Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Austin Marathon Race Report

This past weekend I ran the Austin Marathon in Austin, Texas. My husband Steve and I were there on a short vacation and when we heard the race was open we figured it would be a nice opportunity to test our early season fitness. And test our fitness it surely did! It was certainly not an easy course... probably not a PR course unless you've heat acclimated and done a good amount of hill work, which we had not. Still, it was a fun challenge to take on and a way to see a lot of the city. Fortunately we did have a little time before the race to relax by the pool at our resort in Barton Creek.
A little R & R prerace

The race started downtown on Congress. We parked about a half or three quarters of a mile out and used that little walk as a warm up. Then we dropped our post race gear bags, used the bathroom and lined up just in time for the national anthem. I wasn't really sure where to line up so I ended up around the 3:35-3:40 group, thinking this would be good and I could always push the pace later if I felt okay. The race started quickly and I recall thinking "oh no, it's only mile two and I am breaking a sweat...this may be a long race". And it was. The weather was about 80 degrees with 90% humidity and I definitely felt it.

I was pacing pretty well despite the heat and hills through the 15k and then the wheels started to come off a little. I recall seeing the half split off around that time and wishing I was almost done. I was pretty drenched by them and stopped to remove my race singlet and pin my bib to my sports bra. After that I felt a little cooler. I just remember thinking "oh hey another hill" quite a few times. The good news is that there is also some downhill running.
Toughing it out!

I stopped around the halfway mark to use the bathroom so at least I know I was hydrating enough. At every water stop I had Nuun and sometimes a water too. I think this helped tremendously in the late miles. I also took in six gels and a few orange slices as well as some Hammer Endurolites during the race, which really help me avoid cramping in the heat. I didn't want to walk so I tried to just walk the aid stations as needed and would limit my break to a minute. I normally do not need the breaks but in this heat I did. I think if I was better acclimated that would not have been the case.

Miles 13-18 were particularly hard for me physically and mentally. At times I was asking myself why I do this running marathons thing for fun. Then I was able to get comfortable again in the later miles and pick up the pace some to bring my average pace back down into the 8:40s. I was hoping for 8:10s to finish around 3:34-3:35 but on this day a 3:50ish finish was okay by me. It was a challenging race and I think I did okay and feel I am track to possibly PR one my cooler, flatter 26.2s this spring in either Canton or at the Cleveland Marathon. 

Even the last mile or two were uphill and I passed a lot of people walking and I can't blame them. It was a hard one. I was able to push through and was elated to see the finish and to drink my Oscar Blues IPAs after with Steve, who also had a tough go of it. But we finished it and it was a hell of a training run for these spring marathons quickly approaching! Next up...the Shamrock 15K in a few weeks. I think those hills may feel a bit easier now.
Post race Oscar Blues finish line was hoppin'

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