Friday, February 20, 2015

Austin Marathon 2015

Austin Fit!! Photo by Nathan Choe
I'm just going to start off saying this didn't turn out to be the marathon I wanted. I had some fairly bad asthma issues and I was a lot slower than I'd hoped. But, I can't even come close to calling it a "bad race" because let's face it, finishing a marathon is a win no matter the time or conditions. And even though I didn't feel my best or meet my time goals, I still really enjoyed the marathon, in some ways it was fun to slow down and really see all the spectators and signs and stop and talk with friends along the course. I even got to "run" with Jeff for a mile or so. My number one goal at any race is always to have fun, so I did accomplish at least one of my goals!

Race morning was pretty typical, I had fun hanging out with all the other Austin Fitters and Coach Cassandra wanted to take all kinds of group pictures :) I was actually pretty happy with the weather, not too cold, but not warm either. I didn't really notice the humidity before the start. As we all lined up around the 5:00 hour pace sign, I got really excited. I'd planned to start the race with Cindy and Rosa, but as we waited to cross the start line, I kept inching further and further ahead without realizing it. When I looked behind me, I only saw 1 or 2 of my "Orange 11" group way behind me. I figured Cindy and Rosa would catch me in the first half mile and we'd run together at least for a while.
Waiting to start. Photo by Ed Swarthout
As I got to the start line, I waved at Logan and he announced "good morning Heather" :) it's fun knowing the announcer. Shortly after I crossed the start line, the 4:40 pace group passed me, guess I "inched" forward quite a bit! Good thing I'm good at running my own pace and letting people pass! I was able to enjoy the sea of people running up Congress for awhile and I saw some great signs in the first couple miles. Bart passed me and I told him to have a great race. I kept thinking Cindy and Rosa should be right behind me, but they weren't.
More Orange 11's with Coach Cass on the left and Cindy & Rosa on the right
Around mile 3 I thought my legs felt a little tired and I thought that probably wasn't good. I haven't had asthma issues in a really long time, so I didn't think about the fact that that weird tired legs feeling was always my first sign that my lungs weren't working well. Cassandra and a few of the Orange 11s finally caught me a little after mile 3. I chatted with Cass for a minute and realized I was having trouble talking, I'm a chatty runner, so I thought maybe I was going too fast (although my mile splits had been pretty much right on so far). I slowed down a little, but not much since South First is the fastest part of the marathon! I high-fived Rhonda on South First and hugged Julie at the Team Beef cheering section. She even made me a chalk sign in the road!

Julie's chalk sign for me!
The cheering section at City Hall was as awesome as I'd hoped, tons of people, lots of encouragement, it was great! I should have known that "Livestrong Way" would be "Freescale Way" this year since Freescale is the title sponsor this year-duh! Anyway, Freescale Way did not disappoint, tons of people, noise, encouragement, even singing.

But as I made my way around Austin High, I knew I was way too out of breath and even during walk breaks I wasn't catching my breath- not cool. I had to walk more than I wanted and it was only mile 8. Kim & Marie caught up to me on Lake Austin and as always, they were encouraging and awesome, Marie said "I'm so happy to see you're having an awesome, wonderful race too!" I thought, "the wheels are falling off for me" but I said "thanks, you're looking great" or something like that instead, I didn't want them to worry about me or to dampen the awesome day they were having.

My Orange 11 group, with Marie in Orange front and center and Kim behind her grinning :)
About mile 11, I finally saw Jeff, I told him I was slower than I wanted to be, but I was ok. He walked up one of the Expo hills with me. By the time I got off Expo, I was really having trouble breathing and not feeling great. I saw Jeff again at mile 13 and told him I couldn't breathe well. He asked if I had my, no, I haven't been carrying it for over a year now, because my asthma just hasn't been an issue. (Yes, I know...lesson learned, it's back in my fuel belt now.) He offered to go home and find my old inhaler and bring it to me at mile 18. I wasn't sure it would help, but it was worth a try!

On Bull Creek I ran into Ed, a guy I know through Coach Cindy. We passed a spectator aid station. There were tons of spectators with their own tables set up with small aid stations offering oranges, gels, bananas, water, kleenex, mimosas, beers, bandaids, etc. It was really awesome and much appreciated! This spectator's aid station had beer and as we ran by he called out what he had to offer, Ed made a quick u-turn and when he caught back up to me, he had a cup of beer in his hand, "it looked like a nice IPA, I couldn't turn it down" he said. I've always admired runners who can drink beer during a race!

Just after the mile 16 race aid station- which was awesome, with lots of volunteers and spectators, and even another contingent of Freescale spectators- I saw Jeff riding toward me, I stopped to talk to him, my voice was actually hoarse from not being able to breathe well. He had found one of my old inhalers and by some miracle it still worked. It took me 4 tries to get a deep enough breath to get the albuterol into my lungs, but once it did, I could tell it was going to help. By this time I knew my lungs wouldn't fully recover before the end of the marathon and I had no hope of a PR, so I just planned to finish in however long it took and have a good time along the way.

I stopped and talked to Devon at mile 16.5, Annette at 17 and Shayla, Kendra & Will at 17.5. I enjoyed running/walking through Crestview, with all the spectators still out in full force, lots of house parties and awesome signs!
Mile 16.5, running toward Devon, she later said "For an extra-tough marathon, you sure made it look easy!" Photo by Devon Bijansky
 Around mile 20 Lisa and Adrenne caught me and I ran/walked with them for a few miles. My voice was still very hoarse, and Adrenne suggested her peppermint breath spray might open my throat & lungs a bit. I took the spray and proceeded to spray the side of my face! That stuff burns on the skin! I did get another spray into my mouth and it did seem to help a little.

Photobombing Adrenne pre-race
Jeff found me again on North Loop and jogged/walked with us for a little while. I introduced him to Lisa & Adrenne. On Duval, I saw David & Betsy and expressed my disappointment that they didn't have jello shots for the runners this year! Betsy walked with me for a little while too and reminded me to look at all the pretty houses on 49th street. At this point I only had about 3.5 miles to go, but man my legs hurt and I knew I was going to finish over 6 hours which was disappointing (even though I said I just wanted to finish). But I kept moving forward and eventually got to campus and then to San Jacinto and the BIG hill near the finish, I turned the corner, and ran into the finisher chute and across the finish line! It may not have been the marathon I wanted, but crossing the finish line was still spectacular!

My third Austin Marathon finisher medal
Me, Adrenne & Lisa, so happy I had these girls for company those last few miles!
Special thanks to Jeff for being my biggest supporter and always being there when I need him! Photo by Nathan Choe

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