Austin Marathon – Pre Race Day Continued

We were feeling pretty good about everything after our great pre-race shakeout experience.  We ran back to our room to shower and change then headed back out to meet Mike’s best friend since kindergarten, Pat, who drove from Houston to meet up with us.


We met up on 6th St.  We were pretty hungry so we hit up the first place we came across, B.D. Riley’s.  The food was not great, but we enjoyed our local beers and some various whiskeys.  With the high from our great morning and the celebratory feeling of being with an old friend, our vow for a low-cal, chem-free day went right out the window.

It didn’t take Mike long to get pretty jolly and hit up the musician for requests.

After lunch we moved on to Banger’s.  I had heard overheard someone talking about their “Manmosas”.  It turns out those are only for brunch on Sundays, but we loved the place anyway.  They had like a million beers on tap, so we tried Pat’s recommendation of St. Arnold’s Lawnmower, and later Mike picked us out a Fat Bastard.

I loved the boiled peanuts which I don’t think I’ve had since we lived in South Carolina over 17 years ago.

I’m not a huge fan of sausage, but we had to try it at a place famous for it’s sausage.  Mike picked out the rabbit sausage, and it was actually very good.


The live music was great.  I wished I’d stopped to appreciate it more, but I was too focused on having fun with Mike and Pat.  After a while, I decided that I’d had too much fun and headed back to the hotel to chill and hydrate.  Mike and Pat continued the fun but still managed to get back in time to run a marathon the next day.  More on that another day.


Austin Marathon – Pre Race Day

I was really nervous for this race.  I hadn’t trained as well as for my other races and had been eating like a pig since Thanksgiving.  I skipped almost the entire pre-race week of running, so when we saw that there was a group run that morning, we jumped on it.

I was actually a bit sluggish when the time rolled around.  We had to find the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue – wherever the heck that was – but Mike was motivated, so he tracked it down for us.  We weren’t sure what to expect – a huge group – or no one else but us.

I had read that Dick Beardsley would be hosting the event, and I immediately recognized that slim, elite runner build when we arrived that the meeting spot.  Even though I knew he would be hosting, I didn’t really expect to be able to talk to him.  I’m kind of shy, and I figured there would be lots of other people vying for his attention.  However, when we arrived, there was just a handful of people milling around, and Mr. Beardsley came right up to us and introduced himself – so cool!
He spent quite a bit of time chatting to us before we started the run – such a down-to-earth, friendly guy.  We really enjoyed talking with him.  I couldn’t believe we were standing there (calmly – for the most part – I look pretty dorky) next to the 33 year Grandma’s Marathon record holder (meaningful to me especially, since Grandma’s was my first, and ironically, that record was broken the year I ran it).  I really hadn’t known much else about him, but check out his story.  It’s pretty interesting.

We finally set off on the run, hosted also by Bobby Overton from SpiBelt – also a super nice guy – especially considering his task of herding us cats.  (We both felt a little guilty that Mike was wearing his new FlipBelt.)  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the run either.  Some of the other participants looked like they might be around our same pace (you never really can tell by appearances), but I was pretty sure that even though it’s been almost 34 years since his exciting Boston Marathon finish seconds behind Alberto Salazar, Mr. Beardsley could probably still set a pretty darn good pace.

We set out on a nice, easy run.  I was even able to run up ahead to snap a photo.


We ran along the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail which was really beautiful.


Our route (also includes getting there and back from hotel and a detour to the Expo)

Mr. Beardsley told me how part way you used to have to go up on the highway and back down, but they’ve since made a beautiful boardwalk to connect those two ends of the trail.  We got to run along that and had beautiful views of the city from there.  I got to run with my new friend, Dick, the whole way to our turnaround point.


We had a great conversation, and he even recommended a few marathons to me (Fargo Marathon and Dick Beardsley Marathon – he was very humble about it being called that).  I kind of felt like I was hogging him, so I chatted with a few of the other runners on the way back.  One of whom was none other than Henry Rono, a 5000 meter record record breaker in the 70’s and 80’s – among many other accomplishments.  He was also very humble and interesting to talk to.

