My favorite place to race is Shiner, TX. Over the past year I have attended two excellent events there put on by iRun Texas out of San Antonio, both benefiting the Boot Campaign. The first of those was this May when I rode my first century at the Shiner GASP (already signed up again for this 2015!), and then in the fall for the Shiner Beer Run.
Last year, the weather was in the low 30s- even the 20s on the drive down from Austin- and it sleeted on us as we ran! It was bitterly cold and dreary, and still one of the most fun runs I've done. Thanks to not being able to feel my legs, I got a PR, and we got hot sausage wraps and Shiner beer at the finish line.
This year, it was much warmer. Unfortunately, it was just as wet! It rained and rained, and I was so worried that I'd make the 2-hour drive down, only to find out the race had been called. Thankfully, the weather mostly cooperated, and the race was on!
|The weather was a big enough concern, he wrote me a special checklist! :)|
I picked up my friend in Austin and we made the soggy journey South to the brewery. Despite my car freaking out at every drop of rain on the road, we made it just fine, proud of ourselves for resisting the urge to make a Bucee's pit stop (yea, we totally stopped on our way home!).
We parked on what turned out to be the last 1/10th mile of the course and hustled to packet pick-up right around 8am. The race sends runners their bib number early, so packet pickup goes by numbers, rather than names. This works really well if you remember your number (I did!) but just in
case you don't (she didn't!) there is a line to find your number. Race day packet pickup is not often an option, but since Shiner is a bit remote, and a lot of the runners aren't coming from San Antonio, but rather Austin, Houston, and even Dallas, they thankfully provide the option. We got our packets, with the super cute shirts, and scurried back to the car to drop the items off so we could go to the porta-potties and deal with any last-minute runner's issues before the guns went off.
|All of it was so cute this year!|
The line for the potties was long, but runners know how to take care of business, so we made it in and out about 5 minutes before race start. Since there is no cell service in Shiner, we didn't know where my other girlfriend was. Thankfully, she has bright purple hair and wears the same visor at every races. We made our way up through the crowd on the bridge, asking those around us if they'd seen "a tiny person with purple hair."
Someone was listening, because when my friend started walking through the crowd, someone said "hey, I think your friends are looking for you!" and sent her in our direction. Just in time! The starting gun went off as we met up, and we were off!
Although there is no cell service, GPS still works easily, so my TomTom synced right on time and worked great the whole time. Last year the race was so cold and windy, I think I blanked most of the actual running experience out of my mind. I remembered that the course was pretty flat and had told me friends as much. I am apparently a liar, because it was most certainly not flat.Over 13.1 miles, TomTom said we had a total elevation gain of over 1,000 feet. Whoops. Still, there were no major climbs like you'd find at an Austin race.
|Starting line selfie. Before we got soaked!|
The weather was incredibly humid and warm- almost 70 degrees. We had our rain coats on to try to stay dry, but that made us hot. My coat was my cycling jacket, so I removed the sleeves every now and again to air out, putting them back with the rain. I knew from the first two miles that my dreams of another PR weren't going to happen,so I decided the race would be much more enjoyable just hanging with my friends who were there. We settled in to an easy 10-10:30min/mile pace and trudged on.
The course is mostly paved, and well-supported, with water and Gatorade almost every mile, and Gus here and there as well. The 5k and Half start all together, but since it's a chip-timed race, it's not a huge deal. Most of the time with mixed- race starts, longer-distance runners have to work to go around fun-runners, but I didn't feel like we had a huge problem with that on this race. The course takes up the whole road for the beginning, so there's lots of room to spread out.
I say "mostly paved" because a few miles are quite the opposite! The dirt roads are usually dusty and nothing to think about, but due to the heavy rain the night before, they were muddy and sticky! We cracked up at a few signs, including one calling a portion of the course the "manure mile." Which, probably, was the entire truth. Just one of the perils of running in the country.
|A sign worth stopping to commemorate!|
We made it through the sticky mess (it wasn't that bad at all) and wound through the city's park for the last few miles. Right at mile 10, the rain began for real. Our socks squished with every step and, despite my hat, the rain made me thankful for sunglasses since it was coming in sideways.
With three miles left, you pretty much just have to shrug it off and keep running, maybe even a little faster to get it over with! I wanted to finish in under 2:30, which is my self-prescribed acceptable time for an easy half. As we passed the mile 13 sign, I realized we were cutting it close and kicked it up a notch, with my friend coming in right behind me. We finished in 2:25 according to our watches, but that didn't include our potty stop or sign-gawking. Our chip time? 2:31! Ugh- go figure! Oh well, for a nice, easy, fun run with friends, I'll take it! She and I can worry about our time at the marathon 3 weeks from now!
|Look at those awesome medals!|
My other friend had sent us on ahead of her so she could go her own pace, so we waited at the finish line to cheer her in, avoiding another deluge of water under a tent for a few minutes. When she crossed, we all made a plan for getting in to dry clothes and finding the food (we were starving!) and of course the beer. (Thirsty too, duh.) I ate two sausage wraps at an embarrassingly quick speed, and they chowed down in similar fashion.
We got in the long line for beer. When Shiner has a beer event, they do it big. There are kegs on kegs of all their different varieties, and you get FOUR (4!) free beers. Everyone was walking away with one beer, hopping in line again as they drank, and repeating the cycle. Well, ain't nobody got time for that. I know TABC rules since I'm a bartender, so I asked, "Aren't we allowed 2 at a time?" The awesome volunteer serving the beer said, "Yea" so all three of us ordered two of our 4 and walked away victorious, the envy of those who had gone before us.
Despite the weather, the race was still a great time. iRun knows how to throw an awesome race and an even better post-race party. I love The Emotions- the band that typically plays these events, and they were rocking as usual! There is a reason this race sells out earlier and earlier every year. It's an affordable half with a course that is challenging, but not difficult. You get a lot of value for your money, the charity supported is an awesome cause, and the atmosphere is perfect for "serious" runners and those looking for a great time alike (many of us are all in the same!) I will definitely be back next year, whether rain, or sleet, or snow, or maybe even sunshine!
There's nothing finer than a Shiner (Beer Run!)
|We run for beer!|