2013 LIVESTRONG Austin Half Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday morning I ran my third LIVESTRONG Austin Half Marathon.

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223I’m going to end up buying this one once all the photos have been uploaded, so don’t get upset that I borrowed it, MarathonFoto.

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While 3M may be my favorite race in town to really race, LIVESTRONG Austin is my favorite race to run. It starts just north of the Capitol building, runs south on Congress past many amazing restaurants + bars before turning to come back into the city on South First, heads west on Cesar Chavez to Mopac and then takes 15th Street back east to end up finishing just south of the Capitol building. It’s an awesome way to see this amazing city!

LIVESTRONG Austin Half Marathon Course

The course isn’t flat or fast, in fact, it’s pretty damn tough. Rolling hills miles 1-3, uphill miles 3-6, downhill 6-9, uphill 10-11.5, a little downhill followed by a hill that will make you cry at mile 12, a little downhill to recover and then back up the San Jacinto hill to the finish.

LIVESTRONG Austin Half Marathon Elevation

The weather was absolutely perfect yesterday – 42 at the start and roughly 55 at the finish, with beautiful blue skies and bright sunshine.

Miles 2-6

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Miles 6-9

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Miles 9-12

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Mile 12 (where “The Hill” lives) – Finish

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From my 2011 recap:

Austin Half Marathon Enfield Hill

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What I thought of the Enfield Hill:

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Austin Finish 2

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And, DONE!

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Austin Finish

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Overall, I highly recommend this race, whether it be the half or the full. It might not be your goal race for the year or a super speedy PR-producing course, but I can promise you will NOT be disappointed. Everything from the expo to the finish line is incredibly organized and well executed. There may be hills but the course is scenic so there’s a lot to keep your mind off of the elevation side of things.

Never been to Austin? Sign up for the race, book a hotel downtown, and take in all this great city has to offer. You will eat the best food you’ve ever had in your life while you’re here. Yes, IN YOUR LIFE. No exaggeration. You’ll fall head over heels for the Live Music Capital of the World – I guarantee it!


The finish line of the LIVESTRONG Austin Half Marathon also marked the end of the Austin Distance Challenge. Brad and I covered 61.7 miles worth of races between October and yesterday, side by side, stride for stride. (I still feel bad that his first half marathon was Decker. Yikes!)

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If Brad thinks he’s going to hide four chocolate chip cookies behind his back in the picture and not get caught, he’s clearly mistaken. Busted.

I loved every minute and mile covered together over the past few months. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish in the future!

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.

Austin Distance Challenge

Back in the fall of 2010 when I first embarked on my running journey, I discovered the Austin Distance Challenge. It was a bit ambitious for someone just starting out, but kept it in the back of my mind for the next year.

Once the fall of 2011 rolled around, I realized one of the races in the ADC fell on the same day as the Marine Corps Marathon, making me ineligible to enter.

That brings us to this year. Fall is just around the corner, and it looks like the stars may FINALLY be aligned for me to take part in the Austin Distance Challenge.

ADC

So what exactly is the ADC? It’s a series of six races of increasing distances leading up to the Austin Marathon & Half Marathon. Everyone registered for the challenge receives the following:

  • long-sleeved tech shirt
  • 1 year membership to Austin Runners Club
  • access to ADC VIP Tent post-race
  • invitation to Celebration Party in March

And pending completion of the challenge:

  • custom printed runners jacket
  • certificate of completion
  • Overall, Masters and Age Group Awards


Austin Distance Challenge Races

IBM Uptown Classic

October 7, 2012

This is a staple in my fall race schedule and is actually my goal 10K for 2012; I have my sights set on 6.2 miles in under an hour!

Run for the Water

October 28, 2012

Run for the Water happens to fall on the same day as a 20-22 miler for Philly Marathon training so I’ll probably run 5ish miles pre-race and 5ish miles post-race.

Decker Challenge

December 9, 2012

I’m not gonna lie: this race scares the crap out of me. Last year when I volunteered at IM 70.3 Austin, I caught a glimpse of the Decker course – holy freakin’ hills.

To quote Joe Marruchella:

The Decker Challenge is one of the longest running and most well-respected races in Austin.  A windy course with historically poor December weather on the lake, can make Decker a tough race.  But it is the hills that put the“challenge” in the Decker Challenge.

Decker Elevation

Photo Credit: Joe Still Runs for Dom

Sooo… yeah. That should be a fun race. Oh! And it’s two weeks after Philly. I won’t be breaking any records at Decker, that’s for damn sure!

3m Half Marathon

January 13, 2013

Another repeat offender on my race schedule, and most likely my half marathon goal race for 2013. 3M’s elevation chart is pretty easy on the eyes:

3M Half Marathon Course Elevation

Oh heyyy PR City. Can’t wait to visit you again in January!

Rogue 30K Logo_final

January 27, 2013

The Rogue 10K & 30K will be a new race for the ADC this year, and a new race for me as well. Since I won’t be training for a full marathon in January, I highly doubt I’ll be inclined to choose the 18 mile route. 10K for me, please.

And last, but certainly not least…

Austin Marathon

February 17, 2013

I’ve run the half twice now – incredible race!! Earlier this year I said I’d be taking on the full in 2013 but I think it’ll be 13.1 for the third time. Ashley is talking about flying in for it so we’ll most likely run the half together. Exciting!

And that’s all. Just a few races – no big deal.

Have you ever participated in a race/distance challenge like this? Fellow Austinites – have you ever done the ADC? Are you planning on it this year?

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!

Time to Run

Let’s discuss a few goals for today’s half marathon, shall we?

Your Austin Marathon

With a course elevation which looks like this (why is the half SO much worse than the full?!)

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the chances of PRing are slim to none. And I’m okay with that. I’ll be running this race purely for fun. If I want to walk the hills, so be it. If I want to run the whole race at a 12:00 min/mi, I will.

My goal for today is plain and simple: to cross that finish line on Congress Avenue in front of the Capitol Building.

Oh beautiful medal, I’m coming for you.

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Dear Austin Hills, please don’t kill me.

Time for #8.

LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon Expo

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Last night another ambassador and I were scheduled to work the ZOOMA booth at the LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon Expo at the Palmer Event Center in Downtown Austin.

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Rather than make another trip downtown today to pick up my race packet, I headed over to the expo a little before my shift. This proved to be a wise decision as Austin is faced with this today:

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Flood Advisory and thunderstorms? No thank you. Perfect day to relax and not have to leave the house, especially with the way Austin drivers approach rain. If the expo attendance last night is any indication of how today will be, it’s sure to be an absolute madhouse. Definitely glad I’ll be avoiding that.

When I arrived at the expo at 2:40 (it opened at 3) there was already a TON of people waiting out front to get in. Once the doors were unlocked I headed straight to packet pickup. We all pretty much had the same idea.

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One section was for marathoners, and another for the half. Then each section was divided into individual lines according to bib number. The volunteers were efficient and I had my bag in hand in under 10 minutes.

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I lingered at the Marine Corps Marathon booth for a few minutes, professing my love for it and convincing future marathon hopefuls that they MUST run MCM. Best. Race. Ever. I may not be running in 2012, but I’d love to head back to DC/VA in 2013!

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After attending countless expos, I’m at the point where I’ve pretty much accumulated almost all of the gear I could want to buy. I made my way through the entire expo fairly quickly, and there was only one booth I wanted to open my wallet at:

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And because there’s no such thing as “too much” Nuun:

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Citrus Fruit to replenish my almost-empty tube, and three flavors I didn’t previously own: Kona Cola, Orange, and Banana.

Debra found me at the Nuun booth and we did a few laps around the expo together. We’ve connected on Twitter, Daily Mile, and through our blogs but had never met up in person! She’s trying to beat her PR from last year’s Austin Half Marathon. With 3 runs of 14+ miles during this training cycle, there’s no doubt she is going to KILL her time on Sunday. Good luck Debra!!

After doing a little Nuun shopping, it was time to work the ZOOMA booth with Erika.

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We had a GREAT time talking to many women (and a few men!) about the upcoming race out at Hyatt Lost Pines. Everyone who signed up for our mailing list at the expo would be emailed a discount code for the race and receive a ZOOMA tee.

Also, Jeanette came to visit! She’ll be running her second (San Antonio was her first) half marathon on Sunday. Get it girl!! 🙂 Also wishing Trinity the best of luck on his first half marathon – you’re going to have a great time and I’m sure it will be the first of MANY races for you!

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After a fun (read: miserable) drive home in a monsoon, I emptied out my race bag to review the contents. I’ve mentioned this before, but I LOVE how green of a race the LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon is. I always end up tossing the paper flyers away, so it’s awesome how they send out a Virtual Race Bag to eliminate them.

Virtual Race Bags

Okay, now onto the actual race bag:

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LOVE the half marathon shirt design!

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Each runner received one of SPIBelt’s new products, the SPIBand.

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Oh and I also made a collection of flyers from races I’m considering registering for in 2012:

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The timing of most of these is pretty damn close to NJ Marathon, so I don’t know how those plans will pan out. HOWEVER, I definitely have my eye on Dallas White Rock in December.

Despite today’s rain, tomorrow looks like a fantastic day for racing. 43 degrees at the start, sunny & 50 at the finish. Couldn’t ask for better!

Good luck to everyone running the full and half LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon tomorrow!!

Austin Trash Run

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The LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon and Half Marathon was recognized by Runner’s World magazine as one of the top ten greenest races in 2008. From the article by Kelly Bastone:

As if solar generators, a finish-line farmers’ market, organic race tees, and bio-diesel vehicles weren’t enough, the event recycles 14,375 pounds of trash.

Pretty impressive.

From the race website:

The LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon and Half Marathon® is an industry leader in green-friendly endurance sports events.  Certified by the Council for Responsible Sport and named “the Greenest Road Race in North America” by Runner’s World, the event is currently pursuing re-certification by ReSport for its 2011 and 2012 races.  The LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon and Half Marathon® views its green initiative as an integral part of its event and a symbol of its commitment to ensuring that Austin residents can enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle in and around our great city for years to come.

You can read more about their past and present efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of the race here. One of the things I noticed immediately last year was the bags we received at the expo did not include any paper advertising. I end up throwing most of those away anyway, so I thought this was a great idea.

At the beginning of the summer, I came across a status update from the Austin Marathon on Facebook advertising a Trash Run.

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In order to give back to the Austin community that we love, the LIVESTRONG® Austin Marathon and Half Marathon® team is organizing groups for our “Run, Recycle, Refuel” events. The goal is to run along different sections of the Austin Marathon® and Austin Half Marathon® race route, pick up waste along the streets, and finish the run by rewarding the efforts of the volunteers with happy hours at a local neighborhood restaurant.

I missed the runs in June and August, but was able to participate in the September event. Volunteers met up at Hickory Street on Congress Avenue in downtown Austin at 6pm.

All photos courtesy of the
Austin Marathon Facebook page.

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We followed a route up Congress Avenue and back down Guadalupe, picking up trash along the way. At 7pm, we met back up at Hickory Street for adult beverages and complimentary appetizers.

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I enjoyed a Fat Tire, some chips & queso, and great conversation with a few fellow runners. Overall, it was a fun “Run, Recycle, Refuel” event and I will be attending again in October. If you’re in the Austin area, I would definitely recommend checking it out next month. Here’s the info:

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And as for next year’s race?

2012 will bring even more innovation, collaboration and initiatives designed to raise the bar for other events.

I can’t wait.