A Couple of Reruns: Tallahassee Half (February 8) and Austin Marathon (February 15)

About Tallahassee:

There’s not really too much to say about the Tallahassee races – the courses for both the half and full begin on the Florida State University campus outside the gym and end on the university track. I do the half marathon here because of the strict 6 hour time limit (which I might be able to meet but it would be very lonely on the course at the very back); besides, I like doing the race with my oldest son who lives nearby and is willing to do a half with minimal training.

While both races wind through some uninspiring areas of town, I can manage to deal with the boredom because it’s fun to see lots of familiar faces (lots of people from around Florida and Georgia sign up). The volunteers are great and so are the police – there is excellent traffic control. Lots of people who want to try and qualify for Boston do this race because it is extremely flat. The temperature this year was relatively mild for Tallahassee in the winter so I soon tied my jacket around my waist and enjoyed the mild weather.

I finished in just under 3 hours, which pleased me, but I was extremely impressed with my son, who shaved over 30 minutes off his finishing time to complete the half in2:14. We celebrated with a buffet lunch at Azu, a really great Asian restaurant in Tallahassee.

About Austin:

This weekend was supposed to include the Love Run half marathon in Huntsville, Texas, as well as the Austin marathon. Our original plan was to fly into Austin, pick up my race packet plus those of a few friends who were also doing the double, then drive 3-4 hours to Huntsville, spend the night there, do the half marathon on Saturday, drive back to Austin, prepare for the Austin marathon on Sunday, and fly home on Monday. However, our flight to Atlanta was delayed for over 4 hours, causing us to miss our connecting flight to Austin. We had to scramble to find other flights that would still get us to Texas on Friday. This meant that we had to jettison our plans for Huntsville since we would be arriving too late for the long drive in the dark.

Oh, well. The unexpected happens so I had to pull out Plan B. We used Hilton Honors points for an extra night at Embassy Suites Town Lake (our favorite hotel in downtown Austin), canceled our rental car, and decided to make the most of our extra day in a city that both my husband and myself enjoy. We had a great dinner on Friday at Guero’s and a delicious barbeque lunch at Ironworks (the beef ribs were amazing!) on Saturday. We walked to the expo at the Palmer Center on Saturday to visit the expo, pick up the race packets for myself and my friends, and then walk to REI and Book People.

The marathon and half marathon relay are very popular in Texas and about 80% of the participants are Texans; however, according to the race announcer, every US state is represented as well as dozens of foreign countries. I’d done this race at least 3 times in the past and enjoyed it every time. The course begins on South Congress and goes as far north as Northcross Drive, then heads back to town via the University of Texas campus, and finishes near the Capitol. There are just enough hills to present a challenge but it is not a roller coaster course like at Blue Ridge or Georgia marathons. Aid stations are plentiful and offer water, Gatorade Endurance, and occasionally orange slices and pretzels. Many neighbors set up informal aid stations and offer everything from red licorice sticks to beer. Lots of people sit outside with children and dogs along to cheer. As for entertainment, there are musicians playing everything from country to rock to hymns. The Westside Presbyterian Church even had its choir outside clapping and singing to motivate us – that was great! In addition to a gender-specific technical short-sleeve shirt (bright orange this year), finishers get a handsome medal. Post-race food includes bagels, chips, granola bars, and fruit, but I hankered for fajitas, so I was willing to wait until after my usual shower and nap. I finished in 5:55, good enough for 3rd place in my age group. It was satisfying to complete the race in under 6 hours (my 2nd time this year).

This race is definitely recommended for walkers. There is a 7 hour time limit and with over 3000 full marathoners, it is not so lonely at the back. The logistics are easy, with several hotels within easy walking distance of the expo and race start and finish. Taxis to and from the airport run about $25-$30, pretty reasonable compared to cab fares in some of the cities I’ve traveled to. Restaurants are plentiful and the food, especially Tex-Mex and barbeque, is great. It is very easy to enjoy Austin and its marathon.

 

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