Dos Rios 5K Splash & Dash
Hey y'all! So I'm here today to tell you all about my latest running adventure. I was back in my home state of Texas (best state ever btw) this past weekend and I entered a race pretty much last minute...the Dos Rios 5k Splash & Dash...just wait til you hear about that splash and dash part! I have to be honest, I enter a majority of my races last minute. My schedule is always so packed and crazy, that often I don't know far enough in advance if I can make certain races so it ends up being spur of the moment race decisions more often than not; however, I'm not complaining...living on the edge is fun to do every now and then ; ). Yes, I'm kidding...I'm really not that exciting, but I like to pretend I'm pretty cool...don't judge lol. This is pretty much one of the reasons I train year round because you just never know when a race opportunity will pop up.
Well, I was in San Antonio visiting with my family and found out about a race in New Braunfels. The race started at 8 in the morning, which I was more than happy with since I had a bit of a drive to get to the race from my brother's house in San Antonio. Most races start around 7, but I also had a 42 mile drive from my brother's house to where the race was so that 8 am start time was greatly appreciated since I didn't have to wake up too crazy early. I made the drive to the park in New Braunfels where the race was being held at...Cypress Bend Park. This race actually helped to benefit the New Braunfels Park Foundation. I absolutely love when running becomes bigger than us and is used to help out other people or organizations. The park actually ended up being roughly a mile away from Schlitterbahn, which was kind of fun to see because the last time I went there was when I was maybe 16 years old (over 17 years ago yikes lol.) I get there, park, and pick up my race packet. I got there with enough time to get in a decent warm up. I ran an easy mile to loosen up (remember the shorter the race, the longer the warm up) plus some dynamic stretching and then it was time to get the show on the road.
The race had two options. You could either run the 5k by itself or run the 5k with the water chute challenge. I had never done a race with a challenge like this before so I figured why not. It was a little outside my comfort zone as I prefer that when I run races that I can run my absolute hardest for that day and with the race conditions and try and have my fastest time possible all things considered; however, I knew that with this type (I know the suspense is killing you...I'll get into what this challenge is soon) of challenge that my time would be slower...but that was all part of the fun so I said sure, let's do it! (Besides, I was guaranteed an automatic PR anyways lol) And this girl loves a challenge ; ). I already knew that based on my drive into the park that it would be a somewhat hilly run, which would make it even more challenging. Honestly though when you are in a car vs on foot, you don't notice just how hilly it really is...it's deceiving lol. So 8 am rolls around, the horn goes off, and we all take off. At this point in the morning, it was so humid that I was already drenched in sweat...it's South Texas, what do you expect. Well let me tell you...not even a .5 mile in we all got a taste of those "somewhat hilly" hills. Yeah no...it was pretty much a 5k of hills lol...it was VERY hilly! Honestly, water chute challenge or not...this race was a beast for every runner out there that day simply because of the hills. I can't lie though...I am one of the odd runners who actually enjoys running hills. I actually consider it one of my strengths as a runner during races. I gladly take on hills with open arms...not because they are easy, but because I like the challenge of them. Hills are not supposed to be easy...they hurt honestly. My favorite runner of all time, Desiree Linden (formerly known as Davila) once gave this race tip..."Be prepared to hurt. If you expect it to be easy you'll likely lose courage and determination at first signs of adversity." Therefore, when faced with hills I say ,"bring it on!"
Roughly at the half way mark (just over 1.5 mi in) came the water challenge. I got to this point right around the 10 minute mark, which is about where I personally would hope to be during a 5k race. At this point, the 5k runners who chose not to do the water challenge (honestly they missed out...the cold water felt great because of the heat) kept going on the course back to the finish line. The runners who chose to do the water chute challenge turned off to the right and ran down towards the river. At this point in the race, I was the first runner to reach the turn off. You had to run down a long set of stairs, which was a bit tricky because each step was awkwardly deep. I had to balance running while also not slowing down to walking because as much as I wanted to move quickly, I also didn't want to fall flat on my face lol! Once you got to the bottom of the stairs, there was a table set up where you had the option to remove anything that you didn't want to get wet. I honestly didn't want to run back after the water challenge with shoes that felt like weights, so I quickly removed my shoes and socks. The extra time I "wasted" removing my shoes and socks (and putting them back on) was worth it. After removing my shoes and socks, I continued running down a shorter flight of stairs, across some rocks, and then a bridge to where they were handing off tubes for the runners. I probably looked like a crazy lady running across that long bridge completely barefoot! I took my tube and continued running to the entrance where they had the runners first enter the river. (it was the Comal River btw) From the turn off to this point was probably around 200 yards. The water wasn't flowing very fast here, but I could see the chute that we had to go through (basically a slide they built into the river) and figured it would be faster to swim vs sitting on the tube and floating to the chute. I looked down into the river and could see that the water was very deep. I could actually see someone snorkeling in the water. I put the tube around me and jumped right in, which was a bit of a shocker because of how COLD the water was...was not expecting it to be that cold lol! I swam as best as I could with the tube around me to the chute. I didn't notice it with all of the adrenaline going before getting into the water, but as I was swimming I noticed my legs felt like weights...those hills got to me. Right before I made it to the chute, I used my upper body strength to pull myself up onto the tube so that I could ride the chute while sitting on it. The chute was fast and shot you out like a canon ball at the end back into the river and with a huge splash might I add. The splash was one of my favorite parts! Once it shot you back into the river, the current picked up tremendously. Here brought on the biggest challenge of the river portion of the race. You had to figure out how to fight the current and make it back across to the other side of the river (which was the side where the turn off first started...and where my shoes and socks were...I kind of needed those lol) I fought so hard to get to the first exit, but I completely missed it...like not even close to it...quite a humbling experience let me tell you lol! The current was just too strong. I continued fighting and swimming while trying to not lose my tube in the process, and just barely caught the pole on the second exit. There was not much of a step to get out very easily, so I had to pull myself and the tube out of the water. From there I had to run back (still completely barefoot) towards the first short flight of stairs, hand off my tube to the race volunteers, run up those stairs, quickly put on my shoes and socks, run back up the long set of stairs, and make my way back to the main course. I made sure to encourage every runner I ran past when I was going back up towards the main course...plus to tell them how awesome the water portion was! From where I first entered the water to making it back to the main course was probably another 200 yards or so.
From here I ran the rest of the remaining 5k back. So you remember those hills we all ran to get to this point? Yup, you got to them going back too...except this time my legs felt 10 times heavier! We all got another little surprise on the way back. The last roughly .5 mile was on a trail. I am not a trail runner so I had to do my best to run it in quickly, all while trying to be graceful and not roll an ankle! I ended up crossing the finish line in 26:06, which was an automatic PR for me because it was my first race like this...I'll take it! I ended up first place overall, out of men and women, in the 5k with the water chute challenge. So by nature I am a distance runner and prefer the longer race distances, but I can confidently say this was one of the toughest races I have ever done. It was also probably the most fun I've ever had at a race too : ). If I have anything to do with it, I will most definitely be back next year; however, I will say that it would be an even better experience with a group of friends...so whoever is down for it, let me know ; )!