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Austin Marathon Race Report

Disclaimer: What you’re about to read here is what NOT to do during a race weekend. Some of the things I did may or may not have contributed to my race, and I probably just lucked out.

Let’s rewind to the day before the race, only one hour of sleep (long story), 7am flight with a stopover in Phoenix, AZ. Slept a little more on the plane then I touched down to a rainy Austin. Didn’t have any plans that day except to go to the Race Expo to pick up my race number and swag. That night, I studied the course a little more in detail, and mapped out a general course of action for pre- and post-race travel. While doing so, had a shot of bourbon and a beer with my friend before they went off and did their thing downtown. This was probably a few minutes before I went to bed too! Oops!

Race morning, Sunday 2/19 – 5:00AM. iPhone alarm sounded. Snooze. 5:15AM. Snooze. 5:20AM. Snooze. Dozed off. . Magically woke up without an alarm at 6:10! Uh oh, start of the race was 50 minutes away! I was still about 5 miles away, I needed to catch a bus, so I was rushing to get ready, double- triple-checking that I had everything. Rushed out of the house, jogged to the bus stop and waited. Waited, and waited. I even called a taxi cab just incase. Luckily, one bus came after 15 minutes. The driver noticed that I was in marathon gear, so he told me that the routes have been modified because some streets were closed for the race. Oh no! He said the best he could do is a stop about a mile and a half away from the start. When I was dropped off, I had a little over 10 minutes until go time. Other runners were in the same bus with the same situation. We started walking for half a mile, then we noticed we don’t have much time, so we did our warm-up jog to the start (actually helped me in the long run though)! It was slightly uphill too! Great. It was already past 7am once we got to the start, but luckily it was a wave start. The moment I set foot into my corral, the crowd started to move. Whew! Just in time!

The race – It was only the week of the race that I discovered that the race was NOT flat. Good thing the IronTEAM did some pretty intense hill run and bike workouts the weeks prior. I just enjoyed the sights, loved all the creative signs from the crowd, and took in the experience. The day after the rain brought a nice cold 50ish crisp clean air. It was nice and sunny with some clouds here and there. I also remember it being well shaded by buildings and surrounding trees.

I’m not going to go through a turn-by-turn account of the race because I don’t remember much of it. Honestly, just like most races, the actual race seemed like a blur. I zoned out, thought about a bunch of things. It was quite a stress reliever, as crazy as it sounds. The route took us through downtown, over the lake, and through neighborhoods. Just know that there were a lot of false flats, a bunch of rollers towards the end, but very nice descents that I took advantage of. The first half was challenging (as you can see from the elevation chart above) Just like the L.A. and Portland Marathons, the last 10k was mostly downhill, so it was a nice recovery.

I was secretly trying to go for a PR, but didn’t want to get my hopes too high for it. I wanted this to be a training/tune-up race, to see where I was at, with the primary goal to come out of it feeling strong, with no injuries. I knew it would be a challenging course, so I played it by ear for the first 10k (which is usually my most difficult part for any run). After I felt great after 10k, I decided to go for it. After 13.1, I was at 2:05, so I kept working away towards the PR. I also had a 4:25 pace wristband to keep track. For most of the race, I was under 8 minutes of the 4:25 goal, up until maybe mile 21, and that’s where I slowed significantly. That’s also when I stopped to fill by bottle of Gatorade. It was all mind games from here on out. I walked a bit of the hills in that last 10k, closely looking at my overall time. On that last mile, I sprinted to the end, super excited to finish 7 minutes under my previous PR at 4:22!

Recovery – From IronTEAM experience, it’s ingrained that taking in that recovery nutrition is VERY important. There’s a 15 minute window where it is essential to replenish everything, so I immediately went to rehydrate, scarfed down some bananas, and fortunately there were some Gatorade Recovery drinks. After I did my usual stretches, I headed to some food trucks nearby as well, which I had some delicious empanadas from the MmmPanada Truck. I wanted to also get outside of the finish line madness downtown, so I walked maybe a mile to a Whole Foods to flush out that lactic acide, and get some refreshing green juice. I probably walked another mile or so trying to look for open bus stops because most of them were closed for the marathon. Doh! Let’s make that a 29 mile day if you include the warm-up. I think all that post-race eating and extra walking added to the fact that I was never sore post-race. Not even the day after, or the day after that. Might be on to something here, but it also could have been a really good taper period. Every race has been so different, so I’ll take it with a grain of salt. I’m just so happy to PR, came out of it injure-free, got to tour the city, and was able to celebrate with some good times that night downtown!

