Jeff and I at the Austin Farmer's Market on Saturday. Ingrid and Del came to town on Friday night and we all had a great time at the Farmer's Market on Saturday checking out all the cool local farms and getting yummy and healthy produce and meats for the week.
Saturday night Del, Richard, Jeff, and I went to Fred and Lori's holiday party. They made a great dinner, of course I was worried about eating anything different for pre-race dinner, but luckily it worked out ok this time. After a very fun and animated white elephant gift exchange, we headed home early to get a good nights sleep before Decker.
The Decker Challenge is race number 4 of the Distance Challenge, it's a hilly half marathon with a reputation for bad weather. It was very cold (in the lower 40's) with a very heavy mist on race morning- yuck! Although it was about what we had expected based on the forecast and based on the fact that the weather is always terrible for Decker (except last year when it was really nice, but still pretty cold). Thank goodness we could be inside before the race or we would have frozen to death out there! Ingrid and I did a short warm up run, less than a mile right before the start.
Del, Ingrid and me pre-race
At the start I felt cold but not completely miserable and I knew I would warm up after a couple of miles. Looking pretty cold, wet and nasty at the start. Photo by Jake North Photography who later posted on their FB page that the location was "the coldest, darkest, hilliest, windiest place in Austin"
In the first mile I saw Ingrid and Priscilla. I was using Ingrid's Garmin to pace myself and I really liked it. Even after 4 miles and the turn onto Lindell I was still pretty cold, that almost never happens, but I was keeping a good pace. I was really glad I had my balaclava/face mask, my ears and chin were a little cold even with it. "Little Mr. Tard" wasn't as bad as I remembered it last year at Decker and at the top, two girls saw the next long hill and started talking loudly about how hard it looked so I told them "that one's not nearly as bad as the one we just did, I promise!" I don't think they believed me. But really, that second hill looks bad from a distance, but it isn't very steep. I talked with a few people along the way, but didn't see anyone else I knew. Between mile 8 and 9, Santa was at the aid station, so I high fived him as I ran by. I tried hard to thank as many volunteers and spectators as I could because it was a terrible day to be outside and I wanted them to know how much I appreciated them.
I had planned to see how I felt and possibly go for a half marathon PR, but I knew that would be tough if not impossible since Decker is such a tough course. I have been trying to beat my very first Austin half marathon in Feb. 2008 for almost 2 years. It doesn't make any sense that I didn't beat it last year because I know I was much better trained and even ran on 1 easier course, but I just couldn't beat it in any of my 3 half marathons last year. So I planned to run an 11:30 pace and try for a PR.
I actually ran closer to an 11:00 pace for at least the first half and then slowed a little for some of the bigger hills toward the end. I was feeling pretty good even though I was cold and wet the entire race. I never took a cup of water from an aid station and had to force myself to drink my Infinit, I think I was breathing in so much water with the mist/rain that I just never got thristy.
As I came back into the expo center grounds and could see the finish I was just ecstatic, the Garmin only said 2:26 and I was easily less than 2 minutes from the finish line! I saw Kristen, Blonde Pam, and Chris near the finish. Chris even picked up a big orange pylon and yelled my name through it, it sounded like a loudspeaker! Ingrid was on the other side of the finish jumping up and down and screaming for me! I was SO happy to finally beat my very first half marathon time and at Decker! I ended up finishing in 2:27:54 which is 4:23 faster than my very first (and fastest) half marathon and over 18 minutes faster than Decker last year. I'm sure my pictures will be funny because I was pretty much laughing the last 100 meters or so and they had 2 photographers there.Update on the pictures: This is one of the first Decker Challenge pictures on Jake North Photography's FB page today. And yes, I was really that happy! Thanks Jake North Photography for a great race finish picture!
Thanks so much to Coach Jen and the Tri Zones Longhorn training this summer, Coach Tracy and the Tri Zones Winter Running Program, and Ingrid for letting me borrow her Garmin! I couldn't have done it without all of you!
Turns out Ingrid, Del, Richard, Julie M. and I (and maybe a few other Tri Zoners?) all got half marathon PRs at Decker! At some point someone said "we just had to run faster to get out of that awful weather!" There may be some truth to that!
Just a couple minutes after finishing I got really cold. I had to change out of my wet shirt, but I was still cold. I had thought I had talked Del and Ingrid into Coach Jen's Sunday Swim after the race, but since it was so cold Ingrid (Ingrid the Machine of all people!!) said NO WAY on the swim and instead we went to Homeslice Pizza!
Ingrid, Del, and Richard at Homeslice
Jeff and I at Homeslice
They were having a contest at Homeslice, whoever kept their hand on an eggplant sub the longest would win a year of free Homeslice pizza! When we got there there were 4 people left and they had been standing outside with their hands on the sub for 24 hours!
At Homeslice Ingrid said she was only going to eat about 1/2 a slice of pizza because she really wanted to go to Gordough's. Del hadn't been to Gordough's before and asked "It's just a donut shop?" Ingrid and I just laughed at him.
Ordering at Gordough's
Ingrid trying the Black Out Donut, super chocolate. This morning on Del's FB page is a picture from Gordough's with this caption "No they're NOT just donuts...trust me".