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I was up most of the night with a cough from these Central Texas allergies. Still, I felt fine when I woke at 5am for the big run. My brother had to wake early as well since he would drive me down to the Texas Capitol building.  I ate a banana and drank a cup of coffee, got dressed and we headed downtown at 6am.  Dressing presented a difficult decision knowing the temperature would go from 46° to 64° but I opted for a single long sleeved shirt.  It’s a training shirt made from high tech fabric so it would be fine in the heat but the sleeves would also serve to keep me warm early on.  I nearly wore a second short sleeved shirt underneath but there wasn’t any wind and the 46° felt comfortable.  I also took a Sucrets for my throat and it felt fine by the time Steve dropped me off at 6:30 on 15th Street.

I lined up near the pace sign for a 4 hour marathon, expecting to run the half in about 2 hours.  I learned last year I couldn’t trust running with these pace setters.  Instead, I opted to run alongside a flock of pretty girls.  There are so many decisions to make at the start of any race, from what to wear, and what energy aids to carry, to whom to stand next to.  I brought along 3 one ounce energy gel packets and ate one before the start of the race.  It tasted like tripe.  I hate those things.  Lance spoke a few words and a woman sang the national anthem.  Then we were off.  It took me nearly 5 minutes to reach the starting line – still running alongside the pretty girls.

A total of 18,000 runners started the race but I didn’t feel overly crowded.  The first couple of miles wound through downtown Austin and was packed with cheering spectators.  I started up my run playlist around the 2 mile mark.  I was concerned about starting out too fast and paid close attention to my pace.  I learned last year running the full marathon how easy it is to start too fast when coming down from altitude.  I didn’t wear a watch and never saw any of the official race clocks, but I felt I might be running a tad bit fast.  Keeping it in check was difficult and required constant monitoring – breathing was just so easy.  The 3 mile hill running up Congress Avenue served as a decent governor.  Nothing like hills to slow you down.

The hill crest just after 5 miles.  My hope was that I would start off slow and then loosen up my stride running down South First Street.  I didn’t feel a need to push myself too hard down First because I knew I had run well up Congress. My allergies and sore throat weren’t affecting me at all.  My breathing was great.  Still, I continued a strong pace.  However, I throttled it down a bit on steeper downhills.  The memory of running out of steam by 10 miles last year was still fresh in my mind.  Discipline.

I tried eating another but different type of energy gel at the 6 mile point as part of my plan but spit it out and tossed the remaining packet.  All energy gels suck.  I drank my first sip of water at the 7 mile aid station.  Really just to wash the gel out of my mouth.  Steve and my sister Nancy were down on the north side of the First Street bridge cheering me on.  This was about 8.5 miles and I was still feeling really strong.  There’s a bit of a slope crossing MoPac around 9 miles and the hills just keep coming after that.  I tried to maintain my cadence with shorter steps but would slow down climbing the steeper grades.  The course split a bit shy of 11 miles for the full or half course.  Last year I took the red pill.  Ironically, I felt strong enough to consider the red pill this year but swallowed the blue pill instead and was happy for the opportunity.

The last 2 miles run along Enfield/15th Street and present some sharp hills.  By this point anyone running with me was strong enough to take the hills without walking.  Some runners took them quite a bit faster than me.  Even though I didn’t feel winded on this set of hills, my legs burned so I took them slow.  A few runners did stop after cresting the hills to vomit.  These are real hills.

As we neared the finish line some runners put on their sprints.  Satisfied that I had maintained a strong pace the entire run I didn’t care to put on any kick.  I did step it up though the final 100 yards.  I was feeling good and felt like catching a couple of women who tried passing me.  I refrained from any actual sprinting though.  My body is just too delicate right now and I didn’t want to stress anything.  Besides, pain wasn’t part of my game plan today.  I missed seeing the final clock too but learned shortly after I ran in 1:48 – an 8:16 mile pace.  I didn’t expect to run over 2 hours but also didn’t expect to run quite that well.  More important than the time though was that I felt great.  Very happy with today’s run.  Not happy with the race results site.  You’ll need to know my bib number 16012 or use my name if you click on that link above to view race results because I can’t give you a direct link.

The weather was ideal for this run today, but oddly it was cold afterward as I waited to meet up with Steve for a ride to brunch.  I’m not sure if the temperature actually dropped but the wind did pick up considerably.  It certainly had not warmed up to the 60s yet.  We took breakfast at the Magnolia Cafe on Lake Austin Blvd.  I hadn’t been there in 25 years.  I later got a men’s pedicure to treat my feet and work the lactic acid out of my calves.  Overall, an outstanding day.