Austin Marathon 2022 #89

Austin 2022 Marathon #89

This was my first time running the Austin Marathon.  Fleet Feet West Hartford, Chicago and Austin were having a combined VIP event at the Austin marathon.  I thought this would be the perfect way for us to be motivated to train during the winter.  At the time it seemed like a great idea. 

Winter Training:

The winter marathon training started late November and when December arrived, it seemed "okay" running conditions, until January.  This brought snow and below zero temperatures coupled with wind chills that made for very unpleasant long runs.  There is only so far, I can run in the cold before my core temperature cannot be maintained and my sweat starts to freeze.  Our training group missed a couple of the scheduled long runs.  Kim and I had to “make-up” one of our 20-mile runs during the week.  It consisted of 5 miles before work, 8  miles at lunch and then 8 more miles after work.  We were lucky enough to have the first long run at the Daufuskie Island Marathon in South Carolina.

Traveling to TX:

The day before we had to travel to TX, I got a notification that our flight was canceled.  We lucked out and found a flight that same night and packed up and headed for the airport.  The first leg of our flight to Nashville was delayed by 30 minutes (in the air) due to headwinds.  After we landed we had about a scheduled 20-minute wait to deplane the passengers.  Then it was announced that we had to wait for passengers to board that were delayed another HOUR!  After a very bumpy nervous flight we finally arrived! We got our luggage and took an Uber to the hotel. By the time we unpacked and cleaned up it was 3AM when we fianlly went to bed. 

The Expo:

Kim and I walked over to the expo to meet our TX Team Beef friends Karen & Fred that we met in Napa.  We got our bibs and headed to the Fleet Feet merchandise booth to get our swag for signing up with the VIP program.  As we headed over Fernanda yelled, Hey – there’s Stanley!  Stanley trained with us in 2020 and moved to the Boston area so we hadn’t seen him in quite some time. Talk about timing!

The race swag consisted of : Hat, scarf, coffee cup, t-shirt, and quarter zip shirt (got at the finish line), back pack (VIP package), nutrition samples, and more samples.

The expo looked like your typical pre-Covid expo with a lot of running gear and supplies.  The weather in Austin for race morning was supposed to be in the 30’s and I didn’t pack any throw away gloves or hat. I was able to make my purchases, get a nice NUUN water bottle filled with my favorite flavor.  Karen and Fred met our CT friends and we all went out for Happy Hour and burgers.  Luckily, we were able to get a table in a very busy establishment.  I always think it’s pretty cool that we all have different backgrounds nationalities and wide range of ages but all of us have the same common passion of running so there wasn’t ever an awkward moment of silence during dinner.  After dinner we all walked back to the hotel and headed for bed.

 Shake-out Run:

I woke up at 5 AM to hear Kim turning on the TV.  I have to admit, I was a bit nasty “Kim – I just want to get more sleep”.  He said “I’d like to go to the shake out run that was scheduled for 6:45 A.M. I got up and to get ready.  I checked the weather and it was only 31 degrees.  Thankfully I brought a spare pair of running capris and a couple long sleeves shirts so I wouldn’t freeze to death.  We met Jonathan in the lobby and headed out to run to the Austin Fleet Feet.  It was about a mile run in the dark streets of TX.  When we arrived we still had about a ½ hour before the start of the shake out run.  They kept making announcements and FINALLY we set out to run at 7:30 AM.  We headed out for a group photo and then out to the bike trail by the river.  It was beautiful with the fog lifting on the water. My legs felt like lead and all I could think was “how the hell am I going to run a marathon tomorrow”.

After the run was over we headed back to find a farmer’s market where we bought the most delicious scones.  The music was great and finally the sun was out and I was finally warming up.  Kim and I went back to the room, cleaned up and headed out with Fernanda and her husband Dave and Jonathon to explore TX.  Our first stop was back to the farmers market! After that we headed to the Capitol for a tour, then finally I got my nap!

Pre-Race Dinner:

We met for the organized Fleet Feet pre-race dinner.  The food was something that I technically never eat which made me nervous about race morning.  I also like to have a nice glass of red wine to relax me.  When I asked the bartender what they had for red wine, he replied “we have a cab". Kim laughed and said "is that a name of a wine?"  Then, I asked him about white, and he said he had a Chardonnay/white blend.  I tried it and it was horrible.  I ended up getting the generic red wine that I never ended up drinking. 

The speaker at the event was Nate Boyer, who was a Seattle Seahawk Football player and also Green Beret that was so inspirational with a really great story of how he got into running.  He was stationed in Afghanistan a couple of time and also volunteered in Sudan where he talked about how much he realized how privileged we were as they had literally nothing.  He ran the Austin marathon last year virtually in 26-degree weather and was looking forward to running the marathon determined to Boston Qualify.  We all made small talk and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the marathon.

The Marathon:

We woke up and had our typical oatmeal breakfast.  I have to admit; my stomach was messed up which isn’t too uncommon with nerves but it never stopped.  We took a group photo with the other Fleet Feet groups and headed to the VIP tent to drop off our gear.  My stomach started up again and I headed for the port-o-lets, left the line, turned around and went back in line 2 more times.  NOT GOOD.  All I could think was “that food I ate” – ugh!  Finally, we headed for the race start and it happened again, I said “Kim, I need the bathroom”.  Kim said “we will stop on the course if we have to”.  The gun went off and there was a some pretty cool fireworks display coming out of the top of the start line.  As soon as I started running I knew I’d never make it 26.2 miles without a bathroom.  I looked at Hur-shiu and said “I’m totally going to sh*t my pants” and she just laughed and said “No you aren’t”!  Little did she know what my lower intestines were saying. 

