Austin 3M Half Marathon with a friend of mine. She ended up not running for personal reasons (job conflict), but I decided to make the trip and have a visit anyway! Oh, how I love Austin. Great weather, great food, moderate COL....mmmm....if only I could talk Princess Charming into moving there (not happening).
Since my friend's wife is about to pop, we spent most of the weekend watching football and cable. Not bad! :) And, oh, the race!
I was dropped off about 6:15 for the 6:45 start. 6:45? Seriously? In January? Well, whatever the reasons, they were moot since we didn't start until 7:30 due to the wind apparently blowing down the traffic barriers all along the course! Quite a while to be hanging out in the start corrals, but it did give me time to shimmy in towards the 2:00 pacer. I had waited so long for a porta-potty, I barely made it to the start before the opening charades!
I'd really wanted to break 2 hours with this race. Pre-foot break, I'd only run one over-2 hr half, and that was my first race in 2004 (I didn't run another until 2007). Since then...well, lets just say I've done a few semi-trained run/walks, then the Philly Half which was OK, but a 2:15. So I decided to hang out with the 2:00 pacers, a team from a local running club - of which Austin has about 8 dozen based on the tees I saw on the course - who were running at their "training pace". For those not in the "know," that's elite runner speak for "easy run" pace. This is supposed to be a couple of minutes slower per mile than your race pace. I can't imagine running a 10:30-11ish mile for all of my easy mileage, so perhaps I am just running too slow for my quality (speed and pace and race) mileage? I don't know. Regardless, I am clearly just not "there" in my running skill.
So, around 7:30, we took off. This course is advertised as being downhill, but it really should be labeled "rolling hills with an overall decline in elevation." I PRd here in 2008, so I was aware, but to be honest, the hills seemed much worse this time! The first few miles were good. I felt good, and I kept with or slightly ahead of the pacers. Around mile 6 though, I walked a water stop and never caught them again....
I kept trucking pretty well until mile 9. There was a pretty nice hill here, and the old muscle in my back started twinging, and I hit somewhat of a wall. I can't believe there is a WALL in a half marathon, and I'd eaten breakfast - though I probably could have used some sport beans around mile 7 - so I think it was mental. I got down on myself about losing the pacers and the tiredness in my legs. Why am I tired, I've only been running 90 minutes? hah.
Somewhere after mile 11 I switched to 3 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking (in addition to the water stops I always walk), but oddly enough, I kept my pace. All of my miles were between 9:15 and 9:40, which I feel good about.
I crossed the finish in 2:03:08, "just a couple of minutes past the pacers!" as Princess Charming and my friend put it. That didn't sit well with me, but they had been waiting at the finish line since the elite folks came through - thanks to the delayed start - so how could I be mad? :) I decided to focus my anger instead on complaining about the obvious genetic advantages of the guy who passed me at mile 4 pushing a DOUBLE jogging stroller. They'd seen him finish - who could miss that - about 10 minutes before me.
Overall, this is a great mid-sized race, and I'd love to do it again sometime....if only for the chance to go to Austin again! And I still placed in the top 10 of the Filly's class (Embracing my body!), so I can't really complain about my performance. AND it IS a post-injury (x2!) Personal Record!