.
And that’s all I have to say about that.