Sorry for the delay—this week has been absolutely crazy!!
My flight left Chicago at 6:55 am on Saturday morning. The great thing about leaving this early is that traffic was non-existent so it made my 15 mile drive very easy! After a quick de-icing of the plane (a crazy snow started falling right as we were boarding in Chicago), it was off to Dallas. The Dallas airport was pretty small (I think Southwest pretty much is the only carrier there) and my next flight’s gate was right door. I had a quick hour layover in Dallas where I got a quick milkshake and then boarded my flight to San Antonio!
My flight arrived on time in San Antonio (around 11:45) and after taking a shuttle to the rental car, I was on the road around 12:15. I was hoping to be in Austin around 1:30ish. About 6 miles outside of Austin, traffic became stop and go! I felt like I was in Chicago! It was awful!! Plus on top of it all, I had to go to the bathroom really bad!! Finally, I made it to the expo around 2:15-2:30ish! Not only was I nervous about the availability of merchandise, running to the bathroom, but I was also starving since I hadn’t really eaten anything since 6 am!
The expo was pretty small—not the smallest I’ve ever seen but not the largest! The packet pickup was in the back. I love the participant shirt, but it is pretty big on me. I registered in June 2014, so I wasn’t my current size back then and when I asked about exchanging, they told me that they barely had enough shirts for the day! Other than the shirt and the bib, I also got a participant guide with all the information for the race. I stopped by one of the official vendors and also picked up a t-shirt to remember the weekend by! I thought about purchasing an Austin necklace but decided against it since this race really doesn’t hold any significance for me (I wasn’t going for a PR, wasn’t running my first half, etc). I was disappointed that there was no “Run Austin” apparel, but I should be happy that I didn’t spend any more money! There are lots of expos and more coming up for me that I’ll want to spend money at. There were some Texas races present as well as the Rt 66 Marathon (definitely going to be doing that one in November!).
One running celebrity, Bart Yasso was also in attendance for this race. He is an incredible runner and speaker who goes to dozens of races a year. He announces the Little Rock Marathon every year (I remember listening to him last year) and I know he’ll be at Shamrock this year too.
After I finished at the expo, I went across the street for some bbq. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but not the worst either.
When I was finished with my lunch/dinner, I went in search of some Austin souvenirs. I’m very sad to report that I could not find anything that I just had to have! I walked all over the place too!! I didn’t want to move my car around since the traffic was so terrible in Austin so after I went to two different areas, I gave up and just got my car and left.
After I got my rental car, I headed off to my hotel. I priceline a lot of my hotels and I got a great deal on this one back in November for only $75 including taxes! It was a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom suite with a living room. It was only about 7 miles away from downtown and it put my room at Disney World to shame. I felt bad that I was the only one staying there and I didn’t even really go to the upstairs bedroom at all.
(Here are some pictures of my awesome hotel!)
Finally around 7 pm, I decided that my 3 pm lunch wasn’t going to be helping me out in the morning and I needed to find some food to eat in order to have some food in the stomach for the race. There was a close by Mediterranean place, so I got a gyro and a piece of cheesecake to go!
The next morning I was up at 4:30! The race started at 7 am and I had heard that parking might be bad, so I wanted to get there early. After eating my granola bar, drinking a bit of Gatorade, I grabbed my gear and headed out of the door around 5 am. I easily found a good parking garage with lots of other runners around 5:30. The parking garage was about a half a mile from the start, so I was able to take my time.
The race started right at 7 am and I crossed the start line around 7:10. There were no corrals, but I stationed myself with the 4:40 group (no half pacers). My goal was to stick with them throughout the race so I could break my 2:20 goal. The first 3 miles were straight down Congress Ave in downtown Austin. My first mile was pretty slow at little over 11 minutes and I knew that if I kept up this pace, I won’t break 2:20. And I had barely encountered any hills yet. But pretty soon, they started coming. Most of the hills were rolling hills.. you’d go slightly up in elevation and then come down the hill. Some of the downhills I thought were worse than the uphills. I tried to give it all my all during my running periods and espeiclaly when I was running on flat ground. If I had a hill, I tried my best to keep pace but a few times I had to walk because running was making me move just as fast as walking was. About halfway thru the race, I thought I might have a chance to be around 2:15. But I had spoken too soon… because the worst of the hills were in the second part of the race. The absolute worst one came at mile 12! Once I figured out that I would be a little higher than 2:15, I knew I wanted to be under 2:20. The hill at mile 12 did not help that cause! I ended up having to walk for almost 2 minutes straight! When that nasty hill was finally done and we hit the mile 13 sign and turned the corner to the finish, I looked at my watch. I was close to 2:19 and I knew I’d have to book it to be under 2:20. My watch must have been a bit fast because I officially crossed the finish line at 2:19:26! I was so happy… it almost felt like a PR in my book. Especially since I had gained 536 ft of elevation during the race (Disney World Marathon gained 63 ft of elevation and that was 13 more miles!).
After the race, I got a water bottle, some snacks, and my medal. They had some food trucks but they all were serving breakfast food (it was 9:30 am, but I wanted lunch) and they had “some” official merchandise, but it was so limited in sizes that I didn’t bother. After I finally found my car, I raced back to the hotel to take a quick shower and drive to San Antonio!
I got to San Antonio close to 1 pm and headed to the Alamo!
I loved San Antonio! The Alamo was great and I loved doing the audio tour. I feel like you learn so much on those tours. The Alamo is pretty small, so the tour only took me 45 minutes. I figured out afterwards that I had enough time to take the Riverwalk boat tour! The tour was absolutely great and just made me wish I had more time in this amazing city!
I got back to the airport in plenty of time to drop off my rental and finally eat (I hadn’t eaten since 6 am and now it was 4 pm). I made my flight in plenty of time, landed in Chicago, picked up my dog and was in my condo around 10 pm. And then I was back in the office the next day at 9 am!
Overall, it was a great race for me. I wasn’t expecting to PR, but I am so happy I came in under my goal that I had set for myself. I had fun running in a new city and I crossed another state off the list!