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Love Austin, Run Austin- my First Marathon

Posted Feb 15 2010 9:30am
The Austin Marathon was on Valentine's Day this year, so they did a Valentine theme- Love Austin, Run Austin and I love the medals with red and hearts on the sides.

Pre-Race:
Jeff and I went to the Expo Friday after work and picked up race packets for me, Sandra, Ingrid, Kim, Cassie, and Shelley. I was afraid it would be really crowded, but I didn't have to wait at all and the volunteer who helped me was great! We looked around at the Expo and I tried on a pair of Newton Run ning Shoes , I loved the way they feel, but they are SO different, I haven't decided yet if I want to go for it and get something like that or not. I think I stand to gain a lot from changing to a minimalist shoe that encourages forefoot running, but I also think it could lead to injury and I can't afford an injury, especially this year.

Saturday was a pretty low-key day. Del had come in Friday night and Ingrid and Kim got to my house around 1:00, Matt called to tell me he was coming to spectate- what a cool surprise! Cassie and Shelley got to my house around 4:00 and pre-race dinner was at 6:00- honey-lime chicken salad with avocado and tomato and roasted potatoes and a little red wine.
putting the timing tag on my shoe

I slept pretty poorly on Saturday night, which is normal. I had eggs and half an avocado for breakfast and sipped on some Infinit before the start. We got to the Tri Zones tent early enough to relax and hang out with everyone. Jeff and I before the start. Photo by Tom Marek Del, Sandra, Shelley, Cassie, Kim, me, and Ingrid Tri Zoners before the race. Photo by Tom Marek .

It was cold but not as cold as at 3M , or maybe it just didn't feel as cold since I had a coat and long pants to stay warm pre-race! Sandra stretching before the start. Photo by Tom Marek

My marathon fears:
Everyone has always talked about how hard marathons are and how much they hurt, generally for your first marathon you train up to 20-22 miles (Sandra and I did a 20 and a 21 miler) so I had never run 26.2 miles before and I didn't know what to expect other than what people had told me. Some of my fears were1. it would hurt a lot!
2. it would be really difficult mentally and not fun
3. I sometimes have some GI issues anyway so I was very concerned my stomach would rebel against me
4. my IT band has been pretty good since Dr. Sellers fixed it last summer, but I was worried it would rebel too
5. I would hit "The Wall" at mile 20 and not even want to finish

The Race:
Sandra and I had done all of our long training runs together, so we planned to run together unless one of us had issues that the other didn't want to wait for. I think I speak for Sandra too when I say our goals for the race in order of importance were1. to NOT get injured!
2. to Finish!
3. to have fun!

Sandra and I lined up just a few minutes before the start, but it felt like forever before we got to cross the start line (it was about 10 minutes) and of course I was freezing (it was in the 40's at the start)! They had fireworks at the start again this year, but not big aerial ones, so I had to jump up and down to see them (sometimes it sucks to be short). I warmed up after a couple of miles and the weather was perfect for a marathon- sunny and in the 50's. All day long Sandra and I kept saying how lucky we were that the weather was so beautiful. The huge sea of people coming down the hill before heading up Congress

We stuck to our plan to take the first 3 uphill miles very slowly and I made a point to watch the sea of people running up the hill just after the start, what a cool sight! Sandra and I like to count things while we run, we always count Decker Challenge shirts and sometimes other things too. Sandra counted a Decker shirt just after the start and after seeing Jeff, Kenneth, and Carolyn at Riverside I decided we should also count our friends out spectating. We very quickly decided that seeing the same person more than once totally counted again because it was just as much fun to see them the second, third or fourth time as it was the first!
Running down South First
When we turned onto South First we really sped up for those downhill miles, and that continued onto Lake Austin. At the water stop on Lake Austin, I was mixing Infinit in my fuel belt bottle and it fell on the ground. For a split second panic set in- oh no! I can't stick to my nutrition plan! I'm going to bonk! I'll puke if I drink Powerade! But after a split second the panic was gone and it didn't even seem like a big deal. In the end it was no problem at all.

We walked up some of the hills on Enfield and Exposition mostly because we're pretty sure we can't run them any faster than we walk them and as Sandra says "no point in wasting energy running when you aren't going any faster than a walk". We saw a couple out in their yard with a table and water cooler and I noticed their cute Golden Retriever, then I noticed they were holding baby puppies! They had 3 week old Golden Retriever puppies so Sandra and I HAD to stop and pet them! We petted and cooed at the puppies and talked to the owners, one of the puppies even gave me a kiss on the cheek! We saw Tom taking pictures less than a mile later and told him about the puppies, we knew he would appreciate that after stopping to pet a puppy at his San Antonio marathon last year. Around mile 10, I'm happy because I just petted a Golden Retreiver puppy. Photo by Tom Marek

We saw Elizabeth H. working at the mile 11 water stop, she was busy filling cups, but I really wanted her to see us so I screamed her name and waved at her, then she looked up and saw us and waved and cheered for us.

Everyone says that Bull Creek to Foster is the worst part of the marathon, I guess I can't argue, but it wasn't that bad. Those miles are slightly uphill and still going North so mentally they're a little tougher, but there were lots of spectators having parties at their houses and most of them were pretty energetic and entertaining. We also got to see Jeff, Kenneth and Matt on Shoal Creek and Matt ran with us for a little while and told us Kim had finished the half and had a good run. I was feeling good at that point but I was thinking, wow we still have 10 miles left to run. After turning onto Foster we got to see quite a few of our More Cowbell Corps friends! On Shoal Creek, 15 miles down!

