Not Enough Time in the Day

I need help. And suggestions. And if it’s possible for you to insert an extra day into my week, that would probably be the best course of action. After Houston, my training came to a screeching halt. The arch issues I encountered on race day tapered off after a few days but the pain migrated over to the side of my right foot and made itself comfortable there. Grocery shopping required a cart to lean on and even just walking from my desk to the kitchen was sometimes painful. I RICE’d the crap out of that thing, with a major emphasis on the rest. I haven’t run a single step since the half last month and my first pain-free day was Saturday. With Austin just around the corner [this weekend, yikes – snuck up on me] I knew a decision would have to be made and I wasn’t going to like it. Nope, I wasn’t going to like it one bit.

I’ll be inking a big fat red DNS next to the 2014 Austin Half Marathon. It’s really for the best because I want to be 100% healthy to run Ragnar Cape Cod in May. But that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed skipping this race. Deferring my entry would cost a pricey $60 [$120 for both Brad & I] and that unfortunately isn’t in the budget right now. Hopefully I’ll score an early-bird discount for the 2015 race when registration opens later this year.

finding the time to workout

Okay, so back to the part I need help with. I’m basically starting from scratch with a workout/running plan because my schedule has been out of whack since mid-December and being out of commission the past few weeks didn’t help either. This is the perfect time [hi, 12 weeks til Ragnar] to get a plan in place and work some classes into the mix. Here’s where I’m running into an issue: there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Morning: My gym opens at 5am so morning workouts are basically limited to anything I can squeeze in between 5 & 6. I need to be home by 6:10 to let Sox out of her crate and get ready for work. This scenario requires leaving the house with wet hair by 6:45, which could possibly suck if it’s cold outside. I can’t take any classes because they start at 5:30 and end at 6:30, leaving hardly any time to shower and drive to work – let alone going home to free Sox from her crate one last time.

Lunch: A Gold’s Gym just opened across the street from my office, which is awesome but ideally I’d need more than an hour. A run could definitely be squeezed in but taking Body Pump or RPM would be out of the question. I suppose an option would be to stay at the office 30 minutes later in order to justify a long lunch, but since I usually leave work around 5:15 or 5:30, I’m already pushing my ETA at home pretty far out. That 75-90 minute commute ruins everything…

Evening: All of the classes I’m interested in across the street don’t start until 6pm, so there’d be some time to kill after work. With classes running from 6-7 and at least an hour drive home, that puts me walking through the front door around 8pm. Brad is in bed by 8:30 at the latest and passed out cold by 9, so the amount of time we’d see each other during the week would be pretty scarce. I guess there’s always the option to go to the gym after he goes to bed, but let’s be honest: it probably won’t happen. The chance of me leaving the house again after getting home from work is slim.

I can fit running in pretty much anywhere, but structured classes are harder to schedule. Let’s recap: Sox the Pillow Eater cramps my style in the morning, midday classes are too long to fit into my lunch break, and evening gym sessions cut into time spent [which is already pretty short] with my other half. On Wednesdays I work from home, so taking a class that morning is definitely doable. The thought of waking up early on a day I usually look forward to sleeping in isn’t exactly appealing but sacrifices must be made. Here is the [tentative] plan:

Mon: RPM // Tues: run // Wed: BodyPump // Thurs: run // Fri: rest // Sat: run // Sun: rest/yoga

Monday I’ll try to get into work a little early and stay a little later to account for the lunchtime RPM class. On Tuesday and Thursday I have the option of running before work or at lunch. Wednesday morning I’ll reluctantly drag myself out of bed at the crack of down to get my ass kicked at BodyPump. And the remaining days are a non-issue.

Since this plan is just tentative, I’m looking for some tips & tricks to squeeze workouts into a busy schedule. Are you a morning, noon, or night runner/gym-goer?

Tuesday Things

1. I registered for my first 2014 race.

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Using that word “register” fairly loosely considering I didn’t have to put out a dime for next year’s Austin Half. Race organizers were trying to bring in some more registrations (possibly down due to their previous title sponsor and Lance’s PED scandal in the media – that’s just my opinion though) so they ran a BOGO one-day deal: register for the 2013 race and they would comp your entry into 2014.

Austin Marathon One-Day Deal

Brad and I jumped on that IMMEDIATELY. For once in my life, procrastination paid off. I don’t expect that to happen again. Ever.

In any case, this race is one of my favorites in town and I’m excited to run it for the 4th year in a row!

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2. I entered the lottery for another race in 2014.

