Monday, February 18, 2008

Thar's Hills in them Thar Hills!

geez, louise, what a day!

While other bloggers (who I was not able to catch up with at the Expo because the RAIN, the RAIN made it miserable Saturday) were able to PR on the very hilly Austin half-marathon course, I was doing good just to get up the damn hill. Except that there was more than one hill. And even though the one very sweet, very awesome blogger that I WAS able to hook up with (!! Hi!!) was nice enough to tell me that these "hills" weren't really, I had to kindly disagree and insist that indeedy, in Suburbia South, these "rollers" were actually pretty damn close to mountains as far as I was concerned. And when you add these "hills" to a week off from running, to three of the lost pounds being found between Thursday night and Sunday morning (wha??), well, you get a so-so finish time from yours truly on the course.

I crossed the line at 2:29 on my watch. But that included an 8-minute potty break between mile 6 and 7. I didn't hit the portapotties just prior to the start like I did last week at the Texas Half, mostly because I was too busy chatting with Ellie and her hubby on Congress Ave. We had tried to hook up on Saturday, but she was still feeling rundown from various 'itises and we agreed it was best for her to rest up instead of trying to come out and visit. She found me at the 4:30 pace sign about half an hour before the gun, so we were able to talk for a bit beforehand. It was so awesome to finally get a chance to meet her in person. I was just sad that the kids and Hub hadn't had a chance to meet her too. The crowd was huge, though, and it was a good 3-4 minutes between the gun and when we actually crossed the starting mats.

The weather turned out beautifully cool and crisp, and I was pretty comfortable through the first two miles with my long-sleeved tech shirt over my short-sleeved shirt. Right after the start, as we were crossing the Congress Street bridge, I was struck, as I usually am, by how amazing it is to be a part of such a great event. Ellie and I chatted for a while, through the first three miles. There was a definite incline on the first part, and by the third mile marker, I had to beg out and let Ellie go on ahead. She was taking walk breaks every two miles, and frankly, that was about one mile too much between breaks. With the hills (or supposed hills, I'll concede), I needed that minute in between to gather my breath. But we were able to talk about dogs and swimming and all manner of other things that I can't remember until then. I wished her good luck and settled into my routine for the rest of the run.

I was a little worried about my knee and my right shin, as I hadn't really run on any kind of hills except for a twice-weekly (more or less, depending on the weather) sojourn into Central Park lately. But I held out pretty nicely, keeping to a fairly steady if not slightly slower pace than usual. Unfortunately, by about mile 4, the extra fluids I'd taken in on the way to the start were making their presence known. I passed one rest stop at mile 4, and contemplated stopping, but the 20+ people in line convinced me that I didn't really NEED to go just then. But by about two miles later, I knew I'd have to stop eventually. About the same time, we were passing a park stop, with only about 4 or 5 people in line. Score! Unfortunately, these four or five people took a total of about 8 minutes to do their thing at the park potty (real flush toilet! with TP! didn't have to use my reserve pack in my back pocket!!), so I lost a big chunk of time there. Phooey.

As soon as I got back into the race after my pit stop, I was amazed to see the mile 7 marker almost immediately. That meant I was nearly halfway there! And the knees were holding up pretty well, although the quads were starting to throb a little from having to put on the brakes on the downhills. And the top back of my right calf was a little touchy, so that by mile 8 and 9 I was taking the walk breaks to stretch as much as possible. My walk breaks were almost perfectly timed with the water stops, so I was able to take in about the right amount of water and Powerade (alternating at each stop after mile 4). I felt good, but the hills were starting to take a toll. The killer was the one at mile 10, right after we turned back toward downtown and split from the full marathoners. Dang, that was steep. It was the only hill that I walked up, and I wasn't alone. I was very glad to get to the top of that. From then on, it was just a matter of finishing strong. Which I felt I did, even though the final time doesn't really show that.

