Texas is known for some good BBQ, and Austin, Tx is known to be eclectic and have a really good food truck scene. We figured this would be the perfect place for the first race back after having our son, Parker, last September. It’s been close to a full year since I’ve last raced. It’s been a long few (see cold, dark, cold, wet, and cold) months of getting back into training. I’ve definitely not been training specifically for this race, but I’m using this race to kind of see where I’m at because…. I’M GOING TO BOSTON, BABY! That’s right! I got into the 2018 Boston Marathon! But before that, I’ve GOT to get some fitness back. Speed will come in time but I need some endurance. I’ll be honest. I’m scared. These last few months have not been easy to build back into, but that’s a story for another time.
We arrived in Austin and quickly realized how exhausting it was to fly with a baby. By the time we got our car rented we just headed straight to the hotel. After we got Parker to sleep Thayne headed to get some tacos (yum). Saturday morning we headed to the expo, picked up our goodies, grabbed some delicious BBQ and toured the State Capital.
Race morning I was really nervous. This was going to be my first real “test” of fitness in a long time. I haven’t done really any speed work because I’ve been so concerned with building endurance back up and I truly had no idea what my capabilities would be.
It was so foggy and pretty sticky feeling even though the temperature was fairly cool. Kind of a weird mix and I wasn’t sure if it would really heat up much or if the sun came out it would burn off the humidity. Nothing I had control over… so onward we went! We found parking and I jumped in line for the port-o-potty. The lines took FOREVER! I actually just jumped out of it when I heard the gun go off! So I threw my jacket to Thayne and started running from there… so I got a good 3-4 block warm up before the race even started. Ahhhh! Not how I wanted the day to start!
The race started with a steady almost 3.5 mile uphill. I tried to not even look at my watch and just focus on keeping an easy effort up the hill. I knew if I started too fast I’d totally burn myself out for the rest of the race and crush any bit of confidence I thought I had built back up. I knew I was running about mid 8 minute miles and felt pretty in control so far. I also knew there was a downhill coming up which would be so welcome!
I knew I’d see Thayne somewhere around half way through the race. He was going to stay close to the finish line because traveling around a city you don’t know to view a race (which he usually does) is hard enough alone, let alone with a 5 month old!
Around mile 8 I could feel that my energy was waning. Even though I’ve ran a few longer runs than this race, we did walk around the city a lot on Saturday. Plus most of my long runs have been in about…. 20-30 degrees cooler weather than the race was. This can make a HUGE difference! I upped my electrolyte chews by a few more and just tried to hang on and get to the finish.
Not only was I feeling tired, but my pace was slowing down. Typically, once I start to feel tired I know it’s too late and I can’t catch back up with my fuel. But I also wasn’t going to give up! I knew I could finish the race, but I could see the few small goals I had going out the window. (Not walking, finishing strong, fueling well, sub 1:50).
I walked for the first time around mile 9.5 where there was a small uphill. Again around 11. And then the again around 12, after a big downhill which I didn’t have nearly the speed as I did the first downhill of the race.
I was nearly in tears on that last big uphill. The elevation chart does not do it justice. I was walking, and it seemed everyone else was determined to run it. I had lost all my drive. Then a spectator came over, grabbed my hand, told me just how strong I looked and that I trained for this, and took off running with me. She ran the entire rest of the hill by my side. I’m sure I’m not the only one that she ran the hill with… but in the moment it was the single best thing anyone could have done for me. I don’t know her name. I couldn't even tell you what she looked like. But she got me up that hill, and closer to the finish line. So, thank you lady! I owe you!
I made the one last final loop near the capital, and came into the finish line which was luckily slightly downhill! I was happy to see Thayne and Parker and the finish line a block away. I know it wasn’t a perfect race, but those so rarely happen. I know I’m still learning to run again after having our son and it’s going to take a LOT of time. Even once my body is ready and back in shape, my mind will also have to be ready to take on the pain that racing (and racing hard) can bring. My mind wasn’t ready for that today either. Even then, I finished and that’s always something to be proud of!
I finished in a time of 1:53:38 (8:40 pace). Texas is completed, and 16 states are knocked off the list! Next up will be Idaho in July. (After Boston, of course!!)
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