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