Yesterday (was it really only yesterday?) I ran the most difficult half marathon course of all time, and I lived to tell the tale! Austin is about 4ish hours from where I live, so my mom and I drove down the day before together. We had lots of fun talking and joking the whole way there. Unfortunately, the weather was crummy.
It had both of us really nervous for race day. (We didn’t want a repeat of White Rock!) My sleep was very restless that night. I guess sleeping in a hotel plus race nerves will do that to a girl. Not to mention, we woke up obscenely early. It was worth it, though! We got to the race site early enough to score a great parking spot. Bonus: the weather was cool, but with moderate wind and zero rain! We’ll take it!
The race started and ended at the state capitol. (Did you know that the Texas state capitol building is larger than any other state capitol building? Now you do!)
We hung out at the base of the capitol with the other runners. The race seemed more laid back than many that I’ve run. There were corrals, but they weren’t sectioned off, and they weren’t assigned. Basically, you lined up where you wanted to. Ten minutes before go-time, my mom headed toward the back corrals and I made my way up to the 9:00/mile section. The anthem was sung, the elites were off, and within 7 minutes, I was crossing the start line!
This race is known (in part) for its hills, so I was really scared that I’d bonk or end up taking much longer than I expected. My plan was to run my toushie off. I figured that if I gave it all I had, I wouldn’t have any regrets.
- Mile 1 – 9:19
- Mile 2 – 8:57
- Mile 3 – 8:47
Within the first three miles, I was already feeling the hills. When I was going up, I focused on pumping my arms. For some reason, I would hold my hands flat like I was doing a karate chop instead of holding my hands in fists. I probably looked crazy, but it worked! My friend Heather always says to “run through the hills,” meaning use your momentum to continue going fast. I practically sprinted on every downhill, but it made up for the time I lost going uphill.
- Mile 4 – 9:12
- Mile 5 – 9:15 (<– gu)
- Mile 6 – 9:07
Uphill, still uphill, more uphill. This section was brutal! I was able to stay positive (one of my goals), and when I felt like crap, I would just run even faster. When I took my Gu, I pulled over to the side of the course and walked. I think knowing that I’d get a walk break in made it easier to push myself. After the short break, I felt energized. Plus, I knew we were nearing a long downhill stretch.
- Mile 7 – 8:21
- Mile 8 – 8:31
- Mile 9 – 8:51 (<–more gu)
- Mile 10 – 9:11
These miles had incredible crowd support! People were so friendly. Even the police officers were dancing and high fiving runners. I saw some excellent signs. A few of my favorites: “Keep calm and JFR” and “Fast Girls have Good Times.”
Mile 9 was the Livestrong mile, so there were volunteers (I guess) cheering like crazy. The street had inspirational messages written in chalk. It was a great boost before the upcoming hills.
- Mile 11 – 8:59
- Mile 12 – 8:46 (<–“The Beast”)
- Mile 13 – 8:40
- Last .26 – 7:28
At 11.8 there was a behemoth of a hill that I referred to as The Beast. I had set the goal of being positive on hills, but this sucker was ridiculous. When I saw it, all I could say was, “Oh, Nelly.”
The pictures don’t do it justice. I was “running” up the hill, but I was probably moving at the speed of a fast walk. When I reached the top, I’m pretty sure my legs were hating me. My heart wanted to sprint since I was so near my goal time, but it took me a good while before my legs cooperated. I eventually got back into the groove, tackled the last remaining hills, and dashed to the finish line!
- 13.26 mile finish time: 1:57:56 (according to the race website)
- Average pace: 9:00/mile
I quickly made my way through the finishers chute and started heading back along the course. My mom was walking and still had a ways to go. I decided to head back as far as my wobbly legs would take me so that I could keep her company for her final miles.
Turns out, my mom had made a buddy and was having a great time! (I had been stressing about the fact that she might be hating the race & me because of all the hills. In fact, she said it wasn’t that hard!) We tackled The Beast together, continued on another mile, and then my mom finished on her own while I headed to the end of the chute to meet her.
We eventually met back up and hit the road. (Well, after we found our car; that part took a while!) If I had it to do over again, I’d love to stay an extra day so that we could take our time and enjoy the city a little more. The hills were torture, but I gotta say, I loved the race. The crowd support, organization, and swag (we got free SPI write bands) were all excellent.
I’d run it again in a heart beat!*