The first 3 miles were basically uphill. We had a horrible right turn up a hill to turn and come back down and I remember thinking on the way back down, “Holy crap, I ran up this hill”?  There really is something to be said about great company.  Talking with Hur-shiu really made the miles go by.  I didn’t even realize what mile it was until Kim said “Jeanne, do you have nutrition”?  I said “I’m going to start to take it around mile 4”.  Kim said “but Jeanne, it’s mile 6”.  WOW!  I just hoped the rest of the race would fly by! 

 I have to admit there are a lot of the race I didn’t remember about the first 8 miles.  I just remember thinking, “just get to the next port-o-potty”.  I tried to stop at mile 1 – but it had a line, then mile 3 – same thing, then mile 5, then finally as we approached mile 8 I took off running toward the port-o-let because finally there was no line.  I got there and misjudged the doors to get in, only to run the back of them.  When I realized the doors were on the other side I ran around to the front only to find some snarky woman saying “There’s a line”.  I must have looked desperate and I looked up at the guy behind her and said “I have to go NOW or I’m going to sh*t my pants!  The guy said “just go ahead of me”.  He was an angel.  I finally left and took off running like a bullet.  I looked for Kim and started fearing the worst that I may have lost him.  I had limited nutrition and I felt pretty horrible.  Finally, I saw him standing on the side looking for me.  I caught up and I said “Where’s Hur-shiu”?  Kim said “She not far ahead, but you can slow down your blistering pace”, which I really didn’t until I saw her again.  She had a race plan – run the first 13 at a slower comfortable pace, and the last at her race pace (around 8:10).  I wasn’t racing Austin and was using it as a “training run” in a warm climate for Boston.  We turned again only to find a steep uphill at mile 12.  Kim and Hur-shiu took off up the hill and I gave it all I had to power up.  As I crested the hill someone had a sign saying “you just ran the steepest hill on the course” and I thought, thank god there are no more hills.  Boy was I wrong.

When I caught up with Kim and Hur-shiu, Kim told me that she had just panicked as she thought we missed the turn for the marathon.  Apparently, the old course was much different. When we saw the marathon signs she relaxed.   Then, she said “okay, I’m taking off now, see you at the finish”.  She left and my thoughts of finishing strong were gone. She was a great distraction!  I dug deep into my mental toughness bag and did what I coach people to do.  Sing the ant song.

I was hoping for more bands on the course to keep me moving.  The bands seemed sparse and the music on the course consisted of DJ’s, boom boxes and some pretty awesome drums.  Every now and again, Kim would ask me “are you okay”? and I would just answer “yes, I’m fine”.  Although I felt horrible, sometimes, when you say it out loud, acknowledging it makes it worse.  I did all I could do to keep going. 

There were parts of the race that were long straight always that reminded me of VT City and also very hilly sections that reminded me of Big Sur. There also were some pretty steep downhills that were like running the San Francisco Marathon.  It was quite the race. I also loved seeing the guy running by us,  pushing his grandmother only to hear the music blasting was Iron Man.  Gramma had both of her hands held high rocking-out to the music.  Kim and I had so many “Go Team Beef” shout outs!  Texas sure likes their beef!

What helped me get through the end was Kim saying “Jeanne, we just have to run the lake and we’ll be done”.  That to me is very comforting.  I know I could run 7 miles in my sleep, because I pretty much have don’t that early in the morning! Kim kept giving me different lake mile markers “Jeanne, we are by Perch Rock…., Jeanne we are by the dam.  To me that was all I needed to get me to the finish.   I know from the dam was run 1 ½ miles and I could do that! We started passing out people walking and some poor guy that had his legs lock up with cramps.  There was another hill and I said to Kim “Is this that last hill that we heard about”? Some guy running by heard me and said “no, this is the hill before the HUGE hill to the finish”.  I put my head down and chugged up the smaller hill and then turned another corner to see the dreaded BIG Ass hill to climb.  I put my head down, shortened my stride and took little baby step up that hill that seemed forever.  Finally, I crested the top and headed down to the finish.  My quads were burning but I was never so happy to see the finish line.  I grabbed Kim’s hand as we powered though to the finish.  3:55:31 was our official time.  We walked by the awards tent and Kim said “Jeanne, you should check to see if you placed, and I said “Kim I highly doubted I placed with that time”.  We headed to the VIP Fleet Feet recovery tent and got some much-needed compression boot therapy.  I got up and looked at my phone for results.  I almost fell over when I say that I placed 1st in my age group!  I still don’t believe it. 

We took photos with our new Fleet Feet Chicago friends and went back to our hotel to clean up so we could meet Hur-shiu at her friend’s BBQ place.  It was by far, the most incredible, Texas memorable experiences that I had envisioned.  The atmosphere was unique with the warm blues music, lights draping in the trees, picnic table, amazing food and great friends.  I felt the warmth of that TX hot sun right into my heart. 

At that moment, I forgot the pain of that hilly course.  When Hur-Shiu said “I can’t wait to come back next and I said, neither can I”,

Wait, What???

Would I run it again, HELL YES!  It was an experience, kind of like Big Sur.  I loved the course, the people, the weather and of course my Fleet Feet family that all suffered as much as I did.  The comradery, love and compassion we all shared made it so special.

Austin Marathon

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