One of the things I love about Austin is that the terrain is so different than my home in Houston less than three hours away. Having moved from Hawaii where I ran hills daily, to Houston where running hills takes some planning and creativity, the Austin Half Marathon is always pretty humbling. This was my third time running the race, and it’s one I’ll definitely continue to come back to run.
First of all, Austin is an incredible city. If you’ve never been – go. You won’t regret it! This time around, we embraced some of the college life by watching the UT v. Rice baseball game on Saturday. I’d never really thought about it, but watching baseball is a solid pre-race ritual. It’s relaxing, you’re sitting down, and it’s social so you keep your mind off the nerves that race weekend can bring. On Saturday I also wandered the expo (where I got to hang out with new nuun buddies and meet the CIM race director) and said goodbye to the Whole 30 with a delicious carb load at Asti.
We were staying downtown so race morning was completely seamless. Our hotel was just a block from the beginning of the start corral so we were able to head over in plenty of time. Austin doesn’t do corrals by pace, which means you can just find where you think you should start – it’s a small enough race that this works just fine. After a lovely rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, the gun went off (along with a weird fog from the start line…not sure what they were going for there) and we hit the road.
The first three miles take you up South Congress and this uphill stretch made me question why I was running this half for “fun” anyway. But hey, I had great company and before I knew it we were turning onto first street for a luxurious downhill stretch. After three lovely miles down (and no surprise here our fastest three miles), we crossed the bridge over the lake onto Cesar Chavez. Coming off the bridge is always my favorite part of this race. It’s where the crowds come out and cheer you on like crazy…thank you Austinites!
After running along the lake for a bit, we headed up into the neighborhoods which meant some more ups and downs which I am totally feeling in my quads today. The heat (70+ degrees and 87% humidity) was also taking a bit of a toll and I couldn’t have been more grateful for the nuun hydration on course. After the marathon split off, I knew we were so close and only had one big monster of a hill left. At that point, my legs were trashed and Frances and I were just keeping each other motivated and accountable. With a mile to go, the big monster hill I’d been dreading finally arrived and halfway up we made the decision to power walk to the top. That little break didn’t impact pace too much and allowed us to finish strong, hard and totally drenched in sweat! Not a PR, but with the heat and hills I was happy to finish at a strong 1:47, right in line with my time from prior years (where the heat index was much lower).
After grabbing a water, claiming our belt buckle medals, and snapping a few pics we were off to the beer garden. I loved that a local brewery, Oskar Blues Brewery Austin was represented and the beer totally hit the spot, too. Overall, another great 13.1 miles of running in Austin!