Overall From the moment I registered, leading up to the event, the various email campaigns and social media kept me excited and well informed about the event. Kudos to the planners for that! The Expo was like any large expo I’ve been to, so nothing new there. As far as the event, it was a well branded LIVESTRONG event, volunteers were super helpful, corrals were clearly marked and the flow of runners went so smooth all throughout. There were no major bottlenecks, water stops well stocked up. It was PERFECT running weather too. The cards were all dealt right that day.

overall place: 1902 out of 3888
division place: 251 out of 397
gender place: 1397 out of 2455
time: 4:22:52
pace: 10:02
gun: 4:33:41
5m: 47:17
10m: 1:33:57
13.1m: 2:05:34
20m: 3:19:23

My Garmin Stats

Highlight video:

Austin Marathon Pre-Race Thoughts

No doubt Austin is one of my favorite cities in the U.S, but I may be biased because the only time I’ve been was for SXSW (South by Southwest), a big interactive/film/music conference. I’m super excited though, going mainly to enjoy the food, bars, and people – running 26.2 miles only to burn it all off.

This race will mark state #8, and marathon #13. This isn’t my first rodeo, so not really nervous here. I don’t plan on PRing it, because I’m still expected to do the IronTEAM workouts when I get back. Luckily it will be a “recovery” week for the IronTEAM and syncs up well with this event. There’s a HUGE difference when I try to hit 4:30 vs 5:00. Would I rather be sore and hurt the next few days or not? 5:00+ it is! My “taper” weekend consisted with some tough hills, which I shouldn’t have done – oops.

Somewhat unprepared for this race, from a strategy perspective. I finally saw the race course map this morning, came across this helpful guide from Team Spiridon, and only a few hours ago, I mapped out where I need to be and when all weekend. I still need to pack! What a mess!

What You Think I Do

Decided to have a little fun tonight with a popular meme going around, with the topic of the TNT IronTEAM. Enjoy! Feel free to repost!

The Hills Are Alive…

I’m in the middle of reading “I’m Here To Win: A World Champion’s Advice for Peak Performance” by Chris “Macca” McCormack, and coincidentally, I read this excerpt Friday night, after a big swim, and before our big weekend workout:

Every triathlete, pro or amateur, no matter how fit reaches a point in every race where he has to decide whether or not he will endure more suffering. It’s very simple. Either he will or he won’t. You will get there. The only question is how you’ll handle it.

It’s that simple. Whenever I do these races I always come to that point where my self-doubt kicks in and guess if I’m hitting The Wall. It usually wasn’t The Wall, but I still think, “I’m still running, this hurts… should I keep going?” I always kept going.

Saturday challenge: VERY hilly 9 miles in the South Bay. I’ve never been to this running route before, so I was pretty excited and scared at the same time. I know for sure this wasn’t a flat beach run. As expected, we were introduced to some pretty nasty hills, equivalent to a Category 5 on the bike (the hardest of them all). Immediately out of the meeting spot was uphill… and up, and up, and up. It just wouldn’t stop! See below (and that’s not a forced perspective shot, camera is looking straight ahead):

Sunday challenge: 50 mile minimum, or 3.5 hours + 2 mile run in Santa Monica/Malibu. It was nicknamed “Mari & Luke’s Revenge,” as the team returned to the mean streets of Malibu. The alumni had a modified course, with the return to the infamous hill on John Tyler Road. One experienced rider even said “That was the f*ckin HARDEST hill I’ve ever done!”. Alumni route had to do a few hill loops around Pepperdine with a total of 2 x JohnT + 2 x Rest-of-Team Hill in that day. It was madness I tell ya! Second time around wasn’t any easier. Imagine putting your bike to the easiest gears, having to stand up and pedal, still having the hardest time trying to climb. You know what though? We did it. I didn’t have to zig zag up, nor unclip, nor stop. As hard as it was, it felt amazing to conquer it. I made John Tyler my bitch that morning. Take that! As a reward each time, we were blessed with this beautiful view:

