Shawn’s goal for today was to beat his previous Half-Marathon PR of 1:47:58. He accomplished this last May on a very flat out-and-back course in Dallas called the North Trails Half Marathon. The AT&T Austin Half is not an out-and-back course and it’s definitely NOT flat. Plus, today we were starting with over 10,000 others. In Dallas, we started with a couple hundred others. Big difference… (not to mention the fact that he was working at the hospital until Midnight last night and operating on 5 hrs of sleep)
I met up with him at 6:30am and we warmed up to the start. Almost immediately, we ran into Colleen who was also running the Half. We’ve been keeping up with each other’s blogs as she is gearing up for IMCdA. Our seeding wasn’t optimal as we entered the corral near the 4:45 pace group…much too slow for what Shawn wanted to accomplish.
The first two miles were spent weaving in and out of packs and trying to establish some kind of rhythm. I wasn’t sure I could keep up with him based on how I had been feeling, but I made an effort to do what I could. It was a great marathon start with gorgeous clear skies and fireworks. The first climbs happen during Mile 1 so it immediately keeps you honest. Mile 1 was a restless 9:00min pace. Mile 2 was an 8:30. My heart rate was high so I’m sure Shawn’s was too, but he was on a freaking mission! He was like a madman weaving in and out of people and I was worried that he would not be able to keep up this frantic pace. We were passing a ton of people and made up a lot of ground on 1st Street where we enjoyed lots of downhill running. By Mile 5, we were averaging an 8:05 overall pace and I was trying to keep him relaxed. We hit the downtown area again and picked up Thon at Mile 6. I was feeling surprisingly strong and so was Shawn.
“Slow him down,” I said to Thon. Shawn was running with fervor and I was just afraid it wouldn’t last for 6 more miles.
At Mile 8, he began to slow…Veterans Blvd and Lake Austin Blvd were tough. When we turned the Enfield corner, he started to suffer a bit. Here’s where the hills really returned. Thon and I were really sticking with him and throwing the proper encouragement. Our pace had quickened to an 8:00 min overall average, but it was creeping down a bit. 8:03, 8:05, 8:07…The hills were nonstop on Enfield and the 15th Street hill at Mile 11 can suck the momentum out of anyone!
Still, he remained strong and determined when I know he was suffering. At long last, we had one mile to go and Shawn kicked it in. I’ll be damed if they didn’t throw in one more hill on San Jacinto. Damn those race directors!! The finish is a glorious downhill sprint on Congress and he was on fire at the end!
We crossed the finish line as people cheered. (best crowds ever at the Austin Marathon)
He beat his PR by 36 seconds on a much more difficult course!!
Avg pace 8:12!!!
Way to kick it babe!! I’m so proud of him for not giving up when I know he was hurting. It wasn’t the most strategic race, but it worked.
In the Finisher’s shoot, we excitedly ran into TriBoomer, TriGreyhound and his friend Kathleen. I also saw Colleen again and she was thrilled with her race. It was a great day for all and I’m happy to have finally met so many people whose blogs I read on a daily basis! It was definitely a highlight of my morning.
Of course-another highlight was meeting Thon for lunch at Taco Deli! MMMM….chicken mole and a fish taco.