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finsh lineWoke up at zero dark thirty to a cold Austin for the 6:45am start to this half marathon.  Can’t complain considering the temperature back home is closer to zero° and ice.  This wouldn’t be bad running weather if not for the 15 mile an hour wind that makes 40° feel like 33°.  I loaded my gear bag with tons of dressing options – expecting to wear the gloves – and dry clothes to change into after the finish for breakfast.

In terms of expectations, I know I’m not in the same shape I was in at the end of 2012, but I was hoping to run under an 8 minute pace.  Since my return to road races I have yet to do that in a half marathon.  I generally just run these things like any other workouts but woke up today feeling a bit edgy.  I think it might be from hooking up with a college buddy, Kenneth Hausmann last week to watch a bowl game.  Ken has an awesome house on Lake Austin.  Oddly enough I think he’s more into his houseboat.  His funniest joke of the night was when he said he should probably have it insured as he gave me a tour.  Ken owns a Farmers Insurance agency.

Ken’s wife Debbie made us a nice dinner and I met his youngest daughter Mia whom they adopted from China.  She’s totally deaf but can hear fine due to some amazing technology that incorporates implants and magnets.  Mia looks as happy as she is beautiful.  Part of my tour included Ken’s trophy collection.  Apparently while I was raising kids and building a career, Ken squeezed in twenty years of road runs.  He’s run Boston several times and has never missed the Capitol 10K.  When I say he has a mountain of trophies, I mean he has hundreds piled up on a workbench in his garage.  Some are traditional trophies, others are medals, or plaques, or plates – even a couple of dog bowls.  Many of them 1st place.  And all I’ve thought about since is how cool it would be to run a half marathon time today – in Ken’s backyard – that will make him feel slow and old.  Because we’re friends.

Fortunately it never rained.  The only cold part of this event was standing around before the start.  Because my brother dropped me off, I only had to stand around for a half hour or so.  Steve also shot some video around ten miles in front of the Hyde Park Bar & Grill.  I wore two shirts, neither heavy, but covered with my North Face shell to break the wind.  I also wore a pair of running tights that are thin enough to wear in the summer, some gloves and a runner’s hat.  I would say I geared up perfectly.  I pocketed the gloves after four miles, and I would have been fine without tights – but they made the start much more comfortable.

Every two miles displayed a pace clock and I appeared to be running on target for an 8 minute per mile pace.  I typically like to warm up with a 9 minute pace for the first few miles, but my goal to break 1:45 would require starting out faster and holding it.  My stretch goal was 1:40 and my fantasy was 1:30.  A boy can dream.  But even the 1:45 would be a PR and would require some racing tactics.  Starting out slow is smart for warming up, but presents a risk if I don’t have the energy or drive to pick it up.  Starting out too fast risks building up lactic acid and not being able to recover from oxygen debt.

Kerbey LaneI lined up behind the 1:45 pace group and suspect I passed both them and the 1:40 pace sign in the first mile when it was too crowded to notice.  The wind was in our faces the first half mile but wasn’t noticeable as we turned east on Kramer.  There were only a few short streets later in the race where we ran into head winds and it was never a big deal.  I don’t think a 15 mph wind has a big impact on time but it would have made today colder if we were running into it.  I do suspect the 400 foot drop in elevation over the 13 miles is helpful.  Not to the point it affects the course’s USATF legitimacy, but it sure beats a 400 foot elevation gain.  The combination of the elevation drop and the wind at our backs likely lead to a number of runners doing well.  I don’t know my official chip time yet but the clock said 1:37.  We ate breakfast at one of my favorite Austin eateries – Kerbey Lane.  Not a bad way to start a new year of running.