I was “talked into” running the Austin Half when my friend decided he wanted to come visit me this weekend and run it with me; when I found out active duty military members got 50% off entry, I was sold.
My friend Asa had never run a half marathon before. The longest runs he’d ever done were a 10 and 12 miler, which were both just on a whim. He didn’t actually train for this race. He wanted to run this race with me at my pace, so I wasn’t really concerned about him making the distance since I run a lot slower than him. I actually thought I’d hold him back, but he insisted.
We drove up to Austin from San Antonio Saturday afternoon for packet/t-shirt pickup and checked out the expo. We met up with Paul (PR-A-Hole) at PF Changs for dinner before finding our hotel and crashing for the night.
We woke up at 4:30 Sunday morning so we had enough time to get ready and get downtown before traffic got bad and street closures started. We found a free parking garage and walked the 3/4 mile or so to the start line area (not a bad warm up, haha). Knowing that this race was known for its hills, I figured it’d be a good day if I ran it around 2:35 (10 minutes slower than my PR).
I should have known better, but I lined up with Asa in the 5:00 (2:30 half) pace sign area, not considering the variety of paces within that cluster. This resulted in a 13:30 mile pace for the first 1/2 mile or so until the course widened and we could speed up a bit.
Asa needed to make a pit stop about 3/4 mile into the race, so I told him I’d keep running and stay on the right side so I’d be easy to find among the 14,000 runners. Mile 1 passed, then mile 2, and finally he caught up just before mile 3. The first 3.5 miles were slower than usual as the course went gradually uphill. However, since it was early in the run and I’d known about this in advance, it was not a big deal. The next few miles were nice in the respect that they were mainly downhill or level. By the 8 mile point, I was right on target for a 2:30 finish. But then the hills started.
There were a lot of hills. For the last few miles, spectators kept yelling (incorrectly!) that “this is the last hill!” My pace slowed, which I’d expected. I encouraged Asa to run ahead, and he did a few times. However, he’d then walk, stop at water stations, and jog until I caught back up with him.
The last 1/3 of a mile or so of the course was really nice (flat/downhill). However, the course was .1 miles long (according to my Garmin) so I started picking up my pace a little too early. This resulted in not sprinting as hard as I usually do at the very end (sub-5:00 minute mile pace), but on the bright side, I was surprised to realize that the last 1/3 of a mile was covered in just under 7:10 minute mile pace. I didn’t know I could sustain that pace for that long, haha. Asa stayed right with me and we got the same chip time: 2:31:38. Not a PR, but I was fine with it considering the course and that I’d talked during a lot of it.
Here is a photo of us crossing the finish line
We picked up our medals, finisher shirts, and then headed back to the car. Asa’s knees bothered him a little bit afterward, but other than that, he was fine. He had a good time, and I did too. Below is a picture we took in the parking garage before leaving.