While I’m in the process of writing up my big, wonderful guide to vacationing in Austin, Texas – since I’m a pro now – I thought I would at least recap the race I ran while I was in the Lone Star State.
For months I planned on running the Decker Half Challenge with Peter – a half marathon known for its extremely hilly terrain. 13.1 miles and the plan was an 8:00 – 8:15 pace. But as the date drew closer, I knew that my legs just didn’t have a half marathon in them.
So I made the call to skip the half and instead, signed up for the Brown Santa 5K starting 15 minutes later at the same location. I hadn’t raced a 5K in a while and was excited to see what would happen.
Unlike the Turkey Trot I ran on Thanksgiving, I was prepared for the hills this time around – though not as prepared as I should have been. I didn’t look at an elevation chart. I didn’t know if the hills would be in the first half or the second half. I just knew there would be hills and I would need to be mentally prepared to see an upward sloping road. And to not freak out. To not throw in the towel. To just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
We woke up and took an Uber to the race location – the Travis County Expo Center. We watched a beautiful sunrise and were able to hang out in a heated building before the start of the race. The men’s bathroom line was 10X longer than the women’s. There wasn’t a bag check, people just kept their stuff chilling in the expo center. It was not like races I’m used to running.
I gave Peter a good luck hug and as he went to the start of the half with around 900 other runners, I set out for a few laps of the parking lot for a 2 mile warm up (first mile at 8:44 pace and second mile at 8:15 pace). That’s right – I made sure Melissa and Peter forced me to get in a long warm-up.
By the time I finished, there was limited time to take off my layers and get to the start line so I just ditched my pants in the grass – they were there when I finished.
The Brown Santa 5K only had 105 runners and I was able to get a spot right on the start line. The weather was beautiful and the course started off fairly flat while I found a comfortable rhythm.
Or rather, I found a pace that was comfortable for a mile. Not exactly a pace that was sustainable for 3.1 miles.
The course was an out and back and by the time we hit the turn-around I knew I was the first female. A few other runners gave me some cheers as I passed them, and one of the guys in front of me kept walking and would immediately run again as soon as I drew near. That’s when I promised myself I would beat him.
I knew I had gone out too fast and needed to just keep moving. I knew these were pretty legit hills. I knew it was the hardest I had run in a long time. I thought the finish line would never come but I also knew I was moving fast, I was the first female, I had a boy who didn’t want a girl to beat him a few feet ahead of me, and that I would have the rest of the day to relax – I’m happy to report that I gave that finish everything I had and I honestly thought I was going to puke the second I crossed the finish line.
As I approached the finish line I could hear the MC saying things like, “And here we have our first female! You can see her pony tail bobbing in the distance – she’s hanging in there. Actually, she’s not just hanging in, she’s finishing strong!”
I somehow found a kick that I didn’t think I had in me when he announced my name and that I was from New York. REPRESENT.
I crossed the finish line and immediately saw Melissa standing there which was the icing on top.
The sprinkles were the trophy and $40 gift card to race sponsor Rogue Running - a running store/crossfit box/yoga studio/community space. I got this amazing Oiselle scarf that I didn't take off the rest of the trip.
I ended up finishing in 22.13.8 according to my watch which recorded 3.2 miles for a 6:57 pace. The official results on the Brown Santa 5K page say I finished in 21.08.9. Who knows? All I know is my goal is 21:00 or less so I still have some work to do – but this was a huge confidence boost that on the right day with the right course (aka: less hills) I can make that happen. I was the 5th overall finisher and the first female – out of all 105 runners hehe.
Wanna talk about negative splits? Yeah me neither… Mile 1: 6:45 Mile 2: 7:04 Mile 3: 7:11. Nailed it.
While Melissa and I waited for Peter to finish his race, we did one of Chris Mosier’s famous deck of cards workouts in the expo center. In the middle of clamshells and donkey kicks, my phone started ringing and Peter’s name came up on the screen.
I panicked. I thought he was injured or feeling terrible or quitting. But nope, he was asking me how my race went. Can I get a giant AW?
When I told him I was the first female finisher his response was, “were you the only female finisher?” HA.HA. babe!
Peter was running his race to win the “Call Your Shot” contest – he had predicted his pace and was doing everything he could to hit it perfectly. He had me tracking him and reporting back to him and when Melissa and I got outside to cheer him on at the finish line I jumped in to run a few feet with him – he nailed it and won a free pair of New Balance sneakers!
So what did we learn? Peter is basically a professional pacer and I am the worst. And next year, the Decker Challenge will include rules to ensure that out of towners don’t win $150 worth of running gear.
The expo after the race was MAGNIFICENT. There were tons of vendors that were extremely chatty and friendly. We got avocado shaped stress balls and free samples of my favorite iced coffee – High Brew!
Did I mention the FREE BEER from a local brewery that we later found out was over 7% alcohol? LOL. We left feeling prettttty smiley.
I have a feeling we might find ourselves back there one day…
PS: If you ever see Philosophizer beer by Adelbert’s – buy it buy it buy it because it’s deeee-licious.