2011 Austin Half Marathon Race Recap

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Yesterday started with the usual pre-race fueling: tall glass of water, cup of coffee, and PB & Banana on wheat toast

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I arrived downtown at 6am, one hour prior to the start. I decided not to check a bag since my car was parked only one block from the gear check tent. I later learned I might as well have checked a bag, but we’ll get to that.

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The start line was interesting. No wave start – 18,000 runners and walkers started all at once. It took quite awhile for me to cross the starting mat after the initial fireworks went off. As you can see below, the 9-10 min mile area is where all of the runners from two lanes merged together. I think that’s what the holdup stemmed from.

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I decided to do run/walk intervals, the opposite of what I did at 3m. The first six miles were pretty much all hills, and I was cursing the race directors the whole way. At the starting line, the announcer mentioned the intense winds would be at our back the whole race. He was a big fat liar. LIAR. We were running up hills, into the wind. This pic below is looking back down a hill on South Congress.

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I think this was around mile 3, and it was also when we were running past dozens of restaurants. All I could smell was bagels, pizza, and breakfast tacos. Pure torture. I wanted to throw in the towel and go have a delicious meal.

Combined with the hills was suffocating humidity, warm temperatures, and a whipping wind. Not ideal race conditions.

Once we hit Ben White and were on our way to South First, I was pumped. For a couple miles we’d get a break from the inclines.

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After heading over the 1st Street bridge back into downtown, we made a left on Cesar Chavez. Just past Lamar Blvd, we hit Mile 9 – The Yellow Mile. The crowd support was amazing! They had written inspirational words on the road in chalk to help push us along as we ran. I was focused on just taking it all in, and didn’t snap any pictures of them. The one below is from an Austin Marathon email I received.

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I know I had a smile on my face for the entire length of mile 9, so a BIG thank you to those who cheered us on!

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Another hill, surprise surprise.

At this point, I realized the turn on Enfield was coming up and I’m not gonna lie – I started to freak out a bit.

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THE hill, the one that would destroy whatever was left of my strength, was just around the corner. The one that someone (who had clearly been drinking) decided would be a good idea to place at mile 12 of a half marathon.

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It looked like the runners were seriously running towards the sky. My heart started to race.

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I tried to distract myself by looking at something other than the hill I was about to crawl up.

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Ok yeah, there was no avoiding it.

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I approached it running, hoping I could just focus and get myself up it. Halfway up, my legs felt like lead and I slowed to a walk. Walking up it was the equivalent of climbing stairs, lots and lots of stairs. Nearly everyone around me was walking.

One of the spectators was yelling that it was “all downhill from here” but I knew better. I had studied the elevation chart, and we still had two more hills to tackle before it was over.

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After a grueling two hours and forty-eight minutes, I finally crossed the finish line. I received my medal, grabbed a bottle of water, and made my way to get my finisher’s shirt. I started having flashbacks to the disastrous Wine & Dine finish.

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So as you can see, the Finish Line goes: Medal –> Water –> Gatorade –> Food –> GEAR CHECK –> Finisher’s Shirts.

Well what if you didn’t leave your bag at Gear Check? Too bad. You were stuck waiting in the sea of people who did. It took a good 30 minutes to move half a block. All I wanted to do was stretch out my poor legs, but the crowds did not allow for such a thing. Once I grabbed my shirt, I hightailed it out of there. I was getting really claustrophobic and just wanted to get the eff out of there.

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I’ve done a lot of complaining on Facebook, Twitter, and text about the race course. HOWEVER, not once did I say I would never do this race again. That wouldn’t be true.

I 100% plan on running this race next year. It was a very well run event, great swag bags & expo, and although it was challenging, the course really was a fun run through Austin. I’ll be back, and I’m dragging Carly with me!

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15 Comments

  1. Great re-cap! Amazed that you were able to take pictures while walking and running! I may borrow a photo of yours for the recap– give you due credit of course!!!

    So proud of you! What an amazing race! The hills! the wind! The glory! And the astonishing and amazing feeling when finishing 🙂

  2. I totally agree with you….hard race, but so fun and inspirational! Really hope to be back next year. Awesome job on your half! I love reading about other people’s experiences 🙂

  3. love recaps when i actually know the city! you did a great job regardless of hills and humidity. way to go!

  4. Congrats on your half Melissa, you owned those hills lady!

  5. Congrats on the half…holy hills!!! My legs hurt just looking at them!

  6. Finally! Someone with a photo of that hill at mile 12. I thought the one before it was “the hill” but noooooo. Congrats on completing it. We have the medal and sore legs to show for the effort.

    • This is actually last year’s recap, but (unfortunately!) the course didn’t change so yes, that is the hill of doom! Yesterday on the hill prior to this one, I heard a man tell the woman he was with that this was “the hill” and I knew she was NOT going to be happy when she realized he was wrong.

      Congrats on your finish! Not an easy race, but a great one nonetheless. Austin puts on a great race.

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