Return of the Hunger Monster

On Tuesday, we had our usual coached swim. Not really sure how far I swam, but it was an hour worth of splish-splashing fun. We did quite a few sprint intervals to get our heart rates up, then did a few drills crowding the lanes with similar-speed teammates and did races across the lane. Boy, it was a pretty tough workout, but again, felt great in the end… and HUNGRY. You see, we always joke about these “monsters” that exist in the season, and in particular, the Hunger Monster always attacks after the swim. I ended up going to Chego after practice and had their Prime Rib Rice Plate (w/fried egg, water spinach, Chinese broccoli creamed horseradish, roasted garlic paste, shallots) AND Pina Krackalada (coconut sticky rice, candied pineapple, puffy rice krackle, sesame). THAT’s how hungry I was. Oh, so good!

How to Accidentally Run 22 Miles

Sunday’s run schedule was 7 miles with “intro to hills”, so we met at the corner of Gretna Green and Montana in Brentwood. My initial plan was to do 17 miles (my last long run before the Austin Marathon), because the previous day, I ran 3, to total out a 20 mile weekend. Now, about that title of this blog post – how did I accidentally run 22 miles? I didn’t plan a run route beforehand. I wasn’t really paying attention to my Garmin watch either – OOPS! Learn from me – don’t do that!

The practice spot was pretty close to my house, so I just ran there. Then the next 7 miles were a Brentwood Golf Course Loop (3 something miles), followed my hill intervals. What does that mean? Franklin St, just a little past the start of the run loop, was a pretty decent hill. We had to do hill repeats, 0:90 first time at easy pace, 0:60 second time at a moderate pace, then 0:30 at full speed. After each climb was a recovery downhill, then after the set of 3, a mile loop around the neighborhood. Repeat the set of 3 for 3 times. Whew! I was SPENT! At that point, I wasn’t sure if I should continue my long run.

I knew I had to complete a long run before Austin or else I’d be struggling during that marathon (even though I don’t plan on PRing it), so I just said F it, let’s do it. Fortunately, one of my coaches is training for the American River 50 Ultramarathon, so he had to knock out a 3 hour run. I agreed to run the first few miles with him. From Brentwood, we took a nice scenic route through the tree-lined neighborhood of Santa Monica, heading west to Ocean. Felt really great the whole time, averaging a 8:45-9:00 min pace, slightly downhill. We had good conversation about running, triathlons, travel and all that good stuff. I was supposed to split and turn at the Santa Monica Pier, but I felt so good, I decided to keep running towards Venice. Time flies when you’re having fun and the pace was just right that I guess I was at my cruising speed. I was only paying attention to major markers along the Boardwalk, not really paying attention to my watch. That was a big mistake, because once we hit the Venice Pier, I decided to head back north, while my coach continued south. Uh oh… I was at 16 at that point, and I was maybe 5+ miles away from home. I had no other choice but to run back.

By the end of it all, I was exactly at 22 miles. I was dehydrated because the last few miles before home didn’t have any stores or water fountains. I did my stretches infront of my place real quick, then rushed to my kitchen to chow down on my Hollybar recovery nutrition, and drank to refuel my electrolytes! I think I scarfed down my food/drinks in less than 30 seconds! I cooked some food immediately after, and I was done with that in no time either! Done and done! I guess I’m ready for the Austin Marathon in 2 weeks!

I only had time to get a little powernap before I had to go to my teammate Travis’ Superbowl fundraiser in Eagle Rock. Nonstop action! It was a Korean BBQ buffet, so you know I was all over that! 3 rounds of food to be exact. It was really fun, but I was struggling to stay awake. I pretty much stayed in the same spot, mainly because I was so tired. I didn’t want to move to a couch because of fears of possibly falling asleep! It was an awesome way to end a full weekend of training, after a full week of no training because of work.

