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The Austin Half and Full Marathon course is notorious for being challenging and hilly. (You can check out the elevation map here if you want to see what I'm talking about.) It starts and ends with the exact same double hill, and there are plenty more scattered about the course. We've run on all of them before, but I think I have more training to do if I'm going to improve my time again.
About 3 miles in, my running partner Nikki asked what our pace was and only then did I realize we were averaging a 9:26. We were supposed to start out with a conservative 10:30 and work our way down from there. Ooops. It didn't help that the temps were hovering in the high 60s with a decent amount of humidity. I think we did a really good job of staying hydrated, and didn't feel like the weather hurt us too much. Can't say the same for others, as we saw at least two people drop on the course, requiring medical attention. Even the marathon winner collapsed at the finish and had to accept his medal from a wheelchair. The weather certainly wasn't doing anybody any favors.
At mile 6 I had to stop at a medical aid table to grab some bandaids. I had not broken in my new pair of shoes enough, and I could already feel them rubbing the inside of my feet. I didn't want to get to mile 10 with massive blisters, so I felt it was worth the time to try and prevent that. Then about mile 9, when the hills really picked up again, my legs started to feel the effects of our fast start. By mile 11, I just wanted to be done. Nikki helped me get up that last hill, and then we had a short downhill and a turn to the finish line, and somehow finished with smiles on our faces.
There's just no way to describe the feeling when you finish something like that. There really is such thing as a runner's high, and even though my legs were hurting, it still felt great. I tried not to let my disappointment over our time get to me too much, and just celebrate what we had just accomplished.
Hank and our friend Keith were out on the course cheering us on, and I loved getting to see him 3 different times along the way. They were also at the very end, and seeing his face right before crossing the finish line was all I needed to make those last few steps. Like we do after all of our weekend runs- we went for coffee and breakfast tacos. And of course we started talking about the next race to add to the calendar. I'm looking forward to doing a few shorter races, and maybe even another sprint triathlon later in the spring. But for now I'm going to enjoy a couple of weeks off before heading to Napa to cheer on Hank and the Gazelles at their marathon.