Home > Uncategorized > Austin Half Marathon – redemption!

Austin Half Marathon – redemption!

I’d like to sufficiently warn everyone reading this that it will probably be obnoxiously long.  You have been forewarned.


I killed it!  I wanted to beat last year’s time (2:55:10, 13:17 pace) and I not only beat it, but I never walked on the course (save for a few of the water stops, when filling up my water bottle, which I’m not counting!)  I even slayed the beastly hill on Enfield!  I am so incredibly happy with my performance.

Here were my splits, comparing this year to last year:

mile 1 mile 2 mile 3 mile 4 mile 5 mile 6 mile 7
2012 11:44 11:46 11:32 12:23 11:55 11:55 11:35
2011 11:52 12:04 12:37 13:27 12:52 12:51 12:03
mile 8 mile 9 mile 10 mile 11 mile 12 mile 13 last .2 mi
2012 11:41 11:56 12:33 12:48 12:37 12:07 9:01
2011 12:13 13:07 14:20 16:01 16:06 13:56 8:57

I ran a 2:38:20/12:05 pace on a super tough Austin half marathon course.  The weather was gorgeous, so that helped a lot, but I’m not giving Mother Nature all of the credit.  As everyone knows, I was out for 3 weeks due to bronchitis/sinus infection and I’ve only been back to running for one week prior to my race today.  But I knew I had more experience going into this race and I’ve been working on my mental game all week, so I was hopeful.  I told myself I would be uncomfortable, minimally, and maybe even in a decent amount of pain at times, for the majority of the course.  If I was going to pull off the time I was shooting for, after not being in the best conditioned state, I knew my attitude and mental toughness would be what carried me through this race.

One of my favorite Bible verses is from Phillipians (4:13) – “I can do all things through God who strengthens me.”  I decided to write that verse on my bib, on my pace band, and keep it fresh in my thoughts throughout the race.  It was a great choice.  Looking down at my pace band or repeating it in my head, especially when I was hurting a lot or about to conquer a tough hill, really helped.

I met Denise E., Denise D., and Val at Rogue at 5:45am and we took the shuttle to the race.  It was sooo cold!  We decided to wear our jackets and drop them at the mile 2 Rogue clothes drop – an excellent decision.  We tried to talk to distract ourselves from the temperatures, but it was tough.  The girls wanted to stop at the port a potties one last time so we headed over about 30 minutes til 7am. This is where I had a “um, do what?” moment.  This blonde girl, maybe mid-20s, came out of one of the stalls wearing white angel wings (awww…) and I told her I loved them!  She then told me “it’s time to lube up.”  I said “hey, we all have to do it” while she proceeded to break out her jar of Aquaphor, swipe a glob on her hand, stick her hand straight down her pants, and start lubing up her crotch.  She was facing everyone while she did it and the first few times I thought “well, you gotta do what you gotta do” but after the 20th or so time, I was a little uncomfortable.  She was really going to town.  It was so funny when my friends were done and walked over to me and I told them what was happening. We all cracked up!  We laughed about that one several times over the race course.

Denise squared, Val, and I planned to run this whole race together.  We had similar goal times in mind and thought it would be nice to have the social support on the course.  We were right!  We didn’t run four across hardly at all, but we did two front/two back for a few miles and the rest of the time, we mostly kept each other within our sights.  It was so good to have them with me on the course.  We didn’t talk hardly at all, but we didn’t have to.  Just knowing we were all there together helped a lot.  All three ladies are on my Rogue Northside Runaways team and they are truly my sisters.

The first couple of miles felt harder than I was expecting, but I reminded myself that it takes awhile to warm up (my toes didn’t thaw out until @ mile 3) and I saw my sweet friend Lisa, with a sign made JUST FOR ME, right before mile 2 and that put a little pep in my step.  I dropped my jacket at mile 2 and it felt so good to have that off of my waist.  I would’ve been way too warm if I had worn it the whole time.  Thanks, Rogue!  (just another perk of being part of THE BEST RUNNING GROUP in Austin, TX!)

As we ran over the Congress Avenue bridge headed south, I dropped my Gu and had to stop and run back to get it.  We hit mile 3 with our fastest time of the morning and I decided to pull back some because I had a side stitch and felt I needed to slow it down some.  That side stich (which started @ mile 1) stayed with me through mile 4.  It messed with my head some, which is probably why I ran a full minute slower in mile 4 than mile 3, but I reminded myself that I was certain I was going to blister badly after splashing through the Dallas Marathon puddles at mile 3 and IT NEVER HAPPENED, so don’t give up hope that this will go away.  Also reminded myself that I was anticipating at least some level of discomfort for the entire race so if a side stitch was it, then so be it.

As we turned to head north on 1st Street, I saw the same lady in a wheelchair that I helped push up a hill last year about 1/3 of a mile up ahead.  That was so cool!  I knew I was doing a lot better this year already so that meant she was doing a lot better, too.  This year she had 3-4 people surrounding her on bikes so she had more course support than last year (she was completely alone) so I yelled out to her “good job!” a few times but no pushing her up the hill this year =)

The first 6 miles really took a lot out of me and I was hurting in several places at this point so I decided to slow down a little more on 1st Street, even though it was mostly downhill.  Looking back, if I had picked it up a little bit, I would’ve PR’ed my best half marathon time so that’s a bummer, but I could tell I needed to regroup some and slowing down a little was okay.  I still averaged under 12 minutes all down 1st so I did fine, but that’s probably where I could’ve taken advantage of the course a little more.

As we were approaching Cesar Chavez (@ mile 9), I was nervous.  After I took the left at Cesar Chavez last year, that’s where I started to struggle.  I had 3 Gu’s in me so I pulled out my sports beans just to help me get a little push to keep me mentally strong and physically pumped.  As I made it down the road, I felt pretty good, definitely better than I felt last year.

At a water stop, I took a cup and attempted to fill my water bottle but splashed a lot on myself instead.  This is what happens when you try to keep running while you’re attempting to fill your bottle!  About 1/4 of a mile down the road, my iPod made a “pop!” sound and died.  I think I splashed water on it during that last water stop.  This was me: “Nooo!  I can’t lose my iPod now!  The toughest hills of the course begin about a 1/2 mile away.  OMG!” but I quickly stopped myself and said “hey, if you lose your music, you lose your music.  Losing your music isn’t going to make you crack.” Then I started thinking of what I could do to entertain me…listen to the sounds of the other runners, sing to myself, repeat my best mantras to myself over and over again “3 weeks of forced taper = fresh legs” – thanks, Tom!), and tried to come to terms with it.  I also knew I would be seeing several Northside Runaways who came out just to see our foursome and cheer us on so that helped my attitude a lot, too.  A little bit later, just after I repeated “I can do all things in God who strengthens me” I decided to try to turn it back on and see what happens – VOILA! – it worked!  I was really happy and relieved but even more proud that I didn’t freak out and tried to think of solutions instead of melting into the great abyss.

I hit the 10 mile mark under 2 hours and was very happy!  This was not an easy feat for me on this course!  We turned the corner onto Winstead and I saw our first Northside Runaway spectator, Z, who had her dog, Bama, and was cheering us on. It was so great to see them!  She told us our posse was just around the corner so to keep it up.  I started to entertain the thought, going up Winstead, that I might have to walk on the really tough Enfield hill but if I did, it was okay.  Then I thought I needed to stop giving myself an out when I’m not even there yet and I would just take it as it comes.  Winstead was tough, but I kept running.

We turned the corner at Enfield and I knew we had just over 2 miles left.  I thought “You can do ANYTHING for 2 miles!” so I just kept going.  I thought, again, there was a decent chance I might have to walk up part of it, but I kicked that thought out of my head again and focused on right now.

I knew my friends would be at Enfield and Hartford and I had googled it so see where that intersection was and I knew it was three roads from MoPac so I should be seeing them shortly…and there they were!  Lia, Chelsea, Saira, and Ade, all looking so beautiful, were screaming like maniacs for me!  I ran over and gave them all high fives and I don’t think I said anything, but I know I had a huge grin on my face.  I picked it up a little but then said “um, cut it out!” and tried to lock into a good pace.  It was a steady incline for awhile and then a nice downhill but at the bottom of that great downhill was the beginning of the biggest uphill on the course so it was a little hard to get too excited about going down.  The two ladies behind me starting laughing like crazy when they saw the beastly hill.  It was so funny!  They couldn’t even talk because they were laughing so hard.

As I tried to let gravity pull me downhill, I looked at the beast and found a point about midway (a traffic sign) and decided I would run to at least that point and then see how I would feel.  I made it up to the sign and although it was hard, I knew I could push it to the top so I committed to it and that’s what I did.  When I made it, I was beaming with pride!  So many people were walking up that hill, probably 80%, but I didn’t do it.  What a difference a year makes!  And a strong mental game!

I still had over a mile left but with the wind in my sails from that hill, I knew I was poised to beat a 2:40.  I didn’t know if that was possible going into it at the start line, but I knew for sure I could do it now.  I thought I might even be able to beat my best half marathon time ever, a 2:37:54 which I ran at the 2011 3M, but it would be really, really hard.  I waited a little too long to kick it in because honestly, I didn’t think I would have much “kick in” left but I really suprised myself.  That burst of speed at the end was all heart.  My Garmin clocked me running 8.3mph at my best effort those last .2 of a mile.  I honestly passed about 30 people, maybe more, in the last .10 of the course.  I felt like a rock star!

I crossed the finish line bursting with pride, relief, joy, gratitude, etc… It didn’t take too long for the tears to start flowing.  I was almost sobbing at times.  The last 2 months of my life have been very difficult. Between illnesses, some work stuff, and some personal stuff, I was depressed for most of that time and I felt so beaten down.  I needed this race today.  I’d been getting stronger and feeling better over the past two weeks, but I needed to see that my mind was strong enough to get me through a difficult course with less than ideal conditioning over the past month.  It felt so good to rely on my brain, my heart, and my body to make it happen and anihilate my old course record by close to 17 minutes!  I knew I could do it!  These endorphins should carry me through to Wednesday, at least =)

If you read this far, you truly are wonderful!  Thanks!

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 20, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Woot! Congrats Shelly! So excited for you. Just tremendous. Looks like somebody is ready for a full next year 🙂

  1. February 14, 2014 at 10:37 pm

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