Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Livestrong Austin 1/2 (race recap)

State #24
chilly at start, mid 60s and humid by end
course: hills hills hills and CROWDED

First off I don't know how to put everything into concise words, so I apologize in advance. You can read Kim's recap HERE as well as Becka's HERE (you'll see a lot of repeat photos) 

Texas was one of the states that as soon as I decided to do this 50 state quest I knew it would have to be a winter race due to the temps. Originally I had my eyes on a few Dallas or San Antonio races since I had places to stay for free in both cities- obviously I chose differently. Kim R. had asked me sometime in the summer if I wanted to do the Livestrong race, but it wasn't until talking with my dad (he travels a lot for work) who convinced me that Austin would be the best city to visit and more scenic. Livestrong Marathon it is. 

Kim R did our hotel planning and it was so convenient to both getting around to the expo, restaurants to eat, as well as race start all by foot. We seemed to time everything perfectly all weekend long. 

Ever been to a Disney Expo?!? If not they have a tendency to be crowded, hard to maneuver, and wait in long lines to get your bibs. That was the case for this expo as well, but on the upside I got to hear Bart Yasso speak
meet up with an old friend, Carson

and purchased Pride Socks that my Bourbon Chase team had just discussed earlier in the week on getting for our 80s theme

Aside from the excitement, it was a relatively quick expo trip, as long as you're not looking for anything in particular. 
B, Kim, me, L

After dinner we went back to hotel to get all our gear ready for the morning- key to having 4 girls get up, get ready, and be out the door in 35 minutes (we're pros).

So lets just get down to it--- PR land 
It's no secret that I've been wanting to PR ever since I set my last PR  10 states ago in Wisconsin. I've been obsessing over breaking that time because in WI my garmin crapped out and I was just trying to 'take it easy' since it was my first time ever doing a back to back 1/2 mary weekend, so what could I do if I TRIED to PR?!?!  It's also no secret that I have a tendency to be 'all over the map' in regards to my pace. Me, Ms. inconsistent?!?!? nooooo. I'm SUPER competitive with myself and hate to fail, so I didn't blog about this, but over the last month I've really been trying hard to do a lot of my runs around the same pace--- it takes a lot of effort because I have to consciously not go too fast, but my last few runs leading up to this have been consistently b/n an 8:15-8:20 pace. 

Despite the elevation looking like this (and let's be honest, when have we ever accurately read an elevation map- I constantly think its going to be easier than what it is) I still planned a PR- Texas is MY race. 

So given all the above information, you can imagine how let down/disappointed/upset/sad etc etc I was when I was telling L and B how I brought my garmin charger to make sure there were no mishaps for the morning and all I pull out was the charger.... NoooOOOOooooOOO

Kim came to my rescue and immediately offered the use of her Garmin since she wasn't going for a specific time. I felt so bad taking someone else's Garmin, so it wasn't until the morning that I officially accepted-- only condition, the way hers is programmed the biggest number is current pace, so I had to try and be consistent to hit my goal. 
Race Morning

As stated earlier, this isn't any of our first rodeos, so we decided that if we left hotel at 6:15, we'd be able to get to the starting area before 7am. 
L, me, Kim, B- hotel lobby before the start. 

Photo bombing kims pre- finish line photo- it's what I do best 

The start and finish line were in 2 separate locations, so we had to actually walk behind the capitol before getting to the start MAYHEM
making our way toward the start

Literally right when we get to the start area the race begins. Unfortunately there is no corral start- just a 'line up by the marathon pace sign or wherever you please'<----- I hate this. 

Since B, L, and Kim had different goals than myself, I said goodbye to them (unfortunately Kim couldn't see any of my sweet dance moves, something for her to look forward to next time) and tried to run around and get as close to the start as I could- unfortunately the closest I could get was with the 3:55 pace group- drats

As far as recapping the race itself its hard to go into detail because I had one focus and one focus only- don't let the watch go above 8:20, but I'll try to recap what I do remember. As luck would have it, Kim doesn't have her watch programmed to do splits, so I dont have  proof of what pace was at certain moments
  • First and foremost the crowds were absolutely ridiculous... I cannot EMPHASIZE how annoyed and how many times I was cursing in my head at everyone getting in my way. My first mile I*think* was around 8:50- gah this is about 1 minute slower than normal. Between me trying to pace myself and literally not being able to get around people, I was freaking out. 
  • I knew that it was pretty much a series of uphills till about mile 5.8 so I just kept a semi-steady pace. I tell you as mad as I was at the complete disregard the other runners had at people trying to pass them, this was probably my saving grace. After the first mile, I couldn't go much faster if I tried just due to bobbing and weaving. translation = consistent pace
  • First few miles my times were 'behind' what is normal for me- even when it got to 5 miles I was freaking out because I was 2.5 minutes slower that the usual. I had to keep reminding myself that I felt great- zero pain, zero breathing issues... just need to keep the same pace and in the farther miles the time will reflect...
  • My original plan was to open up my legs and stroll down the 3 miles (6-9) and bank time. Once again the elevation map lied- although there were some downhills- it was mostly just flat and very very slight declines. I tried to "let go" and let gravity carry me, but again, the stupid crowds got in my way and there was no clear path in order to stride out- first time EVER where downhills didn't drastically fluff my time
  • Finally at mile 8 I realized that something would have to happen to slow me down in order to NOT PR, but jury was out if I would break 1:50. 
  • Just shy of the 11th mile we finally split from the marathoners only to be welcomed by a GIANT hill- woo. Up until this point I hadn't walked, thats right folks, zero walking (except for taking my gu, but I don't count that) so despite the suckiness & steepness of the hill, I knew I couldn't afford to slow down my time. .
  • Then mile 12 comes- the worst and HARDEST mile--- I would like to say that luckily I was prepared for it-- mentally I was, I knew it would be the hardest hill of the entire race followed by 2 more hills, but it didn't make it any easier.
  • yup we had to run up that bad boy, + 2 more ---- I hate to admit it- the first hill was so steep I decided to just stride up it thinking it would be easier on my calves. I don't think I lost too much time doing it, but alas I did lose a little bit.
  • to make matters worse they had count down signs- I do NOT want to see a sign that says 600M to go, 400M, 200M etc. Unfortunately it was hard for me to see if I was going to be breaking 1:50, I was cutting it REAL close 
  • As soon as I turned the corner and saw mile 13 sign I kicked it in with all I had and crossed the finish line and for the first time in a LONG time, I wasn't sore at all and just kind of walked off to the side- score.

