Sunday, January 19, 2014

Week 15 DONE: Precious Few

Another week of training in the books and was this one ever awesome! This week's long run was done while I ran the Austin 3M Half Marathon, complete with road trip and special birthday celebration. 

I had heard about this race for years & always had it on my list to do. A fast course, point to point, finishing up through the UT campus & at the state Capitol? Sign me up!! When MK decided this was going to be her birthday race, I signed up right away! An excuse to see my Freshman, combined with a road trip & Frunners couldn't be passed up. 

Then, to add to the fun, the Baseball Savant decided he was ready to tackle his second half. He signed up a couple of weeks after me & was excited to see what he could do without the hamstring tightness that, um, well, hamstrung him at Thanksgiving. 

So we loaded up the Jeep, mostly with the stuff the boy left behind when we dropped him off last week, and headed down to Austin. Packet pickup was crowded but well-run, and there was a nice little expo with a few samples & the usual wares. We headed to campus to retrieve the boy, then checked into our hotel to await Team K. After a little rest time, we had a great family-style dinner, complete with pasta & cheesecake, but certainly the highlight for me was the company. My favorite men plus two if my best Frunners. Can't ask for more. 

5 AM came early, and we were up for a brisk morning and what should've been a short drive to the race site. Siri was less than cooperative so (act surprised) we got a little turned around. Still we got there in time, unless you needed to hit the portapotties. Whoops. Sorry, Team K! Hey that's why it's chip-timed, right? 

I found the Savant and took a quick pic and gave him a good luck kiss, but then moved back in the corrals a bit. Even with a bum leg he's faster than me, so healthy I knew I had no chance to keep up with him. My race plan was just to take advantage of the mostly downhill course, keep up with my hydration & enjoy the day. I stuck to my routine I've been following in training of running 3-4 minutes then walking 20-30 seconds. Exact intervals are determined by my playlist, so it's usually pretty consistent unless I get a Meatloaf or Led Zeppelin song served up, in which case I want to die halfway though. 

The course was as advertised, mostly downhill, with just a couple of gradual uphills at 2-3 & mile 10. Crowd support was steady if not sparse in a few spots, but there were a few folks we saw two or three times. You gotta love the spectathlete. Makes me glad that we take time a few times a year to get our cheer on; it really makes a difference to the runners. 

One sign in particular really stuck out to me and I'm sad I didn't get a photo, but the message was clear and it was significant and I don't need a photo to remember it. It was at about mile 9 (NINE MILES!!) and it read very simply: "Precious few are able to do what you are doing." I forget this sometimes. I forget it a lot, actually. On my FB page just this weekend, I have hundreds of friends posting about their races in Houston, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Canada, among other places. I hang with a crazy crowd that thrives on endurance events, and I need to remember that what we do is not the norm for most of the population. It's easy to think that everyone runs half marathons (or longer) to celebrate their birthday, or that all groups of friends plan out monthly races & rides as social events because that's what we do. But it's not true, and the mere act of running 13.1 miles on a perfect Sunday morning should not be taken for granted. 

The downhill course definitely took a toll on my quads but it was such a beautiful day and I couldn't help but smile throughout. I thanked the Austin police profusely, high-fived the crowd, took photos on the run. And just when my legs would start to ache, one song would end & it was time to walk a bit. Pretty soon we were at Mile 10, on the one long uphill that was actually a welcome change but a challenge nonetheless. That really was the only time in the race I felt mentally down. And then the Frunner song came on my iPod and I got enough of a burst of energy and heartwarming love from the song that it got me up & over the hill. After that, it was literally all downhill, plus I knew the boy would be waiting for me just down the street from his dorm. 

Another half mile & I was at the finish! As I neared the mats I heard the Savant & Team K yell my name. So glad to be done but as usual, the pain & suffering I was feeling just minutes before dissipated the minute that medal went around my neck. Funny how that works. 

I definitely would recommend this race and I hope I can do it again. Buses took us back to the car at the start, where it was tough to know there were 6000 people there only hours before. Impressive logistics. 

So there you go. Another week done, another 22 miles closer to Oklahoma City. The soreness in my legs makes me anxious for the increase in mileage but I'm just going to focus on getting through each day on the plan, and trust that the training will carry me come race say. And I'm going to be thankful that I can even attempt this, because as the sign said, precious few can.

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