Rather than running the steamy (80 degrees, 80 percent humidity) San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon last Sunday as is customary, I bailed. Although I’ve missed more than my share of races due to injuries, I have never just sat out a race for which I was fit and ready to run.
But, when I stepped outside on Sunday morning and checked the temps (already mid-70s) and felt the oppressive humidity, I simply decided to go back to bed. It wasn’t just that I couldn’t run my best; I didn’t know if I could survive the heat and make it back to the finish line in one piece.
After six months of hot weather races, I didn’t want to struggle through one more. So I pulled the plug and never regretted it for one moment.
My many friends who decided to ski the conditions and gut out San Antonio suffered greatly and were anywhere from 10-20 minutes off their norm. One friend—an experienced 2:45 marathoner who has run every San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll—said the conditions on Sunday were worse than the 2012 Boston which new standards for heat-induced misery. My buddy, much tougher than me, somehow still finished the marathon in 3:18 which was off by nearly 30 minutes.
I had also run the first five San Antonios and with the exception of the first one, the rest have been brutal, due entirely to the conditions. After last year’s debacle, the San Antonio organizers (the Competitor Group) tried to do the right thing and move its date to early December, but were thwarted by the Dallas Marathon with whom they had a contract that said they couldn’t compete for that date.
But on Friday, Competitor Group VP Tracy Sundlun told me that next year’s San Antonio date will be December 7th. That should mean better weather in San Antonio, but it also means a direct clash with Dallas—and closer to home, the Decker Challenge. (Decker could move a week up or back, but the new San Antonio date will still have an impact.)
Runners from the Metroplex are a huge draw for San Antonio and the new date will mean folks are going to have to choose between Dallas and San Antonio. Not to mention Decker.
O Even though I wimped out, plenty of Austinites stayed the course and ran well. In the marathon, Moses Luevano of Austin was second in 2:34:44 with Jeremy Daum of San Antonio third in 2:39:37. Jena Kincaid, a 25-year-old teacher from Cedar Park, won her second marathon this fall in 3:05:11. (She also won the first Hill Country Marathon last month.) Erin Ruyle of Georgetown was seventh in 3:24:39. Age group winners in the marathon included Paul Frost of Schertz (40-44) in 2:55:52, Consepcion Puga of San Antonio (w 40-44) in 3:58, ( Lisa Mazur of Austin was second). Peri Kowal of Austin won the (w 50-54) in 3:54.
O In the half marathon, Rio Reina of Austin had the fastest time of any local with a 1:10:38 to take home fifth. Jennifer Fisher of Austin—a masters– was the seventh woman overall in 1:29:20. Danny Spoonts of Conley Sports ran a great 1:29:28 to capture his (60-64) division after working the expo for two days. Rick Naylor of San Anton took the 65-69 in 1:46:27.
O BTW: Michael Wardian of Arlington, Virginia, who won the marathon in 2:31:19, joined about 100 others who hopped a plane right after the San Antonio race for the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon that very evening. Remarkably, Wardian ran Vegas on Sunday night in 2:57:56.
O The horrendous weather in San Antonio clearly took its toll as the numbers for the race were way down. In the inaugural year of 2008, 30,000 ran San Antonio. This year, 2622 were in the marathon and 14,427 ran the half. Huge numbers to be sure, but it’s total of 17,049 was well below expectations.
O Marielle Hall, the UT senior who won the Big 12 cross-country title two weeks ago in Waco, returned to the same 6000-meter course in Waco last Friday where she repeated as South Central regional champion in 19:40 (two seconds slower than at the Big 12s). Said new UT distance coach Brad Herbster: “Marielle’s really buying into the idea that she’s one of the best in the country.” Unfortunately, Marielle couldn’t lead her women’s team to an NCAA berth as the Longhorns finished fourth. Hall will still go to the NCAAs on November 23rd in Terra Haute, Indiana. She’ll be joined by the UT men’s team which bunched four runners in the top 10 (and all seven in the top 25) to finish just three points down to Arkansas and clinch a spot in the NCAAs for the sixth straight year. The Longhorns were led by Ryan Dohner (third) and Craig Lutz (fourth) who finished in identical times of 29:52 for the 10,000-meter course. Chris Galvin was seventh, Mark Pinales was 10th and Eduardo Rodriguez was 13th.
O While Pinales was running Waco for UT, his girlfriend—Alli Mendez, a former UT distance runner—was in Philadelphia where she punched her ticket to the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials which could be in Houston again. Mendez, 25, placed fifth in the Philadelphia Half Marathon in cool, cloudy conditions in a Trials qualifier (and PR) of 1:13:46.
O Plenty of other Austinites chose their marathon well and ran Philly (a vastly overlooked race). My buddy James Allen—all of 54 years—ran a ballsy 2:59:34, Jeff Knight was right behind James in 2:59:05, ultra dude Devon Kierman ran 3:20:32 and Brentley Webber ran 3:13:27. But fastest Austinite was Marc Bergman who had a massive PR and busted 2:35 with his time of 2:33:13.
O The Thundercloud Turkey Trot is still a week away (Thanksgiving morning), but packet pick up is already well underway. It began Tuesday and Wednesday at First Texas Honda in North Austin (there isn’t any packet pick up today), but really gets in the swing of things starting tomorrow (November 22) at Luke’s Locker on Sandra Muraida (Lamar and Cesar Chavez) through Wednesday. There’s plenty of construction right around Luke’s so try and pick up your Turkey Trot number and shirt as early as possible. There is same day packet pick up next Thursday at the Long Center (7:30-9:30) but with 20-22,000 runners and walkers, it’s best to pick up early at Luke’s.
O If you park in the Auditorium Shores lot and access the Butler Trail from there, you’d better find a new place to park for the next several months. Workers have placed fencing around the lot and it will be closed until at least June because of construction. When the $2.2 million construction project is completed, there will be space for 30 more cars, the trail will be widened and there will be new bathrooms that are so badly needed. The trail will still be opened during construction.
O Planning to run the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon on December 8th? If you are, you’d better hurry and register for either the marathon or half. The Mayor’s 5-K is already sold out.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “Cowboy Man,” by Lyle Lovett. I love every syllable this man has ever uttered.
O Heard Around the Lake will be on vacation next week so won’t be around.
Have any news for me? If you have something, send it to wish@texasrunningpost.