We’re going to start with the expo (shocker! I know). What can I say? The expo really is part of the whole race experience. I want to preface this with a blurb about last year’s Austin 10/20 expo. It was TINY. I mean it. It took place in the Crown Plaza hotel’s conference rooms. Yes, roomS. You picked up your bib in one little room and then went into the expo room that was stuffed to overflowing with like 5 vendors to get your participant shirt. They had the people that sell stickers and general runner bling. They had the RedFox Wireless people (this is where I bought my Bluetooth earphones), the official merchandise vendor, someone that was selling custom insoles I believe and one other vendor. There was barely room to turn around in this room. For the last 6-8 months, I’ve driven past this hotel on my way home from work and I’ve been getting increasingly more and more excited. Even though the space for the expo at this hotel was ridiculously small, I equated this particular hotel with a race expo and I would get excited every time I drove past it on my way home.
Anyway, onto this year’s expo. It was in a different location than last year. It was at the Quarries at Hyde Park (which, if I’m not mistaken, is a private Christian academy campus). It was in their rec center (read: gymnasium). They had easily about 3 times the vendors that they had last year and everything was all in one [giant] room, so that was really nice. They had bib pick up at one end of the gym and then you went to the other end to grab your shirt. After that, I wound my way through all the vendors. When I ran the Austin Marathon, along Enfield Dr, there were a bunch of signs that said “#besomebody.” At the time, I had no idea what it meant other than to tell us to do whatever we do in an awesome way and to be somebody, even if it was just to ourselves or close friends/family. Well, apparently, this #besomebody is a social networking business. It’s pretty cool and I wouldn’t mind participating in it except they don’t have an android app…YET. When the android app comes out, I’ll check into them further. After the guy gave me the wonderful schpeal about his company, he gave me the chance to spin a wheel to win a prize. Stickers, rubber wristbands, hat, shirt, gift card, etc. I was REALLY hoping to win a shirt. I mean, how awesome would it be to go to the gym wearing a shirt that says “#besomebody”? Be pretty freaking awesome in my opinion. Alas, I only won wristbands. But! They gave me 2 stickers and I plan to put one of them on my car. Maybe they have a merchandise shop and I can buy one of their shirts? Because I’d still really like one.
I moved on and came to a table for the McAllen Marathon. I found out about this marathon after I had registered for the Dallas Marathon. They happen on the same day…on or around my birthday. This year, it is on the 13th of December. I signed up for their mailing list and won a free shirt! Now, if I’m not mistaken, the shirt I won is the 2014 participant shirt, but I don’t care. I’m going to wear it. It’s neon green and I only have one other neon green running shirt…my vendor “RUNNER” shirt from the 2014 Austin Marathon/Half Marathon that I bought. I’m thinking of maybe doing the McAllen Marathon. Granted, I will have just run the San Antonio Rock’n’Roll Marathon the previous Sunday, so if I do the McAllen, I wouldn’t do it for time, just to finish and for the experience. I’ll make that decision in, like, October though, so no rush.
Right as I was finishing up with the lady from the McAllen Marathon and was turning around, a lady was standing right behind me and exclaimed “are you Sara Runs This Weigh?!??!!?!” I looked at her and said “and you’re Eva Runs Happy!” Her and I have followed each other on Instagram since late last fall, I think. We both live in the Austin area, so us running into each other eventually was bound to happen. We talked and she introduced me to her dad who was running the 10/20 with her. He was in town from Mississippi to run the race. We talked for a few minutes and, of course, took a selfie together.
|Eva & I at the expo|
Before I go any further, here’s this year’s participant shirt.
Here's my flat runner:
Now for the meat and potatoes of this post: the race itself.
To say I was a little gun shy after the previous week’s gastro distress debacle was an understatement. From the moment my alarm went off Sunday morning, I was dreading it. I was just dragging my heels the whole time I was getting ready. I had forgotten to buy my traditional race morning bagel on Saturday so I had to drive past the race location by a couple miles to go to the only Einstein Bros Bagels shop that opens at 6am on Sundays to get my pre-race bagel to go with my pre-race banana. I got me a chocolate chip bagel. Yum! But, before I could leave the bagel shop, I had to go to the bathroom. See, the gastro distress had not completely gone away yet…over a week later. I spent a few minutes in there until I felt safe to make my way to the race location and park.
