Austin Half Marathon Race Weekend

Man oh man. It felt so damn good to be back in Austin.

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I have been reading “The Alchemist” (I know- I’m late to the party), and it has me lookin’ for good omens. On Friday, our first day in Austin, we ran into the UT baton twirler from when we were students who was TWIRLING OUTDOORS in this very spot. You guys. It was an omen.

I taught baton twirling in college, and I was maybe her biggest fan. Twirlers are a rare breed, and we literally ran into her, and then stopped to talk to her. Made my day. As weird as that sounds, it was an omen. Not sure what it meant, but it was a good sign- promise.

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We happened to be in Austin for two reasons:
1. Hope! She’s a friend that I met on instagram, and she flew to Texas to race.
2. And race we did! Pictured above, we were at the Austin Half Marathon expo on Friday.

Then we ate. That’s actually what we did the majority of the weekend, but I need to give special thanks to:
-True Food Kitchen
-Picnik
-Hank’s
These places were especially kind about my dietary restrictions, and the food was incredible.

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True Food Kitchen was so enthusiastic to help with my food restrictions. ENTHUSIASTIC. They didn’t make me feel like the difficult customer that I hate to be, and they were fantastic. They helped me craft my own menu item to suit my weird dietary needs, and I left feeling great knowing that the food didn’t contain the stuff that my autoimmune disease won’t let me have right now. If there’s something I can learn from this experience it’s BE KIND to the wait staff, and gently explain/advocate for yourself. Be vigilant. But be gentle, and people will bend over backward to help you and your health.

It was breezy and 80something degrees. We walked back across the bridge to the car and called it a night. Austin, ya look good.

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On Saturday, we ate at Picnik for brunch after a warm-up run, and had a very similar experience to True Food Kitchen- everyone was so helpful. Then we took Hope to see some touristy sites, like the Loop 360 Bridge overlook.

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And stayed hydrated via Juiceland. Pictured here: “The Rehydrator”.

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Sunday morning was race day, and it was a cool, crisp 55 degrees at the start on Congress Avenue. The first three miles were gradually uphill, but we were on South Congress, and there was live music. No complaints! All four lanes of the road were open for runners, so even though the start wasn’t in waves, there was plenty of room. I never felt crammed.

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I HIGHLY recommend running Austin without headphones- there was live music EVERYWHERE, and I loved the course. I stayed hydrated via my own sports drink: water, lemon juice, lime juice, and salt. I brought along banana slices with a smidge of peanut butter and rice cake in my spi belt for fuel once I got to mile 9, and it was perfect. I had previously been a tried and true gatorade gels fan, but I recently discovered that I’m sensitive to the dye that’s on the ingredients list (womp womp), so I have been DIYing my fuel instead, with great success.

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I wrote a positive mantra on myself for the race. I NEEDED this around mile 10 through the finish line, because those hills weren’t playin’. I ran this race because I paid for it, and I love to run. I love a good race- I do. But in all honesty, I had no business running. Let me tell you why:
– Shingles! I had the shingles virus, and while it was (almost/mostly) gone, my energy levels were NOT up to par.
-Symptoms. I had to go off my immunosuppressants to try to heal my body quickly from the shingles virus, and my GI situation was very touch and go.
-Training. My training for this race was very lacking.
-Rest should’ve been priority. Shingles + GI + a rough week of tests in grad school calls for ample rest, and 13.1 miles wasn’t ideal.

If you’re strugglin’- solidarity! One foot in front of the other, friend.

Am I glad I did it though? Shoot yeah. Can’t you tell? Honestly- I had the most fun.

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Hope had a really great race though! A new PR for a half!

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And Zack was at the finish AND a cheer station at mile 9.

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Afterward, we all went to Hillside Pharmacie for brunch, and I inhaled my breakfast and coffee so fast. We sat outside and the wind was COLD! But we had the very best time.

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If you’ve never been to Austin, you should definitely visit, but don’t move there. I’m planning on moving back one day, and there’s really not room for all of us to play.
Sorry not sorry.

Highly, highly recommend running the Austin Half Marathon. The more races I run, the harder it is for me to pick a favorite, but this race is up there. It’s not a fast course- very hilly, but the crowd is great, the live music is unbeatable, and there’s no place I’d rather run than under the sun in Austin on a 55 degree Sunday morning.

Keep moving forward!

