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Austin Half Marathon Recap!

Posted Feb 20 2012 6:00am
Over a year ago, I thought I'd be writing this recap after I had run the Austin Half Marathon.  Unfortunately, I injured my ankle and couldn't run the race last year, and due to the ridiculously long time it took to heal, I also couldn't run the race this year.  So Jeff did, instead.  And after hearing how incredibly hilly the course was, especially the last two hills (or mountains, as Jeff called them) between miles 11 and 12, I'm relieved that I didn't have to face such a challenging race.  What can I say - running 13.1 miles is hard enough...why throw hills into the mix?!?

On to the recap.  We zipped over to Austin Saturday morning - stopped on our way in Bastrop at the Roadhouse to split a burger.  YUM.  This place has been voted "best burgers" over and over, and I can see why.  This was my first time to drive through Bastrop since the devastating wildfire that burned much of the area last September - it was shocking and sad to see all of the destruction, from the forest of trees that were burned, to the homes...we could see areas where there was just the brick chimney standing, no house remaining.  Between seeing all of that and the trees that were broken in half from a small tornado that hit an area close to Bastrop, it was a sobering reminder of how intense natural disasters are.  Sorry, I know that was a bit of a downer to read, but it just shocked me to see how bad things were.

OK, now on to the recap for real
Packet pickup at the expo - I thought it was pretty funny that in a town that is over one hundred miles from where we live, we ran into not only Coach Jessica (and her fiance) from the running club, but also three ladies who we met the weekend before after a Saturday run - we all were at a local deli cafe for breakfast and, as runners, do, happened to start talking about upcoming races.  Random to see them in Austin, though.
 Loot we picked up at the expo, plus I saw a race shirt that made both of us laugh, so I bought it.
  Jeff made sure to carbo load with gnocchi and meat sauce, and lots of cheesy garlic bread... ...while I had my favorite, pesto with pasta, and grilled chicken.  And only half a slice of bread...I don't know WHAT was wrong with me!   Jeff's sweet technical race shirt - this was pretty nice!
After not sleeping very well (what IS it about knowing that you are going to have to wake up incredibly early that makes it so you keep waking up all night to be sure you don't miss the TWO alarms you've set?!?), we were up at 4:00 am to get dressed and drive over to the race area.  After getting stuck in traffic for a race once, we decided that we'd rather be early and just sit in the car, rather than stress over being late.  We got to sit in the car for about 25 minutes before heading out to do bag check.
Getting ready to go stand in the starting corral - tightening shoelaces...  Turning on Garmin... Indulging wife by posing for picture near the pace group you are going to start with... This is his "not nervous at all" smile, while runners around him stretch and do assorted limbering exercises. The start!
So about that start.  I left Jeff in the corral and walked, and walked, and walked to the starting line.  There was no way I could get close enough to see anything, but luckily I saw some people standing on the steps of a little church, so I joined them, and although Jeff didn't see me (because he had no idea I'd be up there), I was able to spot him in the crowd.  For fun, I decided to video the start with my camera.  I turned it on just as the announcer counted down to the start - they played some music, the runners started moving...and I got choked up!  It was a pretty amazing sight to see so many pumped up runners starting their race - I don't care how many times you run a half or full marathon, it's a huge hurdle and pretty incredible that so many people are willing to tackle it.  Anyway, I uploaded the video to YouTube - it's about 10 minutes long and I don't expect anyone to actually watch the entire thing, but if you want to see the beginning of the race, click here.   BTW, Jeff shows up at the 9 minute mark, if you want to fast forward to see him.

The race.  I got a workout in spectating this race!  Apparently if you went to the bridge, you could see the runners at miles 2 and 8, so after I watched Jeff cross the start line, I made my way there.  But along the way, I saw the runners passing by around the first mile, so I waited there for a bit to see if Jeff would pass.  I never saw him - so I headed toward the bridge.  It was a bit of a walk - I think I was on 11th St., and I had to get to 2nd St.  Along the way I ran into Coach Jessica's fiance, Bryce, so we headed there together.  He suggested moving a little way down from the huge crowds at the bridge - more like mile 8.25.  Turns out that was a great call, as we saw everyone, and they (with one exception) all saw us!  So who didn't notice my cheers?  Blogger Kim, who flew in from Oregon to run the race!  She had posted a picture of her race outfit so I knew what to look for, but still, I was shocked when I realized that I was actually seeing her!

Shortly after I saw Kim (who, in our emails, stated that she was going to beat Jeff - and she did!), Jeff came along.  He didn't see me at first, and I had to yell out his name several times, but finally he heard, and came over for a quick kiss and was on his way.  Then I heard a runner calling out my name - it was Coach Joni's husband, Rand!  Soon after, I saw Kim and Carrie from our running club, and then Coach Jessica, and also?  The ladies from the deli cafe recognized me and were hooting and hollering - it was great fun to cheer for all of my running buddies!  You will notice that there are no pictures, as everyone was actually running and not stopping for pictures (what is up with THAT?), and I was not quick enough with the camera to get a shot as they ran by. 

So with mile 8 done, I headed over to the finish line.  Another tough place to get close enough to see (for this vertically-challenged person), but I lucked out and found a spot.  I got to see the first marathon finisher come screaming in - once again, as with the Dallas marathon, I am amazed at how much juice these elite runners look like they still have in the tank at the end of their race.  Then, I saw Kim, and she saw me!  My funniest blogger meet up - we saw each other and waved, but never actually got to speak.  We had plans to meet up after the race, but it was crazy crowded and everyone was ready to get the heck out of Dodge at that point.  Next time.  Anyway, Jeff came around the bend - woohoo!
 Nice photo with the state capitol in the background! He smiled just after I took this picture...the greatest sports photographer, I am definitely NOT.     Finished!  2:15, which is pretty incredible considering how brutal the last two hills were. Medal boy gives Austin thumbs up!
 I think he's pretty proud of himself!
Finally, check out these two shots - same place, just one in the very early morning and one a few hours later.  It's like night and day!  (and yes, I DO crack myself up!)
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