Before The Start: My 4th race of 2023 was the Winter Dragon 5K, held on January 22 at Pearsall Park in San Antonio. Put on by e-Dragon Productions, this event included a half-marathon, 10K, and 5K with staggered starting times for each event. Mother Nature was somewhat kind to us, giving us a lot of sunshine and a temp in the lower 50s, with a ‘feels-like’ temp of 45 degrees as the wind was blowing pretty good, making it feel a bit colder. This would have been Spring-like weather for people living in the ‘true-winter’ states, but for we South Texans, it was pretty chilly, so several of us were all wrapped up. I had on 3 layers myself, lol. I arrived with about 40 minutes to go for my 5K start and got a few pre-start photos, as I chatted with friends and other participants. e-Dragon events are pretty popular, and this one was no exception, with 70 finishers for the half; 60 finishers for the 10K; and 134 finishers for the 5K. There might have been a lot more, but this race day was also race day for the Austin 3M Half Marathon, which several of or local area runners had signed up for.
On The Course: The Half started at 8:00 a.m., the 10K at 8:05 a.m. and the 5K at 8:10 a.m. I was taking care of a ‘side-effect’ from my recent prostate cancer treatment (finished 15 months of treatment in Nov 2022), so go to the 5K starting area after everyone was starting, and ended up starting dead last, lol. All good, though, I soon managed to catch up to some other participants, and even passed a few. I’ve done this 5K before and thought I knew the course; but no, it had been changed since the last time I did it, and we ended by starting almost right-off-the-bat going up a fairly good-sized hill, with more to come. My friend Erick, co-owner of e-Dragon has a mean streak in him at times, lol. These were no baby-hills either. The 5K course was a mix of loop and out-and-back, and it is mostly off-road trails, a mix of dirt, some gravel, rocks, stones, etc, and some of the paved trails in the park, so I was glad for this one I had the sense to wear my trail running shoes. First hill – uphill; second: downhill. 3rd – downhill; then we went on paved trail to a turn-round point; came back to the water stop and then did an off-road loop trail – flat, thank goodness – through a wooded area, and then back on pavement for a bit. We then proceeded back to the finish the way we had come out, so 4th hill – uphill; 5th hill, uphill; and finally a short downhill, and then fairly flat back to the finish. Good grief, lol. We 5K folks only had to do this once, so with the longer distance for the 10K and Half folks, they had even more hills than we did. I just took it pretty darn easy, walked a lot more than I usually do, stopped several times to take photos, and ended up with a finish chip time of 46:52, averaging 15:05 per mile and ending up 2nd in my 60-69 males age group, I don’t know how; maybe because there were only 4 in my age group. My good friend Bill ‘Doc’ Byrd was first in our age group, and I was not that far behind him. One tough course! I may have over-dressed a bit with my 3 layers, but with what darn wind blowing, I was glad I had kept them all on. This is probably the most challenging course I’ve done since I finished my cancer treatment, so I was quite simply happy that even though it is a very tough course, I was able to do it all, even if snails and turtles behind me were ‘honking’ at me to move the heck over, lol.
After My Finish – First thing, get some water – they had some Force Water there, which is one of the water brands I really like – and also got a banana and then simply rested a bit while I got those into me. After that I went here-and-there, chatting with friends, and getting more photos. The wind was still blowing like crazy, so I was glad I had brought with me that hat and my warmer gloves. My friend Lisa Soler – owner, Soler Sports, check them out, they put on some pretty good races too – surprised me by giving me a Wolfpack running shirt – Wolfpack is a local running-and-walking group of great people – she had made for me, with my “I BEAT CANCER! NEVER GIVE UP!” logo. It is bright yellow too, which I thought both funny, and great, since I’d been mentioning on FB at times that some races gave me these shirts and SAID they were yellow, but they looked more lime to me, lol; it’s NOT yellow! So now I have another TRUE yellow running shirt, lol. Thank you so much, Lisa! I read once somewhere that ‘hill work is speedwork in disguise.’ Well, I don’t know about that, but I sure am glad that I do make a point of doing hill work – usually paved roads – so that did help me get through; not as fast as I usually do a 5K – usually I am about 4 – 5 minutes quicker than my finish time for this one – but given the course, I was quite pleased with my results, as I really did expect this one might take me over an hour. If you’ve never done a run or walk at Pearsall Park – which is pretty close to Joint Base San Antonio Lackland – then go try it sometime; you really will get a workout.
Epilogue – As with all e-Dragon events, this is a quality event, with a well-thought out – but tough, very tough – course for all distances; very nice quality race tech tee shirt – if I remember correctly, we 5K folks got short-sleeved shirts, and the half and 10K participants got long-sleeved shirts – and finisher medals for all. The awards are unique e-Dragon coins, with a number on the back that you can use to get a discount for future registration of e-Dragon events. Lots of post-race goodies, including fajitas, Shiner Beer, Force Water, and more. Our music-and-sound man Paul was there doing his usual great job, as well as our MC Anthony Zamora, who has become quite a ‘staple MC’ for our local events; always professional, great sense of humor; a very darn good runner himself, so he can relate to all of us; much thank to all these people for being there for us, as well as the park police officers for our safety; all the sponsors of this event, and all the volunteers, some of whom had to be on location way early when it was even colder; to Kristin and Erik, of e-Dragon, our music man, Paul; and a special shout-out to my friend Meghan, who beautifully sang the National Anthem, while friend Louis presented the colors, that was awesome; and to everyone else involved I may not have mentioned here. Thank you all for giving us this event. Now I need to go soak my sore old-man body, lol.