As you may know, I ran the Austin Half Marathon last Sunday. It was my first race of 2017. I didn’t particularly train for it, but moreso signed up (and convinced Ed to join me) as an excuse to go to Austin.
Oh, Austin. You totally through me for a loop. I kind of like going into races blindsighted. As a Type A person (I realize this is the complete opposite of what a normal Type A person does), it decreases anxiety about thinking about the race and course. I actually don’t freak out before races and I’m pretty calm. I don’t have a “must eat” list for the night before, I don’t have to wear the same race socks or shoes, and I don’t have to plan out every detail the night before. Together, Ed and I are pretty unprepared runners, compared to most.
So, as a forethought, I realize that I am telling this like a story. I hope it makes it more interesting for you.
On the day before the half marathon, I ate ice cream for breakfast (on a crepe), walked 10 miles, did not scope out the course or even look at a map, and ate ice cream before going to bed. Now, I am not saying I recommend this, but my priority in coming to Austin was also exploring the city and food. Ed prioritizes running, I prioritize food.
We explored South Congress Street and got tacos for lunch.
We decided to check out the Corporate Whole Foods for our pre race dinner. We thought it would make sense to have everything available so we could choose what we wanted. I ended up getting a carb heavy bowl of veggies, coconut rice, butternut squash mac n cheese, and some chicken. Ed doesn’t do chicken before a race (bad experience I guess?) so he went with pork and short rib. We always end with something sweet, so we scoped out a local ice cream shop for dessert before walking back to our hotel. We got some ice cream (Mexican Vanilla with Chocolate Chips for me), walked the two miles back to our hotel and got ready for bed.
I did lay out all my clothes and started to think about what I would do if it rained (there was a 50% chance of rain/thunder showers in the morning). Of course, you may be able to guess given my lack of preparation above, that neither Ed nor I packed rain jackets. I had a light long sleeved jacket that I was planning to use if it did rain, but it did not have a hood and I just figured I’d have to suck it up if it rained hard.
Luckily, that didn’t happen.
BUT, one could argue that what did happen was even worse. At 4:45, we woke up to dry roads (!!) but 95 PERCENT HUMIDITY. YUCK. It was miserable.
I made a little oatmeal with half a banana and some peanut butter and ate it along with some coffee, before doing an 8 minute warm up and stretch. Our hotel was a quarter mile from the start (amazingly convenient), so I headed to the starting line 5 minutes before the race went off. We were starting with the marathoners and immediately, I felt bad for them with this weather.
The first mile and a half was rough. It was uphill, up South Congress Street. Those first 15 minutes plus the humidity had me sweating through my shirt by mile two. We then took a turn right and were going through some side neighborhoods. There wasn’t much to see here, and we weren’t near the city center. I was feeling okay at this point and maintaining a decent pace. There were some smaller up and downs through the first half of the race, but I was maintaining a semi consistent pace. I was starting to feel weaker though, and knew it wouldn’t be a fast race for me.
I crossed the 10k mark at 46:52 (7:26 pace), but after that, I started losing it. My legs felt dead, I was hot and tired, and my pace slowed considerably. I took my huma gel around mile 8, which helped a little bit. I had a few more fast spurts, followed by slower spurts, but overall, I was losing ground.
Excuse these informal race photos that I’ll just insert here…
I stopped and walked 3 times during the final course of the week (all at steep hills). While I typically don’t walk during races, I just didn’t have the gas to get up them and I needed a break. I remember my face when I saw the final hill around mile 12. I was thinking, “Uhhh…I have to go up that? Like, seriously?” This seemed to be where many fans lined up, and I saw some great signs about running up hills, but I couldn’t conquer it without walking a bit.
My last ¾ mile was flat, and we were running through the city streets again so that was exciting. I crossed the finish line in 1:44.52, with a dead even pace of 8:00 per mile. I was 6+ minutes slower than my half in December!
I think that in each race, you can learn so much about yourself. I learned that even if you think you can’t continue, you really can. Runners are inspirational, and will keep motivating you throughout the race. I learned that patience is key, and that those people in the crowd really do make a huge difference! I also learned that it’s okay to walk. As a competitive person and former college athlete, this was hard to stomach initially. But, no one judged me, I caught my breath and finished the race.
And to brag on my husband for a minute, he came in 4th overall! He was 6 minutes slower than he planned too, but I told him how awesome a top 5 finish was!
And hey, it was still a fun race! And the after race party was pretty great. And the race is all about the experience.
Best part of your weekend?
What lessons have you learned from a tough race?