Official time
1:50:14- so close, but all things considering, I did break 1:50 for a half marathon distance, so I'm confident I can pull if off for a future race. Much better than 1:51:56!

Since I don't have mile by mile splits all I have to go on is what was taken from official results
5k- 26:34
5M- 43:12
12M- 1:41:41
obviously I can tell my last mile was my slowest mile given 12 mi mark and official time-- stupid hills. 

I waited around for Kim, got a few photos, and made our walk back to hotel so we could eat, shower, and come back to cheer on B & L for the marathon

  • schwag- by far my favorite race shirt (complete with a map of the course on front), loved the cup they handed out at the end and of course, the medal
  • the convenience location that everything is in walking distance- about a $25 cab ride from airport, but once you're in town, no need to take a cab anywhere else
  • plenty of water stops along the way
  • course support was plentiful
  • plenty to see and do in the city if we had time
  • I PRed so of course that holds a special place for me. 
  • It's a tough course- definitely don't choose this course as a PR, but i'm stubborn and didn't want to eat my words
  • the overcrowdedness up until the marathon split--- needs stagger starts to make it easier to maneuver. 
  • serious lack of goodies after the race- they did hand out a bag with banana and chips inside- otherwise you could get a bagel, 1 bottle of water, and a gatorade... nothing else. 
  • price of race- was $95 (and I registered relatively early- both 1/2 and full did sell out)
  • No gu was handed out the entire course- thought that was kind of strange. 
  • i didn't get a SINGLE official race photo sent to me--- sigh. just goes to show how crowded it was if even I can't be spotted 
All in all it was a good race and I took a few nuggets away... 
- I learned that I CAN pace if I get my mindset right
- Compression socks during race (which I never do) really help with not being sore, I felt great the entire race and after- couldn't even tell I ran 13.1 miles!
- know what you're comfortable in. We had all planned on wearing yellow, and the only yellow tank I own has a high neck. I get H.O.T. when I run, so while packing my bags for Texas I decided to just pull out a yellow spaghetti strap I owned and run in that.... the girls made fun of me calling it lingerie, but boy did it help with the humidity, cooling me down, and no awkward tan lines, yay! 
too highcut for racing in TX heat

Although my body felt great during the race, mentally this was a challenging race for me. I was constantly having to check my watch to make sure my pace was on target--- I can't even remember many thoughts going on in my head besides my PR goal in mind. I'm satisfied with my performance, but it was sooooooooo unnatural for me to be going slow in the beginning- will take some getting used to. 

I officially decided last night that I WILL be racing in New York next month, so after I go "reeding" (funny joke only a few will get) the course map, I'll evaluate if breaking 1:50 will happen or if I use it for learning better pacing. 


  1. woohoo for rocking this race!!! with all your austin posts, you are really selling this as being the texas city to race in! i'm not sure if it was awesome or you were just with awesome people :) and that is too cool that were with people nice enough to offer up their garmin to you - that's love.

  2. awesome recap as usual. and the pace? wow! everytime you post a recap i look at your race pace and remind myself i CAN run a sub-2 half :)

    love the socks!

  3. Congrats on a PR! They beat a nasty rainy, sleety mess where your stomach goes crazy any day! I only mention that because those are things that regularly happen to me! HAHAHAHA! I know what you mean by the pace thing though, it's almost like you can't relax for two hours because you're busy wondering if you're keeping up. That's why I enjoy the ones I run with friends all the more. :)

  4. Congrats on the PR! That is so great. Motivating me to push it at my next half. Like the matching outfits, very cute.

  5. Great recap. Felt like I was there with you...
    Sorry S couldn't get your exact splits off my watch, I know they were important to you.
    I think Austin is a special city, but you girls made it the best.

  6. Congratulations on your new PR! Glad you all had such a great time together!

  7. congrats! so excited for you!! good to know about the race stuff- i have thought about this being my TX race…still not sure. i think the starting slow is what helped you!! that is what my TNT coach always says-save your energy. :)

  8. Congrats on the new PR! And on keeping a steady pace throughout the race. 3 hills during mile 12 is rough. I really think you'll be able to get another PR soon on a less hilly course.

  9. I'm so impressed that you pr'ed on that course-- such a tough one! You definitely have a sub-1:50 in you... hope you see it in NY!!