The day dawned very early for this kid when the alarm sounded at 3am. I had two friends here and we were looking at a 1 and a half hour drive to Austin to the start. We rolled out of the driveway at 4am as the race director had recommended arrival at the downtown Austin location prior to 5:30am for a 7am start. There were 12,500 runners trying to get to the same spot at the same time. We found parking very easy and walked about 6 blocks to the starting/finishing area which stretched 6 blocks itself.
Attire for the day: shorts, technical long sleeve shirt, throwaway gloves (I MUST have my hands warm), my Saucony shoes (now retired from a lot of miles), shades (prediction was sunny), dri-fit hat and Nike "shox" sox (I really like these socks). I also had my fuel belt with my nutrition as I don't do anything different on race day if possible - I eat only what I ate in training.
Temperature at arrival was 45F and the expectation was to warm to about 54 degrees by my finish (the weather.com hour by hour forecast really helps). I also hung out before the start with a sweatshirt on that I was fully prepared to ditch along the road but I ended up giving it to the greatest Sherpa in the world - my wife - before the start. All three of us loaded Debbie down with some gear and off we went.
The first 3.5 miles were pretty much a continuous uphill climb (there is a youtube video of the course if you want to google it and watch a car drive the course). The full and half ran together for the first 9-10 miles so that was really cool. You were always surrounded by people, sometimes crowded. The course was lined with bands about every 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile and the fans along the route were fun and supportive. Then we had about 1-1.5 miles of down to flat terrain and then we started rolling hills for the balance. There were some incredibly steep hills after mile 8...while they weren't that long by time, they seemed like Everest in grade. Also every time you got to the top of one you could see your next one. There were a couple of hills that I literally ran from light pole to light pole to try to make it to the top before running out of gas. My reasoning was the longer I ran, the sooner the hill would be over.
Running back into downtown was a great feeling - knowing I was going to do it. I still had some gas in the tank so I ran the last mile or two at a faster pace.
My finish time was 2:15:37.
I really wanted to be inside 2:15 and was hoping for less than 2:10 but this was my first half and I went out very conservatively. Considering the course I am very thankful I ran it that way.
Here's a tip - drive the course pre-race if there is any chance - Youtube did not give the hills nearly the credit or attention they deserve.
Finishing was euphoric...especially as I was in the finishing chute - getting my medal and having the chip clipped off my shoe - the first marathon finisher completed the full marathon...so I beat the first full marathon finisher by like 2 minutes....I was so proud. That dude had just laid down some 26.2 averaging less than 5:15....WOW!
Immediately got some dry clothes on - ate a half bagel, two bananas, a couple bottles of water, a bag of Fritos and then hit the Recoverite for some easy calories. I finished all that off with a well deserved beer - a Michelob Ultra - wow was it good!
We left the site a short time later after reveling in our success and lamenting the growing stiffness in our legs and the rising temperature for those poor folks still out on the course. Came home to a great hot shower, with a couple of minutes of full on cold water on the backs of the legs and then caught about a 90 minute nap.
A great day. A great finish line. Great friends who did it together.
Here's what I want you to remember. One year ago I had not even begun to work out. I was in the recliner. I tell you that for only this reason. I KNOW you can all do it.
If I can, I KNOW you can.
My legs are stiff but feel good. The accomplishment definitely outweighs the pain.
See you at the finish line.