Sunday, February 14, 2010

Austin Half Marathon Race Report

Austin Half Marathon - 13.1 miles
Finished 92nd of 5086 women overall
19th in age group F30-34
Splits and HR data:
7:41(147), 7:46(162), 7:46 (164), 7:13 (162), 7:07 (159), 7:08 (159), 7:45 (159), 7:45 (159), 8:14 (158), 8:03 (159), 7:49 (159), 7:52 (159), 8:02 (161)

The weather was perfect for running this morning: 40 and clear. I feel so lucky to be in Austin when I know that most people around the country are dealing with harsh winters. My pre-race routine went smoothly, starting at 5am with a bowl of oatmeal with protein powder. Parking at the race was no problem and I got there with the perfect amount of time to stretch and relax my mind. I could tell my quads were a little sore from all those squats yesterday but I wasn't going to dwell on that. I run sore all the time.

The first three miles were mostly up hill. I didn't push too hard yet but my quads were already burning. I knew it was just a matter of sticking with it because there would be a lot of downhill coming up. Miles 3-6 were mostly down. The spectators were lively along South Lamar and there were bands along the course. As we got back into the downtown area, the crowds were dense and several people deep for at least a half mile. Around this 10k mark is when doubts started entering my mind, thoughts about walking, thoughts about how I hadn't done my usual mileage leading up to this race and therefore wasn't ready for it, etc, etc. I wasn't going to walk in front of all the crowds so they kept me motivated to just work through it a little longer.

I gave my mind short goals like "just get to the next aid station", "just get to the next mile marker". My legs were starting to hurt a lot and I walked through the aid station at mile 7 while eating my gel. I knew this was going to take a warrior mental effort to stay strong to the end. I felt overwhelmed because I knew we hadn't gotten to the challenging hills yet. I stayed in the moment. I thought about how I enjoy running... I mostly believed that, but it wasn't all that comforting. I thought about how lucky I am to be out running a race with no injuries. I noticed how there were very few women around me, and the ones that were looked very fit and so did the guys around me. I remembered that I worked hard to be in that position in the field and I need to respect that.

The hills started around mile 9.5 and lasted through mile 12.5. Up and down, big rollers, one after another. I cranked up my music and focused. My boss and his family, and Bonita came out to cheer. Seeing them made me smile, which gave me some extra energy and helped break up those hills. The biggest hill was at mile 12, climbing 15th street just as it crosses over Lamar. I walked about 20 steps at the steepest part because I figured a fast walk would be the same pace as a slow run and it would conserve a little energy. That was a good strategy because once I got over the top I was able to turn it back on for the last half mile. I was able to pass a lot of people who were still trying to recover from running the massive hill. The finish took us around the Capitol and down Congress Ave through the finish line. I sprinted that last 0.1 miles and finished strong with a big smile on my face. Mo came to meet me at the finish line, and we had fun watching runners, enjoying the beautiful day, and eating tacos.

I didn't set a PR (it still stands at 1:37), but it was a hard course and my mental strategies were perfectly executed. I stayed with the discomfort and didn't let negative thoughts pull me down. I learned where my fitness is at today, and I couldn't have ran a stronger race.

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