I kept forgetting to do a race report for the Austin Half Marathon. It’s now been over a month, and I better get all this stuff down before I forget any more details.
I had been really stressing out for this race because based on my time trial and the 10K result, the predicted time for a half marathon was 2 hours and 15 minutes. My best time for a half marathon was 2:21:21 just the month before. I didn’t think I could do it that fast, but I thought that once I got over the initial large hill at Congress, it would be a cake walk up until Enfield (the dreaded hill). The night before the half, I made a pace band with our target times for each mile based on the recommendations of a Rogue coach, and our target was about 2:17.
The alarm went off awfully early on Sunday morning, and the fiancé and I got up, got dressed, I rolled out my calves, had toast with strawberry jam, and we made our way to the downtown Rogue location. It was still pitch black when we got there, but there was plenty of parking. We went to the bathroom, warmed up a bit, and just as we were getting ready to go, I had to go to the bathroom again.. whenever I get nervous, I get an urge to go #1. We rushed out and started making our way to the start line, which was a challenge because of the road closures.
Meanwhile, my friend Christi and Alicia were waiting for me at the 4:40 pace sign, and they kept texting me.. they were afraid I wouldn’t make it in time. However, I did get there with a few minutes to spare, and the boy went to his pace group. Alicia was not running the race, but she was there to cheer us on.
It was starting to get light out, and we heard the horn signifying the start of the race. We walked for a while before we got close to the start line due to the large amount of people in front of us. Just as we were about to cross the start line, I felt a tightness in my calf and I asked Christi to wait while I stretched it against the curb.
As we were getting started, I kept reminding myself that it was just a long run with a whole lot of people in hopes of soothing my nerves. We got started and we were trying hard to stay on pace, as we tend to go faster in the beginning. Before we knew it, it was almost mile 2; we heard Alicia’s cow bell, and as I saw her, I started trying to take off my long sleeve pullover, while she yelled at me to keep running.. there were a bunch of people coming right at me as I slowed down. I did manage to take it off, throw it at her, and apologized to the people behind me.
We ran over the Congress Bridge, and prepared ourselves for the long uphill. As we were going up hill, I knew we were falling behind schedule, but we tried not to push ourselves too hard.. we had to reserve our energy. I tried to look around to distract myself, but it just felt like the hill was never going to end. Christi was asking about the time, but I didn’t want her to worry too much, so I told her we were a little behind, but not by much.. which was true.
We finally made it up to Ben White, and turned on South First Street. I told her this was the time to make up the time we had fallen behind, and we went down much faster, yet we kept control. When I’m running, I’m always looking at people’s signs… I was distracted by a sign that said “Nipple Chaffing turns me on.” I laughed, and then I heard someone yell “Christi!” and we both turned. It was one of the Rogue coaches, Michelle; she then yelled my name, and we waved and marched on.
At mile 8, we had caught up to our goal time, and as we approached a water stop, Christi said that she needed to walk. Once we started walking, I realized how tired I was. The gluten-free energy gels weren’t really doing much for me–I wasn’t getting a burst of energy like I normally would. I had tried them on earlier runs, but I never realized that I wasn’t getting the bursts of energy. Regardless, we had a race to RUN, so we picked up our speed, then we crossed the South First bridge, and rounded the corner onto Cesar Chavez. Alicia was there and she started running with us in her winter coat! She asked us how we were doing, and I waved my hand “so so.” I asked her if she’d seen my fiancé, and she said that she did, and he was very sweaty. I wasn’t sure how he would do because he’d had shin splints all season and didn’t train for the half marathon, so I was glad to see he was doing okay. She cheered us on as she went back to the sidelines.
We still had a long way to go, and the next thing we had to look forward to was the LIVESTRONG Yellow Mile at mile 9. There were a lot of supporters and cheerleaders dressed in yellow who gave us a boost we really needed. The high was short-lived as we approached MoPac, and we were going uphill once again. I kept telling Christi that I didn’t remember that as a hill at all. We pushed through it. It was now mile 10, and I told Christi we only had a 5K to go. Mentally, I felt like I could do it.. just a half hour or so to go.
We turned onto Winsted, and there was another large hill. I thought it was the large hill on Enfield, but she told me it wasn’t. Christi said she was saving her walking for Enfield, but all of a sudden, I felt like I couldn’t run. I told her I needed to walk; I was having trouble breathing, and I realized it was my asthma. I pulled out my inhaler, caught my breath, and we started running again. We came to the split where the marathoners went left, and we went right, and I was feeling tired again. I slowed down a bit, and Christi got ahead of me. We were way behind our time, and I was just thinking “I give up. I give up” and I started walking. Then I saw that Christi had stopped to look for me, and I knew I didn’t really want to give up, and I started running again.
Then on Enfield, I saw it… the worst hill of the whole race! As we got closer, it just looked surreal… it seemed like people were moving in slow motion. I was telling myself to ignore that it was a hill, and told Christi we weren’t going to walk it. But as I started running up it, my thighs felt like they were going to give out. I literally had to push down on my left thigh as we walked up the hill. We finished walking up the hill, and started running again.
At this point, I knew our goal time was not going to happen, but I really wanted to beat last year’s time. We stuck together, and after mile 12, we heard honking in the lane next to us as a truck drove by. My brain doesn’t function very well when I’m running, so it didn’t click in that there shouldn’t be any vehicles in that lane, only runners. Christi said that the first of the marathoners were coming. I kept turning and saw a police motorcycle coming, and people started cheering. I told Christi that even though the crowd was cheering for the first marathoner, we should still soak it in and take advantage of it. We saw Omar (the overall winner) pass us, and we kept running. Alicia popped out of nowhere, and she ran a little bit more with us. She told us that we were almost there, and said she’d see us after the finish line. We sprinted towards the finish line, and I was so proud to have stuck it out! Our official time was 2:23:02, which means I beat last year’s time of 2:25:06.
I was so glad that Christi was there to help me through this half marathon because I don’t think I would’ve beat last year’s time if it weren’t for her.
We took a few photos and met up with Alicia. I couldn’t find my fiancé, and Alicia had his cell phone, which she then handed to me. We eventually we split up, and decided to meet at Hopdoddy’s and I walked back to Rogue. I called my mom on my way back, and then I got a call from the boy telling me he was at Rogue. He ran his race at 2:08:32 which was awesome considering he didn’t train at all!
We drove up to Hopdoddy’s for lunch.. we were all starrrrving! Alicia gave Christi and me envelopes from our other friend who couldn’t be there. We missed her lots, but I was really touched that she thought of us and gave us cards and gift certificates for a massage place by Rogue. Totally unnecessary!! As adults, it’s really hard to make friends, and even harder to meet such great people, and I’m extremely thankful that I met these ladies.. they have become such good friends and supporters.
This race made me realize that I can’t take a race for granted even if I’ve run it before. I blacked out a lot of last year’s race (especially after mile 9) so I went in a bit over-confident that I could beat my 3M time. I also learned that I really can’t compare two races because they were completely different. Training for this half marathon was the longest I had trained for something.. almost 6 months. We had such an amazing and very supportive coach, James. He made it a lot of fun, even though the quality workouts weren’t my favourite. I look forward to training with him again.
For now, I’m taking a break from training, but in the future, I’d like to run a full marathon. I don’t see myself training for a full marathon this year, but you never know…