Austin Marathon Race Report by Jim Weatherly

Please continue to submit your race reports through our Contact Me form and we will schedule the post and inform you of when the post will go live.  We have had some great responses so far and we would like to continue that success. This race report is from Jim Weatherly of 50 after 40.  If you have never been to Jim's blog you are truly missing out and I don't say that lightly.  Each and every time I go to Jim's site it inspires me to be better today than I was yesterday and even better tomorrow than I was today.  His signature line is BE GREAT TODAY!  There is nothing better than that. Please enjoy Jim's reports.  One is an overall review of the race and the other is a personal review of his race.  Thank you to Jim for submitting his race report. --------------------------------------------

Race Review ...

20th Annual LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon

February 20, 2011
Austin, Texas Overall Rating ... 5 out of 5 Longhorns
Spoiler Alert...
  • I loved this race ... my favorite to date!
  • Great Expo - Dick Beardsley, Bart Yasso, and former marathon WR holder Steve Jones as guest speakers
  • Lance Armstrong ran the Half-Marathon in 1:22
  • Challenging, but manageable course - aprx 300ft climbs at miles 3-6 and 9-19
  • Start & Finish area close to everything downtown at the Texas State Capital Building
  • Great SWAG, medal, and t-shirt
  • Best organized race I've ran to date
  • Great tour of the city including run through University of Texas campus
  • Local couple got married at mile 22.5
  • A little warm ... 65 degrees/85% humidity, 10-15mph wind
Finisher Medal and T-shirt... [caption id="attachment_1140" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Finishers Medal"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1141" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Race Shirt"][/caption]
Race Expo...
[caption id="attachment_1143" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Race Expo Floor"][/caption]
What an am amazingly well organized packet pick-up and race expo for an event with 20,000 runners.  It was held at the Palmer Events Center in Austin, TX, and there were knowledgeable volunteers everywhere waiting to point you in the right direction with friendly words of encouragement and well wishes.  The expo featured fantastic guest speakers including former marathon World Record holder Steve Jones, Runner's World writer Bart Yasso, and running legend Dick Beardsley.  All of these gentlemen offered great insight and expertise from their marathon experience.
[caption id="attachment_1142" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Bart Yasso and I"][/caption]
Steve Jones offered tips about the course with race director John Conley.  He also shared stories from the 1984 Chicago Marathon, where he set the former marathon World Record at 2:08:05. Bart Yasso shared information about the his Yasso 800's, a popular running workout named after him for his mid-week speed work. He also talked a lot about his world travels, including races on all 7 continents, and a naked race he ran in Washington.  He was a very funny and entertaining speaker.

[caption id="attachment_1144" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Dick Beardsley and I"][/caption] Dick Beardsley was my favorite, telling the inspirational story of the 1982 Boston Marathon.  His second place finish to Alberto Salazar is detailed in the book "Duel In The Sun" by John Brant.  He also had a lot of inspirational advice about the marathon, and life in general.  It's simply a great opportunity any time you can hear world champion caliber runners speak, and this event had three of them.  I took a lot of great advice away from each of them.    
[caption id="attachment_1145" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Swag"][/caption] To go along with the great guest speaker list, this was one of the best race packets I've received for a marathon.  The SWAG included a great commemorative LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon Messenger Bag, Spibelt Small Personal Item Belt (given to the first few expo attendees), yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet, Stinger Protein Bar, Gear Check bag, and official race booklet.  The entry fee was $100, which is a little high, but overall the event was very well organized and supported, and the "give-aways" in the race bag were a nice bonus for the price. This was the largest race expo I've experienced.  There were about ten rows - all fifty yards long, of back to back vendors promoting new products and upcoming races.   My favorite was the KISS guy who was handing out flyers for the upcoming race called "Hell Run" in Austin, TX later this year.  I usually don't stick around at most expos, opting for resting in my hotel room, but I hung out at this one for quite a while.  It was a great opportunity to look over new products, meet other runners, and listen to a few great speakers.  The only negative about the expo was the $7 to park at the event center, with no validation inside. For $100, I think they should cover the parking, but that's just me being a tight-wad. All in all, it was a GREAT expo!
Austin, TX
Although I lived in Killeen, TX as a baby when my father was stationed at Fort Hood, I had only been to Texas one other time, and never to Austin.  In a word, it was fantastic!
[caption id="attachment_1146" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Austin Skyline"][/caption]
Austin is obviously the capital city of Texas, and the home of the University of Texas Longhorns, but there were so many other great things about the city that I experienced in the few days that I was there.

Mission Accomplished!

Performance Review...
      I'm not a marathon veteran by any stretch, but you would think with 8 of them under my belt, I would have the whole marathon day thing figured out a little better than I do.  With the exception of the Top Of Utah Marathon, where I BQ'd, I have always left the race feeling somewhat dissatisfied.  The main problem being, I've ran out of gas and had to walk every time ... every time! The number one reason has been starting too fast.  I haven't been super disappointed with my finish times - it's just that as many miles as I run, "bonking" should not happen as often as it does.   (For example, I was in great shape for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon last fall.  Conditions were great and I felt really strong.  I ran miles 5-20 at a 7:15 pace, and was eyeing a PR of 3:15-3:17.  But at mile 22 I hit the wall big time and had to walk on and off for the last 3 miles.  It killed my race and I finished at 3:29:11.  (I'm NOT trying to get an "awwwwww" from anyone, I know a lot of people would gladly take that time.)  My point is, I ran a horrible race.  It wasn't that the middle miles were too fast for me, I had trained at below 7:00 for most of my runs, it was just that I started too fast and let the race control me, as opposed to the other way around.   Fast forward to last Sunday in Austin, TX. I was a little afraid of the hilly course going in and VOWED to "not injure myself" stay healthy for Boston (edit courtesy Chris K).  I had prepped with a few 85 mile weeks, and put in quite a bit of hill training, but with the memory of recent "hitting the wall" episodes fresh in my mind, I was very apprehensive.  I told myself START SLOW and just get through it somewhere in the 3:30's.  But most of all, enjoy the experience, smile, and have a good time!

prior, and didn't run at all either day, only stretching twice each day.  I tried to keep moving and not lay around too much, but one of those days was a 12 hour car ride.  I had been a little tired and heavy-legged the week before with all the training, so I think the extra day of rest really helped me.  There was a P.F. Chang's across the street from my hotel, so I ate my pre-race big meal there.  Since I've started blogging, I take pic's of everything.  At this race, I learned that if you're sitting alone at a bar in a crowded restaurant, people think it's a little weird when you take pictures of your food.
  When race day rolled around, I went through my typical routine for a 7AM start time. Up at 4AM. "Read the paper" at 4:15AM. Eat a banana and protein bar at 4:30AM. Stretch, watch the clock, relax, watch the clock, drink a little Gatorade, and watch the clock. When 5:50 rolls around, I head out the door to the gear check tent with my bladder starting to fill. After I drop my gear, I usually spend the remainder of the time before the race reclining, stretching, and relaxed listening to my iPod, trying to focus on pace and tempo.  (Yes, I'm an iPod runner ... sue me.) I lined up in the 3:30 pace group, and when the gun sounded I soon realized that if a race has 20,000 runners, your pace is going to be much slower than planned at the start.  My first two miles were 9:02 and 8:51 as I tried to navigate my way through the crowd.  I felt like I was already two minutes behind my target time before we had even hit the first hill.  It was warm, 65 degrees, with 85% humidity ... about 40 degrees warmer than I had been training in all winter in Missouri.  And I started sweating a lot immediately.  But throughout the race I just tried to keep water on my head and neck and the temps & humidity didn't really bother me too much.  The biggest challenge was the 10-15mph head wind on most of the back half of the race.  It almost blew my hat off a couple of times, and made the final hills seem a little tougher. As shown on the elevation chart, the Texas Hill Country soon came into play.  There was an initial incline of 300ft from mile 3 to mile 6.  But the most challenging portion of the track was miles 9 through 20.  It featured a 350ft, 11 mile gradual incline.  My legs were really fresh and I didn't really notice the first hills, but everyone felt the second group. I took both sets slow and controlled.  I wanted to make sure I held back a little and didn't spend too much energy in the early portion as had been my trend in previous races.  This would serve me well in the final 6 miles. Leaving so much time on the clock in the first two miles really put me in a different mindset.  I reaffirmed to myself that I was there to have fun and enjoy the experience.  I wanted a solid race, but with this course, weather conditions, and the volume of runners - there was definitely not going to be a PR.  And I was okay with that. I took 2 bathroom breaks in the first 10 miles and didn't really try to kill myself making up time.  I just enjoyed the course at a little under an 8:00/mile. I utilize three mental check points in a race.  I do an internal evaluation at miles 12, 18, and 22 - to base how the race is going.  I remember thinking each time that I analyzed myself that I had tons of energy.  Maybe there was something to this starting slow business.  And the slower start was reflected in my huge negative split.  My 13.1 time was 1:46:58 ... but I sped up a lot on the second half running 1:43:04 ... a difference of about 4 minutes.  It seemed like I had energy to burn throughout the race. At mile 20 I put the pedal down a little.  I felt great, and the 10 mile stretch of tough hills were behind us.  I began picking up my pace, running my fastest mile of the race thus far at 7:23.  I've ran faster at mile 20 before, but I have NEVER felt this good doing it.  I couldn't believe how much energy I had! As I hit my 22 mile check-point, I knew that I had a strong finish in me.  I kept my pace around 7:30 and was breezing by people left and right.  FOR ONCE I was the one passing runners, and not the poor exhausted soul walking slowly up the final few hills. And when I approached mile 24, I knew it was "my day".  It was not a PR.  It wasn't blazing fast.  But I felt stronger than ever before ... it was time to kick it in gear. I kept a 7:33 pace for mile 25.  And at mile 26 with the crowds cheering and the finish line in site, I pushed for a 7:18 pace ... my fastest mile of the day.  I literally sprinted the last 100 yards and flew by the finish line. I had finally done it.  I had ran a nice, comfortable, controlled race.  I had ran a race where I wasn't dying at the end or barely able to walk.  I had managed my pace and enjoyed every step of Austin. As I reviewed my list personal objectives for the race, I couldn't have been more satisfied: A. Stay healthy for Boston in 2 months ... Check! B. Run the whole time ... Check! (I didn't walk at all!) C. Finish somwhere in the 3:30's ... Check! (3:29:02) D. Enjoy the experience ... Check! After the race I went through my typical post-run refuel with a bagels, oranges, an energy bar, and plenty of water.  But later that night I also snuck in a Double Cheeseburger, fries, and large Coke from Fran's Hamburgers.  I think I literal heard one of my arteries close up, but it was one of the best burgers ever! Hundreds of runners crossed the finish line before me in Austin, but I doubt that many experienced the pure joy of the race like I did that day. Finally, running a marathon was a total blast ... and not a leg breaking chore.  I probably won't start many races with two 9 minute miles again, but I will definitely start slower from now on and control my pace a little better.  Hopefully there are many more enjoyable races like the LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon still to come.

... be great today!

Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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