Scallywompus always puts on a great race, and the River Road Half Marathon is no exception.. This one in particular had some fantastic views, many water stops, and some killer hills. It is a part of the Texas Hill Country Series after all! However, because of the season and some other minor pacer problems, this ended up being the hardest race I’ve ran in a very long time.
The River Road Half Marathon run takes place, of course, on the River Road just northwest of New Braunfels, Texas, near Canyon lake. I’ve visited this area many times, but always during the summer. This road follows the river and during the summer this road is packed with campers, floaters, and drinkers. The river is a real center of life in Central Texas during the hot months. It was really neat to see this area in a different time of year when its much slower. It was a great race to be my 10th Half Marathon!
The Day Before: I started with packet pick-up at the Alamo Brewery on Friday. It’s great to have a place to pick up everything the day before, since it was over an hour drive to the course. I LOVE the shirt for this run. I don’t have a lot of long sleeve running shirts, and I really like wearing them to work. This one is SO comfortable. A+ on the shirt here.
Before the Race: With staggered start times for the different distances, I arrived before many of the other runners. The half marathon started at 8:00, with the 10K at 8:30, and the 5K at 9:00. Plenty of parking! However, for a sold out race, it was disappointing there were only two portapotties. There was a very long line for a restroom, but they opened up an indoor bathroom for two more lines. Everyone has to go before a 13.1 mile run!
I ran into HalfCrazy MamaKris, a fellow San Antonio Running Blogger. She’s also an ambassador for Scallywompus, so make sure to check out her blog for Race discounts with them. (I used her code for these races!)
The Race Miles 1-6: Do you know about the allergen known as Mountain Cedar? The Texas Hill Country is ground zero for this stuff. You can literally see it blowing off the trees. I react very strongly to Mountain Cedar, so I figured I would take it a bit easy. I found the 2:00 Hour Finish Pacers and figured I would pace with them. Its a 9:09 pace to evenly finish at two hours, and its about 5 minutes over my PR, so I wouldn’t be trying to push too hard.
Well, these pacers had other ideas. I struggled to keep up with the 2 hour pacers for about 4 miles. I couldn’t understand why I was struggling so bad at a pace I’ve been able to maintain for much longer in the past, then I realized that they were going about 30 seconds/mile too fast. (You can see by my splits.) I started to pull back and letting them go ahead and I confirmed with another runner or two that they were going too fast, and that my watch wasn’t off. I ended up going out of the gate too fast, and it was my own mistake because I was using the pacers instead of my gut here.
BUT. Take a look at the views on this course:
The Race Miles 7-13.1: After I had given up on keeping up with the pacers, I settled into a slightly more comfortable pace. My lungs were starting to hurt, but not in the typical way. Instead of the heavy breathing you usually feel with hard running, it felt like I couldn’t fill my lungs completely. Like my breathe was stopping in the center of my chest. I started walking up the hills. And boy, this course had HILLS. My mom was waiting about a 100 yards before the finishline. She ran alongside me, and I remember whispering to her that I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t catch my breath, and I couldn’t fill my lungs. It was little scary. Breathing in that much of the tree pollen really did me over.
I finished at 2:01, which was actually quite close to my original goal. I really didn’t anticipate my allergies affecting me so much for this race. It is definitely something I will need to pay attention to more in the future. Mom helped me celebrate not dying with a Bloody Mary and an IPA. (Because why would you run thirteen miles if it doesn’t mean doublefisting adult beverages at 10am??)
Overall, this half marathon was a struggle! But I don’t hold it against the race company, the start and finish were great. The race was well organized, the course was beautiful and marked perfectly. This was a fight between myself and my body. I’ve never ran a half marathon distance during allergy season, and I definitely learned a lot here about my limitations. I’m hoping that my next half in San Marcos will contain much less mountain cedar and I can kick a new PR out!