It’s taken me a week and a half, but I finally have my race recap of the 3M Half Marathon. This race was a different experience to me in more ways than one. I had a lot of factors, some on my own terms, that made this weekend a challenge. But for once, my emotions and my personal experience had no impact on my overall thought of the race. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
Before I dive in, let me catch you up. I was in Austin Friday through Sunday, and I promise a post of my visit will appear soon. During this time I was lucky enough to have a bit of the flu. So. Much. Fun. And my training? Non existent.
Sunday morning was race day, and since the race started at 6:45, wake up was at 5:00am. I was sharing a hotel room with Courtney and Luke, and somehow we had a pretty smooth morning. Nerves weren’t too much of an issue, but I was starving. We were out the door by 5:30 and headed downtown to find a parking spot. There was some wind and the temperature had dropped 20 degrees from the previous day. Coming from Ohio, 40 degrees in January isn’t bad, especially considering it’s in the single digits now! We were thankful that it wasn’t raining. All week there was a good chance we’d be running in pouring rain.
We got in line at the port-a-pots, dropped off our bag and made our way to the start. We were part of the few crazy people wearing shorts, everyone else was bundled up in cold weather gear. I won’t lie, this made me feel tough, or maybe completely stupid.
Courtney and Luke were way up front. I stood by the 2:10 pacers knowing it wouldn’t be a fast day. Just before we started, my stomach turned. I already knew it’d be an interesting race, but my new race plan was to make it through without embarrassing myself.
The first mile was rough, we ran straight into the wind and everyone was still pretty close together. Once we got closer to the second mile, things started opening up and it was a little brighter out. There were a lot of water stops along the way, probably every 1.5 miles, which was perfect because that meant a lot of bathroom stops. My stomach held up pretty well, but I kept myself at a slower pace. I was averaging 9:58 pace per mile. I knew that if I kept it slow I had a better chance of making the entire distance. My goal was just to finish the race now that I had been able to start it.
I made it to mile 5 without any problems, I had been drinking a sip of water every couple of minutes and I hadn’t felt hungry enough to use any Sport Beans yet. At this point, I made a precautionary stop at the bathroom. And then I spent 10 minutes waiting in line. 10 minutes! Any chance of a good time was now gone. I then made the smartest decision of my entire race. I would no longer check my watch and I was just going to enjoy the experience.
My favorite thing about running new or out of town races is that I have no idea where I am, I just follow the course, check in at the mile marks and take in what’s around me. Austin is the perfect place to do this. We ran through industrial areas, housing developments and shopping areas. Each section was unique in it’s own way, something I saw throughout the weekend visit.
I managed to keep a decent pace going until mile 8. I started to do the walk jog thing, running more than walking. The course was pretty easy, and mostly down hill. Even a small incline was nothing and I kept my feet going in the right direction. Around mile 10 I started to get really hungry, and realized I hadn’t snacked all race. I started popping Sport Beans and was quickly back up to my normal self. I was even greeted with some Lemon Lime cup of Heaven shortly after this, which gave me a sign that I could do this. I only had three miles left. What I didn’t realize is that these three miles had hills.
It happened to be move in weekend and the University of Texas, so instead of running through the campus we ran around it. Which wouldn’t have been bad if there hadn’t been hills with false summits. This also caused us to hit a strong head wind right at the finish. But instead of letting that ruin my finish, I went with it. It was tough, but what race doesn’t make you work.
I finished those last couple of miles with heart and gratitude. I looked around and saw the most beautiful views of Austin (still kicking myself for not taking a picture). I was finishing my 10th half marathon in under two years and running in my third state. I had run the race without checking my Garmin every two seconds, I wasn’t stressing about my splits, and I wasn’t nervous if I’d miss my PR. I was happy that the friends I had running on the course were doing amazing things. I was enjoying the 40 degree, beautiful Sunny weather. I was running, something I had separated myself from for the past couple of weeks. I was back doing what I loved.
I finished far from my PR and breaking 2:00, but I was ok with that. I had an amazing experience that I couldn’t have enjoyed more. Not every race is going to be perfect or even good. You encounter those tough courses, race plans, and injuries to make yourself stronger. I’ve run 10 half marathons and at least three other 13 mile runs during my marathon training. That distance can bring something different each and every time.
I honestly have no complaints about this race. It could have very well been the perfect race. The start went smooth, water stops were plentiful and the spectators along the course were wonderful. The grab bag was packed with great items, the t-shirt was unique and the medal was neat. This is a great race to PR and I would completely recommend this race to any runner looking for something fun. I plan on coming back down someday to run 3M again. And there is no doubt that I will be breaking 2:00 on those same streets of Austin.