Prickly Pear Trail Run May 1, 2004

The Tasmanian Tornado

Did the Pricly Pear 10 mile trail run this weekend in San Antonio. I figured it was a sure bet to place in my age group, but things just didn’t seem to be going my way this day. It started with some low temperature weather which I was not expecting. I had not taken a single stitch of cold weather gear with me to San Antonio. I can handle cold weather, I can handle rain, but I just can’t take both at the same time. I arrived at McAllister Park about 1 1/2 hours before the race. It was already starting to drizzle. I went up to the pavillion to get a map of the race course. (one was not provided with the race packet). I met Jose Iniguez, owner of IAAP, and apparently the race course had to be changed slightly because of the torrential rains that had fallen that night. I decided to go to my car and wait till race start. As soon as I got in my car, the sky opened up and the rains came pouring down … and pouring … and pouring. I looked at the outside temperature reading in my car and it indicated 58 deg. The disc jockey on the radio said we were in a severe thunderstorm warning until 9:15 am and to stay indoors. With the rain pouring, I almost took their advice and drove off but I have this thing that if I pay a race entry fee I don’t back out – I have to do the race. Luckily the rain calmed to a drizzle about 10 minutes before the race. I got out of my car and took off my cotton t-shirt that I was wearing for warmth and behold the mighty Tornado singlet was exposed. I felt a burst of energy rush through my body. I looked at my watch – it was 8:20 (race start was 8:30). Enough time for one last trip to the porta potty. I knew it was getting close to the start time. I jogged to the start only to find out from two girls that were jogging that they decided to start the race early! What the hell. My watch said 8:27 and I know it was right. So there I am at the end of the pack on a trail run with trails only narrow enough for one. I’m passing slow runners where I can like a madman with the Tornadol logo on the back of my singlet. I manage to get to a fast group of runners around mile 2 1/2 and I eventually pass these guys only to get to open area where I don’t see any markings for the course. I come to a complete stop as do the runners behind me. I ask the group: “Which way from here guys?” One of the guys points to a trail across a narrow creek thats right in front of us. “There it is” and he dashes across the water. All of a sudden I’m waist deep in water still trying to run and lose my balance and fall forward only to lose a couple of strides. Once across, the mud on the trail looks fresh with no tracks or footsteps where others have gone before us. We keep questioning if we are going the right way. We are well into this trail about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes when our uncertainty turns into certainty that we are on the wrong course. We have about 10 people in our group and we turn back to the where we crossed the not so shallow creek. Low and behold there is a race official directing runners on the course. Where was he when we needed him. “You guys are going the wrong way” he says. No shit Sherlock. Now I am really pissed and ready to kick some San Antonio Road Runner Ass. I pass all the runners in our group that took the wrong turn as well as the other slow runners that I had already previously passed. These guys are getting their asses kicked. All I can think of is the impression that the Tornado on the back of my singlet is leaving on these runners. I’m like the tasmanian devil tornado and I almost feel like growling like TAZ too. Mile 5, mile 6, mile 7 and 8 – I’m passing straggling runners and running in water that is knee deep. I don’t care for side stepping the water on the trails anymore which have now turned into flowing creeks. TAZ is going to take the path of least resistance and take the water and mud straight on. Runners are either thinking two things: either these tornados are bass ass fast runners or their running clueless with no consideration for other runners. But, I try to be a polite Tornado by saying “passing on your left” or “passing on your right” and “thank you” when they let me through. The only other thing that goes through my head at this point is I hope I don’t crash and burn and then end up getting passed. That would not look good for the Tornados. Mile 9, I’ve been averaging about 7:50-55 miles depending on the severity of the mud and water. I pick it up on the last mile and sprint the last 100 yds which is a short section of paved trail.

When the results got posted shortly after, I find out I got forth place in my age group – only 27 seconds behind 2nd place and 9 seconds behind 3rd and 18th overall. If it werent for the early race start and taking a wrong turn I would have definitely placed second. But, I always look on the bright side of things, I got to drink Dos Equis Beer afterwards and the fajitas were excellent even though I was freezing my ass off.

Taz will be back next year to kick some more SARR ass and if it rains, that ass will be muddy too.