Race Recap: 2014 Austin Half Marathon

Christi and I trained for our first marathon in downtown Austin, instead of Cedar Park because we wanted James as our coach. Aside from the increased mileage, the training was more challenging because downtown Austin has a lot of hills. We talked about possibly running the Austin half marathon as we didn’t want our hill training to go to waste (the Houston marathon is pretty flat).

After our marathon, we weren’t so sure we wanted to run it. I kept going back and forth in my head, especially after my first post-marathon run; it wasn’t pretty. I was pretty slow and I was struggling. After a few more runs, my speed was increasing and my runs felt a lot better. I decided to sign up for the Austin Half about 10 days before the race.

Alicia and I went to the expo on Friday, and when I got home, my fiancé told me he had to go out of town for a relative’s funeral; we decided it would be best if I stayed and met with the wedding cake baker on Saturday and ran the half marathon on Sunday. The night before the half marathon, I was really nervous; this was the first time I was running a half marathon on my own. Two years ago, I ran my first half marathon, but my fiancé was also running it, although we weren’t running it together. While waiting to start the race, I saw a girl from our training program, and I ran almost half of it with her. Last year, I ran the 3M marathon with my 3 running buddies (recap), and I ran the Austin half with Christi (recap).

The morning of the half, I was still feeling really nervous. Alicia, C, and I went downtown the morning of.

Us before the race

They started walking to mile 2 – the first place where they were going to cheer me on, and I went to say hi to my coach and his wife who were the 4:25 pacers. He told me I could do this on my own, and I had already run some of the marathon of my own. I felt a little better, and I went to the 4:55 pacers. My plan was to start with the pacers for the first mile or two, and then go on my own.

Miles 0-6
The race started, and when we all started moving toward the start line, more people moved between me and the pacers. I could kind of see them, but lost them. Once I crossed the start line, I felt a little better. As I approached mile 2, I was on the lookout for Alicia and C. I saw them, and gave Alicia a high 5. It started to warm up, and going uphill on Congress was a  little rough. I was going a bit slower than I was hoping to be going.

Miles 6-9
As I went to go downhill on South 1st Street, I picked up the speed. I knew this was where I had to pick up the pace and make up the time from my earlier miles. I saw a couple of ladies from the marathon training program; they were running the full marathon. They congratulated me on my marathon, and I wished them luck on their race. I saw Alicia and C close to mile 9, and Alicia ran with me for a little bit; she asked how I was doing, and I told her I was bored. She went back to C, and I walked my first water stop; I had Gatorade and grabbed water for my wash towel. It was really humid at this point.

Miles 9-12
When I did the half marathon the last 2 years, mile 9 was the LIVESTRONG Yellow Mile; However, this year, the marathon and half marathon were sponsored by Freescale, so the Yellow Mile was replaced by a little bit of orange tents and a few people cheering, but it was nothing compared to the Yellow Mile. I greatly missed it. I passed the 4:40 pacers around this time.

Once we were approaching mile 10, we started going up the MoPac on-ramp; it got hard again. I had slowed down again, but I kept running. The 4:40 pacers passed me.

Another hill came and right after, there was a water stop; I barely made it to that water stop, so I walked it. As we approached Enfield and mile 11, the marathoners turned left, and we turned right. I remembered having a hard time after mile 11 last year, but I wouldn’t let myself walk for the rest of the race; I had to try to get the best time possible. I spotted the awful hill on Enfield. When you drive down the hill on Enfield, it feels like your stomach drops like on a roller coaster. As you get closer to it, however, it looks like it’s flatter than it actually is. Last year, I tried to ignore the fact that it was a hill and tried to run up it. My legs were exhausted and I had to push on my quads just to WALK up the hill. This year, I told myself that I was going to run it. So I started up the hill, and I kept going; I repeated “don’t quit” over and over until I made it over the hill. I was so proud of myself for having run it for the first time!

Miles 12+
I knew the hardest part was behind me, and it was time to pick up the pace. I was still tired and hot, but I knew that I had to keep going. Alicia had texted me that she wouldn’t be there at mile 13 (another tough spot), but then she texted me once I turned the corner onto San Jacinto and I wasn’t sure where she was exactly (she had said she was “around the corner” but didn’t specify which corner). She yelled out my name when she saw me, and I waved. The last two weeks, I had been training to sprint to the end, and on San Jacinto, I sped up. As I turned on 11th street I increased the speed even more, and kept going down Congress and across the finish line.

My time was 2:17:52, which was 3 minutes and 29 seconds faster than my half marathon PR (2013 3M Half Marathon), and 5 minutes and 9 seconds faster than last year’s Austin Half time. I was very proud of myself for being able to do so well despite the 94% humidity. This year, I find that I have more discipline, and I’m able to keep pushing myself.

Before getting my medal and with my friends

Before getting my medal and with my friends

I met up with Alicia and C after I picked up my medal, some food, and my finisher shirt. After talking to my mom on the phone, I took a photo with my cheerleaders! I can’t wait to return the favor next month.

The finisher shirt and medal

The finisher shirt and medal

Next year, I’m planning on doing the Austin marathon; I’ve already signed up for it!

