Thoughts on the Austin Half

I am cross-posting this piece with my training blog; I wanted to take a second and reflect on my last race; I usually do this. As many of you know, the city of Austin is clearly the best city in Texas. If I had it my way, I would relocate in a second. This city has great bars, restaurants, parks, lakes, pizza, and people. It is by far more progressive than the rest of Texas; I am clearly making a gross generalization here. I would love to train in this city. There are so many hills. Wow!!! And, I have dined at a few Austin cafes that tend to appear on the Food Network (yes, I do like this station). I am not surprised that 70% of the runners who participated in Austin’s Half and Full Marathon were not from Austin.

The above action picture was taken during the last 100 meters of the 13.1 mile race. My sojourned a top the hilly terrain ended with me feeling pretty good. The early miles were tough, as I faced strong head winds and gradual inclines. My biggest challenge, though, was fighting off the negative thoughts. I kid you not, I could hear chatter in my head as early as mile 4. Things such as, the pace is too fast for you here, you cannot maintain it. Or, why are you spending so much time and energy training to be a type of athlete you are not. But, my favorite thought was this: why be so obsessed with stuff when you could be in some Austin diner having a beer (remind you it is not 8 AM) and relaxing. During the early miles, I ran with a pace group before electing to run ahead. There is nothing more demoralizing than knowing you want to hit a good 6:30 per mile pace, but you are stuck at 7:05 during the inclines. Of course, that is when the chatter starts.

Once I got beyond the chatter, I was able to refocus and think about my goal. In my last full marathon, I could not figure out what went wrong. My training was good. Sure, it came six weeks after my BQ marathon, but that was not an excuse. There were some physiological matters in my last race. My body burned way too much glycogen early on, thus leaving me empty; I had hoped to use more stored fat, but as evident by mile 22, I was out of it. Then there is the mental part. I have no doubt that I gave up in my last race; I was way on target to have a great race, before the chatter started; I could hear it in my head. The chatter won. I refuse to let that happen again.

Miles 6 -9 were not too bad. There were some rolling hills, with a few nice descents that kicked the crap out of my quads. There were a few 6: 15 – 6:20 per mile pace runs here, which was good, because miles 10 – 13 were tough. Elite runner, Renee High, who placed second among the women at this race, had this to say about the hills:

Let me also say that these people are crazy b/c the hills in Austin are no joke. I’m both envious that they get to train there and also glad that I don’t have to try to run there to recover from yesterday’s run.
Race morning was beautiful. The air was crisp and the sky was very pretty. It was still a little dark when the race began at 0700. The second turn of the race lead us into 6 miles of hills and head wind. There was just no relief from the wind until after mile 6 and the only time you weren’t going up a hill is when you were going down one. It was a constant up and down, up and down.
First and Second place female had a cyclist beside her. I was very grateful for mine b/c it help me stay focus and in the game. Also, he knew that by the end the hills were really getting to me so he tried to encourage me and let me know what was ahead of me. Thank goodness. The worst of the hills ended up being at mile 11.7. It was a killer. I don’t see how cars get up that hill. It would be horrible if that’s where your car broke down b/c the only place it can go is down.

Her point regarding the hill at 11.7 is so true. I saw it coming. I thought for a second, I am sure there is a turn and I am just not seeing it. They are not really asking us to run up that thing. I ran up it. My paced had dropped to about 7 min 5 sec per miles. I just stopped looking at the darn GPS watch. Once I reached the top of OMG hill, I had one more to face; it was not as bad, but I had yet to recover. Because the course was a challenge, I should feel better about my performance. I was ready to race. The course reinforced the need to do more goal marathon pace runs during the second half of my long runs; it also reminded me that I need to travel to Austin more in order to get in some hill work. We do not have hills in Houston; I did find a great treadmill workout that should help some.

Results:

Overall: 76 out of 10, 525

Divisional Place: 12 out of 679

 

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