Race photos are here:
BEFORE MY START: My 17th race of 2020 was the Stars and Stripes 5K on July 18, 2020 put on by Athlete Guild after Comal County approved this to be an in-person race with social distancing, etc. Held at the Stars and Stripes Drive-In Movie Theater in New Braunfels. Very nice venue with indoor restrooms and indoor water fountain. The main event was a half-marathon and there was also a 10K. Athlete Guild folks did a really good job of having all the participants doing social distancing for race-day packet pickup, wearing masks before the start and after the finish, and a ‘staggered’ social distancing start for all the events. Prior to race day, Athlete Guild also emailed out very specific directions for race day and how it would all work. Very well organized, with “social distancing markers” on the ground where packet pickup was and on the ground behind the start line.
ON THE COURSE: This was an out-and-back course, starting and finishing near the concession area of the theater. Having been in the hospital for most of last week – being looked at for a possible TIA episode in my brain – my doc gave me permission to do this event only if behaved myself and did not push too hard. I made this public to my FB friends to help me behave myself, lol, so they would scold me if they did see me misbehaving, trying to push myself to hard. On the way to the start line, my friend, Sherri Purnell told me “Scottydog….know your limits today!” So I guess the word was out, lol. The Half started first, at 6:30, the 10K at 7 a.m. and the 5K at 7:15 a.m. With the early start in Texas summer, weather was pretty cooperative, in the 70s when I lined up for the 5K, although it was very sunny with blue skies, making it feel just a tad warmer; but not bad at all. This was an out-and-back course: down the theater’s paved entrance/exit; right-turn on a paved rural country road and up an incline to a stop-sign. Right turn there, and then down a long incline to another country road we went down to get to the turn-round point. Coming back is the hardest part of this course, as that down incline we came out on was now an up-incline on the way to the finish. It’s not really steep, just long. I just took it nice and easy, loping along, taking all my walk breaks when my Garmin indicated it was walk break time, took some photos along the way, and chatted with friends here-and-there on the course, as I went along. On the up incline going back, I was almost to the top when my Garmin beeped for walk break and I thought, well, I can make it to the top now nonstop; but then remembered I had promised to behave, so I took the walk break. Then downhill to the theater driveway – and I even stopped once there too to take a photo of a friend with the flag – and back to the finish. I ended up with a slow time of 39:18, averaging 12:31 per mile. As there were only 2 in my age group, I managed to come away with 1st in my age group for the 5K, lol.
After My Finish: I actually felt pretty good after the finish, but warm; so I got a bottle of water, then went and sat in my car for about 10 minutes with the A/C on, sipping the water. Ahhh, much better. Then I wandered around “social distancing” chatting with friends and getting a few after-photos. There was also post-race beer and the Drive-In owner and his crew cooked up hamburgers and fries post-race for those who wanted that. My wife, Gail, had come with me -I think she was worried a bit I was not quite yet strong enough for an actual race and might ‘fall out” at the race – and I admit that was at the back of my mind too – so it was nice to have her there, in case I needed a driver to get home. Ain’t love grand? She’s taken very good care of me over our 36 years together. While I was doing my event, she sat over in the porch area of the concession stand, chatting with some other folks also waiting.
Epilogue – As noted, a very well-organized event by Athlete Guild. From what I saw, everything seemed to go well and everyone seemed to be following the guidelines and behaving themselves. So nice to do an “actual” race again this year instead of a virtual one. Nice post-race goodies, great location and great hosting by the theater owner and his crew; I’ve been an ‘acquaintance’ of the owner for a couple of years now, since I did my first race here, and he and his family are such nice people. Great place to go if you are looking for something to do during these COVID-19 shutdowns, since this is a drive-in and you will be in your own car watching the movie. Very nice quality race shirt and race medal in the goody bag. I would definitely do this event again.
Mucho thanks to all the folks who did all the hard work and coordinating to make this one happen for we participants: Athlete Guild; all the volunteers and sponsors, and anyone else I may not have mentioned here.