I did it! First Marathon Recap

When I last left you guys, I was one month into marathon training, struggling with running in the heat, but making the most of it.

After many weeks and many long runs, the day of the marathon finally came… Sunday, January 19th.

That morning was an early one. My running buddies (C, Alicia, and Christi who was running with me), my fiancé, my running buddy’s mom and friend (who was running the half) were also there.

runningbuds

We walked to the convention center to wait until we could head to the start line. We went to the bathroom, and patiently waited until it was time to head out.

We made our way to our corral, and  we had some time to kill. It was a bit chilly, and I felt like I had to go to the bathroom (despite having JUST gone), but I tried to ignore the feeling.  We reminded each other “it’s just a long run with a bunch of other people;” our mantra for every race. As we waited, I prayed for strength, the ability to do this, for my legs to not feel heavy, to finish this with a smile, and be able to finish it strong.

waiting to start

When people finally started moving, it had almost been 20 minutes since the start gun had gone off.  Our plan was to stick with the 11:30 pacers for at least 5 miles, and then go on our own. 

MIles 0-7: We started the race about 21 minutes after the gun went off, and during the first mile, my knee hurt a little bit. It went away on its own shortly there after. I kept seeing the kilometer markers and I was annoyed.. I knew there would be 42 of them, and it would be a LOT worse to see those go by one by one, than the mile markers. I finally decided to make a pit stop around mile 4, and Christi was to keep going with the pacer so I would be able to find her. As always, I chose the wrong line, and had to wait to use the porta-potty. I felt like it took me forever to catch up to them. There were turns and I just couldn’t see the pacer at all…  Until I finally did about a mile later and rejoined my friend. We hit the 10K mark at about 1h 10min, and it felt like we were going a bit slow, but I had to remind myself that we weren’t running a 10K, but a marathon. I was in contact with my fiancé and my sister via text messages (I had Siri read the messages and I dictated my replies), so I had asked for my hand towel as it was getting hot. I’d brought the hand towel because a wet hand towel had really helped me during those 100°F runs, and I knew it would warm up.

Miles 7-14: We saw our cheer squad around mile 7;  my fiancé handed me my hand towel as I ran by.

mile7

It was such an adrenaline rush to see them. I was VERY excited. We sped up a little bit and passed the pacers. At the next water stop, I soaked the hand towel with water, and placed around my neck.  Around mile 8, the course divided up, and the half marathoners went a different way. At some point, Christi had to go to the bathroom, while I ran on. By this point, there weren’t nearly as many people lining up at the porta-potties. We hit the 13.1 mark at 2:28:something (I knew because I started getting texts about where I was.. unbeknownst to me, my mom had accidentally signed me up to receive them), and while we were ahead of our 5 hour pace goal, we didn’t have a big cushion.  My sister texted me and I laughed at how Siri interpreted her text “You’re doing great! Half way!! Green heart, green heart, party popper, party popper, party popper, confetti ball

Miles 14-19: I started to recognize the galleria area, and I knew our cheer squad would be there. I saw my fiancé, who was holding a sign, but he was alone. he was running in with me to get a photo; it was so cute.

running together

We were starting to get tired, but we kept marching on. As it got closer to 30K, it felt like it would NEVER happen. I was feeling so tired, and my body was screaming at me to walk; I said to Christi, “I don’t know how we’re still running!” We finally saw the 30K sign, and the text notification told me 3:32:something. Which meant that I had beat my time for the 30K two weeks earlier by about 8 minutes. I was very stoked! We hit a water stop, and we walked it. I was breathing a little heavy, but once I caught my breath, I felt energized, even though my quads were getting sore.

Miles 19-23: The next place we were meeting our cheer squad came up rather quickly. We were planning on meeting them at mile 20, but they couldn’t drive into Memorial Park. My fiancé texted me, “we’re just past I-610” as we saw the sign for I-610, so they were just on the other side of the highway. They had stuff with them for us to eat (a cutie orange and some pretzels for me). This was our planned stop to eat; our coach told us we could eat something then, and we’d be okay to finish the race; he also said it would help mentally.  I told my fiancé also that I didn’t know how we were still running, and I wanted to cry. Alicia ran with us for a little bit—she was such a welcome distraction. We saw the 32K mark, and I said, “we GOT THIS. We’ve only got 10K to go!” Alicia left us to go back, and we kept marching on. It started to get hot, we were getting more tired. We walked a little bit, took longer at the water stops.