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I went back and forth on this one probably a billion times. It falls on the same day as 3M, which has the fastest half marathon course in Austin and is where my current 13.1 PR is from. As much as I’d love to run 3M again, I was itching to try something new. Obviously running Houston will be a little more expensive since it requires a hotel stay and 3-hour drive, but the change of scenery will be worth it.

And if my luck plays out the way it does 99.9% of the time, I won’t get selected in the lottery and will be running the 3M Half Marathon for its 20th Anniversary.

Either way I’ll be racing on January 19, 2014. Location: TBD.

3. I’ve become slightly concert obsessed.

I’ve seen more concerts in the past six months than I have in probably my entire life. It started last fall when I saw Jason Aldean & Luke Bryan in San Diego. Holy crap. SO MUCH FUN. Country concerts are so much better than most Top 40 artists because they actually sound the same as they do on the radio.

615971_10100183422831305_388190108_oWe came back from San Diego and immediately bought tickets to see Brantley Gilbert in October. And Easton Corbin in November. And Chris Cagle in December. It helps that the venue we go to sells tickets for $8-12 so it’s not like we’re breaking the bank.

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Then in March the Austin Rodeo happened. We saw Kip Moore one weekend and Gary Allan the next.

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Last weekend we saw George Strait, Miranda Lambert, and Martina McBride put on a killer show in San Antonio. And two days later I bought tickets to see Justin Moore in July. And the day after we jumped at the chance to get tickets for Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert at the new Austin 360 Amphitheater in September. Then in October we’re going to see Jason Aldean, Jake Owen, and Thomas Rhett in Dallas.

AND! I saw Fallout Boy at Stubbs on Sunday night. They don’t quite fit in the country genre but the show was A LOT of fun.

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Hi Pete Wentz.

So yeah. I may need a concert intervention at some point. But it’s so hard to say no when tickets are only ten bucks!

4. We added a new member to our family.

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Meet Sox! We’ve been talking about getting another dog for quite awhile now and finally pulled the trigger on it this week. I freakin’ love her. How cute is that face?! I’m fully aware it might be less cute when she starts chewing on my running shoe collection. But for now … how cute is that face?!

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Bo isn’t too sure what he thinks of Sox yet. Probably has something to do with him being 104 pounds and her only being 10. She’s basically a toy.

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Our love for the Red Sox isn’t apparent at all. {Boston Red Sox}

5. I’m flabbergasted over this “Tebow to the Pats” announcement.

I have no doubt that Belichick has a plan up his sleeve, but I’m still in the WTF phase of acceptance.

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That seems about right.

Maybe in signing Tebow Belichick & Brady can get some inside info from him. Like why God hates the #Patriots so much in recent years.

And that too. Find out for us, would ya Tebow? K thanks.

2013 LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon Expo

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Yesterday afternoon I headed downtown to the LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon expo at the Palmer Events Center for packet pickup and to work the ZOOMA booth with Tricia. When I pulled in at 2:45 there was quite the crowd waiting out front for the doors to open at 3.

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Packet pickup was fairly uneventful. The computers crashed nearly immediately after the expo opened but it didn’t seem to be a big issue. As long as runners had their bib number to provide to the volunteers (since they couldn’t look it up) the line moved pretty quickly. Thank goodness for smartphones! There were also booths to lookup your bib number if you didn’t have the confirmation email to verify it from.

Overall, it was a pretty easy process even though I had to wait in two separate lines since my bib number wasn’t anywhere near Brad’s. Afterwards I did a quick sweep of the expo and surprisingly didn’t buy a damn thing. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

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Then I made my way to meet Tricia at the ZOOMA booth.

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We registered a few ladies for the upcoming Texas race, as well as the newly announced one in Chicago.

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Have you seen the swag bag for ZOOMA Texas? It’s pretty awesome, probably the best I’ve seen from any race. Each runner receives a tech tee, yoga mat, reusable bag, and stainless steel water bottle.

ZOOMA Texas Swag Bag

Still haven’t signed up? Register using discount code TXAMB2 for 10% off the half marathon or 5K race fee! Wine, massages, and recovery yoga at the finish – what more could you ask for?

Back to Austin – LOVE the participant tee this year. I think this girl would love it too. FINALLY a shirt that is a different color! The lime green is awesome.

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Oh! And I also received a limited edition art card from Lasting Commemoratives for each of us. (These were available to the first 1,000 people who claimed one through a link provided in an email from the LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon)

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This will be my third year running Austin (2011 recap, 2012 recap) and while the course may be challenging, the crowds keep the energy up and it’s really an awesome race.

I can’t wait to run this amazing city tomorrow!