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Race Recap: Virginia Wine Country Half-Marathon

Happy Global Running Day! I was a little sad there wasn’t a SnapChat filter to celebrate this fun day, but that’s okay.

In honor of Global Running Day, I’m hittin’ you with a little race recap from this past weekend. Lindsay and I go on a “Sister Trip” every year, and this year’s was Northern Virginia and Washington D.C., conveniently planned around the Virginia Wine Country Half-Marathon (my idea)- But more on Sister Trip next post.

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This past Saturday I woke up at 5:30, and I made conscious effort not to think about losing an hour of sleep by waking up in East Coast time. On a very positive note, I had zero symptoms before this race (remission is still bliss). The sun also rose with me, and by the time we were ready to leave the house at 6am the sky was colorful and bright.

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Lindsay dropped me off near the start at Doukenie Winery and headed back home to sleep (really, y’all. The girl loves her sleep and has no shame). I felt weird being alone in the corral to start without knowing anyone, and most of the runners seemed to be locals. I missed running with my Team Challenge people, but I listened to my music and stretched and all was right in the world. The weather was just barely under 60 degrees at the start- just the way I like it. The race kicked off a few minutes after seven (maybe around 7:10?).

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Around mile six I thought of a new strategy, “I think I’ll only run downhill.” We don’t  have hills like Virginia Wine Country where I live…and if I’m being 100% honest…I did zero long runs before this race. Honestly the one of the dumber decisions I’ve made, and I’m lucky I didn’t walk away injured. I know better. Kids, don’t try this at home. 

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The course was beautiful, but miles 6-10ish were all gravel/dirt and rolling hills through a heavily shaded area, which was a challenge for running. I loved the scenery and tried to focus on being present, feeling pain where it hurt, listening to the sound of my feet swinging beneath me, enjoying the view, breathing in the cool wind, being happy, and loving this time walking/running/trotting through Virginia.

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Even though running by myself sounds like a bummer, I appreciated the solitude.  I was exploring new places all by myself, and it was a fun experience.

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There were many horse stables along the route, and I wished I would’ve gotten a picture! “Horse and wine country” didn’t disappoint!

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At one point I rounded a corner and saw this little church. I couldn’t get over how enchanted it looked!

I actually purchased the race photos from this race, for obvious reasons. I’m a morning person, clearly.

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This race had more water stations than any other race I’ve finished. I’m not actually sure if that’s true, but it definitely felt like it. I didn’t run out of my fuel belt gatorade/water mixture until just after mile 12, which is a new record for me.

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At mile 12 I heard someone cheering my name- turns out it was Hope, a fellow Crohnie on the run and instafriend who I never got to officially “meet” but it was so encouraging to know someone was rooting for me to finish! I WAS STRUGGLIN’ (hi I think I’ll train properly for the next one).

Lindsay was at the finish line, texting me warnings about one final hill that separated me from the finish. I carried my empty water bottles like maracas, just waiting for that finish line fiesta.

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When I saw Lindsay I yelled, “Help!” and she ran through the finish with me for the last few strides up and over the hill…because that’s what sisters are for :). What a fun moment!

And then, just like that, it was over and time to celebrate!

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Destination Races always have the COOLEST medals! My medal from Napa is a wine cork opener, and this one had a spot to hold your wine glass- purposeful and humorous, my favorite combination.

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Then we went to the Wine and Music Festival on the grounds of Doukenie Winery. The lines for wine tasting were quite long, and I had already made the grave mistake of purchasing a breakfast burrito in a New England state (no offense intended, but that was not a burrito with jalapeño chorizo, I assure you). So we bought a bottle of wine from a local winery to drink by the pond.

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Bliss .

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My goal of this race was to enjoy it and to finish- and that I did. I didn’t run my nike app, and I didn’t wear a garmin to record my time. I simply trotted along in a new place in a sea of unfamiliar places, and it was truly such fun.

Race days are some of my favorite days, all thanks to memories like these. Races only last a couple of hours, but the memories are enough to satisfy you for a lifetime. There’s something invigorating and addicting knowing that you just tested some physical parameters and succeeded, and if you get to explore new places along the way, all the sweat and sore muscles are well worth the race.

And it’s always fun to defy medial diagnoses and run for cures and awareness while feeling a hight off contagious race day energy. I have experienced nothing more empowering.

Happy running 🙂 wherever you are.