By: Sasha Gollish
The course was very different than the 2015 course I ran. It still wound through the beautiful city that is San Antonio, but it seemed to be a challenging course in comparison to other half-marathon courses. The race has an early start, since as you can imagine being in the south of Texas it can get quite hot and humid. At 7:15am the gun fired and we were off.
My race plan was simple, just to race. To go with the leaders and see what my legs had in them that day. From a failed nationals cross-country the weekend before, where I fell and was trampled, my ability to draw on my inner confidence and race boldly was uncertain. The Friday before I left I had hosted a Fast and Female Champ Chat where I told all the participants that the theme that day was bravery. It was time to follow my own advice. It was time to go and race brave.
As the gun went off I settled in behind Alia Gray, from the Roots Running Club in Boulder, CO who was coming off a sacral stress fracture. I had some pre-race information and knew that Kara (Goucher) was planning to run 1:15, so I knew that she might be someone I could work with out there. Instead it was Alia Gray who went from the gun and I went out with her. My confidence was trying to play games with me, but alongside my race goal of ‘racing’ I also promised myself not to let any negative thoughts come into my mind – because, right? We all get those moments where negativity tries to tell us ‘you can’t do this.’ But we have to yell back ‘Yes I can!’
Somewhere just after 5k Sean O’Hellearn, of the Jacuzzi Boys Track Club, came up on Alia and I, and I latched on to him. I tried to encourage Alia to stay with us but having come off injury before, I know how hard it can be. At some point Alia dropped back and it was just Sean and I. Sean and I entered Brakenridge Park and I was overwhelmed with emotion; there were a series of pictures of fallen soldiers on either side of the road followed by active military waving the American flag. While I might not be American you can imagine how powerful that was. Soldiers are some of the bravest people on this planet, and I drew upon that strength, to stay brave in the race.
At 10mi/16k I knew there was a big hill. Race Director Matt Turnbull had warned me, with a little chuckle as he said it. As Sean and I came upon the hill I knew I wanted to push to the end, and I also know hills are a really good place to test yourself mentally, a place to be brave. So instead of being discouraged by the hill I attacked it, only to turn a corner and see that in fact the hill was only partway done! Well push-on, right!? Because what else is a gal supposed to do! Plus, that was what race goal #1 was all about, and when racing you charge up the hill.
From that point I wanted to see what my legs could do without putting them in too much distress. It was on the second hill that I dropped Sean and I was on my own. With using this race as training for the Chevron Houston Marathon in January this was a huge boost for my confidence.
Crossing the finish line I tried to do a little dance-move-jump. I’m sure you can imagine the vertical you get when you’ve been racing for 21km! There was a feeling of elation breaking the banner, the ‘Oh heck yes, I just smashed that kind of feeling.’
It wasn’t a personal best (a PB). It wasn’t even close. Comparing that back to my goal of ‘racing’ the time does not matter. I think we get stuck in this idea that very race has to be about time. There are so many other reasons to step up to a start line. To test yourself mentally. To test your grit. To get out there and smile. To just get out there.
Kara is a woman who follows the same principles and lining up with Kara I was reminded of that. The number one of fans that recognize her. Her gift of love to the sport. And of course, Kara is one fierce competitor. I have always been inspired by Kara, and as I said in my post-race interview, even when I was a beer-drinking-engineer I always followed Kara’s career. She’s filled with grit, resilience, and an absolute love for running.
If you get a chance to take part a future Rock n Roll San Antonio race you won’t be disappointed. The city of San Antonio is wonderful. From the Riverwalk area with shops and delicious restaurants, to the friendly people, and of course the race itself. The RnR events are well-organized, well attended, and have lots of cheers along the way, plus, the indulgence for the race.