It was great to be in the midst of such running fame, but the other people in the group were friendly and fun, too.  One guy was running his first marathon, but quite a few of the others had run Austin before and were able to give us good advice about the course and about where to visit in Austin.  (Thank you for your advice about the speed bumps and your recommendation of HopDoddy’s!)

What an amazing experience!  I was happy to have done the shakeout run, since it helped me remember that I did still know how to run.  But more than that, it got me excited about running again – what a great community and a great way to interact with people.  You already have something in common.  Somewhat surprisingly to me, the conversation that Mr. Beardsley and I had about running wasn’t any different than I conversation I might have with any other, average Joe runner like myself – the nerves before a race, the gear, the locations.

Happy running!

Austin Marathon – Expo

We managed to only leave Portland about an hour late.  We’re notorious for getting a late start.  Always so many late minute things to do.  On top of that there was a crazy freak snowstorm and tons of traffic because of it.  The first hour of our journey from Portland to Boston was quite harrowing, but we finally made it to my Mom’s and had a nice dinner and said good-bye to the kids.

My mom was kind enough to take us to the airport the next morning at 4:00 am.  Even then the security line at Logan was quite long, and we got to our gate just in time to board.  We’d never traveled on SouthWest before, but everything went quite smoothly.


Celebrating our first flight together since 2002

We landed in Chicago right on time, had just enough time to use the bathroom then continued on to Austin.


We arrived at around noon and took a cab to our hotel.  Our room wasn’t ready yet, but we were able to ditch our bags and head out to lunch.

Compared to home, the weather was just gorgeous.  It was so nice to leave all that built up tension from the cold behind.  I hadn’t done much research on Austin food, so we ventured out to a Mexican restaurant recommended by the hotel.  It wasn’t great, but it was WONDERFUL to be able to eat outside.  (Margarita’s were too sweet, chips were boring, but Ceviche was quite good, and atmosphere on the outdoor second floor deck was perfect.)


We wandered around 6th street for a very short time after lunch then got the call from our hotel that our room was ready.  We headed back to the hotel, washed the travel off of us, put on some running clothes, and headed over to the Expo to pick up our packets and check that out.

The Austin Marathon is supposed to be pretty big – over 10,000 participants between the half and the full, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Expo after we told the hotel we were here for the marathon, and they asked, “Which marathon is that?”.

It turned out to be just perfect.
We were there for a marathon and wanted to bask in the running hype, and there was plenty of that there.


Picked up our numbers first



The heart bibs for Valentine’s Day were cool

We got a lot of great SWAG including a cool backpack that came in really handy all weekend.  I think our favorite booth was the Nuun one.  I had tried Nuun once before and didn’t love it until I realized how much I really don’t like Gatorade.  We bought a bunch of the tablets and got some cool water bottles both of which we used the whole time we were there.  We also really liked this yummy cold pressed juice that we tried.  We kind of tried to find some the rest of the week with no luck.  I might try Whole Foods here this week.

There was so much to see and great live music playing while we wandered around.  We wanted to make the most of our experience, so we checked out every single booth.  I bought a shirt, and Mike bought a flip belt.  We ran there and had planned to walk back to the hotel, since we expected to have a lot of stuff to carry.  Thanks to our new, free backpacks, we were able to run the mile or so back.  It was hot though!

We got back to the hotel and showered (and may have napped), got hungry, and decided to venture out again.  We didn’t want to eat or drink too much before the race, but a burger and a beer sounded great.  We still hadn’t spent much time researching where to eat, so we headed back out to 6th Street where we’d had lunch.  We walked up and down a bit before settling on a place called Jackalope.  Like everything else on 6th St., it kind of looked like a dive bar at first, but The Chupacabra burger (Barbacoa beef, salsa verde, jack, pickles, jalapenos, ghost pepper aioli) that we ordered to share turned out to be really good.  We each ordered a local beer from Austin Beer Works.  I got the Pearl Snap Pilsner.  I can’t remember what Mike got – something darker with a nice taste of coffee at the finish.