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Exiting the Comfort Zone

In reflecting over the past year of running, I can’t help but be disappointed with my race (and even training) performances. 2012 started off with a bang, knocking out a 5K PR on the first day of the year and a 23-minute half marathon PR on the last weekend of the month.

After that though? Things sort of fizzled out. My half marathon times gradually slowed, I stopped racing shorter distances, and after a not surprisingly spring burnout, I ran myself right into my first ever DNF at the New Jersey Marathon. After getting my ass kicked at the Spartan Race, I took a full month off of running. This ended up renewing my love for the sport and fueled the fire to begin training for the Philadelphia Marathon.

Halfway through July I began to reassess my goal time for Philly. The 90-degree evenings were beginning to take their toll on me at the track and my long-run pace was nowhere near what it should have been. I’m not the fastest runner to begin with, so to say this was discouraging is an understatement.

Once September rolled around, I threw all pace goals out the window. My goal for Philly was to finish. I registered Brad and I for the Austin Distance Challenge, putting races on our calendar every month through the middle of February. We knocked out a 10K and 10-miler in October, I ran Philly in November, and then finished an incredibly hilly half marathon in December. I closed out my running year on December 29th with the Operation Jack 10K, as I do every year.

So now I’m here. It’s January 8, 2013 and I’ve got a blank slate for the year. So how am I going to tackle it?

Here’s the plan:

  1. {spring} Focus on the half marathon distance. I really want to get my PR (2:14) down. Ideally, I’d like to get it under 2:10 at the Long Branch 1/2 Marathon in May. (NJ Marathon course redemption? I think so.) I have 3 half marathons in between now and then (3M, Austin, and ZOOMA) but plan to use those as training runs. Long Branch will be my spring goal race.
  2. {fall} run FAST. Yeah, this one is kinda huge. A sub-2 half marathon. Coming from someone with a (year old) 2:14 half PR, it’s terrifying to consider crossing that finish line in 1:59:59 or less. Sure, I have other race goals for the year – but this is the important one. Before December 31, 2013, I would like a sub-2 half under my belt. The race is TBD but I have the Shiner Beer Run tentatively penciled in. Any other suggestions for a fast fall half marathon? Open to traveling!
  3. Do NOT register for any full marathons. This one directly stems from item 2. I would like my half PR to be under 2 hours before registering for another full marathon. In other words, I’m shelving the 26.2 distance until 2014.
  4. Stop running races just to finish. Do you know what kind of problem this is? An expensive one. The city of Austin makes it incredibly hard for me to resist clicking that “Register” button. Obviously you can’t commit to racing every.single.race you enter, but I need to work on managing my schedule better. 4 half marathon in 4 months? Not necessary. It definitely makes achieving my goals harder by putting this much stress on my body. This being said, I probably need to adjust my 13 Races in 2013 goal. Quality > Quantity.
  5. Find the perfect pair of running shoes. Good lord, I’ve been searching long enough. Right now I’m running in Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12. Great shoe that keeps my shin splints at bay, but my arches HATE me after about 3 miles. Lose one pain, gain another. I also have a pair of the Mizuno Wave Inspire 9 that I bought back in November. They’re still in the box, with a fresh pair of Oiselle laces, ready to go! I’ll probably test them out at the end of January and hopefully (as long as I’m shin splint free) use them for the Long Branch 1/2 training cycle. Maybe they’ll be my perfect pair? Only time will tell but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
  6. Dig deep & exit the comfort zone. While reviewing my current PRs, I noticed the paces are VERY similar. {5K 9:29, 10K 9:55, 13.1 10:13} I nearly hit my 10K PR during 3M last year! I’d love to drop the 5K pace to high 8’s, 10K to low 9’s and 13.1… well you know where I want that one to be. I know I have more in me, but I need to dig deep, push harder, and exit the comfort zone. I need it to feel uncomfortably hard. I need to really RACE.

So that’s it. My running goals for 2013. My list of non-running goals is a work in progress, but I’m getting there. The running ones absolutely deserved their own post though – hey, this is Melissa RUNS after all.

2012 LIVESTRONG Austin Half Marathon Race Recap

Sunday morning started with quite an early wakeup call:

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Although I went into this race without any time goals, for some reason my stomach was still in knots. I could recite the course to you turn-by-turn from memory and should have had nothing to be worried about.

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I picked Carly up at 5:45 and shortly after 6am we were parked in a garage downtown by the finish line. In an effort to stay warm, we stayed in the car until 6:30 and then headed to the start. We decided to hit the restrooms before jumping into our corral.

Easier said than done. There weren’t any port-o-potties visible on either side of the corrals. There seemed to be a ton of runners coming and going from a building to the left of the corrals so we headed in that direction. After we waited in line for a few minutes, a police officer came in shouting it was a public building but not open at the time and we all needed to exit the premises immediately.

