Fiesta!

Sometimes you get into a funk in training and you find yourself struggling just to get a run in. Life has stepped in and more and more you find yourself procrastinating workouts, making excuses, and slowly watching your training plan fall apart. This was how I felt in late April: after a great March, I had been on a work trip and let a week go by without a workout. Then coming back I tried to jump into a 6 mile trail run. The result: a pulled muscle in my leg and back to square one. I took the better part of three weeks off trying to replace my runs with more bikes and swims, but it didn’t help. I was in a rut and needed to climb out.

My solution: use another work trip planned late April as my plan to get back into running. The destination: San Antonio. Upon arriving in this beautiful city I discovered I’d landed in the middle of their spring Fiesta, and the city buzzed with a 24-hour a day party atmosphere combined with warm spring weather. The stars were aligning. In addition I wasn’t traveling alone: I’d have colleagues with me. On the way there I asked if any of them would be interested in morning runs: three volunteered. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that accountability is key when trying to get back into the mix. Having people to run with, push you and harass you endlessly for sleeping in is sometimes exactly what you need to get back into the mix.

The morning after arriving I got up and tried the hotel gym first. I was nervous about my injury and wanted to try the treadmill first to see how I’d hold up. I clocked out 2 miles easily before embarking on a series of squats, lunges, kettle bell swings, and burpees. I did a couple of iterations of these exercises and then stretched. I have a habit of overdoing it when coming back from injury and knew I didn’t want to push my luck. I felt sore later, but not in pain. I felt ready to push it a bit more the next day with my colleagues. Fingers crossed it went well! The next morning my friend & colleague, Pat, met me out front for a morning run. We wound our way down to the city’s famous River walk, still recovering from a boat-float parade held on its waters the night before. While pieces of colorful fiesta paper littered the path in places, the run was enjoyable: a comfortable early morning pace between friends. The sun rose and the temperature still cool: perfect conditions for a morning run. We headed north out of downtown along the path, turning around after 20 minutes. Back at the hotel, I stretched again—still no pain. My confidence rose.

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The next day, another morning run, two more joined Pat and I. This time we headed south on the river walk, taking in the beautiful homes of the city’s King William district. This time we ran out 15 minutes before turning around. It was an amazing feeling watching the city come alive in the early morning, empty streets slowly awakening. We talked and laughed and ran—the kind of camaraderie I fondly remember from high school cross country training runs. We weren’t concerned with pace, or distance, or heart rate—just getting out and taking in the city.

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The last day, only one other colleague joined me, which was fine. On this day I brought my phone to take pictures (I needed some for the blog!). While my colleague may not have been able to match my pace, he never gave up. There’s something to admire about that sort of runner in my mind: 110% heart and soul. It didn’t bother me to wait for him at certain turns along the route, I just soaked up the city in the morning light.

Combined with these runs were our evenings out. San Antonio is a fun time any time of year, but especially during Fiesta, held towards the end of April. The whole city celebrates the heroes of the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. There is a carnival and parades and dozens of other events throughout. It’s probably one of the closest things I’ve come to in the United States that reminds me of the multi-day beer and wine fests of Europe. More than one night we explored the River walk at night to find delicious Tex-Mex and explored quaint bars and pubs on the fringes of downtown. One in particular we found was the Bexar (pronounced “bear”) Pub. This rustic watering hole sits about a mile from downtown in an industrial area. Resembling nothing more than some dressed up shipping containers, the Bexar Pub has a fantastic food and beer menu. With limited indoor seating, most patrons (like ourselves) sat outside on picnic tables.

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The funny thing is that bars like this aren’t uncommon in San Antonio. We drove by at least half a dozen in our daily travels to and from our work sites. Hopefully I can explore more on future trips to this beautiful town.

With the week done, I returned to California with just a taste of San Antonio. Fortunately I will be back soon. I’ve done research on other places to run and local rustic eateries and breweries in this beautiful city. There will be more stories to come. No trip to Texas would be complete, however, without trying one of it’s most iconic beers: Shiner bock. Throughout this trip I’d tried several of the seasonal varieties, and been pleased with them all.

As I flew back reflecting on my runs and my renewed energy, I ordered one more on the flight home. With its amber color and full but not heavy flavor, it’s not only a good porch beer, but good for those reflecting moments, which is where I now found myself. I’m excited for my next trip and the stories which , until then though, bottoms up and see you on the trails!

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