I actually ate my bagel and banana while sitting in the long line of traffic waiting to get into the Domain to park. I was afraid it was going to take so long to get in and park that it would be 10 minutes out from the start by the time I parked. Not so. It didn’t take as long as I thought to get into the Domain thanks to police officers directing traffic. So, when I parked, I just leisurely got all my items ready to go and made sure I had everything I would need. When I got out of my car, I texted my friend Rob to see if he was there yet and if so, where he was. He was literally 100 feet away from me when I texted him so I caught up to him pretty quick and we walked to the start together. Took a selfie, duh, and then met up with some of his other friends. We all chatted until it was time for the national anthem and then lined up in the corral. I told him that it would be nice to PR this race, but wasn’t thinking I could PR by much if I did PR.
|with Rob pre-race|
The race started and I realized that I had to go pee. Great. No time to do that now. I did a little press check to see how bad it was and figured I could hold it for at least most of the race. Less than 100 yards into the race was the first photographer and I was on the complete opposite side of the crowd of runners, so no photo op for me there. Then, about another 100 yards or so was the second photographer. Missed that op too.
This year’s course was the same but different than last year’s. First off, the bit we ran first where we ran up the frontage road for the Mopac Expressway and then took the u-turn at Duval and then came back into the Domain…that was at the end of last year’s race. I much prefer this part at the beginning, so I was very happy with this change. Right before the u-turn, Rob (who is much faster than me) caught up with me and asked “how the heck did you get ahead of me?” I just replied, “you were talking and sometimes I’m speedy.” He just laughed and sped off. Then, we made our way over to Burnet Rd and as soon as we turned to run south on Burnet, boom the next photographer and I was again on the wrong side of the crowd.
We ran down Burnet and I’m feeling good. I mean, really good. My first 2 miles were just a smidge over 10 minutes each, but after that, I was cruising in the 9’s. And it didn’t even feel hard. It felt easy. After about mile 4, I realized that if I kept up that pace, that I would PR this race. So, I consciously held the pace and the majority of my mile splits were right around 9:30. Around mile 9, right before we turned to run around the IBM campus, there was another photographer who I thought didn’t catch me again, but upon looking at the official photos, I now think he did actually get me. I then caught up with one of Rob’s friends that we had chatted with at the start area, said hi, hung at her pace for a minute and then sped off. Coming up to the finish line, I did start to lose a little steam, but I still kept my final mile under 10 minutes and finished strong. I not only PRed this race, but I smoked it! My time from this race last year was 1:55:06. This year? 1:37:50. That’s a difference of 17 minutes and 16 seconds. WHAT WHAT WHAT?!?!?! Needless to say, I could not be more happy with this. This was a great race…in general and for me personally. I am, of course, aware that I could have pushed myself more and gone faster. Knowing that makes me excited. Very excited. Another thought I had…if I can hold a 9:42 average pace for 10 miles, my goal of 9:55 average pace for a marathon isn’t that far off. When I crossed the 10K mark, I was less than 5 minutes off my goal time for the 10K!!! And I wasn’t even trying to go fast!!! I’m going to really push myself in the Capital 10K in a couple weeks and see what I can do. If I can get it in less than an hour I will be happy. My PR for the Cap10K is 1:06:53. My current 10K PR is 1:02:48…that was set at the Bun Run 2013 (which is now the Sunshine Run).
After crossing the finish line and getting my medal
I got my clementine orange, a bag of mini pretzels and a bottle of water. I was just kind of wandering, seeing if I could find Rob (I knew he had finished about 15 minutes before me…he’s fast) and I recognized this older gentleman. It was Eva’s dad! I turned and boom there she was! We were both so excited to run into each other again. We took more selfies…DUH!! And then they were off because her parents had to drive back to Mississippi that same day! Wow!
|I can't believe we managed to run into each other at the expo|
AND at the finish line!!! so crazy!!!
I had some nice lady take a picture of me with the banner on the fence.We went over to the back side of the start line and started taking pictures together.
Rob and his other friends decided to go home. I made my way over to get my free beer…
…and then catch a little of the headliner band Black Pistol Fire. And boy am I glad I hung out. They were awesome! I didn’t stay for too long…maybe half an hour. There weren’t chairs and it really hurts me to sit on the ground (I can never get comfortable and it always hurts so much no matter what position I’m in). I took a few pics and one video. Right as I was getting up to leave, the singer asked the crowd “any personal records today?” I was standing up right as he said this. I raised my arm in the air and yelled “WOOO!” He pointed straight at me and said “okay, we got ONE personal record here!” As I was leaving, a guy high-fived me for my PR and told me “great job!” I love runners!
I was pretty certain when I finished the race that ONLY the finish line photographers were able to catch me. Then, on Monday, I got the email from the photography company and one other photographer (I’m pretty sure it was the one right before we went into IBM) caught ONE photo of me. The 2 finish line photos are almost identical. So, I got one of the finish photos and the other one photo of me. All the photos were good photos of me, so that’s awesome. I definitely look like I’m having a great time…which is good because I was. Also, this photography company isn’t super expensive. What just one photo cost me from the Austin Marathon, I was able to buy 2 photos from this company.