Sunday, October 11, 2009

Strays, Bucks, the Devil's Course, and a Surprise!

AKA my Run Austin Run Half Marathon Race Report

Note: If you don't like race reports, you can scroll down to the bottom for Cliff Notes and a Conclusion, if you do enjoy race reports like I do, please enjoy!

So, today, if you didn't get the memo (aka - me shouting it from the rooftops) I had another half marathon today. I ran the Run Austin Run racing series put on by USA Productions. Now, I was slightly nervous about this one because it was my second. My first, is an automatic PR, just finishing was the biggest accomplishment of my life. The second, to me, was almost like you're not quite a veteran, but you're not a novice, so you better get out there and prove yourself. You wanna be a long distance runner? Go out there an own this race! So, that friends, is what was going through my mind.

5:00 am rolled around, alarm went off, and man did I feel rested! I actually got to sleep and slept well last night which is so rare before long runs and race days for me. Turned to the bf and had to double check the scores from last night's games. He stayed up, I crashed at 9! Good news, Texas won! Hopped in the shower to loosen up.

5:30 I crammed the much loathed fruit down my throat. The most vile fruit ever created. The banana. Blehk, I don't like them, but knew I needed to eat something. Bf and I are out the door!

6:00 we hit the starting line area. Hmmm, is this the right place? Today is the race, right? Why are we the only ones here? I cannot possibly be the only one that doesn't like to be rushed and stressed in the morning with road closures to want to get here I? Oh wait, there are a few others. Ok, good! Strange, but good!

6:30 text from a good friend confirming she's on her way and bringing her dog, yay! It was so great hanging out with the bf and friend before the race, although I was kinda in the zone! Freezing cold at 55 degrees (you have to understand it was 90 on Friday...I think the entire country got a cold front - better than running 13.1 mi in 90...right??)

6:45 ok, enough with the chit-chat, I need to head to the start (this is the planner in me!). Of course the race didn't start on time (they never do) but this one was about 20 minutes late. 20 minutes...come on! Just shoot the gun already and let me run!

7:20 tunes are in and I hear the glorious riffs of the electric guitar playing in my ears. This sound always gets me jack up; in fact I start every race to this:
She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky
Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I stared too long
I'd probably break down and cry
Sing it with me now: Ohhhhh oh, sweet child o' mine!

This is it folks, here I go. Garmin timer...go!

I was cruising pretty well, but kept my pace. I tend to get so excited that I could easily sprint the first 3 miles, but know I can't do that if I actually want to finish the race. I was doing alright, getting a little warm, then it hit me at about mile 1.5...side cramps! DAMMIT! Are you F*@!ING KIDDING ME? I seriously had to check myself: chill Jen, just slow down a bit, try to stretch, and keep going, you'll be fine. I was, eventually.

Miles 2 and 3 were predictable. Cold, hilly, but ok.

Sweet! Mile 2ish I saw another girl wearing her Race for Strays team shirt...rock on!

Mile 3.5 something amazingly awesome happened. I'm not gonna lie though, I did fear for my life for a brief moment. While running through one of the neighborhoods (not too woodsy) I turned the corner to find myself within 10 yards of a buck. Yes, a buck. Not a cute, tiny, little deer. A buck. My height, with antlers. BIG antlers. He was running! Running, towards me! OMG, I don't want to die. Apparently, he was more afraid of me running towards him than I was of him running towards me so he darted into the yard as I passed him. Oh thank you Lord! Seriously, I was praying out loud, I'm not using His name in vein, I was actually praying out loud!

Miles 4 and 5 came around and I wanted to murder the person that that mapped the course. Honestly, either they didn't run this course, or they are sick and demented. I'm used to hills, in Austin, it's difficult to run outside without running into hills, but this was not a hill, it was a mini mountain of death followed by another mini mountain of death, and another. Um, why do I run these? My thought was distracted... Wait, what? Was that a drop of rain? There are no rain clouds, nah, it wasn't. Half mile later, no, that was a drop of rain...nope, no it wasn't. Phew! That would seriously suck!

I remember thinking hmmm, I keep having all these crazing uphills (mini mountains of death), where are the downhills? I start and finish in the same place, so eventually I have to run downhill, right? Is my logic completely FUBAR at this point? I'm pretty sure I'm right!

I spoke (er, thought) too soon! These downhills made me wish the race was all uphill. My knees felt like they were going to give in at any moment. Honestly, it may have been a health hazard having a running course through hills like this.

I'm pretty sure the volunteer thought I was kidding when I asked for beer at the Mile 6 water station, little does he know, I was dead serious!

Mile 7 rolled around and I wanted to die. For some reason my body wasn't into the whole running thing at the moment. My legs ached. My knees where throbbing. My hips hurt. My back was tight. Oh man, seriously, worse race ever. Couldn't get worse. I'm too far from the finish to feel like this.

