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Austin Half Marathon // 02.16.20 Austin, Texas

Caitlin: We have run this race a handful of times and it has become one of our favorites. It could be because it’s a hometown run, but also because this course has it all. A course that starts and ends near the grounds of the state capitol, it runs along some iconic Austin spots, challenging hills, incredible volunteers, and awesome spectators. All which make up a killer vibe.

But this year there was one buzzkill. The 7am start time was pushed to almost 7:45am due to a road closure issue. We were lined up in the corral around 6:30 so the standing around was not fun.

A fellow triathlete friend of ours found us and we all got to ‘talk shop’ to help pass the time. Once we were on our way it seemed that the miles ticked off quickly. It wasn’t till about mile 8 that I began to start feeling my legs… and my feet. My feet usually do not give me any issues, but I think I stretched the mileage on my running shoes just a tad too far.

We reached Enfield which is a long, steady climb. I did have to walk just a short bit but the spectators that lined the road were awesome and that really helped get me moving…. you know, can’t walk when people are watching.

The big hill at mile 12 could be seen for about a 1/2 mile out. Lots of time to see it and mentally prepare yourself for what’s to come. Not once have I walked that beast and I told myself today would be no different. I charged up it but also kept in mind that there would be 1 more mile to go once I hit the top.

I was glad to be done with the hill but I may have used one too many matches on it. Tif passed me up shortly afterwards and it was a struggle to keep up. She got ahead of me just a bit, but like the incredible wife she is, she slowed a bit when she hit the finisher chute so that I could catch up and we could cross the finish line together, as Team Saunders.

We love running the streets that make up the city that we love. We are Austin! Tiffany: It was a perfect morning for a run. For the first time in awhile, the temperature was north of 50°, meaning we wouldn’t need long tights or sleeves. That’s always a bonus! We arrived in the corral about 30 minutes before the start. That gave us plenty of time to stretch and get ready for the next couple of hours to come.

Except we waited. And waited. And waited There was a 45-minute delay for the start – little communication from race officials with the runners at that time, and really no explanation to the participants who were growing restless. At the same time, my back tightened up like it never had before. As much as I tried to stretch and move, it wouldn’t budge. I was worried.

Fortunately, once we got going, I didn’t notice the tightness too much. It was still there, but wasn’t going to keep me from the finish line.

The first three miles were as usual, and as planned… keeping it easy, as it’s a gradual uphill until the turnaround at the southernmost point of the course.

Then, miles 4-6 it was time to pick up the pace. I didn’t plan on redlining it, but I was hoping to find a good groove and see if I could get close to the 2-hour mark. There are several hills along the route, short/steep, long/gradual…all taking a toll on the legs.

By the 7-mile point, I felt confident we would improve on last year’s time, and be very close to 2 hours.

Unfortunately for me, I let some outside distractions play mind games with me at about Mile 7.5. It didn’t help that Caitlin was struggling a bit, so I would slow down to regroup with her. That impacted my momentum, and I didn’t do myself any favors by focusing on the negative. It was probably a bad point in the course to be playing mind games, because THE HILL at Mile 12 is no joke. I struggled getting to the top – probably my worst performance here (maybe not quite as bad as the first year).

However, I was able to finally shake the funk in the last mile and reminded myself to savor it, to take it all in and most of all, appreciate what my body allows me to do.

Of course I would have loved a faster time. But I’m the only one to blame for that. Hopefully it’s a lesson learned and motivation to be better as the season unfolds.

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