Monday, February 21, 2011

Austin Livestrong Marathon/Half-Marathon

The Austin Livestrong Marathon & Half-Marathon was yesterday and I ran my first half-marathon. I've been training for months and running for just under a year to prepare for this event. I ran as part of Team Livestrong (about 500 members out of 20,000 runners) to raise money for Livestrong which "works to inspire and empower people affected by cancer." I raised $888 through my donation page. You can still donate if you wish to do so.

My primary goal was simply to finish the half-marathon (13.1 miles) but the goal in my head was to finish in 2:45 or less. My official time was 2:50:24 so I missed that goal by just over 5 minutes. I think I was thwarted in reaching that goal by the hills which were bigger and longer than I was prepared for, the crowd of people running slowly or walking, and the line to use the porta-potty when I stopped at mile 8.

Regardless, it was a wonderful experience. I've read advice that you should never commit to either run or never run an event for a week after a race, but I would definitely say that I would do this again (and again and again).

My sister Mitzi and nephew Jonah came up from Houston to cheer me on. My niece and brother-in-law would have come but Alissa got sick the night before and they couldn't travel. When I reached the Chuck E Cheese on Ben White (5 mile of the race), I saw Rachel, Chiara, Asher, Christie, David, Ezra, Mitzi, and Jonah. They were shouting my name, pounding on a pot with a stick, and holding up signs for me. Mitzi ran with me for a minute to hand me a bar and I could still hear them screaming for me and hear the pot-banging for another 2 blocks.

Bands played all over the course which was very fun to run by. I tried to clap and cheer for them as I went by.

David, Christie, Ezra, Mitzi, and Jonah again cheered for me at mile 7. I heard the pot-banging first and it came as a surprise as I didn't expect to see them so soon.

At mile 9, I ran by a huge station of Team Livestrong volunteers and spectators. The line stretched for 1/4 mile or more. They manned the water station, picked out team members from the crowd and cheered us by name, and had written notes and names on the ground with chalk. It really picked me up and also made me tear up as I thought of all the family members I've lost to cancer.

Next, I saw our friends Heather, Mackey, and Jayna around mile 11. Sharyn was walking and was well behind me but they cheered and danced for me. The biggest hill on our course was the hill up 15th and it came after about 11.5 miles so most of the people near me were walking. I probably would have walked as well but I saw Jonah and Ezra at the bottom and asked where everyone else was. They said at the top and to run with them so the three of us ran it which felt great.

At 15th & San Jacinto my friend Garth and his two little boys were at the corner cheering for me. That was a really nice surprise since I didn't know they were coming down to the race. He yelled that it was only 800 more meters. At 200 meters I sprinted with everything I had although I was one of the only half-marathoners running at that point.

Rachel and the kids met me near the finish although they hadn't been able to get there in time to see me. We got my medal and shirt and went to meet everyone else for lunch at Chuy's. It was a great day and was wonderful to have so much support.