Oh, what do you know, I spoke too soon, yet again! Rain! Rain! Rain! I didn't say mist, I didn't say drizzle, I definitely used that awful 4-letter word! DAMMIT! By about mile 7.5 I looked and felt like I just went swimming in the Pacific Ocean in January. I was freezing, shivering, and drenched from head to toe. Seriously...sopping wet! Surprise! The weatherman was VERY wrong, yet again. Today was supposed to be the only day with no rain this week...jerk!

Miles 7.5 through 12.5 were such a blur. A rainy, cold, windy blur.

Everything in my body, everything in my mind was saying just stop. There is no shame in NOT running 13.1 miles when it's 55 degrees, pouring rain, and windy outside. It's ok, you can always finish the next one. Honestly, no one will blame you.

It's true, most people would completely 100% understand me not finishing the race. But guess what, I didn't run hundreds of miles, spend hours upon hours training, miss weekends out on the town to not finish. That's not my style, that's not what I came here to do. I did however come to peace with not PRing...I cried when I realized I wouldn't PR, but then I remembered that it's not about the time, it's about finishing something you started, and completing something that just 1 year ago you thought was impossible for you to do!

I turn the corner for the .5 mile stretch to see my bf and friend standing there in the rain, yelling my name, jumping up and down...oh, that was SO awesome! That's when I put on the jets (well as much of the jets I could put on with the amount of fuel I had left!). I finished in 3:09:56 and honestly, all things considered, I couldn't be happier.

I will say, for anyone thinking about running an USA Productions race, I highly advise against it. I realize that the weather was a factor, but here are a few things I was very disappointed in:
  • there were only 7 stations for water, they said there would be 12 stations
  • in my opinion, the course was not well planned out well at all. I've done a half marathon in Austin that was challenging but was NOTHING like this. I felt that some of the hills were not meant for running, it could seriously injure someone.
  • when I crossed the finish, they had run out of half marathon finisher's medals (the course was open for 4 hours, I finished in 3, there had to be at least 200-300 more runners out there). Supposedly my medal will be mailed to me.
  • they also ran out of half marathon finisher's shirts, they didn't mention anything about having that mailed to me...
  • all the volunteers pack up and left by the time I crossed the finish. There was no water left, no power aid or GU2O left. There were no bagels.
  • Part of the race was "Come for the Race, Stay for the Party." They were to have live music, beer, pizza, burritos, fruit, drinks, bagels, and massages for the runners. When I crossed the finish line, the only thing left was the band.

Conclusion: I've had better days, but in a way all things considered, I think this finish even though it wasn't a PR was more impressive than my first half marathon. I'm very glad I finished. I'm very thankful I had supporters cheering me on at the finish. I am very much looking forward to a flat, nice weathered half marathon in Scottsdale in December!

Cliff Notes: I ran a half marathon. I was charged by bucks. I climbed a few mountains during the race. It started pouring rain at mile 7 and didn't stop the rest of the 13.1. -- you should read the full report. ;)

Stats: 13.22 miles, 3:09:56, 14:22 min/mile average, 1443 calories burned

Tomorrow, I will be enjoying a massage and pedicure!


  1. Okay, let's recap:
    Guns N Roses? check
    Freezing cold? check
    Stared down by a giant animal? check
    Giant horns on giant animal? check
    Mid-course mountain? check
    Rain? check
    Bad race support? check

    Holy race! Congrats on your finish, and enjoy the pedi. AZ is gonna be a breeze compared to this one, and you're gonna rock it out

  2. I am so impressed! I have read for a long time and never commented. You have a strong will. I probably would have been crying in a race like that! Way to finish and finish strong. I would be pissed about the lack of water, the volunteers leaving, no shirt no medal..
    I am hoping to run a half or run 75% I am not a runner at all and can only hope that one day I can have a finished a half blog! Thank you for sharing your awesome blog and CONGRATS!

  3. Congrats, girl!!! Um, I TOTALLY hear you on miles 7-12....always a blur to me, too! And the BUCK?? NO WAY!! Here's to your next 1/2 being a little bit better organized (MAILING you your medal?? um, LAME). Well done!!

  4. Cold, rain, hills, wind and 13.1 miles? Sounds like a perfect way to spend the morning to me.

    Well done!

  5. Good job Jen! As much as it may have sucked you DID IT!! I can't wait to finish mine. I'm reading all these recaps and getting so pumped up!!! I've had a minor setback (possible stress fracture, waiting on MRI)and am off running for a couple of weeks. I only have 5 weeks until San Antonio, I hope I can still do it. If not, you know as well as I do, in Texas, a spring race may not be that bad. Congrats! Enjoy that massage and pedi. You deserve it!

  6. So proud of you! And seriously... our first Half Marathons are eeriely similiar! Mine started raining about the same time and it SUCKED but dang it all... we finished and that is the important thing! I was totally thinking about you last Sunday and hoping you did well! Congrats girl!

  7. SO funny because the cliff notes version was all the things I was going to comment on... UGH!! Bummer about the sideache so early on.

    I cannot believe that the Finish line was deserted...I would have thought they would wait until ALL people finish..

    Here is hoping for clear skies on your next 1/2

  8. Okay, great post! I was laughing so hard I cried. But then the end of your race and there was nothing left and nobody there? Creepy weird.


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