Run Like Someone’s Chasing You

The 2010 San Antonio Marathon took over the streets of, you guessed it, San Antonio on Sunday. Colin flew down to run the race with me, and it was the first marathon for both of us in quite awhile — Miami, Jan 2010 for me, Chicago, Oct 2009 for Colin. The worst part has been that Colin’s been holding the title of fastest marathon time between the two of us for 13 months. From my race preview, you know my goals were to beat Colin this time and beat his best time, so really I’m racing Colin twice.

The morning started per usual, waking up early to eat and mentally prepare* for the road ahead. We walked out of the hotel right into the starting line of the race, found our starting area, did a few requisite arm swings to loosen up, and waited for the start. The weather was perfectly 50 degrees and cloudy. After a decent National Anthem we were released to run the race that was 18 weeks in the making. For Colin and I both we wanted to take it easy for the first few miles until we warmed up and fell into a rhythm.

As the crowd in front of us led the way down the course, our first mile clocked in at 8:27 — perfect. The first several miles of the course had a ton of turns, causing quite a few bottlenecks as everyone tries to take the corners tight. Despite the foot traffic we somehow laid down a 7:44 2nd mile** — whoa! I was fine with it, but Colin wanted to reel it in. It was between the second and third miles we passed the Alamo, though I would have missed it if Colin didn’t point it out. Not much on the eyes, but still historically impressive. Right around the Mile 3 marker was the first superfan Ev sighting*** which always gives me a boost. Our third mile split? 7:44… still pretty quick.

Mile after mile we checked our splits, thought they were a little fast, tried to dial it back, but ultimately kept up the pace. Only three out of 26 miles were slower than 8 minutes per mile, and one of those (Mile 5) was 8:01. Anyway, we cruised through the middle miles pretty well. At mile 8 I got another boost from the superfan herself cheering us on, coffee in hand and smile on face. More surprising was seeing that same coffee-holding smiling face at Mile 10! Major props to Ev for the FAN-tastic effort!

Just like the Country Music Marathon, San Antonio felt like a dedicated half marathon with a less important marathon option. By this I mean there were ~4,500 marathoner and ~20,500 half marathoners. With those kinds of numbers, you can only expect the energy and crowd support to fizzle after the two races split. The course itself also spoke volumes about the amount of thought given to the full marathoners: not much. Most of the marathon-only portion meandered through a windy park, next to a golf course, and near a municipal airport before rejoining the half marathoners right after Mile 24.

From Mile 20 until the end I ran like someone was chasing me, and quite literally, there was. I created a small gap between Colin and me as we headed back north towards downtown. I looked back every so often and saw he was keeping up, but maybe a step or two further behind than the last time I checked. As the miles ticked by I realized we’d both be laying down some new personal bests, so it seemed like one goal (beating Colin-past) was in the bag. All that remained was beating Colin-present and reclaim the top spot on the podium.

It was in the last six miles that I surprised myself. These miles weren’t just good; they were the fastest six miles of the entire race. I pushed hard to create some separation, clocking miles 21, 22, and 23 in 7:29, 7:10, and 7:17. No typos there. Even more impressive? Miles 24, 25, and 26 were faster: 7:21, 7:15, and 7:10. The 26th mile took seven minutes and ten seconds! For those who think I was sandbagging it, thanks for playing, but you’d be wrong. Everything from my waist to my feet were on fire, but right at the point of still being under control. It’s a great feeling when you can fly by other runners in the final mile (and I’m not talking about the half marathoners who were finishing up their 3+ hour half). It really gives some validation to all the hard work and effort that was put into training.

So, back to the goals. Beat Colin-past? Check. Beat Colin-present? As I got closer to the finish all I could think of was Colin swooping in from behind at the last minute to beat me****. I pressed to the finish and shocked myself with the time on the clock overhead. My actual finish time was 3:22:34! Not only did I set a new personal best, I did it by 5:28 (previous best was 3:28:02).

Everything hurt as I hobbled through the finisher’s area, a bit annoyed at the volunteers with bullhorns yelling “DO NOT STOP, KEEP WALKING”. If I had the strength I would have whipping my water bottle at his face. Thanks for volunteering!

“How’d Colin do?” you might ask. Also awesome, with a final time of 3:24:20. Not quite 3:22:34, but still 3:14 faster than

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his previous best! He says he’s happy with it, but I know it’s just going to fuel him with the fire of a thousand suns for the next race. All I have to say to that is “bring it on”.

Overall the race was good, but that’s solely because we had great results. The music was solid, as you’d expect from a race put on by Rock ‘n’ Roll. Pretty much everything else was weak, from pre-race logistics to post-race organization, so it’s highly unlikely either of us will run San Antonio again. That said, I’m glad we ran it, because now I hold the title for the foreseeable future!

Distance 26.2 Miles
Time 3:22:34
Pace 7:44 min/mile
Overall Place 190 / 4530 (4.19%)
Age Group Place 27 / 335 (8.06%)
Gender Place 167 / 2609 (6.40%)


*Thanks to some last minute logistical changes, “mentally prepare” meant getting back in bed and resting up a little more.

**Neither of us thought anything of it at the time, but we ran under a moving train between miles 1 and 2. We later learned that the train we saw was an unwelcome visitor that crossed in front of runners on the course, delaying their times by about 5 minutes. We were lucky to start early enough in the pack to miss the bad luck.

***Ev is an amazing spectator. She surprises me every time, cheering me along and popping up when I least expect! Sometimes I think she runs faster than I do just to beat me to the next spectator spot.


p>****I was so focused on not getting passed by Colin that I didn’t see Ev screaming with excitement for me on the final straightaway.

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