Today’s Austin 10/20 was the latest installment of Hey, Let’s Set a New Personal-Worst Time! Starring me! But I finished, so I achieved my only goal.
We arrived at the Domain and found parking by about 7:10, then got organized and headed toward the starting area. We took a pit stop at the Westin Hotel–this was no longer an original idea (in years past the place was deserted), but the line wasn’t very long. And when we got to the starting area and saw the line for the portapotties, we knew we’d made the right call.
For some reason, I’d gotten a lower bib (and corral) number than my friend S, who’s definitely faster than me. So we waited at the back of my corral and figured that was good enough. We spotted a few Rogues in the crowd, and our friend P had come out to cheer as well.
The course was different this year–it had been more or less reversed from previous years. So instead of turning right, we turned left and made the loop around the Mopac access road first instead of last. I ran the first mile pretty strong, but the water stop wasn’t until the end of mile two. The morning was already warm and the water situation kind of bummed me out. Not only that, somehow a bunch of walkers had started at the front and even slowpoke me had to weave a bit that first mile or so.
As I made the turn back into the Domain, I saw P standing there on the corner (her shirt said “Just F*&#$@%! Run!”), and a few minutes later saw M and B outside the Starbucks. I saw them again a few minutes later (the course doubled around on itself a couple of times and they easily took shortcuts to catch me–not to mention I was poky-slow already) and by then I’d finished three miles. I turned past the Whole Foods, back onto the road we’d taken out, and my pace slowed quite a bit as I slogged up the slight incline. This point of the course we would actually run three times–out, back, and then back in toward the finish. Around mile 3.5, I looked to my left and spotted the police escort, cycle escort, and a group of about four really fast men. A half-mile from the finish. That made me feel even more tired. But I saw M and B again and that gave me a boost.
From here, we turned left (across the road where the finishers were coming in–fortunately most of even the fastest runners hadn’t reached this point yet) and started the long stretch down Burnet Road. It’s about a mile and a half in a straight line. The wind gusted pretty hard, and while I appreciated its cooling factor, at times I felt I was running in place. Most of the scenery along this stretch is industrial, but in front of UT’s Pickle Research Center (named for former Congressman Jake Pickle, not the food) was an enormous field of bluebonnets. Some folks stopped to take pictures, but I knew if I stopped I’d have a difficult time starting again. I amused myself by watching the runners returning on the other side of the road, looking for familiar faces or anything else that might take my mind off the fact that I was not even halfway done.
I hit mile 5 and made the turn into an even more industrial area. The 3M half goes back here too, so I’m used to it, but it’s not terribly exciting. I ran-walked my way around this loop, enjoying the ice-cold towels volunteers handed out. Lots of people tossed theirs in a pile, but I stuck mine under the strap of my sports bra and kept it there. Just before I reached the 6-mile marker, a police officer cheered and gave high fives to runners. It was easily the highlight of this section!
I finally came back out on Burnet Road headed the way I had come, and I finally had the wind at my back. But going this direction, we had to take a detour, down and up a side street. Seven miles done. Back on Burnet Road, I made myself run to the intersection at Braker Lane–where M and B were waiting again.The next stretch was mostly downhill, still with the wind at my back. At about 8.5 miles, I saw P again, and she ran with me a few steps, asking if I felt okay. Nothing hurt, really. I was just tired.
As I turned into the IBM campus, I passed a woman whose shirt gave me the title of this post. I told her I loved her shirt and I was completely feeling it. She laughed and agreed. By the time we got to the mile 9 marker, she was ahead of me. Gah.
But I only had one more mile to go.
Earlier, when we’d run the Mopac access road during the first two miles, it had messed with my head a little. Previous years, that stretch was mile 8-9, so at mile 2 when I turned back into the Domain I desperately wanted to be finished. But conversely, the IBM section used to be mile 6–and now it was mile 9 so that helped my tired psyche.
Back onto Burnet Road (oh, hello uphill section) and back into the Domain. This is where the Kenyans had been back when I was at mile 3.5. I ran-walked the next half-mile, and I cursed the course mappers who put the finish line at the top of an incline. I spotted S and P off to the left–S had finished and they were cheering like crazy. I tried to speed up, and I guess I did because my Garmin said this was my fastest pace of the whole race! My mile splits were all over the place and I was pretty miserable, but the finish line loomed just ahead.
Once again, this was my slowest attempt at this race and at this distance. But like the woman’s shirt said, I was undertrained, and finishing was my only real goal. I collected my medal and then spotted M and B at the end of the finishers’ area. They’d gotten me a sweet tea (my new post-race, don’t-get-sick remedy) and I was just so damn happy to be done.
I’d taken a package and a half of Sport Beans in small increments throughout the race, and I drank water at every water stop plus Gatorade at the last two. After the race I felt okay but not great–we decided to skip the post-race Mexican lunch. On the way back to the car we re-visited the Westin hotel for another pit stop. About six women were sitting on the floor with their shoes off–everyone looked pretty hammered. Me included.
Quite a few things went decently well at this race:
- The bands were all great, and none of them happened to be taking a break as I ran by (unlike previous years)
- My Sport Beans seemed to stave off violent illness, although I still felt funky for an hour or so afterward
- I saw M and B four or five times along the course–it was very spectator-friendly and lots of folks lined the course most of the way
- I saw P a couple of times too, both when I was miserable and she cheered me up
- When P asked me if anything hurt, I could honestly answer no. I was just tired.
- The medal is pretty awesome
In the shower at home, I started to feel a little lightheaded. I got dressed slowly, ate a cheese stick, and drank more water. And then it was time to head out to B’s lacrosse game, where I sat in the sun for an hour and a half. We forgot to bring chairs, but thank goodness another parent had an extra one, since this field had no bleachers or seats. His team won, and by the time the game was over, I finally felt hungry.
So we had Mexican food.
And then I realized that tomorrow and Tuesday, my students are taking the writing STAAR test. I will be responsible for “actively monitoring” (click the link for an amusing take on the topic) the room from 8:15 until 12:45 while they test. What is “active monitoring”? Walking. Circulating. Observing. Ensuring no cell phone shenanigans. Making sure all students fill in all the bubbles and write their essays in the correct places. All without actually looking at or reading their tests. My teaching license is on the line, so guess what? I don’t get to sit down much.
I’m not sure which is more difficult–running 10 undertrained miles or pacing around my classroom for four hours while watching adolescents take a standardized test. But I think if I were given the choice, I’d run that race again.
Either way, I’m wearing my race shirt tomorrow.