We stopped to pet another puppy, a black lab, on Morrow and his owner (who was a 4 or 5 year old little girl) told us very excitedly "after the turn ahead it's all downhill the rest of the way I promise!!" that wasn't 100% true, but we did have a good downhill section coming up. At mile 19 we saw Jenny and Joe and stopped to give them hugs. I'm not sure why(we saw lots of friends all along the entire route), but I was really looking forward to getting to mile 19 and seeing Jenny and Joe. When we started running again I could feel my legs starting to stiffen up a little. We made a potty stop at mile 20, and I was happily surprised we both seemed to still be feeling pretty good. We were getting tired, but nothing major. Again, I could feel the stiffness when I started running again, but once I got going I was fine.

Coach Cindy and Jody were at mile 22, and Sandra wanted to stop and give hugs again, but I didn't want to stiffen up again so I quickly hugged Cindy and waved to Jody and said something about needing to keep moving. At mile 23 we were making the turn onto Red River and I saw someone holding a sign that said "Go Heather" so I told Sandra "I'm going to pretend that sign is just for me!" As we got closer I realized that the sign actually said "Go Heather H" and that GreenMan from the kickrunning triathlon forum was holding it- I had forgotten that he said he'd be at mile 23 and watching for Kelli (another Austin kickrunner) and me, so the sign really WAS for me! How cool is that! He ran with us for a couple minutes too.

I had been worried about hitting the dreaded wall, but so far I had felt pretty much fine. As soon as we turned the corner onto 41st St. at about 23.6 miles-BOOM it hit me! I think it was the exact opposite of hitting the wall, I felt absolutely elated! I told Sandra "We have less than 3 miles left to go! I'm SO Happy right now!!" My cheeks started to hurt from smiling even more than I had been before! I think I was even laughing a little! On Duval just before entering campus, photo by Carolyn Marek
The last 2.6 went pretty well, it was definitely fun to see the Capitol and know we had less than 1 mile to go! Photo by Tom Marek

We decided we would walk the steep MLK hill then walk to the Capitol grounds and run to the finish from there. But as we were walking toward the Capitol, Jeff, Kenneth, and Coach Jen came riding up behind us, I saw them coming and told Sandra we might have to start running sooner. Coach Jen rode along side us for a minute encouraging us until we started running again- before the Capitol grounds. Entering the Capitol grounds
On the Capitol grounds Elle, who had finished the half and hung out to cowbell, was screaming and cheering for us like crazy- she was obviously so excited for us! Not far past Elle we picked it up and "sprinted" to the finish. We finished at 5:26 and had an awesome time doing it!

A few highlights:
1. Seeing 62 (63 if we count each other) friends cowbelling on the course! That makes races SO much fun! Every time we saw a friend it was just such a great feeling- so thanks so much to all of you for being out there! Kristen, Shayla, and Kendra were a few of the 62 friends and "More Cowbell Corps" out on the course- Thanks guys!! Photo by Tom Marek
2. Petting 3 puppies, and seeing way too many beautiful dogs to count
3. Being offered beer at least twice- I say at least because I'm not sure if some of the others were offering it to us or just bragging that they had it.
4. Seeing a sign with my name that I assumed was for someone else but really was made just for me! Thanks GreenMan!
5. Seeing so many energetic spectators all over the course- including lots of bands, a little kid (not over 5) playing drums in his yard, 2 gorillas, a cow (person dressed as a cow), lots of funny, creative signs, and a guy advertising a "Valentine's Day Escort Service- I'll escort you from mile 19 to mile 20 at your pace"
6. Getting to run my first marathon with such an awesome friend! Thanks Sandra!

Post race:
We got our medals and immediately saw Kristen, Nicki and Shayla, talked with them for a minute, got our finisher shirts and Jeff was waiting at the exit of the finisher area. Still smiling after the race! Photo by Tom Marek
We went over to the Tri Zones tent and got/gave a million sweaty hugs and congratulations. Michael Owens from Performance Wellness was our Tri Zones post race massage therapist and I'm pretty sure he's the reason my back and hips feel perfect today (they've generally been a little sore after our long runs). Then we went to Gordough's with the "Houston Tri Zoners" as Coach Tracy has nicknamed them, for a post-marathon sugar rush! Yum! They had some issues with running out of dough (hmmm...the "Houston Tri Zoners" ate all the donuts at Gordough's?) so we were there almost 2 hours. Cassie getting ready to enjoy her donut- a Funky Monkey with chocolate Matt about to take his first taste of a Gordough's donut hole.

By then, I had just enough time to shower and go to Jody's Amazing Race premiere at the Alamo Drafthouse. Photo by Tom Marek

It was so much fun watching the first episode with Jody and all my other Tri Zones friends! I had been a little worried that the show's editors would make Jody and Shannon seem something other than sweet and awesome, but they definitely came across as their sweet, awesome selves in last night's episode! Jody at the Amazing Race Premiere. Photo by Tom Marek

Definitely an Amazing day!!
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