Griffith Park Grand Prix

This morning we were back at Griffith Park, where we were to do the infamous “Grand Prix”, which meant a triple mini-brick. What? Yes, a bike-run 3x. Loops on the bike, out and backs on the run. In between bike rides, the staffers who stayed back had to deflate tires for participants and staff, for all to force-learn how to change their tires. Even worse, they were back-flats, the more tedious of the two because of the chain and drivetrain.

My Garmin wasn’t cooperating with me so I don’t know my exact stats, but for the first 2 bike loops we had to climb a pretty considerable hill twice, then on the last loop we were to do that same hill three times. On one of the descents of the first hill, a crazy driver decided to make a U-turn on a rather narrow road near a blind curve and almost had a teammate crash into her! Some people! My teammate Tushar had to act quickly, brake, was fishtailing, but luckily he avoided what would’ve been a nasty crash! The final loop with the 3 hill repeats were tough, but was manageable. It looked like everyone finished strong, and it’s inspiring to see everyone on the team keep working at it!

Getting Back to Business

The past 7 days have been pretty tough on my schedule, and have made a big dent on my training. I know a week still isn’t so bad being out of the game, but I missed last Saturday’s last build ride against some monster headwinds, and even though I ran on Sunday, I did NOTHING until today, which was a scheduled swim. I pulled a 60 hour workweek in 4 days, so the company gave some of us Friday off. I took the whole day to recover from the madness, slept in a little, cleaned house, ate some delicious pancakes in Hollywood, and relaxed the rest of the day. It was magical.
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LEVEL Run Club @ Monterey

Last weekend, our company, LEVEL Studios flew the company to Monterey, CA for our annual Kickoff Party. We usually don’t do a holiday party in December because it gets pretty busy for everyone with the holidays, so January gives us a fresh start on a high note. Because of this weekend trip, it threw my training somewhat out of the window. I missed a Build 2 phase brick Saturday, which would have been a 40 mile ride, with run after. I think I danced 4 hours at the company party at night, so that counts towards my workout, right?
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The Build

Base training is over, and the build period has begun. From now on, we have 2 build weeks, followed by a recovery week for our bodies to recover. This past weekend was a pretty big one, as it was a test of endurance balancing work, social life and IronTEAM life.

Coming off a pretty busy work schedule, we had our usual Friday Happy Hour at the office. I had to resist the drinks a little because I planned to go to Equinox after work to do my swimset, which was:

1 x 500 Any Stroke – Warmup
6 x 50 @ 1/2 Interval, rest :30
1 x 400 Easy, rest :30
10 x 100 Start @ 1:45 (it was more like 2:00 for me), rest :30
1 x 400 Easy, rest :30
3 x 200, start at 4:00, rest :30
1 x 200 Cooldown, long & lean

3,400 yards! whew! That was a long Friday night! The night wasn’t over, immediately after I went to my friend Jesyka’s birthday masquerade party in Santa Monica. I had to hold back though and be sober in prep for a long weekend. I also went home at midnight, right before my carriage turned back into a pumpkin.


Saturday was supposed to be our first big brick in Westlake. I was pretty excited the night before, but the morning of, we were faced with some pretty hard rain on the way to practice. Coach said it didn’t rain enough to wash away all the oil slick on the roads, so safety first, the brick was postponed, and we ran 8 miles instead. At first it was rainy and cold, but it eventually got warm. I dunno what it is, but I always seem to have bad runs in Westlake, and it was no different – yes, I struggled. What gives? The other week, I was out partying all day/night, and had the best run of the season. Last night I had the perfect amount of sleep, no alcohol, ate healthy food… but the run was rough! You never know sometimes! We did loops around West Lake, so the first loop was challenging, but I was into the groove the second time around. Looked like everyone had a great run though, and after, we (Iron + Tri teams) had post-run eats at The Counter Burger down the street. Since we were the first guests, we took over the whole restaurant:

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