My Austin Marathon is in the books. I’ve had a good 24 hours to reflect on the experience, and the main thing I keep coming back to is how different it was than my first one.
I ran it in 4:45, which, although it was slower than my original goal time (before the illness and injury that marked this training season), is a PR by 9 minutes. More importantly, I finished it strong. I never stopped to walk* this time around, whereas I broke down after mile 20-ish in my first marathon and took several walk breaks. Plus, I am older and slower than I was 3 1/2 years ago, and I have had a baby since then. So yeah, I am pleased with my showing.
* Except to drink water at water stops, simply because I am not coordinated enough to do so without slopping it all over myself and having the water go down the wrong pipe, sending me into a coughing fit. Talk about counterproductive!
I’m tired, I’m sore, but I’m happy. I feel accomplished. The first 10 miles or so, as I now appreciate is usually the case, was a breeze. I barely even felt my feet hit the ground.
Then came the real hills. I knew they were coming, and I knew they’d be hard… but I was still having a good time. I took my coach’s advice and really had fun with this race — I whopped, I high-fived kids and just generally tried to make it a party around me wherever possible. And just before I headed up into the hills, I high-fived a guy holding a sign (“Free High-Fives”), and he said, “No hills for you!” Woot! There were still hills, but I attacked them. The clock at the halfway point said I was on pace to run a 4:35, and I really wanted to hold onto that.
Next, as our race plan termed it, was the “Great Northern mental madness.” The stretch in North Austin between the halfway point and 20 miles is a relatively bleak, sparsely-spectated section that looks flat, but is actually a net uphill. In a word, BLAH. But, I got to see my two very favorite people in the world twice on this stretch, so that helped a lot!
I fell into running with the 4:40 pace group for a few miles, and the company helped, too. I lost them at a water stop and was never really able to catch back up, but I didn’t let that break me. In the stretch after 20 miles, which was supposed to be net downhill and fast, there was a serious headwind, so it wasn’t the relief I had anticipated it being. That said, I never really felt like I hit the wall — and I hit it hard in my first marathon. I just put my head down into the wind, stopped looking at my Garmin, and kept on truckin’. I saw my Rogue moms cheering at mile 25 or so, and then my mom was right on the finishing stretch! I cruised through the downhill, cursed through the brutal uphill right before the finish, and high-fived the announcer on the way in.
After that, it was time for a medal, water, a breakfast taco (Distance Challenge completed!) and some Chuy’s takeout on the way home. And then pizza for dinner later. Yeah, I ate my way through the rest of the day. I should’ve taken an ice bath, but I chickened out… and now my quads are screaming at me any time I go up or down the stairs. At least I don’t have a race next weekend! But, unlike last time, I do have a toddler to run after.
I’d love to run a 4:30 marathon, and I think someday I will. Yeah, I’m totally going to do this again. It’s just such an experience — there’s nothing else like it.
Not to worry — back to your regularly-scheduled tasty-food programming tomorrow!