The waitress was very friendly and somehow talked us into a couple of tequila shots.  I guess, by that time, we were thinking we still had one more whole day before the marathon, and we should, after all, make the most of our rare vacation.


In spite of the tequila, we didn’t get too crazy, but we did end up testing out the on-premise Jackalope.


It was much more tame than the mechanical bull we’d seen further down the street.


We vowed to follow a pre-marathon diet religiously the next day.

Wow! Austin Marathon! Gear!

We are back from Austin.  What a great trip!  I don’t even know where to begin.

I guess I’ll start at the beginning.

Packing is hard!


Before:  I packed three potential marathon outfits.  All for hot weather.  Anything above 30 was gonna be hot.  I’m thinking I’ll go with my brand new Skirt Sports Gym Girl Skirt and last year’s e-bay purchase of a Skirt Sports Tank.

After:  Yes, Skirt Sports skirt.  I think I’ll buy another.  No way on the tank.  Can’t do the CamelBack without sleeves.  Went with the Grandma’s Marathon T.


I don’t look exactly like that.

Before:  My CamelBack.  I hate carrying it, but I haven’t really mastered the water stop thing.  I have to figure it out before Boston because no CamelBacks allowed there.  Not sure how I managed last year.


It’s a good pack.

After:  Followed my Maine Marathon plan of 4 swallows, breathe, 3 more swallows, every mile (get your mind out of the gutter – this is a PG blog).  After the Expo, decided to throw two Nuun tablets in there.  Worked fine. Ran out of water (I think about 72 ounces) at mile 25.

Before:  Lots of Gu’s.  I have such a love/hate relationship with those nasty, sticky, way-too-sweet things.

After:  Wanted to die and quit after mile 5.  After Caramel Macchiatto Gu hit around mile 6, I felt much better.  “Gu’ed” every 5 miles after that and rode the waves of caffeine and sugar driven ups and downs.  Felt like puking every time I tried to down a shot and vowed to try training with shot blocks or sport beans next time.

Before:  Body Glide.  I swear, the first year I ran, I never had chaffing issues.  Now I do even in the dead of winter.

After:  Still chaffed after liberal application, but I was much better off than I would have been without it.  Worst spot is a huge strip of raw skin on my upper inner arm from the CamelBack.  Thank goodness they won’t be allowed in Boston.  Addie says it looks like bacon.

Before:  Since the race was going to be on Valentine’s day, I thought it would be cool to wear my SkirtSports Heart Socks.


After:  Decided it would be too hot for knee socks.  Darn Toughs never let me down.  Wore a nice, new, cushy pair.  No regrets what-so-ever.


Before:  Almost brand new Adidas Ultra’s.


After:  No regrets.  Pretty happy to put on my flip-flops after and let my feet spread out, but no sore feet, no blisters, nothing.

Other Gear:  Tom Tom Spark Music (still haven’t loaded any music), Target/Champion Sports Bra, IceBreaker Women’s Siren Hipkini.

In the past, figuring out all the outfits I wanted to wear on vacation would have been a struggle, but that was nothing compared to trying to figure out what I wanted to wear for the race.  As always, I ended up wearing the same few things over and over and could have gotten away with bringing much less.

I think this may have been the last journey for my current suitcase, so maybe I’ll down-size which will force me to finally learn that lesson.

Next up, Expo Review.  And maybe Shake Out Run Review.  If I can fit both of those things in one post.  I don’t seem to do well with short summaries.

New Shoes – Adidas Ultra Boost

Is there anything more exciting in a runner’s life than getting a new pair of shoes?


Our Shoe Graveyard

(Forgive the dark photos.  Not much daylight around these parts right now.)

No matter how many different routes I have, how many distance and pace variations, how many weather variations, there’s always a bit of monotony to running.

Having some kind of newness really makes my run – especially when that newness is what’s supporting me through all this running.

