While I typically post my race recaps a day or two after the race, I needed a few days to recover from my trip to Austin. The race itself was the smallest and most laid-back half marathon I’ve run, but the snowstorm made it very difficult to travel to Austin and back. I broke this post up into sections, so you can skip over my travel adventures if you only want to read about Austin.
Traveling to Austin — I was supposed to leave last Friday morning from Newark, so B suggested we sleep at his family’s house on Staten Island the night before. When I tried to check in on the United app before bedtime, I discovered (without warning) that the flight was canceled. I immediately had a sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to make it to Austin. Miraculously, B found a 5:30am flight out of LaGuardia and insisted on driving me there. We woke up at 3:30am to make the flight. I connected through Houston. Somehow, I made it to Austin. Keep reading for more travel adventures.
Half Marathon Expo — After arriving in Austin, I grabbed lunch with my parents. My dad is a pilot who happened to be stranded in Austin during the storm. Can’t make this up. Following lunch, Mom and I headed to the expo at the Austin Convention Center to pick up our race packets. While the Convention Center itself is a beautiful, Southwestern-looking building, the expo wasn’t very exciting. It was held within one small room and had about 20 vendors (including Nuun!). Our race bags included random 3M products, which was a fun surprise. Having been to huge expos at other races, Mom and I wished there was more to see and do here.
Sightseeing in Austin — Mom chose a hotel that was about a 20-minute drive from downtown Austin because we felt that it was more important to be close to the starting line. Each day I was in Austin, we ate breakfast near the hotel and caught a Lyft to explore downtown for the day. I got quite a few Austin recommendations on Instagram. My favorite places that we ate were Torchy’s Tacos, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Amy’s Ice Cream, and Gourdough’s Doughnuts. Not very healthy, but oh well. We ate a few of our meals at food trucks, which were parked in South Austin. Aside from eating, we walked along the Colorado River, bought boots at Teysha, grabbed drinks on Rainey Street, and took pictures of street art. I’d love to go back to Austin to enjoy the nightlife!
Race Recap — As I mentioned, Mom and I stayed a five-minute walk from the starting line. On race morning, we woke up at 5:45am to dress and fuel before walking over. It was just under 40 degrees, so we planned to keep on our throwaway jackets for the first few miles. The race was so small (about 6,000 runners) that people were organized between pacers, rather than having formal corrals set up. The race started on time at 7:00am. After Mom’s PR in November and my long race season, we decided to fun run this one. Here’s the course map, for reference.
Miles 1-2 were somewhat chilly, but we were distracted by the beautiful sunrise over Texas Highway. Thanks to New York’s skyline, I don’t often see sunrises with an unobstructed view, so it was a treat. We ditched our throwaway jackets, bought for $2.97 each at Old Navy, near Mile 3. I was impressed with our slow, solid pace at 10:40. We planned to gradually run negative splits. After turning off Texas Highway, we wove through an industrial park as the sun climbed in the sky. At this point, I promised myself that I would start running in sunglasses this spring.
According to the elevation map above, the race was supposed to be entirely downhill from Miles 1-8. Mom and I were worried about the impact on our knees, but it turned out that the course had stretches of flat and short uphills. We ran along and chatted as we moved along another highway and through neighborhoods with plenty of room on the course. We also stopped at almost every water stop, where I chose Nuun even though it was cool outside. At Mile 10, we decided to start picking up the pace. We used Mom’s phone to track, but I’ll estimate that we ran Mile 10 at 10:00, Mile 11 at 9:45, and Mile 12 at 9:30 to really shake out our legs. The end of the race wove through the University of Texas campus and ran straight toward the Texas State Capitol. While my hips started to ache near the end of the race, it was really special to run that last .1 mile holding Mom’s hand. There are some adorable finisher photos of us with our arms raised. After collecting our medal, we enjoyed the sunshine for a bit before catching a free shuttle back to the starting line. As I said, it was the smallest and most laid-back half marathon I’ve run. While I typically enjoy more excitement, participation, and crowd support, I appreciated that my sixth race in seven months was more relaxed–or as relaxed as running 13.1 miles can be!
Traveling Back to NYC — When I went back to the United app to check in for my flight on Monday, it was canceled again (without warning). Sigh. As a pilot’s daughter, I’m more understanding than most about travel inconveniences. However, you have to somehow notify people when you cancel a flight. After spending hours on the phone with United and coming up with no convenient flight options, I decided to purchase a new ticket from Southwest to get home. I arrived at LaGuardia around 6:30pm on Monday and was greeted by a very long cab line. An accident near the airport was blocking all vehicles from entering the area. I waited a total of 3 hours and 45 minutes for a cab. I wish I was kidding. Thankfully, I can laugh about it now. As you can tell, travel was a nightmare, but it was so worth it to travel to Austin and run my seventh half marathon with Mom!