Sunday, November 14, 2010

Train! No really…train! Runnus Interruptus in San Antonio

Another milestone is down – Rock n Roll San Antonio Marathon, event number 13 for the year, is in the books leaving just a single marathon left between me and history. My quest to run every mile of every 2010 Rock n Roll event in a single year will close December 5th in Las Vegas. Can’t wait. But don’t think I haven’t savored every moment along the way. And San Antonio was certainly no exception.

Reesa and I arrived in San Antonio on Friday afternoon, hit the expo, dropped our bags at the fabulous Omni la Mansion del Rio hotel and headed down to the second-most famous spot in San Antonio – the Riverwalk. The Alamo is certainly destination number one but we had both toured it during our last trip to town. If you go, be sure and look through the rolls of names of those who served in the Alamo and fought the famous battle that led to Texas independence. Yes, Texas was a country before a state and there isn’t a Texan alive who isn’t quick to tell this story. If you find yourself looking through the names, look for my namesake, James Burleson Staten. You’ll find him there and yes, we’re related. I can’t say I’m a descendant of his, though, as he died at the Alamo and left no children.

Reesa and I rushed down to the Riverwalk for only one purpose. The greatest Mexican dessert in the world and we knew at least two places on the river had ‘em – Sopapillas. If you haven’t had these, think Beignets like they serve in New Orleans but larger. And if you get them authentic they aren’t covered in powdered sugar, cinnamon or whipped cream. Nor do they come with ice cream. Real sopapillas are plain puffed dough served with a side of honey. You tear a corner off and pour in the honey, then roll it around so it coats all the sides. Heaven.
After this was the first pre-race concert of the series featuring Rick Springfield. Being 40-something this was a real treat as the now 61 year old Springfield (shocker!) put on a great, high energy show. With the exception of a few wrinkles he still looks like the 30-something heartthrob Reesa and I remembered from our youth in the 80s. The best part was when he came out into the crowd and basically worked is way over the chairs and around the whole orchestra section. Several women in our age group descended into teen-hood following around the rock star breathlessly.

Day two was a reunion of sorts as Michael Mathis, a founding member of SMS, had moved a few years ago to Austin, Texas and works just 40 minutes from San Antonio in San Marcos. We met him for breakfast and truly enjoyed catching up. We miss you Michael and are very happy for your success.

After that we stayed in San Marcos to hit the fantastic Premium Outlets there. This one has stores you can’t find at the usual outlet mall such as Michael Kors, Ferla, Ed Hardy, Kate Spade and a ton of other designers. Retail therapy for Reesa and myself.

That evening we hit another fabulous TexMex place along the river where I had fantastic veggie tacos, a perfect meal to prepare me for the following morning’s run.

Staying at the Omni was a great decision for this event as I got up about 30 minutes before the race start and walked five minutes to the start. I had packed running gear for a variety of situations as the forecast mid week called for thundershowers on Sunday. Turned out the luck of Competitor Group carried forward yet again as the rain slipped off to Sunday night giving us a fantastic running morning. It was overcast, cool and low humidity at the start and stayed that way throughout the race.

We took off at 7:15 am and looped through town past all the historic streets, past the Alamo and over several Riverwalk entrances. Riverwalk snakes throughout downtown but is too narrow for a marathon. Be sure to visit this great attraction if you come to town. It has a little something for everyone: quiet romantic walks with waterfalls, high class restaurants, trendy nightclubs and raucous margarita bars.

At about mile 1 we crossed over a railroad crossing just as its safety bars began to flash and lower across the road. We weren’t sure if this was really happening during a marathon until I got to the middle of the tracks, looked left and stared right into the oncoming lights of a freight train – and it wasn’t inclined to stop for us. And it didn’t. Those running just behind me had to stop and wait for it to pass. And this took about 5 minutes as it was a long train.

The first half of this run was well constructed as it wove through downtown, then out to a neighborhood, then back through downtown giving spectators several chances to see their loved ones. And there was a perfect picture spot where you could shoot runners as they past right in front of the Alamo. One neighborhood in particular was along King William Street. Every other home was an historic Texas estate. Sadly every other home was either in disrepair or for sale (or both). Shows that while Texas is faring well in the recession not all of Texas is handling it the same.

At the split where full marathoners headed out we were sent toward the Mission District, where San Antonio has a string of famous catholic missions. I had been told that this was not very scenic and a bit boring but I have to disagree. The course ran along parks most of the way and crossed the Guadalupe River a few times. At one point, though we ran along the San Jose Burial Park. While beautiful it was a bit morbid. And thankfully I was feeling good at the time and didn’t feel its lure.

The second half was essential a lions tail – out and back with a loop at the end which gave several chances to cheer on your compatriots and to see the elite runners heading toward the finish.
If there was anything lacking along the way, it was a dearth of good bands. Although the rockers at mile 15 took the cake; their lead singer sounded just like Nickelback.

I’ve written earlier about my ongoing injury issues so I thought I’d let you know how the race went along this aspect because I was sincerely worried a week prior. Coming off Rock n Roll Denver, I was still dealing with a sore quad and IT band. I rehabbed through the week but Rock n Roll LA with its net downhill course and occasional ups took its toll. After the race, stretching was agony; especially the quadriceps. With three weeks to prepare for Rock n Roll San Antonio I decided to forgo running entirely concentrate on getting well. But the pain below the knee caused by the quad and IT band kept recurring. I took my foam roller with me on a couple business trips and became religious in its worship. I was walking my dogs, using Reesa’s elliptical machine and stretching every day. But each time I would workout hard it would come back.

In Rock n Roll San Antonio my quad spoke up whenever there was a hill. And when I say hill, I don’t mean San Francisco-style hills. I mean little gradual ups as there really weren’t any worse than that in San Antonio. But they were enough to tax my sore body. Around mile 4 was the worst. My quad, knee and IT band didn’t want to shut up. But eventually they did and I settled into a comfortable 8 min/mi pace, which I held nearly the entire race. After the run, I wrapped my legs in Skins compression tights and used my arms on every stair. Lots of stretching got me back to normal – injured normal that is.

So for the next three weeks I’ll try a similar rehab program: little running, lots of cross-training and lots of foam roller and stretching. The only runs on the schedule are the Applied Materials Turkey Trot in San Jose and the Run Wild in San Francisco. These are on the schedule so I can rack up miles on the New Balance Movement Challenge. I’m in the top ten on their board now and am pushing to win it all as it adds another $25,000 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, bringing our grand total for funds raised in 2010 to over $35,000. Thanks so much for your support, encouragement and friendship throughout this crazy quest.

See you in Vegas!!

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