Austin Amplified: The Austin Marathon – February 16, 2014

This was my third Austin Marathon and it remains high on my list of favorite races.  Since I wrote an extensive review of this race back in February of 2012, I will keep this report brief.  I had forgotten how hilly this course is, and after 3 months of racing on relatively flat terrain, it was a shock to my legs to climb and descend the many ups and downs.  I’m not complaining – I definitely enjoyed running the downhills – but I was pretty sore for several days afterwards.  The race is no longer affiliated with the Lance Armstrong LiveStrong Foundation but instead has several corporate sponsors like Freescale, H. E. B., and Seton Healthcare.

Our trip this year was similar to our previous ventures to Austin.  We flew in on Saturday, used Super Shuttle to ride seamlessly to our hotel of choice, the Embassy Suites Town Lake, and walked to packet pickup at the Palmer Convention Center.  After getting my bib and race booklet, we walked to Guero’s our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant, and enjoyed a delicious meal of fajitas, tamales, and Carta Blanca beer.  Then it was back to our hotel to get everything ready for the race and for me to begin my usual pre-race worrying.  But it was odd this year;  the usual worries and anxieties that normally occupy my mind were notably absent.  Maybe it was because it was my third Austin Marathon or perhaps it was because I had completed 159 marathons and ultras, but I finally realized that I had nothing to fear.  Whatever the reason, I enjoyed the calmness that descended upon me and I was able to get a good night’s sleep.

The next morning at 6 am Darcy walked me to the start line just north of the State Capitol building.  There are no formal corrals, just signs with minutes per mile on them, so I lined up at the 12.5 minute + section.  The weather was close to perfect, about 60 degrees and foggy, and temps rose to the low 70’s by noontime.  The humidity was high but not horrible, and it remained cloudy and overcast with cool breezes throughout the day.  I never had to put on sunglasses and occasionally had to remove my cap so it wouldn’t blow off my head.  The race began at 7 am but it took about 20 minutes for my corral to reach the start line; once there we began our attack on the fairly constant hills.

I had wondered if I would see anybody I knew here.  Although there were supposed to be about 65 Maniacs at this race, I saw very few people ‘wearing the colors’ and there was no info about a pre-race photo.  Still, it turns out I did see a few familiar faces, including Paula Boone, co-founder of the 50 States Club, who was doing the half marathon, and Parvaneh Moayedi, who is returning to Badwater again this year and was running Austin with a broken foot.  Around mile 6, I was power-walking in my usual happy-go-lucky way when I heard a voice on my left ask if I had done the Waco Marathon 3 years ago.  Well, yes, indeed, I had been at Waco then, so I responded affirmatively and then turned around to see who had asked.  That’s when I remembered meeting a young man at Waco who was doing the Galloway run-walk method with several friends.  We had been leap-frogging each other during the early part of that race.  This was the same man, Charlie, who had recognized me today from my steady rhythmic walking style.  I had to laugh at that.  We chatted a bit but I was moving a little faster and wanted to maintain my speed so I waved and wished him luck.  As I moved away, I heard him say to another runner, “she’ll probably beat both of us just walking,” and I had to smile.  I believe I did come in ahead of him, by 20 minutes or so.  Who says walkers can’t finish ahead of runners occasionally?  That thought made me smile all day (and it still pleases me).

I crossed the finish line in 5:50:35, under my goal of 6 hours, and 2nd in my age group.  For food, there was water, bagels, chips, and bananas.  A volunteer placed a medal of the Austin skyline on a black lanyard around my neck, and I was given a black tech finisher’s shirt (in the correct size, thank goodness).  After shower and a nap, dinner was at Guero’s once again.

We had planned this trip with an extra day in the city after the race, so we spent a leisurely Monday walking around some of those same hills that I had raced on the day before.  This time I was moving pretty slowly, though, as we perused the all neat stuff at Book People, visited the LBJ Presidential Library, and had some great barbeque at Ironworks BBQ.

Austin has a generous 7 hour time limit.  There are plenty of aid stations and music as well as outstanding support from volunteers, police, and townspeople.  The race (and the city itself) is highly recommended for walkers.

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