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Austin Half Marathon Recap

Thinking about running the Austin Half Marathon or Austin Marathon? This race recap details my experience of the race.

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As you may know, I ran the Austin Half Marathon last Sunday. It was my first race of 2017.

I didn’t particularly train for it, but moreso signed up (and convinced Ed to join me) as an excuse to go to Austin. Austin has been on my bucket list for ages and if it takes searching for marathons in Austin, count me in. 

I can’t say that many people would agree that running an Austin Texas Half Marathon is on their bucket list, but we all have our things. 

Let’s talk about the Austin Half Marathon. Oh, Austin. You totally threw me for a loop. I kind of like going into races blindsighted.

As a Type A person (I realize this is the complete opposite of what a normal Type A person does), it decreases anxiety about thinking about the race and course. I actually don’t freak out before races and I’m pretty calm.

husband and white on a plane smiling at camera

I don’t have a “must eat” list for the night before, I don’t have to wear the same race socks or shoes, and I don’t have to plan out every detail the night before. Together, Ed and I are pretty unprepared runners, compared to most.

So, as a forethought, I realize that I am telling this like a story. I hope it makes it more interesting for you.

If you’re more interested in seeing what we ate and what else we did in Austin, this Austin Travel Guide may be helpful. 

The Day Before the Austin Half Marathon

crepes with apples and ice cream on red plate

On the day before the Austin half marathon, I ate ice cream for breakfast (on a crepe), walked 10 miles, did not scope out the course or even look at a map, and ate ice cream before going to bed.

Probably not my most ideal pre-race ritual.

Now, I am not saying I recommend this, but my priority in coming to Austin was also exploring the city and food. Ed prioritizes running, I prioritize food.

We explored South Congress Street and got tacos for lunch.

Eating Tacos at Torchys Tacos

We decided to check out the Corporate Whole Foods for our pre-race dinner. We thought it would make sense to have everything available so we could choose what we wanted. I ended up getting a carb-heavy bowl of veggies, coconut rice, butternut squash mac n cheese, and some chicken.

Ed doesn’t do chicken before a race (bad experience I guess?) so he went with pork and short rib. We always end with something sweet, so we scoped Amy’s ice cream shop for dessert before walking back to our hotel.

We got some ice cream (Mexican Vanilla with Chocolate Chips for me), walked the two miles back to our hotel and got ready for bed.

The Morning Of

I did lay out all my clothes and started to think about what I would do if it rained (there was a 50% chance of rain/thunder showers in the morning). Of course, you may be able to guess given my lack of preparation above, that neither Ed nor I packed rain jackets.

I had a light long sleeved jacket that I was planning to use if it did rain, but it did not have a hood and I just figured I’d have to suck it up if it rained hard.

I was pretty confident in my Escalantes though – my favorite lightweight race shoe! Also wore them for the Ogen Marathon.

tank top, shorts, sports bra and hat with austin half marathon running bib

Luckily, that didn’t happen.

BUT, one could argue that what did happen was even worse. At 4:45, we woke up to dry roads (!!) but 95 PERCENT HUMIDITY. YUCK. It was miserable.

I made a little oatmeal with half a banana and some peanut butter and ate it along with some coffee, before doing an 8 minute warm up and stretch.

Our hotel was a quarter mile from the start (amazingly convenient), so I headed to the starting line 5 minutes before the race went off.

We were starting with the marathoners and immediately, I felt bad for them with this weather.

starting line of Austin Half Marathon

The first mile and a half was rough. It was uphill, up South Congress Street. Those first 15 minutes plus the humidity had me sweating through my shirt by mile two.

We then took a turn right and were going through some side neighborhoods. There wasn’t much to see here, and we weren’t near the city center.

I was feeling okay at this point and maintaining a decent pace. There were some smaller up and downs through the first half of the race, but I was maintaining a semi-consistent pace.

I was starting to feel weaker though and knew it wouldn’t be a fast race for me.

I crossed the 10k mark at 46:52 (7:26 pace), but after that, I started losing it. My legs felt dead, I was hot and tired, and my pace slowed considerably. I took my huma gel around mile 8, which helped a little bit. I had a few more fast spurts, followed by slower spurts, but overall, I was losing ground.

I tried finding a pack of similar speed women to stick with. But, I found myself caught between groups of people. So, instead, I would just tell myself to keep my eyes on the person in front of me and try to “Catch them.”

Excuse these informal race photos that I’ll just insert here…

Austin Half Marathon Race Photo

I stopped and walked 3 times during the final course of the week (all at steep hills). While I typically don’t walk during races, I just didn’t have the gas to get up them and I needed a break. I remember my face when I saw the final hill around mile 12. I was thinking, “Uhhh…I have to go up that? Like, seriously?”

This seemed to be where many fans lined up, and I saw some great signs about running up hills, but I couldn’t conquer it without walking a bit. But, I LOVE that they knew to line up there, where we needed support most. 

My last ¾ mile was flat, and we were running through the city streets again so that was exciting. I crossed the finish line in 1:44.52, with a dead even pace of 8:00 per mile.

I was 6+ minutes slower than the Huntersville Half Marathon in December, but I was relieved to just be done. 