I overheard the officer tell someone there were port-o-potties to the left and across the street so off we went. At this point it was 6:50am and clearly we weren’t going to make the 7am start. There were about 9-10 port-o-potties and 5 lines of 50 people each waiting. Needless to say, it took FOREVER.

As the announcer declared “if you are running the half or full marathon, you should have already crossed the starting mat. The 5K is about to start!” we were full out sprinting towards the start, crossing the mat at 7:21am.

Austin HM

Just like San Antonio, if there was anything we did well in this race, it was running positive splits.

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We didn’t slow down nearly enough, clocking our first mile in 9:47. Not ideal for the first mile of a notoriously hilly race. We pulled in the reins a bit on miles 2 & 3 (10:10 & 10:25), but could tell it was probably too late.

Miles 4-6 (13:25, 11:25, 12:54) were a steady uphill climb so we started incorporating walk breaks. I had a massive cramp which didn’t seem to want to go away, no matter how much I focused on my breathing.

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We decided to try and make up some time on the downhill stretch of South 1st Street, heading back into downtown. We ticked off miles 7 & 8 in 11:03 and 10:14, respectively.

Mile 9, the Yellow Mile, was nothing short of inspirational. Supporters lined both sides of the course and the road was covered in motivational phrases etched in chalk. Their cheers pushed us along to finish the mile in 11:58.

At this point, our legs were starting to feel fatigued. Earlier the walk breaks would leave me reenergized, able to go back to running at a pretty decent pace. After mile 9 the breaks made me want to walk more and run less. Our pace slowed considerably over the final miles (13:49, 12:48, 12:39. 12:12), which included the beast at mile 12.

Austin HM Enfield Hill

Please excuse these recycled photos from last year’s recap – my running camera had a timely death the day before the race. Lucky for me, the course was exactly the same and recycling was possible.

The course rose 80 feet in less than a 1/4 mile and drained much of what was left of the strength in our legs.

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Another recycled photo. Again, I’m sorry.

After this hill, we hit another (not as large) hill on San Jacinto, before making the right onto 11th Street. We started to pick up the pace, exchanged one knowing glance, and let our legs fly.

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Whoa, check out that heel strike. Nice form, Melissa, nice form.

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The last portion of our race was a 7:58 pace, 6:16 best pace. A tad faster than I thought I had left in those tired legs!

Austin HM Finish

Official Finish Time 2:34:37, 11:48 pace

It wasn’t a PR for either of us, but not a bad time for a challenging course. We also beat our time from San Antonio, which was a much flatter course.

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Another great race put on by LIVESTRONG and I can say with certainty I’ll be back for more next year. I’m thinking 2013 might be the time to conquer the full after completing the half in 2011 & 2012.

We’ll see how crazy I’m feeling come registration time!

Another perspective on Austin

A friend on Daily Mile posted a note from Paul, a coach at Rogue Running.

Here is what he had to say:

I don’t know what to say runners, except that was probably the toughest, most difficult conditions (weather and course), I’ve ever encountered for the Austin Marathon. As far as the course is concerned, I didn’t fully appreciate the difficulty of the course until actually running the entire course from start to finish yesterday. The double San Jacinto hill, the long grueling stretch up Congress Ave, and the exhausting slog up Exposition made this by far the hardest Austin course I’ve seen in my 8 years of running it.

Then there was the weather. By themselves, both the wind and the heat were bad enough. But put both of them together and it made for some miserable running, especially when one was looking to the later downhill miles for some relief. The headwind coming back south was relentless and knocked out many seasoned runners. To give you some perspective on how brutal a day it was, we had 7 pacers drop out this year, making it the highest total ever for pacers not making it to the finish.

What I really want to say is I’m damn proud of every single one of you for weathering one of the hardest races anywhere. That medal you earned shows your determination, perseverance, and pure guts to make it to the finish. Congratulation to everyone regardless if you finished!

That being said: if you finished Austin yesterday, whether it was the half or full, CONGRATULATIONS!

2011 Austin Half Marathon Race Recap

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Yesterday started with the usual pre-race fueling: tall glass of water, cup of coffee, and PB & Banana on wheat toast

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I arrived downtown at 6am, one hour prior to the start. I decided not to check a bag since my car was parked only one block from the gear check tent. I later learned I might as well have checked a bag, but we’ll get to that.

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The start line was interesting. No wave start – 18,000 runners and walkers started all at once. It took quite awhile for me to cross the starting mat after the initial fireworks went off. As you can see below, the 9-10 min mile area is where all of the runners from two lanes merged together. I think that’s what the holdup stemmed from.

