Photos are here:
BEFORE MY START – Race #2 of 2022 for me was the Winter Dragon 5K, held on Jan 23 at Pearsall Park in San Antonio. The main event was a half marathon and there was also a 10K and a Kid’s Race. Start time for the half was 8 a.m., followed by the 10K at 8:05 a.m, and then the 5K at 8:10 a.sm. San Antonio had a ‘cold front blow into the area on Friday and Saturday, and the temps pretty much stayed in the upper 30s, which for we South Texans is cold, considering the temp was in the 60s just a couple of days before this, and the wind was crazy, which made it feel colder. Race day Sunday got better, with a temp at race start times of 50 degrees, which is pretty much where it stayed the whole time, and no wind, which was a blessing. I the older I get the more I feel the cold – and the darn prostate cancer I am being treated for right now does not help either, I seem to feel the cold even more than I normally do – so I had on a base layer with a shirt over that, and made sure to bring a dry shirt to change into after I finished. I arrived with about 40 minutes to go until my start time, picked up my packet, got my race bib on, and then got a few photos before my start.
ON THE COURSE – If you want to get in some MAJOR hill training, Pearsall Park, near Joint Base San Antonio Lackland Air Force Base is the place to me. The flat parts of this park are few. These are no baby hills either. The courses for all the events consisted of a combination of the paved trails and the off-road trails. For the 5K, we started from the main part of the park where the park pavilion, restrooms, an parking lots are located. We then went onto an off-road trail, flat for a bit, and the went down a very steep hill. Next, it was onto a portion of the paved trail for a while. As we came up to where the water stop was, I saw runners ahead of me making a right turn and thought “Shoot” (well, it was another word that began with “S” but cleaned it up for the report) because I knew what was coming, as this turn would take us to a steep off-road trail that I had been on in previous events here. And up we went. But wait…we only went part way up this trail, which was pretty steep itself, and then made a right turn onto a whopper of an off-road trail. Good grief! Almost straight up. Once we got to the top of that, we made a right turn to go up a VERY er steep trail composed of dirt and gravel.. At this point I was thinking my friend, Erik, the Race Director, had a warped sense of humor and a cruel streak in him. I thought for a moment about picking up a few pieces of that gravel to throw at him as I crossed the finish line. 😉 My second thought was “if this is the 5K course, I really feel sorry for the 10K and half people who must be getting bombarded with some of the even steeper trails in this park.” I walked most of the first part of this steep trail, and then did manage to run some of the second part. We wound around the trail which took us back onto the trail we had initially turned on and went down the full-length of this trail – which is actually harder for me, because downhills are harder on my spinal arthritis than uphills are – and back to the water stop. Here, we made a right turn, putting us back onto the paved trail, which took us to the 5K turn-round point. Then back to the finish the way we had originally come out – which meant that first steep downhill we had come out on was now an uphill for us on the way to the finish. I did manage to run most of this last uphill. I FINALLY got to the finish line in 43:53 chip time, averaging 14:08 per mile. I’ll take it. Happy to be done and I ended up 2nd in my age group mainly because there were only 2 in my age group, lol. First guy in my age group finished in 36 minutes and change, jeez. My friend Eli was first overall in the 5K in whopping speedy time of 22 minutes, with all those darn hill too, wowzer!
AFTER MY FINISH: Got some water, did a cool-down walk, went back to my car and got into some dry shirts and then wandered around enjoying some of the post-race goodies – all participants got a nice plate of fajita chicken with assorted other items, and Shiner Bock and Alamo Beer had beer for finishers that wanted it – and chatted with friends and got some post-race photos.
Epilogue: This is a challenging course. Since I’ve done other events at Pearsall Park, I kind of knew what to expect. With my ongoing treatment, I was not sure if my cancer doc would give me permission for a tough course like this, but he did. He is very supportive of me staying as active as possible through my treatment, telling me the better shape I was in, the better my body would handle things, and he also noted studies seem to show that active people may have have less side-effects than non-active people. He noted more and larger studies are needed, but those that have been done show good results. Well, yay then, and maybe it’s true, since for the most part I have had very mild side-effects. During radiation therapy portion of my treatment, I still managed to get seven 5Ks done during that time. Slow as molasses, but I got them done, lol. This event is really well managed, with E-Dragon Productions – who are basically my friends Erik and Kristina – doing a great job, as usual. They put on several events during the year. Local race management company iaap, one of the top racing companies in San Antonio, who also put on events – did their usual great job of timing and results. Race packet is really nice, with a souvenir race medal in it, and very nice quality race shirt. Really nice post-race food and drink goodies. Tough course, but great satisfaction when you complete it. I’d certainly recommend this one to other runners and walker who want a challenge and are physically able to handle this type of terrain. It is probably not ideal for those with chair or baby-joggers, or disabilities that prevent steep climbs, both up-and-down.
MUCHO THANKS TO: All the sponsors that supported this event; iaap for the timing, results, assisting with course set-up, and so forth; the San Antonio Park Police officers that were out there for us; all the many volunteers that assisted with this one; e-Dragon Productions, of course, for providing well-organized events – even if you do find yourself swearing a little under your breath at them once in a while on the course 😉 – and anyone else involved I may not have mentioned here. Thank you all!