I competed in this event on January 29th; I have been slow to write-up a race report. I was unaware of this race until coach Karl told me about it. In truth, my intentions were to run only one race before the Boston Marathon in April — which is the New Orleans’ Half-Marathon on March 4th. I was a bit concerned about running this 3m race so soon; I was concerned about how well I would perform.This Austin race is very popular and draws a very fast field. Better yet, I am willing to say this was the fastest field I have been a part of outside of Boston.
Things were crazy from the start. Usually when we arrive in town for a race, the first thing we do is hit the expo for packet pick up. Finding the expo was a challenge since it was very small and hidden in a shopping center complex. It was the smallest and quickest expo visit I have ever visited. No joke. I am thinking a grand total of 15 minutes. Too bad that is usually not the case with most expos. Boston was really bad last April when I was clearly warned that the John Hancock Expo for the Boston Marathon is a trap. I found myself there for almost 3 freaking hours. After leaving the 3m Expo, we went to find the starting line. That was pretty easy. Well, so I thought. I failed to realize that a number of the roads to the starting line would be closed come race morning. Yep, and that happened.
So, it took us a while to find the starting line due to road closures; however, we made it with ample amount of time for me to get to the front of the stating line and to get warmed up. Temps were great! As you can see above, I was easily able to get a great position in the front of the pack. It was about 45 degrees at the start — perfect racing weather. I kept my warm ups on until 10 minutes before the gun. The course was a fast one. In many ways, the net down hill course reminded me a great deal of the Boston course. Like Boston, there were plenty of down hill stretches and long flat paths, but there were also some nice steady inclines. Again, nothing like Boston’s demanding course.
The starting elevation was roughly 849 ft with a max elevation of 909 ft. Hence, only an 82 ft gain. As the gun fired, we hit the Austin roads for a quick incline. It was dark (start at 6:45 AM) which made for an interesting run. I do not run with my glasses on nor do I wear contacts. So things tend to be a bit of a blur at first. I was nervous about going out too fast, thus I stuck to the plan and ran a conservative pace. There were a few packs that developed. But their paces were too inconsistent and thus I would either fall behind or run ahead.
Mile 1 6:37 pace
Mile 2 6:34 pace
Mile 3 6:37 pace
Mile 4 6:33 pace
The goal was to drop the pace and hold on to a 6:30 pace until the last few miles. However, I found a bit of comfort in running just a bit north of that pace; in the end, I should have stuck to the plan.
Mile 5 6:33 pace
Mile 6 6:33 pace
Mile 7 6:34 pace
Mile 8 6:34 pace
After mile 8 I started thinking about dropping the pace a bit more. I was feeling good but it was not a wholly comfortable feeling. My paces at the start of each mile was a bit erratic in that I would run half at a 6:10 pace before backing off.
Mile 9 6:34 pace
Mile 10 6:37 pace (Modest hill here that hit me a bit)
I could feel the end nearing. We ran from the out skirt of Austin towards downtown. The finish was a few blocks from Congress and just down the road from the Capital building. Because we were racing down back roads, it was difficult for me to get a sense of location.
Mile 11 6:24 pace
Mile 12 6:23 pace
mile 13.1 6:18 pace
I knew the end was in sight as soon as we hit the campus of the University of Texas; we raced past their football stadium as we hit the final stretch. I did my best to drop the pace for the last 1.1 mile run. As I turned the corner, the clock read 1:25.11. I had to really hit the gas. Once I crossed the finish line, I was happy with my time but quickly started thinking about how I held back at times. It was a favorable course. I think all runners question their efforts once it is all said and down. But, it is always easy to do that when you are not feeling discomfort.
I ran a 6:33 per mile pace; I hit the last 3.1 miles at 6:22 per mile pace. As fast as I ran, this was only good enough for 120th place out of 4,855 finishers — top 2% overall. 22 out of 315 within my division — top 7%.