Last weekend I ran the 3M Half Marathon in Austin!
I loved my bib number: 2620, like 26.2 miles in a marathon!
The 3M Half Marathon is notorious for being a flat, net downhill course – its hashtag is #DownhilltoDowntown – so even though I didn’t think I was in PR shape on a “normal” course, I still had big goals for this downhill course.
My friend Hilary came from Brooklyn to run the race and stayed with me. Another member of our Brooklyn running group, Jimmy, was also in town for the race. We headed to the expo together on Friday afternoon. There was a fun GIF-making station that my friend Nicole was volunteering at:
As promised, the swag bag full of 3M products was AMAZING.
You know you’re an adult when you’re excited about a swag bag full of post-it notes, sponges, and command hooks!
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t looking great for race day: 65 with 95% humidity, much like the San Antonio Half in December.
It had been very cold in Austin the week leading up to the race (on Tuesday school was closed for an ice storm, and on Wednesday the temperature didn’t get above freezing!) but of course, race day had to be warm and humid. That’s Texas for you. (As I am quickly learning.)
Since I had decided that I was going to try to run the full marathon after all, instead of dropping down to the half distance, I had to get in 18 miles for the day. Hilary and I took a Lyft to the start in North Austin around 6:15am and met up with Jimmy and Chris, another runner from PPTC who moved to Austin around the same time that I did. We quickly checked our bags and used the portapotties, and then I set off around 7am to do a 1.5-mile warm up. I heard that the portapotty situation quickly escalated into crazy zig-zagging lines that were indistinguishable from each other…but luckily I avoided that by using them early!
The other downside of this race was that there were corrals but they weren’t monitored (anyone could stand in any corral) and you had to enter the starting chute from the back. So I entered near the 2:20 pacer, and then had to push forward to get to the 1:50 pacer. I finally made it and met up with my friend Nicole there. Our plan was to stick with the 1:50 pacer for as long as possible. My PR was 1:49:34, so I was hoping to run with the pacer for 10 miles and then pull ahead for a PR.
As soon as we started running, I knew it was going to be a tough day. The humidity was brutal. Nicole and I both tried to run without headphones for as long as we could, but by Mile 4 we already needed a boost of music. It was feeling HARD.
Nevertheless, we kept up with the 1:50 pacers until Mile 9.5 or so. Then they pulled away on a hill and Nicole and I couldn’t keep up. We kept them in our sights but I felt like we were drifting back. I was cursing everyone who had told me this was a downhill course – it sure didn’t feel like it at that point!
All along, I had been keeping a close eye on my watch to see if I was coming close to a PR. At this point, I knew it was going to be close, but I couldn’t get my legs to run any faster.
Finally, around Mile 11.5, I managed to find another little push and pulled ahead. It took me the next 1.5 miles to catch up to the pacers. The last leg of the race was a LOT of positive self-talk and mantras and asking myself “Is this as fast as you can go???”
Finally in the last stretch I was able to find a final kick to the finish line…which was up a hill.
I crossed the finish line in 1:49:17 and managed to snag a 17-second PR!
It wasn’t much, but I was proud of myself because I fought hard for those 17 seconds. I was so close to being a few seconds slower than my PR instead of a few seconds faster…so I was proud of myself for staying in the game until the end and not giving up.
Oh and hey, turns out we were running downhill after all – even if it didn’t feel like it!
Splits! That first mile was fast – I’ll blame that on the pacers. Running with pacers is tricky because you still have to monitor yourself and make sure you’re feeling okay going at their pace, and that their pace is the pace you want to be running. They’re just human, after all – but there were definitely some slow and fast miles (we were supposed to be running 8:23 min/mile for a 1:50 finish). Even so, I’m glad I chose to run with a pace group because they definitely kept me on track, especially in the early miles, and gave me a target to keep up with.
Some more Strava data:
Nicole came in behind me, just under 1:50, and PR’d by almost 4 minutes!
We found Jimmy (who also PR’d by 4 minutes) at the finish line, and waited for Hilary and Chris.
When they came in, we all headed to the Capitol Building to snap a few photos, just as it started raining.
But oof, I still had to run 3.3 miles to get to 18 for the day – so I set off on the slowest, most painful shuffle of my life! Honestly, those 3 miles hurt more than the race.
I felt very fortunate that my IT-band didn’t give me any trouble. You can see that I’m wearing an IT-band strap above my right knee; I don’t know if it really works or if it’s just a placebo effect, but either way I’m happy with no pain! My skin was a bit irritated underneath the strap when I took it off, which doesn’t bode well for the marathon (I imagine it will be too warm to wear capris) but I would still rather have a slight skin irritation than debilitating IT-band pain.
I also think my pain has decreased significantly since I started wearing my Mizuno Wave Rider 21s – although I think they’re a half size too small because my toenails hurt after the race! Nevertheless, I’m happy they’re working for me and my poor IT-bands.
And I’m VERY happy with a new PR, in spite of the crazy humidity!
After going home and showering, we all met up for lunch at Gourdough’s Donuts. It was decadent, to be sure: you’re looking at an assortment of fried chicken sandwiches on top of donuts.
A few friends asked me afterwards how I am able to race so fast. (I think the unspoken question there is: how do I race so fast when I run so slow on all of my runs.)
Well, I think that running slow on training runs is a huge part of why I’m able to race fast. (Also, “fast” is obviously relative.) I know a lot of people who train too fast, who try to make every run a fast run because they think that will help them run fast on race day.
Actually, the opposite is true. You should only run fast – whatever “fast” is for you – when you’re doing speedwork or racing. You can throw a few race pace miles into a long run, but if your long run pace is close to your race pace, you’re either running too fast or your goal time is too slow. I have absolutely no qualms about running an 11 min/mile (or slower) pace on my regular runs. I like to save the speed for race day and only for race day.
Also, I think another big part of racing fast is your mentality in relation to pin: not only knowing that it’s going to hurt, but going towards the pain. You have to voluntarily step into a place of discomfort and then keep pushing the limit. Racing is going to hurt, no matter what. (Of course, you have to listen to your body and know when to back off if you’re at risk of injury!) But going towards the pain is part and parcel of racing. To see what I’m talking about, these were my heart rate zones for the race:
That definitely wasn’t a “comfortable” run, but running a PR is about anything BUT comfort!
But it sure is worth it.
Check out our spinning medal in the video below!
I showed my @3mhalfmarathon medal to my preschoolers today, explaining that all finishers got a medal, and that the race was part of my training for the @austinmarathon next month. Now they’re convinced that I’m going to get the “gold medal” in the marathon! 🤷🏻♀️ 😂 #fromthemouthsofbabes #dontholdyourbreath #3mhalfmarathon #3mhalf18 #medalmonday #instarunners #instamedals #halfmarathon #austinmarathon #runatx #runaustin @instamedals
(And about those downhills…my quads were SUPER sore the next day!)Follow Marathons and Macarons: