Monday, February 15, 2010

Race Recap: Austin Half Marathon

I got a late start Saturday morning, or maybe I was just moving slow, but I took my time getting ready and packing. I had to make a stop at Kohl’s to pick a blanket (more on that later) and also Academy to pick up some GU and a new pullover. I decided that I would wear a half-zip pullover and my tights, but wanted to find a pink one since it would be Valentine’s Day :) I found one for $14.88 by the BCG brand. I actually loved it and am going to pick up another one.

I met my friends at the Expo. I was surprised how small the venue was and how few vendors were there. I made a bee-line for the marathon merch to find a shirt, and was sad to see most things had been picked over. This race gave you a backpack instead of a cotton tee, and while it’s pretty cool, I really wanted a shirt and was willing to buy it. I’m going to look for them online.

We arrived at our hotel/apartment, Hotel Allandale. This was one of the race hotels and the marathon actually ran right past it (PS: The hotel is far up north, off Mopac and Spicewood--insane they ran that far!)  The hotel is actually an apartment complex that has been converted to extended stay motels? I wasn't expecting that.  It was decent, but judging from the website I was a little hesitant about sleeping on the bed. Hence, bringing my own blanket and pillow. You can never be too careful.

We tried to go eat dinner downtown, but being a Saturday night and Valentine’s weekend we knew we wouldn’t get a table anywhere. We ended up at Olive Garden and waited way too long. Oh well. The guys loaded up on carbs.

I really wanted to visit friends in town but was so exhausted by 8:30. I went back and painted my nails and then fell fast asleep in my clean fleece blanket.

4:45 a.m. came pretty early. I do not sleep well before big events. I woke up multiple times throughout the night just ready for it to be 4:30. We all got up and ate breakfast (English muffin with PB and banana, and a little water) and got ready. Our hotel provided a shuttle (super nice!) and we were on the road by 5:30 a.m. I was really nervous about it being crazy cold, but it was bearable. I wore gloves that I bought at Wal-Mart last night—little boy Spiderman set, clearance for $3.

Sparkly fireworks went off when the race started—so fun! It took about 4 minutes for me to reach the start line and take off. Now, Austin is known for its hills, and I have done zero hill training (or serious training in general for that matter) so I was worried. The first 3.5 miles had lots of molehills. Not the way to start off a race. There were also very little spectators during that stretch. Miles 4-8 were relatively flat and by then I was feeling good. Miles 8-9 started getting hilly again, and then came Enfield. Omg.

Basically you’re already running up a gradual incline and you see everyone ahead of you make a sharp turn right and head straight up. Enfield had lots of hills. Some of the down hills were great and fast, but it didn’t make up for having to climb back up. At mile 10 I felt like I was doing good. Energy wise and physically I felt 10 million times better than I did in Houston. I think mentally I let those hills discourage me. I had 45ish minutes to run the rest of the race and beat my time. I had heard that the last section of the course was downhill. Lies. When I got to mile 12 a HUGE climb greeted me.

Maybe I turned and told a 50+ year old lady, “This is effing ridiculous,” to which she replied sweetly, “I know, would you like some energy?” She offered me some GU. I told her no and kept going. Why did I say this to stranger? I was crazy. I’m so glad she was so nice.

I made it to the top where the Capitol Building sits. From there you just run around the building and you’re done. I was so happy.

I hit the line and took about 4 steps and came to a dead halt. There were tons of people just backed up. I was no longer happy. My legs immediately started cramping. There was no way of getting out of the line because the Full Marathon finish line was to the left and chain metal fence was on the right. Apparently they thought it would be a good idea to immediately hand out finishers shirt at the finish line and also give you your snacks. It was awful! I heard someone behind say that the line had backed up behind the finish line. Can you imagine running all that way only to have to wait to cross the finish line? Just a little ridiculous.

My overall feelings about this race are mixed. Everyone I met at the Houston Marathon told me Houston’s was the best, even better than most Rock’n’Roll marathons, and I have to agree now. Houston spoiled me.

Pros about Austin Marathon
Cool logo/merchandise
Neat backpack
Run Austin tattoo? Yes please
Fast course if you have trained for hills
Cool medals!
Hills—it's good to be challenged!

Cons about Austin Marathon:
Crowd support was weak in most stretches
Expo was mediocre
Not enough merchandise
No cotton tee
Poor logistics at finish line/celebration after
Hills—my knees are going to fall off tomorrow

I improved my time by 2 mins, and was really hoping for more, but I'll take it. a PR is a PR.  I know that if I ran up more of those hills I could have shaved some more time off, but it just wasn't happening. I'm going to be making a few dates with the Kemah bridge soon.

I won’t lie, I think I’m addicted to the Half. I really have no desire to run a full at this point in my life, but half marathons are becoming addicting. I was almost tempted to sign up for another next month. I’m going to pass. I’m thinking of finding a 10K or 5K.
Race goodies & necessities

Before the race.  You can see the Capitol in the background.  We were running the half, half, and full!

Sitting with my bling on an Austin curbside.  Not the first time...haha

Celebrating with Kev (middle). He finished the full in under 3 hours!!! A sub 7 min mile pace, and his first marathon!


rena said...

good job! i love that you painted your nails before ;) and sitting on an austin curb? been there, done that.

Kelly said...

Awesome job!!! I have similar feelings about the logistics at the finish, not cool.

TX Runner Mom said...

Way to go! Austin is hard, but it is a pretty course (well prettier than it used to be). I remember that freaking hill at the end. I turned the corner and my friend stopped dead in her tracks and yelled "What the f*ck!?!", lol! Great job!

♥ jmo said...

I was so angry at that last Enfield hill. I've driven it a million times and knew it was insane, but the only time I'd ever run on it was as a downhill in the Cap 10k. Needless to say, I walked it this time.

Melissa-D said...

Great job!!! Half marathons are definitely way more fun than the full! I like the idea of a bag...that's a cool prize!

balanceformere said...

Great job! Congrats! Do you ever read Part of Life is Having a Great Ponytail, Kelly? She ran the race too.

Vic said...

I wish we had had time to meet up again! Congrats on the finish!! Hills be damned, you conquered Austin!

Running 365 said...

That's funny about your comment to the runner on the hill. I've been in that situation many times where I've said something like that and immediately regretted it.

Congrats on another race under your belt!