It’s true. If you love Austin you run Austin. Or at least it’s true for me. This is the city where I started endurance running, where I trained for my first half marathon in 2008 and trained for my first full marathon in 2009. In 2010 I finally ran the Austin Half Marathon (for the first time). I feel like I know the city best by its different neighborhoods.
No surprise really that I came back to run again.
So, Austin Half Marathon 2014 it was. Now a destination race.
It all started off before the race with my awesome friend Michelle dropping me off near the start line at dark o’clock; perfectly positioned for the gear check area and a last port-a-pottie stop.
Then I made my way towards the capitol building where 3 of my Austin Team in Training running buddies were meeting me, so we could head out together. We weaved our way through the crowd to get a decent start position and chatted and waited. My friends had no real race strategy other than “running until we need to walk” (which – if you are reading this as a new runner – is NOT a good race strategy. Do as I say not as I do!).
The start went off without a hitch. We ran and ran and ran. Meaning: I ignored my tried and tested intervals for the first 3.5 miles. We passed some of my favorite places:
And all she could suddenly think of was Mexican Vanilla ice-cream.
‘Cause everyone knows this is the best coffee in town (not that they need a sign really):
I pondered for a while what this sign was trying to tell me or whether it was even related to the marathon at all:
Let me know if you can figure this out!
The weather was overcast. Initially there was some light rain which was very welcome. Humidity was around 90%. And though I took this photo the day after (same with the photo of the coffee, ’cause we both know drinking a cup of Jo’s while running is probably not the best idea…)
That’s a slightly clearer view than on race day. Now imagine 20,000 runners on this street and you know what it was like.
There was an awesome cheering station around mile 3. I kind of wished that they would be there again at mile 11 when I really needed them.
At the water stop around mile 5.5 I lost my running buddies, but then I just made some new friends on the course.
At mile 7 I was looking out for my Michigan State University buddies who said that’s where they might be. AnneRenee was giving out “free High 5s” and I nearly missed her as I was so focused on the sign, WANTING a High 5! Not only did I get a High 5, I also get an inspiring hug. Low and behold, 2 of my Team in Training friends, Connie and Julie, stood right next to AnneRenee which was an awesome surprise as I hadn’t seen them in a long time. More hugs and off I went again.
My friend Arek caught up with me at mile 8 and ran with me for about a block. I was still feeling strong and ready to tackle the remaining 5 miles.
At mile 10 I found my lost running buddies again who were still doing great with their race strategy. However, finally the fast start was catching up with me and I was losing some energy. But now there was less than a 5k to go. A piece of cake!
Rob showed up around mile 11, cheering me on and walking a few steps with me. Rob and I have run many races together, so it was a treat to have him cheer me on (but I do think next time I challenge him to run again!).
2 more hills to go. Did I mention it was a hilly course? According to my Garmin: a 754ft elevation gain, which is actually pretty little for me after my recent Brazen races (but still caught me out!). So Arek caught up with me again around mile 11.5. From here on he was bringing me home to the finish line. There wasn’t that much running going on for the last 2 hills, but it was great to have company and now I can just say “I didn’t want to leave Arek behind.”(Oh, I love this excuse!! …though we both know better…).
It was a great finish! Not a PR by any means, but having friends show up on the course, cheering you on, running and walking with you, is a personal best for all of us in my books! Thank you guys!!!
Here is what a happy runner looks like:
And eventually (a day later) I got my other reward: