Monday, February 15, 2010

Austin 1/2 Marathon: Eat your Spinach & Take your Ice Baths...

What a great weekend for running in Austin! As the saying went for the race (appropriately suited for a Valentine's Day event), "Run Austin, Love Austin". This was actually a pretty big weekend for Derick and I, as it was his first full marathon; likewise this was this MY first full marathon back in 2008. The weather was spectacular, albeit a bit chilly at the start (probably low 40s). I am guessing that the many volunteers had their hands full of clothing that was stripped off of runners those first 5 miles. Soon after the gun, the sun came out and it made for an awesome day to run; be it 13 miles or even 26.

As for my race, I did not know what to expect, but as with any race, I intended to give it everything I had and go into it shooting for a best time. That is kind of how I approach any race I do; always an opportunity to PR. While I had been battling a bit of a cold the past week, it is hard to say that it did me any disservice, as I ended up feeling almost entirely normal on race morning and physically my body felt strong and responsive. In all honesty, the rest probably did me good and allowed me to run on fresh legs. The downside to this was, 13.1 miles of hard running on up and down terrain left me completely trashed post-race. I took out miles 1-3 strong but not too hard and cruised down 1st street (a 3-mile downhill stretch) in a few 5:45 miles. I was joined here by Jack & Adams own Adam Reiser, who was running the full marathon! Though we did not chat, it was nice to have Adam by my side for a few miles. As I approached mile 7 or 8, my hands got warm and luckily Jamie Cleveland was nice enough to pick up my gloves as I saw him cheering and left him a little gift when I went by (thanks Jamie!). It was about here where I realized my body was going to start to hurt. We hit Lake Austin Blvd, a long flat stretch and I decided that PowerGel I haphazardly tossed in my pocket would come in handy. I slurped this down and prepared for the hardest part, miles 11-13. I was still under 6-min pace, which would put me in at around a low 1:18, which would be a best time (I have done a 1:18.30 three times!). But, I knew the hardest part was yet to come. And that it did. The hills on Enfield and then 15th street on this course are just as bad as they say! But, I tried to welcome the pain, enjoy the ability to be out there competing and of course keep the mantra going "You can do anything for 2 miles... you can do anything for 20 minutes..." Positive mental talk can be invaluable; even if you do not fully believe it, it helps immensely. I could see Desiree (lead woman) a little ways up, and I knew I would not catch her, but I sure as hell would try! I finally saw the Capitol, which means less than .5 miles to go. That was a welcome sight! Finishing along Congress is an awesome feeling, the streets lined with spectators, and the energy of downtown Austin. While I was pretty pleased with today's effort (a 1:18.57 and 2nd woman), I was more interested in what Derick was doing back on the course when I finished.

SO...I proceeded to run back to Jack & Adams (about a 1.5 mile painful jog) to get his backpack (post-race clothing) and then jog (waddle?) back to the finish. I got back about 2:20 into the marathon, right as the men's winner was finishing (in a phenomenal time) and anxiously awaited Derick. I saw Gilbert Tuhabonye come around the Capitol, on his way to a 2:34 finish and an incredibly tough spirit at the end, and then waited a few more minutes, when I then saw Derick. It was SO GOOD to see him! I knew it was not the marathon debut he had hoped for, but I was so proud of him for sticking it out, despite battling some cramping and the inability to take in his gels. I think he realized too once he finished how hard it really is, and likewise, how proud he was to have pushed through a pretty tough day (that being said, his 'falling apart' still resulted in a 2:41 and 10th overall for the men).

It seemed for some reason, friends and others out there either felt great yesterday or felt rough but most all endured and finished. I just want to send out a huge congrats to all of our many friends who took part; and of course the selfless volunteers and spectators who cheered us on. Every time we get up to compete, we never know what to expect. It is not so much about the time we can post or the place we can finish, but how we deal with what our bodies give us on race day (or in turn, do not give us!). A big shout out to Desiree and Dave Fuentes, who both took the wins for the half marathon. OH, and how could I forget. The title of this blog. When you finish a race and feel completely sore, trashed, cramped up and useless at the finish line, I highly advise going home and taking an ice bath. Speaking from experience. I know that is is much more pleasant to go home, take a hot shower and watch the Olympics on TV :), but your body will THANK YOU the next day if take an ice bath; and, you can take a nice warm shower afterwards. I was walking very funny for a good 4 days, even that first run back (5 days post-race) was pretty painful. So, do not be like me and take that ice bath post-race! It takes some time to do, but is well worth it the next day and week. Trust me!