The boys had woken up and had breakfast at the hotel, then came down and were lined up on the full marathon side of the chute when I arrived. They had been cheering the full finishers, and were amazed at how fast and lean those guys were. This is only the second or third race they've been at, so it was very nice to have them cheering for me at the end. I was able to keep up with them pretty well as I was fed through the finish corrals to get my medal (purty -- must take a picture of it), finisher's shirt, and food. They had some kind of chicken noodle soup, it looked like, but I passed on that in favor of a banana and bagel. Hub thought I'd run into trouble with the hills, since I'd told him that I expected to be in at about 2:20 and it took about 10 minutes longer that when it was all said and done. I would have met that time if I hadn't stopped for the break, but, no matter. It is what it is, and it was a challenging run, and overall, a good run that I still do feel pretty good about.

Hub ended up parking a bit further away than I expected... he kept saying "It's just across the street here.. up the corner... one more block..." and then we just kept walking. It was good for me, though, as I was able to work out the kinks from all those non-hills. then, we went back to the hotel so I could get some real breakfast (I snagged the last Texas-shaped waffle before they shut down the buffet) and a shower. Then we headed home, stopping for a nice pit stop at the Czech kolache bakery in Waco on the way. By then, the stiffness had set into my legs so I ordered by two strawberry cream-cheese kolaches and ended up napping in the sunny car while the boys went in for provisions.

So, all in all, it was a good race. But what I will remember most is not the finish time, but that it was my meetup with Ellie race (and those 'hills'!), so for that I have to be thankful.

For posterity, here are my splits:

Mile 2: 21:43 -- I saw the mile 1 marker, but I must not have hit the stopwatch hard enough
Mile 3: 11:23 -- this is where I bid fare-thee-well to Ellie
Mile 4: 9:41 -- wow -- don't know where that came from!!
Mile 5: 10:16 -- like this, but there is NO consistency
Mile 6: 10:42
Mile 7A: 7:46 -- this is for the stretch before the potty break
Pit Stop: 8:29 -- Argh!
Mile 7B: 2:40 -- combined with Mile 7A, this gives me 10:26 for mile 7
Mile 8: 10:50
Mile 9: 10:33
Mile 10: 11:14
Mile 11: 11:43 -- this was the KILLER hill
Mile 12: 10:34
Mile 13: 12:15 -- a couple of last rises before turning into downtown area again
Mile .1: 1:53 -- I remembered to stop it while they were taking my chip, so it's pretty close

So, there you go. We'll see what this weekend holds in Cowtown. I do know that I'll be able to do well there, since it is pretty close to downhill, especially in comparison to this course. I also am going to do my dead-level damnedest to get out for a couple of shorter runs this week. Gotta run -- I bailed on a movie with the team tonight to get caught up on a couple of things (including this post!) but I still have some other stuff to do before I get to bed. Catch you later!!


Bev said...

Those hills. I was wondering about the hills on the Cowtown course. Get a little recovery rest this week if you can. I'll email you later about hooking up this weekend.

Nancy Toby said...

That time sounds FAST to me when you factor in stops and hills!! Well done!!!

Just12Finish said...

Congrats on another run! It was raining like crazy here in Dallas on Saturday, and I was wondering how it would turn out in Austin on Sunday.

I miss those kolaches in West.

Ellie Hamilton said...

Great time, Skatemom, and I had a GREAT TIME meeting you finally and talking before the start and during those first 3 miles. I really had fun. You made my early miles sing!

Bev said...

Ok, I'm officially brain dead. Where is your email link? You can reach me at I'll be at the expo early Saturday to pick up stuff. Looks like our races start at the same time.

TriBoomer said...


What a run! Although I only ran the half I got a big taste of them thar hills.

Congrats on getting it done.

Also, too bad we didn't have a chance to meet. Perhaps next time.

Stay tuned...

ShirleyPerly said...

Man, I'm soooo glad I ran Austin before they changed the course (definitely not fond of hills). Great job on the race and glad you got to meet up with Ellie too.

Downhillnut said...

Cool you and Ellie got to hang out together. She gets to run with all my favourite bloggers and on-line buddies :)

Good job on your race!