Austin Half Marathon Race Photo

Lessons Learned

I think that in each race, you can learn so much about yourself. I learned that even if you think you can’t continue, you really can. Runners are inspirational and will keep motivating you throughout the race.

I learned that patience is key, and that those people in the crowd really do make a huge difference!

Lastly, I also learned that it’s okay to walk (a new one for me). 

As a competitive person and former college athlete, this was hard to stomach initially. But, no one judged me, I caught my breath and finished the race.

husband and wife wearing austin half marathon medals after running race

And to brag on my husband for a minute, he came in 4th overall! He was 6 minutes slower than he planned too, but I told him how awesome a top 5 finish was!

And hey, it was still a fun race! The after race party was pretty great. And the race is all about the experience. I did this to prepare for my Utah marathon, anyway. 

2017 Austin Half Marathon Race Medal

Would I Run The Austin Half Marathon Again?

Probably not. I’m usually a one-and-done type person and hate to do the same race more than once unless it’s an amazing, breathtaking course. I would definitely travel to Austin again, but probably not for this race.

A trail race sounds pretty enticing though. I think there are some great marathons in Austin to consider for the future. 

The best part about finishing the Austin Half Marathon was thinking about the next few days of exploring the food scene.  

girl standing next to guitar in downtown Austin, Texas

What lessons have you learned from a tough race?

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  1. There are races that you are all business and are goal races, sure I get that but dang we miss out on so many things in so many cities if we are on a strict diet and routine before a race.
    So glad you had a great time in Austin and at your race, I’d say that is success anyway you look at it!

  2. Congrats on a great finish!
    I used to be the same as Ed with eating certain foods before a gymnastics meet- there were some things that I just couldn’t do before I competed! Glad you had a fun time in Austin and had a great first race of the year 🙂

  3. Congratulations on finishing such a hilly and hot race. I prefer that to rain, but both can be tricky. I’ve learned the most from horrible weather races because they teach me that I’m tougher than I think I am 🙂

    1. I enjoy a light rain, but a heavy rain is definitely challenging. I think that underlying lesson is so important – we are tougher than we think and we can get through more than we realize.

  4. Humidity is the worst! Unfortunately, we live with it here for the majority of the year (6-8 months). I’ve never gotten used to it and it’s always a pretty humbling experience during races. So AWESOME JOB running in the Texas humidity. Congrats to your husband as well. HIs 4th place finish is very impressive. Austin is a very nice city. I visited there twice when my aunt lived there. At least you had a lot of good eats to pick from! Thanks for linking, Sarah!

    1. We loved it – it is such a fun city with great food. Yes, humidity is so tough – I should know from training in NC, but we weren’t expecting it in February. Lesson learned!

  5. And….. what did you think about Austin!? I know you’d been wanting to get there for a while now.
    I don’t see anything wrong with any of this. Its good to test out a new “pattern” – maybe that means not planning something or going at something in a new, relaxed way – at least once to see what does or doesn’t work. Its all lessons learned and no harm done. Plus you still made an amazing time and maybe even were humbled by the experience. Ed is just not a real human, isn’t he. You married some sort super hero/elf/star trek/magician/matrix man.

  6. Sarah, you had an amazing time! It’s especially incredible to me to think that you informally trained for it and you went into it with such an openness. You pushed through, and that’s incredible.

    I love going into races without a strict eating plan, but I do kind of know what doesn’t make my tummy happy before/during/after a race.

  7. That’s awesome Sarah! From a novice runner, I’m seriously impressed with your pace. And obviously Ed is a superhuman, right?
    I have never been to Austin or even Texas, so I most enjoyed seeing your eats from this trip 😉

  8. Racing in humidity is the worst! I actually wrote a post once about how hills and humidity are my least favorite running conditions. There have been a few half marathons when Ive have to walk because of the hills being so steep (and going out to fast, along with hot/humid weather…) Looks like a fun trip to Austin! Congrats to you and Ed!

  9. That’s a great finish time, considering you said you didn’t really train for it LOL I agree…every race teaches us something about ourselves. I have had many races go great (leaving me feeling confidant in my training) and I have had many races be a total struggle from the start line (where I learned that I still can grit it out and rely on my endurance to finish…even if it’s much slower than I’m usually capable of doing). And, there have been a lot of races that start out great, then tank in the second half and vice-versa.

  10. Congrats to you and and to your hubs for placing 4th overall. That is awesome! I never view the course before a race. So those hills would have been a surprise for me as well. My friend ran the full there the other year and said it was a pretty challenging course.

  11. Great job to both of you! Hills are tough on a normal day but when you aren’t feeling the energy they really suck! You still did awesome and congrats to your husband!

  12. Sometimes the first thing I check on my weather app before I run is the humidity because 90%+ humidity makes every run so much harder. Good for you for pushing through the tough weather conditions and congrats to both of you and Ed for his top 5 finish! Your pre-race eats also sound so delicious- I like your priorities! 😉

  13. The year I ran Austin it was warm and humid as well! I’ve definitely learned that I don’t race well in those conditions. You did amazing! And on a nice cool day you’ll feel like you’re flying!