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