What an amazing weekend in Austin, Texas! After completing the Nike Women's San Francisco marathon, I'd decided that I'd run one marathon a year. Since my good friend Steph landed a teaching job in Austin - it was easy to decide that the Austin Marathon would be the one for 2014 - which would also be Steph's first. Exciting! On top of that, our friend, Dan, was coming to run the Austin half also! Last year, we all ran the Scenic Trail half in Chattanooga, TN (and several other local races) so we all jumped on this next travel adventure. Plus - this was my first time visiting Austin! There was so much anticipation for this trip and now I'm so sad that it's over and done :( Where did the time go?!
Dan and I flew in on Friday, Valentine's Day. As soon as my plane landed, Steph picked us up from the airport and took us to eat at a food truck - The Blue Ox - where we had the delicious brisket plate. In Austin, there are food trucks everywhere and so many to choose from! I was like a kid in a candy store! While in town, we also hit up Taco Deli (my life will never be the same), Homeslice Pizza, Baby Acapulco's, and Blacksheep Lodge. In addition to the various eclectic food trucks and eateries, Austin is touted as the live music capital of the world. With that said, Steph got us tickets to see a live concert at Emo's featuring White Lies. I was in heaven! Love them!
After an eventful Friday night, we woke up Saturday morning and Steph drove us around the race course. Holy moly those hills!! I was getting nervous. Even with the hills, it's a beautiful course - especially around the capital building. Riding around, you can tell that Austin is such an active city! Once we finished driving the course, we headed over to the expo to pick up our race packets and shop. When there's so much excitement in the air, I just want to splurge and buy everything. I settled on these 2 shirts from Rogue Running and Luke's Locker, as well as my Texas 26.2 ornament and Austin Marathon charm to add to my Tiffany's San Fran necklace - that way I can wear my badges of honor around my neck all the time :) We met up with a few of Steph's running crew at the expo and carbed up for dinner at Maggiano's that night. I was stuffed. I felt like we'd been eating all day - which we did...eat all day.
After dinner and a glass of wine, we crashed to prepare for the big day. Ugh - 4 o'clock came way too damn early! I checked the weather and the forecast called for an overcast day (YES!!) with the highs in the low 70s. Humidity was in the upper 90%, but living in Savannah, I could handle it. We made our way downtown to park and got there around 5:30 and met up with the rest of Steph's running crew. Everyone was excited! I tried to calm my nerves being this was my 2nd marathon and I was still nervous and anxious. We did the pre-race norms of stretching and hitting up the portapotties before the lines got ridiculous. Then it was show time!
We made our way to the corrals and waited for our turn to cross the start line. Steph ran with her crew as their goal was to run it in 4:00. Dan and another Stephanie (who I met this weekend and is from Athens, GA and was also running the full) ran with me. We took it easy, tackling every hill and giving each other high-5s as we conquered each one. Those hills were no joke!! I want to say that was worse than San Fran. But who knows - I told someone it was like giving birth to a child. You tend to forget the pain and the process. In Austin, you couldn't even enjoy the downhill because your sights were already set on the next upcoming hill. They were right there just teasing you. I was proud that I didn't walk up one hill. I ran up each and every one. Stephanie's a trip and had great energy! Once Dan separated from us at mile 11 to complete his half, it was Stephanie and I all the way to the finish. The spectators were wonderful! They all had signs and chanted us on. Our names were on our bibs so it was nice to hear volunteers call us by name. It gave us that extra push! Residents came out blaring "Eye of the Tiger" (I can't tell you how many times I heard that song during the race) and passing out food from orange slices to Oreos to Twizzlers. There were parties in front yards with signs that read "Cocktails for Quitters" and around mile 21, there was a table passing out Jaeger shots. Ha! They were really supportive and so were law enforcement who came out to control traffic. They were very encouraging as we ran past them. It's so nice to see the city come together.
I felt great. I didn't hit that "wall" that everyone talks about and I was so nervous that I would. I repeated mantras in my head to push me along and just soaked in the chants of "You guys look great!" "You look really strong!" "Check out that smile!" "Go Cecilia!" from the spectators and volunteers. At around mile 22, I realized that I had run this entire time without stopping to walk. At mile 24, crazy emotions happened and I started tearing up. In my head I kept thinking - I can't believe I'm almost done. I can't believe I feel this great. I can't believe I ran every hill! I can't believe I'm going to finish another marathon!
At mile 25.5, we had to tackle not one, but three more hills. It was evil. There were 2 photographers perched at the crest of each one. The man running next to me stopped dead in his tracks and screamed, "F*%% that!" I wanted to scream too. Are you kidding me? I had run this entire time, my legs had started to lock up at mile 25, and now this - right before the finish? I took a deep breath and just...ran. Stephanie and I motivated each other saying "We got this!!" and conquered those last 3 hills! We both said once we turned the corner and saw the finish line, we would sprint to the finish and we did! It was awesome to see Dan waiting to cheer us on at the final stretch. It gave me the push to really PUSH it. I ran with all the gusto that I had left in me and crossed that finish line. Then all of a sudden, my eyes swelled up with tears and I couldn't stop. I had completed my second marathon, but not only that, I ran the entire time without stopping. I had set my watch to 25 min run/5 min walk intervals and ignored the alerts on my run. For me, I just dominated this race!! I felt like Super Woman! My Garmin clocked me in at 26.5 miles at 4:47:35. A huge PR considering I completed San Fran in 5:30. I looked over at Stephanie and she had tears in her eyes too. It was the greatest feeling ever. Those tears were me in total bliss and awe of the human spirit and triumph. I can't even begin to describe those emotions, but I crave that high again. I'm really hoping that I get in for Big Sur next year. Also, why do I keep signing up for these hilly marathons?! Once again, it's like childbirth, you forget the pain and relish in the glory.
We all met up with the rest of the crew to offer congratulations. Steph ran her first marathon in 4:17!! She killed it! It was time to celebrate with BEER!!
This weekend I also got to reunite with my old Bay Street Theatre crew who moved from Savannah to Texas within the past year - Lea, Mike, and Sean. It really was nice to catch up with all of them! Here's a picture of the crew at Baby Acapulco's. It was definitely a perfect ending to this wonderful weekend!
What's up next? My legs and body are still sore, but we are on to the Historic Savannah Foundation 10K this Saturday!
If you look up the idiom "on-the-run", it means to constantly travel or moving from place to place. Welcome to my life! I get asked the question - "Do you ever sleep?" at least once a week. The truth is - I am always on the run. My weeks are filled with work, training runs, dropping kids off to school and extra curricular activities, traveling out-of-town for races and soccer games, theatre rehearsals, civic duties - you name it. In addition to being an avid runner, I'm a happily married wife, mother of two, an actress, singer, a Fleet Feet CREW coach, and work full time as the Marketing Manager for Thomas & Hutton Engineering Co. I love being on the run!