Snuck off to Austin this past weekend to run the Livestrong Austin Half Marathon with Shaya and Jennifer (their first 13.1!).
I know you're probably wondering why I haven't mentioned this race until now (except for briefly here).
The answer: I felt completely and totally unprepared. In fact, my longest training run (and I use the term "training" very loosely) was only 9.7 miles, and I averaged something like a 10:45 pace during it. (I'm realizing I kind of loathe early-season races -- it just takes me forever to get back into training, both physically and mentally. At this time of year, all I want to do is stuff my face. Which I guess made Austin a very good destination since I basically spent the weekend eating more queso dip than I ever have in my life. But I'll get to that later.)
The fear of being undertrained was further amplified when we drove the course Saturday. (Side note: My rental car was a minivan. That's right. Rollin' like a soccer mom.) You know how everyone always says Texas is flat? Bullshit. Austin is hilly as hell, and the course was short rollers to about Mile 3, then a steady climb to Mile 6, then a long downhill to about Mile 8 (since busting the glutes wasn't enough, we had to trash the quads, too), followed by a few more short, steep climbs all the way to the finish. (What sort of evil, maniacal person puts the toughest hill at Mile 12? And then adds another hill about 600 yards from the finish line?!)
By the time Sunday morning rolled around, I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. I was probably more nervous than Shaya and Jennifer, and have I mentioned this was their first 13.1 ever? (Clearly, I set a very good example for them: This is how you Completely Freak Out.)
Another thing I wasn't prepared for: The sheer amount of people at this race -- a combined 19,000 for both the half and the full.
So I guess it was no surprise that my nerves made me immediately have to pee as soon as we crossed the starting line. (Shaya and I were running together -- Jennifer dropped back because her foot was bothering her. She did soldier through and finish, but it was rough going.) I had to stop at a port-a-potty at the Mile 1 marker. The break cost me about two minutes.
When I started running again, I forced myself to calm down and focus on the sights. It wasn't hard -- the spectator support was fantastic, and the signs made me laugh. Lots of Ryan Gosling "Hey Girl" signs. A Grumpy Cat sign that said: "I tried running once. It was horrible." And my favorites: "Paul Ryan said he's already finished" and "Run softly -- I'm hungover."
Once I stopped freaking out, the miles went by fairly quickly -- definitely helped that we drove the course because I knew exactly what to expect. The climb up South Congress wasn't bad at all, and I absolutely loved the "yellow mile," where the Livestrong cheering team was going absolutely nuts. (I couldn't resist running over to the side and throwing myself at the random guy with the "Free hugs" sign -- always fun to share my sweat.)
I finished in 2:14. Not my best race by far, but not bad considering the near-constant climbing, the pee stop and being undertrained.
But the most exciting part was celebrating Shaya, who never in her life thought she'd do something like this. I can't wait to see what she'll do next.
And of course, no successful race is complete without -- you guessed it -- ramen.
Not a bad bowl, Komé. The tonkotsu was downright delicious, and I could've inhaled three plates of those potstickers.