Miles 23+: It felt like the kilometers were dragging on… I saw the 37K marker, and I told Christi that we had 35 minutes to do a 5K, that we HAD to pick up the pace if we were going to meet our goal. So we were re-energized, and kept going. My mom texted me to tell me they were watching it on TV and they would be looking for me at the end. Around 38K, Christi was like “you’re so strong. I can’t do this” and I said “yes you can!” and we kept going… for a few more steps, then she said “no I can’t” and I turned to see her, and she had slowed down to walk. And I thought “i gotta go…” I HAD to try my hardest to meet my big goal.. to make it under 5 hours. I don’t know where I got the energy from, but I started moving faster than I had been. It was quite noticeable around all the people who were walking, and people were calling my name and commenting on my pace. It felt like I was never going to make it to the finish line. I approached mile 25, and I got a text from my sister “you’re so close! one more to go!!” followed by another text asking me to wave at the camera when I got to the finish line. I told myself, “you can do this!” So I kept digging and digging from somewhere, and praying “please give me strength!” and I would clench my teeth and move forward. The last long stretch downtown (on Lamar), it felt like there would never be a turn toward the finish line. I saw the 1/2 mile marker, and I complained to myself, but kept running. I kept checking my Garmin; it was going to be tight. I was picturing the end of our runs, where we are when we’re coming up to the store. I saw the next sign “1/4 mile” and I was like, “what was only a quarter-mile???” and then I made a slight turn and saw my cousins cheering for me. I was sooo excited because I didn’t think they were going to make it—they never texted me. They were cheering so loud, and I waved at them.

wave

I also knew that at the bleachers, our cheer squad would be there, and I saw them going crazy! I waved and started sprinting. I kept running until I had crossed both of the markers.

Finish line

strong finish with a smile on my face!

I looked down at my Garmin. 4:59:40. I then saw the cameras and waved as my sister had asked. I got the text and my unofficial time was 4:59:37. I got my medal and started crying. I couldn’t believe it. Not only had I completed the marathon, but I had also done it under 5 hours. I waited for Christi.. it didn’t take her long to come. I’m so incredibly proud of the both of us… I never thought I would actually be able to run a marathon, and do it so well.

With our medals

 

We were hoping we wouldn’t get picked up for going too slow. My second goal was to beat my dietitian’s time for her first marathon (she told me to); her time 5:01:15. My big goal was to do it under 5 hours; definitely not fast… 73% of the finishers did so before me. However, according to the stats, I passed 814 runners in the second half, and 10 passed me (compared to over the first half where I passed 379 runners, and 199 passed me).

My family :)

My family :)

I definitely want to run more marathons in the future, perhaps one as early as this December!

Marathon Training – Week 2

Week 2 was a huge improvement over Week 1.

The run on Wednesday went was exponentially better than the first week’s run; we actually did the 6 miles and then some (we got a little lost which added about a quarter of a mile to our workout)! I was really proud of my friend for sticking it out even though her calves had been really bothering her for the first half. To help us cool off, I brought us some wash cloths; we soaked them and  put around our necks. It made a world of difference!! It also helped to see our coach around miles 2 and 4. He reassured us that running in the heat would help us be stronger runners next month.

Saturday’s run was a little more challenging. Although I didn’t check the weather, it felt really humid. I had a lot more issues with the hills and my asthma. If my asthma doesn’t improve in the next week or so, I’ll have to go back to my doctor and see if I should be using a different type of control inhaler; I simply cannot be walking up all the hills! The run itself felt pretty long, but it wasn’t too bad. My friend’s calves were doing a lot better.

On Saturday night, my fiancé and I went to a bachelor party for a couple of our friends who are getting married this weekend. We got home around midnight, but I still set my alarm for 6:15, and went out on my recovery run on Sunday morning. I was glad I was able to get up and do it!

Workouts:

  • Monday: Core
  • Tuesday: 3 miles
  • Wednesday: 6 miles
  • Thursday: yoga
  • Saturday: 7 miles
  • Sunday: 3 miles

Marathon Training

Marathon training officially began on Wednesday.

A couple of friends and I signed up to do training downtown because our favourite coach is doing the Austin Marathon program there.

dt

 

Our first quality run was 5 miles; however, I had a really hard time on the run. It was still close to 100F around 6:45 when we started running, and my asthma kicked my butt: I couldn’t catch my breath and was feeling light-headed and nauseous. My friend C was still with me, and we decided to cut the run down to 5K; we walked about half of it. I felt like a failure, but I know that it wasn’t my legs that were giving out on me. It also reminded me to go get some more Asmanex (daily asthma medication).

Our coach invited everyone to meet him and his wife at Takoba for dinner after the workout. During dinner and drinks, my friends and I decided that this year, we were going to do things right. We are going to go to core classes {which we hate}, and  we’re going to do the sprints and exercises after our quality workouts. We learned our lesson from last year: Rogue’s training program works, but they work best if we follow them completely {not just the parts we choose}.

Yesterday, I went on my long run – 6 miles with my friend, Alicia, who was doing 9 miles (she’s training for a half marathon). Although it was slow, it was still a good run. I didn’t feel the need to walk, nor did my asthma bother me. I hadn’t had a good run in a long time, so I was glad to get a good one in.

Last week’s workouts were:

  • Monday – 3 miles
  • Wednesday – 3.2 miles
  • Thursday – core
  • Sunday – 6 miles

This week will be a little more packed!

Are you training for anything?

Race Recap: 2013 Austin Half Marathon

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.

Me and Christi in front of the Capitol

Me and Christi in front of the Capitol

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.

Crossing the finish line

Crossing the finish line (via)

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!

With our shiny medals

With our shiny medals

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.

Me, Christi, and Alicia at Hopdoddy's

Me, Christi, and Alicia at Hopdoddy’s

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…

medal

The Half Marathon Medal

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