Hey y’all! I’m back.
Austin was fantastic. We had some great experiences (that I will share in good time). We arrived on a Saturday late afternoon however our bags didn’t make it past Chicago. In a fleeting moment of intelligence the evening prior I packed my running shoes and race outfit in my carry on bag THANK GOD because our bags ended up not arriving until Sunday afternoon/evening and I would’ve been SOL for one of the first items on our itinerary: Sunday morning’s Austin Half Marathon.
Since I wanted to take this as more of a long run than a race, I decided to leave the Garmin at home and my phone on airplane mode (no Nike app) and just run by feel.
The race started at 7am and I wanted to be at the start line for 6:30 AT THE LATEST. I woke up at 5:30, got dressed and ate some oatmeal. I taped my shins and worked my way into some brand new compression socks, trying not to mess up my tape job, which I counted as my race warm up. I think we ended up leaving the house at 6:30 (cue panic attack) and we rushed to the start.
As we reached the start the Star Spangled Banner was being sung, and I had no time to search out a just-in-case pre-race porta-potty visit. I couldn’t decide if I was just thinking I needed to go, or if I actually did. But either way, it was time to run. I tried to make my way up to the 3:50 pace bunny (there were only bunnies for the full marathon), but no luck. The crowd was too huge and it was time to go.
Disclaimer: Brace yourself for some classic race-face photos.
The race started winding through downtown. It was downhill to start, flattened out, and around the 3 mile mark we head up the giant hill that is South Congress Ave.
During the 3 mile climb up S Congress I continued to doge people. It seemed like whenever I’d aim for a gap between runners, it would close and I’d have to hop to the side to get around. Great for the shins, but I survived.
Around the 4 mile mark I could no longer ignore the pain in my bladder, so at the next water/porta-potty station I hopped in line. In hindsight I should’ve ducked behind a building because the line took somewhere around 10 minutes to get through, and the porta-potty I went into was the second worst one I have ever experienced. Then I had to retie my shoes so that ate up a couple minutes. Whatever, no big deal. I wasn’t “racing”.
The course turned West then North, back towards downtown along 1st Street (running parallel to S Congress), and it was a nice gradual downhill to the 9 mile mark.
Back on the North side of Town Lake, the course went West along Cesar Chavez to just past the Mopac (freeway?), splitting off from the marathon course just before mile 11 and was a rolling uphill till about mile 11.5.
With downtown (aka the finish) in sight, the last 1.5 miles was a tease of “is this the last hill?” thoughts. Typically the answer was no.
Finally signs started popping up saying “600m left!” (or something like that) and I knew the end was near! For the first time in the race, there were very few people on the course with me. I cruised down the last hill, around a corner and to the finish, clock reading 2:13:something, chip time 2:06:56. Rachelle was on the side, ready to snap my picture.
Fun fact: The first men’s marathoner finished just after me.
I got handed my metal and a water. I walked right by the food table, grabbing a cookie, taking a bite, decided I didn’t want it and threw it out. Then I spotted what I did have an appetite for.
Yes. Beer at the finish. Amazing. I was indeed a thirsty goat.
I also paid $3 when I registered for a post-race taco. I ate that and it was also amazing.
Yes, the hills were challenging! But I really didn’t feel like they kicked my ass that much. I generally enjoyed the race. It was spectator mania, and since Austin is known for its weirdness, there were many appropriately quirky folk cheering you on.
Despite finishing over 2 hours, I think I would’ve definitely come in under had it not been for the lengthy bathroom break and I feel good about that fact since I was running pretty casually. I didn’t want to push it, and had I brought my garmin/turned my app on/found the pace bunny I may have pushed it a bit too hard and potentially set myself back a bit, or beat myself up mentally for not keeping on pace.
Would I recommend this race? Most definitely, and not just for the finish line beer and tacos. It’s not an easy course, so if you want a race that will push your limits than this is for you. The volunteers were happy and friendly, and spectators lined the course the whole way. It was a huge field, so points if you like running with lots of people with enthusiastic energy.
Not to mention that Austin is a fantastic city to visit, and you will definitely not lack in options for a post race meal or beverage of your fancy. I will definitely run this again!
Typically I like talking about what I ate before/after/during my races, but I’m saving those details for an extra special Austin round up post later on! Except for the Honey Stingers I ate halfway. There, you have it. Have a good weekend!