There aren’t many things where I won’t try to find a cheaper option, but with running shoes, I don’t bat an eye at price.  I justify by calculating how much it will cost per mile.  I have 654.52 miles (approximately.  Did I mention I’m a nerd about stats?) on my current pair of shoes.  They cost me $180, so that’s about 28 cents per mile.  Actually, I might be kind of upset to drop a quarter every mile I ran (that would pay for a lot of my bad diet Pepsi habit), but mostly, it puts it into good perspective for me.

My last two pairs of running shoes were the Adidas Ultra Boost (first black, ugh, then bright pink/purple, better).  And if you must know, before that it was Asics, Nike, Brooks Ghost 7, Brooks Glycerin, Brooks Ghost 7, Brooks Ghost 7 (did I mention I’m a nerd about stats?).  You’d think I might like to keep things simple and stick with the same thing over and over again, but that would eliminate that newness factor that I love.  I at least need a different color!

So, after Christmas, Amazon credit was plentiful, cash – not so much.  As I was approaching 600 miles on my current shoes, I figured I’d better do something, so I ordered these beauties.


Loved the gray color.  Well, it turns out they weren’t the exact same as my original Ultras.  On top of that, I accidentally ordered a half size down, so back to Amazon they went.

Which worked out pretty well, since I was getting some pressure to switch brands.  Mike just bought his first Hoka One’s.  After his first run in them, he urgently texted me to say I should drop everything and order the Hoka’s.  He was in love.


After all that returning and mind-changing, pay day finally rolled around again, so I thought I’d pick up a pair at our favorite local running store, so I could at least try them on.  We left a little early for our running group – also put on through Fleet Feet Sports – so I could try them on and presumably buy them.  It was complete chaos in the store with the running group there.  Craft was also doing a demo night (tried a shirt – nice – but not my tried and true wool).  And there was also some kind of spin class going on.  I still made the poor sales guy take me through the whole thing.  I tried on some new Saucony’s, the Hoka’s, and the same Ultra variation I had ordered from Amazon.  Every time I try on running shoes, I hope for some kind of sign – I don’t know, angels singing, rays of light, something – that these are the shoes for me.  But they all feel great, so I just never know.  I decided to go with the Hoka’s, since Mike was so excited about them.

As I got ready to pay, the nice sales guy said I could use them on my run with the training group and pay for them after if I liked them.  Or not if I didn’t.  Our coaches had a nasty hill workout in mind for us, but I actually felt great, and the shoes felt great, but . . .

I had a few little twinges of tight calves and tight arches.  Not a big deal, and I figured I would get used to it.  But as I was running, I got to thinking that at my last marathon, I had no calf problems at all while in my first three, the only major pain I had, especially in the last 6.2 miles, was in my calves.  Before that I’d never even given that any thought, or if I had, maybe I just figured I was in better shape.  As much as I’d like to continue to think that, maybe, just maybe, it was the shoes.  First three marathons – Brooks Ghost 7, last marathon – Adidas Ultra Boost.  That was it, finally, some kind of solid evidence (maybe) for a decision.  (I’ll let you know after this marathon.)  They were very gracious when I got back to Fleet Feet and told them I wouldn’t be buying the Hoka’s after all.  (I sure hope they can still sell them to someone else – I assume they have some kind of strategy for that.)  I wanted to get my Ultra’s right then and there, but they only had black (a girl’s gotta be a bit girly) and were still very busy and about to close.

I found my new babies on Amazon.  Here’s the unboxing . . .


Aren’t they pretty?  Even in the 5:00 am light?

Here’s another shot for good measure.


I only have about 15 or so miles on them.  Two recent snow storms and tapering for Austin have completely sapped my motivation.  I’m still planning to wear them for the marathon.  Is that crazy?

Since then, (like almost the very next day), Adidas has announced a new shoe which seems similar to the Ultra’s but specifically for women.  Maybe my next pair.

Off to pack for Austin.  Woo hoo!  And help my daughter with some kind of crazy school project.


Mike is tracing Addie, so she can turn herself into a character for her book report.  Somehow she ended up with what he calls “Grasshopper Legs”, so we need to redo the bottom half.

She has way too much homework for a third grader.  It’s ridiculous and frustrating, but that’s a post for another day.  Anyone else in the same boat?