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I decided to do run/walk intervals, the opposite of what I did at 3m. The first six miles were pretty much all hills, and I was cursing the race directors the whole way. At the starting line, the announcer mentioned the intense winds would be at our back the whole race. He was a big fat liar. LIAR. We were running up hills, into the wind. This pic below is looking back down a hill on South Congress.

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I think this was around mile 3, and it was also when we were running past dozens of restaurants. All I could smell was bagels, pizza, and breakfast tacos. Pure torture. I wanted to throw in the towel and go have a delicious meal.

Combined with the hills was suffocating humidity, warm temperatures, and a whipping wind. Not ideal race conditions.

Once we hit Ben White and were on our way to South First, I was pumped. For a couple miles we’d get a break from the inclines.

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After heading over the 1st Street bridge back into downtown, we made a left on Cesar Chavez. Just past Lamar Blvd, we hit Mile 9 – The Yellow Mile. The crowd support was amazing! They had written inspirational words on the road in chalk to help push us along as we ran. I was focused on just taking it all in, and didn’t snap any pictures of them. The one below is from an Austin Marathon email I received.

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I know I had a smile on my face for the entire length of mile 9, so a BIG thank you to those who cheered us on!

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Another hill, surprise surprise.

At this point, I realized the turn on Enfield was coming up and I’m not gonna lie – I started to freak out a bit.

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THE hill, the one that would destroy whatever was left of my strength, was just around the corner. The one that someone (who had clearly been drinking) decided would be a good idea to place at mile 12 of a half marathon.

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It looked like the runners were seriously running towards the sky. My heart started to race.

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I tried to distract myself by looking at something other than the hill I was about to crawl up.

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Ok yeah, there was no avoiding it.

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I approached it running, hoping I could just focus and get myself up it. Halfway up, my legs felt like lead and I slowed to a walk. Walking up it was the equivalent of climbing stairs, lots and lots of stairs. Nearly everyone around me was walking.

One of the spectators was yelling that it was “all downhill from here” but I knew better. I had studied the elevation chart, and we still had two more hills to tackle before it was over.

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After a grueling two hours and forty-eight minutes, I finally crossed the finish line. I received my medal, grabbed a bottle of water, and made my way to get my finisher’s shirt. I started having flashbacks to the disastrous Wine & Dine finish.

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So as you can see, the Finish Line goes: Medal –> Water –> Gatorade –> Food –> GEAR CHECK –> Finisher’s Shirts.

Well what if you didn’t leave your bag at Gear Check? Too bad. You were stuck waiting in the sea of people who did. It took a good 30 minutes to move half a block. All I wanted to do was stretch out my poor legs, but the crowds did not allow for such a thing. Once I grabbed my shirt, I hightailed it out of there. I was getting really claustrophobic and just wanted to get the eff out of there.

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I’ve done a lot of complaining on Facebook, Twitter, and text about the race course. HOWEVER, not once did I say I would never do this race again. That wouldn’t be true.

I 100% plan on running this race next year. It was a very well run event, great swag bags & expo, and although it was challenging, the course really was a fun run through Austin. I’ll be back, and I’m dragging Carly with me!

Recap will come tomorrow…

…but for now I’ll do a quick overview. First off, hills and I are NOT friends. Would YOU want to run this?

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Didn’t think so.

Race Conditions: Warm, 90% humidity, 15mph winds, and hills. You know what’s not awesome? Running up a hill with the wind trying to push you back down it.

I finished in 2:48, which I am pretty shocked at considering this is the toughest course I’ve ever ran.

Running with my own personal water/gatorade bottle? Money.

Shot bloks? Love ‘em.

Mile 9, the Yellow Mile? Amazing support.

Hills? HATE THEM.

Finish line setup? Needs some serious work.

Full recap tomorrow, but for now I need to make sweet, sweet love to some champagne while rocking compression socks and my finishers tee.

THANK GOD I AM OFF TOMORROW!

I run for those who can’t

I just read an Austin Marathon article by Bart Yasso on Austin 360. A couple things really stood out to me:

When you get to the starting line, take a minute to think how fortunate you are to be able to run a marathon, both physically and culturally. Your body is healthy enough to let you race, and you live in a city that supports runners.

and

Yasso, who has run the Austin Marathon several times, consistently rates our town among the top running cities in America.

“Austin’s the coolest host city because it’s got such a great running vibe and everyone’s active,” he says. “I love the music scene, too — it’s kind of hard not to partake in all the fun.”

Less than twenty-four hours to go!