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Hill Country Half Marathon

What a race! The Hill Country Half Marathon was hands down the most challenging course I’ve ever run on before. The title lets you know it’s not going to be a flat course, but these hills were intense!  I ran the race with two of my Rogue friends, Denise and Sheryl.  Sheryl and I drove up the day before and stayed at her co-worker’s place which was a serene escape about 7 miles outside of Marble Falls.  We ate dinner at the Bluebonnet Cafe, which didn’t disappoint.

I went into this race initially hoping to finally run a half marathon under 2:30.  I’ve always felt like my mental state was preventing me from performing like I wanted to.  I felt very strong, mentally and physically, going into this race so I thought it could be my chance.  My previous fastest half was a 2:37.  Once Sheryl and I drove the course on Saturday night, though, I knew my goal was pretty unattainable so I started thinking about plan B and maybe even a plan C.  I was hoping to at least beat my 2:37 so 2:36:59 was my plan B.  Plan C was to beat my worse half marathon time which was a 2:55 or so.

We went to bed a little late but I could not really fall asleep.  I felt like I was somewhere between awake and lightly asleep the entire night.  It was very frustrating.  My nerves weren’t helping the cause and I remembered the night before my full marathon I got less than 6 hours of sleep so all in all, I’d be okay.

When we got to the stadium, it was cold!  Like, BRRRR, 39 degrees!  Luckily, the bathrooms were heated so that was nice.  This was a small race.  I’d like to know the total participants but it had to of been less than 600.  It was the first year of the race but it was well run.  There were 10K, half marathon, and full marathon race options.  The gun didn’t work so we all just kind of took off to silence, which was funny.o

We ran around half of the track at the stadium and then out on some grass and eventually a dirt/rock road before we hit pavement in a neighborhood.  I had 3 Gu’s with me and ate a honey stinger waffle right before we ran.  I had some energy chews, too, but decided the Gu’s were enough.

Running out of town, you could tell the descending was starting and all I could think of was how hard it would be finishing a half marathon going so much uphill but I tucked that fear away and focused on the present.  I ditched my gloves and jacket @ mile 3 so I was running with a short-sleeved running T and capris pants. The combo was perfect for the weather.

As I said before, the hills were CRAZY!  Sheryl pointed to the hill to our right on the way out, letting her know we’d be running to the top of it, and I thought she was just playing around.  I think we turned a little early the night before and I didn’t think we’d have to go that high up.  Sheryl was right!   Our turnaround was at the very top of this beautiful hill outside of Marble Falls and the views were just breathtaking.  This race just reconfirmed my desire to retire out in the Hill Country years from now.  Here’s the course and elevation profile (scroll to the bottom after clicking on the link below to see the wicked elevation!)

2013 Hill Country Half Marathon course and elevation profile

I SURE WISH I would’ve remembered to wear my Fitbit One so it could calculate the equivalents in stair climbing and descending.  I think 1069 ft up would mean over 100 flights of stairs, though, and that was just going up!  It was out and back so whatever went up had to come down, too.  I ended up walking three separate times up different portions of the hills because it was just too much.  I love the challenge of hills, but even these got me.  If I run this next year, won’t happen again 😉

The weather was PERFECT.  It was about 40 degrees at start but beautiful clear, blue skies once the sun came up with a light wind.  I’m guessing it was about 55 when we crossed the finish line.  Just gorgeous weather.

I felt pretty fantastic until about mile 11.  I so wanted to get under 2:37 but Denise told me I’d need to at least run 10 minute miles all the way back and with the hills (again, check out the elevation profile – mean way to end a race!) it wasn’t going to happen.  I refused to give up though and knew I wanted to finish strong so I picked it up as much as I could (going uphill to some degree over the last 3 miles!)

As we made it back to the stadium and made our half loop around the track to the finish line, I picked it up as much as I possibly could.  Since my Garmin wasn’t working, I don’t know my times and they haven’t posted them yet but I think it was a 2:48 or so.  That included a readjustment of my timing chip around my ankle at mile 1, a port-a-potty break at mile 4, a rock in the shoe removal at mile 6.7, and a loosening of the shoe I just tied a short time later 🙂  Denise’s watch was on auto-pause and she had us running a 2:40.  I’m damn proud of that time.  Around mile 3 it did dawn on me that people PR races like 3M, not the Hill Country Half Marathon.  It’s not a matter of guts, it’s a matter of the course.  Note to self.

SHERYL AND DENISE ARE EXCELLENT RUNNING BUDDIES!  They challenge me and push me to do my best and I love that about them.  I really enjoyed running the race with them and having the help of their husbands (our domestiques!) was great, too.  Really appreciated all four of them today!

Next up is possibly the 3M (as I chase that sub 2:30 half marathon) but my main goal will be the Austin Marathon on February 16, 2014.  My last marathon time was a 5:38 and I really think I can beat it, even if the Austin Marathon course is harder.  If I make the training happen, I know it’s possible.

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