As promised, I have returned. My Friday to Monday trip to Austin was fantastic. I played around with some lovely friends, ate my weight in Tex-Mex and had more drinks in three days than I have this entire year (what? 2012 is still young…). Oh yea, I ran a race too. I’ll tell you about that now.
I went on two runs while in Austin. The first was Friday morning with Lyndsay while Kelly and Koko were at work (poor girls).
February 17 – Run 37
Location: Austin, TX. South Congress and South 1st Streets
Weather Notes: Drizzly and high 40s – felt warm to me but Lyndsay wore gloves. Wuss.
Distance: 3 miles
Pace: ?? 8:something I remember Lynds saying after
Other Notes: We were staying in a house in the middle of part of the race course so we decided to go three miles on it. It felt good to get my feet moving after I missed the usual Wednesday run, and traveling the day before. I ran pretty pain free but Lynds had some knee trouble. Got a peek at the hills of South Congress – nothing too steep but a pretty steady incline for oh about 3 miles….
February 19 – Run 38: Austin Half-Marathon
Location: Austin, TX
Distance: 13.21 (according to Gary)
Time: Debatable – 1:58:28/1:55:07 (details follow)
Sex Place: 913/5,865
Division Place (20-24): 125/773
The fastest female finished in 1:18:14, fastest male in 1:04:58.
Before this trip I had only been to Austin once before in my life – last summer to visit these same girls, and make far-off plans to think about running this race (mostly to eat Tex-Mex and drink). When I arrived on Thursday night, it was drizzly. The drizzle continued all day Friday. And then into Saturday. But by Sunday – we had one of the 300 days of sunshine Austin claims to have each year.
Saturday I tried to keep my routine as normal as possible despite being on the road – Koko and I stopped by the expo on our way to visit Lyndsay at work to pick up our race numbers. It was a big expo and bib pickup was a breeze. We didn’t stay to walk around because we were illegally parked and preoccupied with the possibility of a ticket….
Naturally my routine also included the pre-race pizza meal. Koko and I split a Kashi Mushroom and Spinach Pizza while Lynds and the boys worked on a Supreme and pasta with marinara sauce.
We snuggled up for a very bloody Ryan Gosling movie – Drive.
The boys were in violent movie heaven but the three of us decided the only redeeming aspect of the film was Ryan himself but beyond that he had his shirt on far too much and there was not enough sex. We much prefer the Noah version. After that it was off to bed. I had some trouble sleeping (too hot, bed too small, too excited, not tired etc. etc.) so Koko and I stayed up chatting for a while until eventually it was 5 am and time for coffee.
Coffee and a bowl of oatmeal helped get me going – then it was time for bibs, music, gu packs and timing tags on shoes. We hopped in the car and were off to downtown Austin. Parking was a breeze because of Koko’s office building and once we were there we sat in the car for about 30 minutes to stay out of the chilly morning air. At 6:45 we decided it was time to head to the start – but we all needed one more bathroom first. We had a few blocks to walk to get to the other side of the Capitol and actually ended up missing the start gun. Luckily the line of participants was long enough that we just hopped in the pack.
We started off at a comfortable pace through the small rolling hills of downtown. For the majority of the time leading up to the trip I wasn’t really thinking about the task at hand (running for 13.1 miles, about 2 hours) because it can freak a girl out but by the time I was out there on the course and realized what I was about to do – the energy of the other runners calmed me down.
The four of us (three girls + Jack – Lyndsay’s boyfriend and our photographer) stayed together through downtown and down a majority of Congress until an emergency bathroom break had to happen. We had discussed before the race started what our strategy would be for staying together – or not. Lyndsay was running her first race and really wanted to do well so she partnered up with Jack and I told Koko that I wouldn’t leave her behind – I had no specific time goal set on this race and really just wanted a memorable experience. So when we had to stop at mile 4 I happily (seriously) waited for Koko while she waited for the potty. And I tweeted, texted my parents and snapped this picture (priorities, obviously)
We looped around from South Congress to South First to head back towards the city. In my head I was looking forward to this because the gradual uphill run on So.Co. meant a gradual downhill for S. First. I don’t remember much from this stretch – took a Gu in here somewhere and stopped at every other water stop – Koko was on my heels and I tried to keep a view of her in my periphery. We did a great job of sticking together!
Eventually we made it back across the lake to head into the final 4 miles. I remember mile 9 was the Livestrong cheering station and it reminded me a lot of the St. Jude Campus part of the St. Jude Half. There was so much yellow and energy and cheering and high fives that it re-energized me for a bit until I knew what was coming.
Lyndsay and I drove the course (like good scouts) the Friday before the race and I knew some of the steepest hills were yet to come. By mile 11 I had re-started my playlist so all of my favorite songs were coming up again. Then we hit this – oh shit.
The picture doesn’t do this hill justice at all. It’s steeper and longer than the bridges I run on Mud Island. I knew it was coming so I stopped to take this photo and then just put my head down, focused on one step at a time and eventually was at the top. Where I almost puked but managed to hold it in. That would have taken too much time anyway. The course directors threw a few more baby hills (but at this point in the race, a hill is a damn hill.) and I fist-pumped to Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger all the way to the finish. Almost anyway, decided the fist-pumping was a large drain on my puny energy stores.
Koko definitely dropped the hammer at the end and had a strong sprint to the finish – I picked up the pace a bit but that last hill completely killed my legs and they just weren’t having that last burst of speed.
We were herded through the masses to reunite with Lyndsay and Jack who finished ahead of us with a very impressive time. I’m not sure if we missed the free food or what but it didn’t hold a candle to St. Jude’s post-race spread. I did manage to get my hands on a mini-bagel to settle down my Gu-belly (when there’s only Gu and water in your stomach after a race and you just need solid food).
We returned to the house and made more coffee to help us warm up. We hobbled up the stairs to stretch (lots of knee and lower-back complaints – are we old?!) and discuss the plans for the day. Most importantly it was straight to food and alcohol – more on that later.
Here’s what Gary had to report on the run: