This is a tough 1/2 Marathon! I don't remember the hills being this difficult when I did the Mary last year, but then again, I run the 1/2 at a much faster clip than I run the full, so I think I felt it that much more. I seeded myself between the 3:10-3:15 pace groups for the marathon as the course is the shared for the first 10 miles. When the gun went off to start the race it was VERY crowded and I had to weave in and out of A LOT of people that mis-seeded themselves. I'm not talking slightly slower, I'm talking they started off by WALKING or at a 12+ min pace. Why would you seed your self in the front of marathon/half-marathon if you are not fast? It's not like your time starts at the gun, it starts at the chip for all the non-money contenders. The first mile was all about getting into position, and I was staying between the 3:10/3:15 marathon pace groups and that was fine. I have had a weird mystery pain lately, and thankfully today it wasn't flaring up, and that was good, and I made sure to watch that I didn't go out to fast because I knew those first 3 miles were a gradual uphill. I was a little chilly waiting around to start and so I had throw away gloves on that I tossed at the aid station at mile 2. I loved miles 4-6 because there was so much long downhill and great fast flats. Took a GU at 5 miles. Mile 6-7 was a little tougher, and 7-9 I started feeling it a bit as we were into the rolling hill phase. We were also more into the wind here, and I attempted to draft off some tall big guys, and did some, but then their pace dropped below what I wanted to maintain. The turn up Lake Austin BLVD is always one to get me. I got some minor side stitches around mile 8, but thankfully they didn't last too long. Then, at mile 10 we split from the marathoners and I keep telling myself that it's only a 5K left and I can keep pushing it. Took GU #2 here. The rolling hills are getting to me some though. Then, we're at about 11.75 and traveling on Enfield East back towards downtown and we hit that same dang hill the sucked the life out of me at the Turkey Trot 5 miler. Thankfully, it didn't kill me as badly this time. I just kept steady, but didn't push too hard so as not to stress out the HR and lengthen the recovery up top, then, once I got to the top, I opened back up and it felt so good to have a slight downhill. With a mile left, I started pushing the pace again. Then, as you're heading into that last mile and you make the turn onto San Jacinto you meet another fun little uphill...but, once I hit the top of that I had about 800m left. A nice part of the course was that the last 1000m they had signs counting down: 1000m, 800m, 600m, 400m, 200m, 100m, 50m. There was a girl about 10m in front of me and I was determined to beat her in that last 800m, and I think I probably overtook here in that last 200-300m. As usual, pain goes away for me in that last 100-200m of the straight finish chute and I sprinted in as hard as I could. I hear my name announced and from Killeen, TX, and I'm done. Official time was 1:37:32.
It was a fun race and after I got my clothes bag (so much better organized than the San Antonio Rock and Roll), and found my friend Tia we went to grab some coffee--I needed my morning caffeine, and it was a little chilly out. The line wasn't too long at Starbucks, and the lady gave me a funny look when I ordered a regular coffee--yep, plain old brew is what I wanted. I'm too cheap to pay for the other stuff! I need that money for racing and training toys! Anyhow, we sat there and waited to hear from a friend that was on the course cheering on another friend who was doing her first marathon (as a prep for Ironman AZ in Nov). She called us as our friend passed mile 21, and a little after that Tia and I headed out to take some pictures and go cheer our friend on in that last finish stretch. We did that, and then we all headed to Pappasitos for some lunch where we shared some chicken fajitas.
It was quite the enjoyable race again, though I had forgotten about some of those hills. Though, the worst one, the Enfield hill at mile 11.75 is NOT one that is part of the marathon course. A big bonus of this race was that they offered a military discount of 50% and they had a military discount. I truly appreciate that! There were some fast ladies out there in the women's military 1/2 Marathon!! I ended up 4th in the women's military 1/2 Marathon...missed out on 3rd by less than a minute, but 1st and 2nd were at 1:24 and 1:29 respectively! That is some FAST running! I was 12th/228 in the military 1/2 marathon overall (men and women) and that makes me happy! I was 14th in my age group for the whole field (F25-29). It was not a personal record for me today, but it was my second fastest time, and there is no denying that the course is challenging. It definitely isn't as fast of a course as the San Antonio one. I enjoy Austin, and I enjoy this race. Not too many "frills" with the race, but volunteers are great, course is well marked and supported, and again, the military discount ROCKS! :) I want to do the full marathon again next year, but 100% as a "fun" and "no pressure race." My friend training for IMAZ wants to do the same, so if you see two gals goofing around and taking pictures next year, it's probably us!
2009 has started well! I'm excited to see what the rest of the year holds! (Especially 7 Nov 09!!)