Sunday, I drove into Austin from the in-laws house in San Marcos. While there is plenty of parking in Austin, many of the garages seemed to be blocked off for the race. First, I parked in a parking lot marked "For Whitley Employees Only". Since I was driving my father-in-law's car, I was overly paranoid and found a parking garage instead. I touched base with running bud, Kay, before heading out in the cold. We knew several folks who were meeting up with the Austin Fit group at City Hall, so that's where we both headed. Funny, when I arrived, someone told me Kay had just left to find me. The crowds were building and I didn't run into her until around mile 7 or 8. I really needed to make a quick pit stop, but the lines were crazy so I opted to wait. By the way, the port-a-potties were a lovely pastel blue and pink color. Go figure, it's Austin!
I headed to the start with fellow fitters Gaye, Fred, Jo Anne, John and several others. We stayed in a team huddle to try to keep warm in the 32 degree morning cold. That's the gang below. Before we knew it, there were fireworks overhead and the crowd was starting to move forward.
I was surprised to already find a hill during the 1st mile. Little did I know, this was an indication of what was ahead of us! (You'll see that from my splits - they're all over the place!) Mile 1 - 11:40 - slow, but the crowds were pretty think here and there was a hill. During mile 2, I had to make the postponed pit-stop. The lines were only 3-4 people deep....as much as I hated to stop, I had to do it! As I was waiting in line, I saw some of the folks I started with run past. At this point, I stopped my watch and forgot to start it again until I reached the next mile marker and realized that my watch wasn't going. Doh! I also debated about taking off my long-sleeved shirt, but cooled down while standing there and decided to leave it on.
Mile 3 - 10:30
Mile 4 - 10:45
I definitely sped up a bit to make up for lost time while at the port-a-potties. Somewhere in here I managed to catch up with Fred and the crew. I managed to stay with them for a few miles. A few of these miles were a blur. I do remember seeing the 10K marker and wishing for a second that I was running a 10K. I also remember removing the long sleeves and wishing I had not worn tights. The minute we stepped into a shady area, I reconsidered...maybe the tights were a good idea after all!
Mile 5 - 11:05
Mile 6 - 10:43
Mile 7 - 10:56
Somewhere around here I ran into Kay and the rest of the crew I had originally planned to run with - Courtney, Giji, and Elizabeth. They were looking strong and as always, Kay was full of energy and hilarious comments. When we went up a hill, we'd hear "Well, I think that was worth another pancake!" from her. I will say that the crowds were pretty sparse through most of the way so far. However, there were some awesome bands along the way. I was happy to see that a few of these even had a female lead...and they rocked!
Around mile 8 or 9 Kay was ready to pump up the speed a bit. We thought we would go for 10:30 miles for a few miles. It didn't work out quite that way. There were a couple of pretty brutal hills in the next couple of miles.
Mile 8 - 11:51!
Mile 9 - 11:?? (I did something goofy with my watch)
We saw these ladies from Tough Cookie with the crazy pink hair right before we turned the corner and headed up a crazy-steep hill:
Mile 10 - 11:32
Mile 11 - 11:05
Here's a "hill" around mile 11 (I think)...I promise, it looked much worse in person. :-)
Miles 10 & 11 (I think) were the most scenic! We made our way through a gorgeous neighborhood on a hill. Think River Oaks with a beautiful hilltop view. At this point, my posse had spread out and I was running alone. But, I made conversation with some of the folks around me about the homes and the view which made the time pass quickly.
Mile 12 was awesome. We headed back downtown and as we did, the crowds grew thicker and louder. Around 12 1/2, we rounded the Capitol! This was my favorite part last year. However, last year, we still had the out and back stretch by the lake. This year, I knew this was the home stretch. I took a quick break for a photo-op (yes, I'm a dork) and then decided to kick it up a little.
Mile 12 - 10:43
Mile 13 + .1 - 11:11
Side note: Yes, my Mom would yell at me for slouching if she saw that pic! And no, That's not a thumbs up...I was in the land of t-sips, so I HAD to do the GIG'EM sign! Whoop!
In Houston, I was feeling flat toward the end. I didn't have enough in me to pick up the pace at the end. In fact, I even took a walk break in downtown Houston. In Austin, I felt great! Maybe it was the cheering crowds in downtown. I actually heard them this time...in Houston, I think I tuned them out. Or, maybe it was the perfect weather...it was perfect in my opinion! Or, maybe it was the kids I high-fived right at the end before the street was completely closed off. I don't know, but it felt great!
The new course was much tougher than the downhill course of previous years. However, it was much more scenic - which I loved! Even though the crowds were not huge, there was lots to look at which can help make the miles go faster. Of course, I can only speak for the 1/2 marathon. We split off at mile 10, so I'm not sure what the folks running the full experienced in their next 16.2 miles. I imagine they experienced lots of hills, which does make me happy that I was just running the 1/2. With this course, I don't think that I will ever do the full in Austin again. (Good thing I did it last year!)
Another plus - the fuel stations seemed to be everywhere! This is something I also remember from last year...I would have been fine without any fuel belt (I wore mine with 2 bottles). However, a few of the stations only had Power Aid and no water which wasn't good for taking Gu. Overall, I had a great time and would run the 1/2 in Austin again!
Also, when we finished, we were allowed to wait near the finish for our friends. This gave us the opportunity to see the women's 1st place marathon finisher, Moges Zebenaye from Ethiopia, and 2nd place finisher (and triathlete goddess), Desiree Ficker, cross the finish line. I've never had the opportunity to witness this and enjoyed every second. At one point, Zebenaye had a huge smile on her face. It was priceless. And after reading so much about Ficker and her performance at Hawaii Ironman, it was cool to see her cross the finish line.
Some pics after the race. The Driskill hotel...it's beautiful and reminds me of why I love downtown Austin:
The kiddo and I back at the Grandparents. Yes, they were all still in their pajama's when I got back:
The kiddo with Grandma and Grandpa before heading to the outlets for a fun day of shopping: