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3M Half Marathon

January 24, 2014

The best way to keep the holiday weight gain at bay is to sign up for a January race. In Austin, there are two popular half marathons – 3M and Austin Marathon, less than a month apart in late January and early February. There is no doubt that the winter months are the best running months in Texas, with temperatures around 50-70 degrees. As soon as Noah was born, I was eager to get back to running and start racing again, so I signed up for both halfs. They have different routes, so I figured it’d be good to compare the two and see different parts of the city.

3M was the first race, held on January 19, 2014. The morning before the race, I headed to the expo which took place at the Crown Plaza hotel. It was the cutest and probably smallest expo I’ve ever been to. There was no line to get my packet so I took some time to browse the booths. This was the first expo where I actually bought anything– I got a new lightweight running hat (which I desperately needed) and three new bondi bands (which I didn’t need at all, but I couldn’t resist the runner puns).

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The goodie bag was unique and representative of 3M in every way, with lots of useful things like tape, Post Its, sandpaper (you never know when that might come in handy during a race Winking smile).

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There were 4614 participants this year – 2652 Women and 1962 Men. The course started North and finished downtown by the Capitol building.

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The start time was at 7am, so I had to wake up extra early (4am) to accommodate long pumping and nursing sessions. The rest of the pre-race routine stayed the same (why mess with perfection?!) – toast with almond butter and banana for breakfast and my lucky running hat.

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Eric and Noah dropped me off at the start line at 6:30 though I joked that I should have just run to the start line as a warm up, since it was about 4 miles from our house. The next half hour I spent in a porta-potty line, which I helped manage to ensure fair line distribution. Don’t you hate how you end up in the slowest line no matter how much time you spend assessing the speed at which any of the lines move? It was quickly evident that the line on our right claimed twice as many porta-pottys. I could not contain my “strong leadership skills” and “assertive nature.” Luckily, the neighboring line did not protest too much (they knew they had it coming) when like a true commander-in-chief I ordered folks in front of me to commandeer two extra porta-pottys.  My line cheered (quietly, or maybe just in my head).

Filled with triumph and confidence (I don’t get out much), I proceeded to take my place at the start line. With this being a smaller race, there were no corrals and people just lined up based on the clearly marked finishing estimates.

This was the first race I did not wear my Garmin Forerunner device. I had my phone on me to listen to music and to track my pace via Map My Run app, which of course did not work once the race actually started. It kept prompting me to upgrade to a paid version. I could have rebooted the app or my phone in an attempt to fix the problem, but I was in the middle of my first mile, so I chose to just run. Plus there are so many runners with Garmin devices that all I had to do was look at the time and listen to their Garmin beeps to keep track of my pace. The mile markers also had clearly visible time displays.

I started off fast (as I usually do) at sub 8 min/mile and was able to keep it almost halfway (until mile 6). Near mile 7 I could have used an energy boost. I should have grabbed a Clif packet as they were being handed out but I was not sure how my stomach would react so I passed. At mile 8, I called Eric to let him know how I was doing. We were both impressed with my speed. My training for this race was the slackiest it’s ever been– I had no training plan and my longest run in December was just shy of 11 miles. Apparently logging 30 miles per week, with most being resistance “pushing stroller with baby” runs, was just the kin of preparation this mama needed.

Miles 9-11 is where I spaced out. Once I saw the downtown skyscrapers at mile 12, I started to pick it up again.

downtown

The website advertised the race as being “easy” and mostly downhill. And although I agree there were many parts that were slightly downhill, there were also parts that were uphill. The last 1/4 mile was especially sucky as there was a moderate sized hill to run up. I was so focused on pushing it up the hill that I did not even notice my fans with a cute sign waving at me. (In my defense there was a large number of dads with babies in BOB strollers. There is either a high percentage of runner moms in Austin, or I just never paid attention to how many babies come to a race.)

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As soon as I crossed the finish line (red-faced, out of breath and sneezy from high cedar levels) I was handed a bottle of water and a medal.

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There were plenty of usual replenishments – bananas, mandarins, bagels, chips, etc. It was easy to locate my boys, and Eric fed Noah his second breakfast while I stretched. IMG_2516IMG_2518

How can you spot a newbie runner? They wear the event shirt for the race. Serious runners have their trusted and true racing outfit picked out weeks in advance (or in my case years. I wore the same Nike long sleeve T and Lululemon Run Inspire Capris in Portland), and only change into the event shirt post-race for pictures Winking smile

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During the race, as the course got progressively harder, I thought about my reward – seeing Noah and Eric at the finish line first, but mostly about my recovery meal. As soon as we got home I jumped into a hot shower (I was freezing) while Eric whipped up the celebratory blueberry pancakes. Yum!

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At every race I’ve been to, the different types of runners out there never fail to surprise me . Folks that look like they’d be fast end up behind me, and folks that I’d never consider my competition end up in front. This race was no exception, a couple of ladies in their sixties kicked my butt. I got passed by a few short, very buff girls. I could hardly keep up with a chubby dude whose thighs were so large that all I could think of was how bad he must be chafing.

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Austin has a nice group of runners. Everyone was polite and considerate of their neighbors when passing. Many pointed out potholes on the road or other tripping hazards. There were a few bands along the way – bagpipers, guitarists, DJ style, and even a mariachi band. I did not PR (that was in Arizona two years ago) but I came darn close (just a minute over) and this course was harder than Arizona, so I am very pleased with my first post-baby race result. Now let’s see what the Austin Half brings next month!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kristin permalink
    January 24, 2014 9:14 am

    Congratulations Jane, that is so impressive.

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