On Tuesday, six days before the race, schools in the Austin area were closed due to icy road conditions that, oddly, got worse as you went south. Temps were in the 20s and a couple hundred people cracked up their cars trying to drive in it Tuesday morning. Rogue even canceled official workouts so I ran a couple of miles on my own–my street was fine–but otherwise kicked back and read my book in front of the fireplace. It was the best of times.
Wednesday morning, it was ice-free but 15* at my house. Fifteen degrees. We had a two-hour school delay but it finally made it above freezing at some point.
But check out the forecasted temps for overnight Saturday. Wait, what? Yeah, we had a sudden warm-up THE NIGHT BEFORE THE 3M HALF MARATHON. Looking at a 10-day forecast, literally the only warm morning was … race day.
And it turned out even warmer than they predicted. It was 64* when I got up Sunday morning, and about one million percent humidity.
At the same time I was worried about being way too warm, I saw an alarming number of runners wearing long tights, jackets, layers of shirts. I couldn’t wrap my brain around wearing that many clothes to race in these conditions. I felt kind of overdressed in short sleeves and capris.
So yeah. Conditions were less than ideal, but I lived denial–maybe it would rain, maybe it would be okay as long as the sun didn’t come out, maybe there’d be a breeze.
Despite the heavy, warm air I felt pretty good the first half. I was on-pace and trying to be optimistic. But coming down Great Northern past the 10K mats, I started to feel increasing fatigue in my legs. Spoiler alert: that’s not an ideal situation less than halfway through a distance race.
My family waited at the Far West bridge and I stopped briefly for some encouragement. By mile eight I’d had to take some walk breaks, but I was trying to make up for it each time I started running again. The hilly section on 45th from Shoal Creek to Burnet took a toll, and I found myself walking more frequently. It also didn’t help that my playlist was taunting me with songs like “Long Long Way to Go” and “Hold on Forever.” Not to mention “Cuts Like a Knife.” Yes, yes it did.
I saw my family again near North Lamar, around mile 9.5ish, which was a welcome surprise. At that point I was pretty sure my goals had slipped away, although I kept telling myself maybe I could make it up coming down Duval and through the UT campus.
Spoiler alert: I did not.
It was a lot like my last half–I was on-pace through seven-ish miles, but I couldn’t hold on. Unlike my last half, though, the rain picked up a bit the last three miles, and that helped. Barely.
I got a brief energy boost on Duval, where a huge group of Rogues started screaming like crazy when they saw me. Some people running around me were probably like, Why does this girl have an enormous cheering section? It felt pretty good.
For about five minutes.
I rode the last downhill before Duval turned onto San Jacinto–and unlike the last time I ran this race, runners did not have to stop for traffic. But ironically, at this point I wouldn’t have minded a brief respite from trudging along on tired legs.
Since about the halfway point, I’d been passing/getting passed by a woman in a Team Beef shirt who was run-walking, but I lost her the last mile or so. I have no idea if she passed me and stayed ahead or if I’d miraculously gotten in front of her the rest of the way. I suspect the former.
The stretch through the UT campus and in front of the football stadium is flat, but I could barely pick up my pace. And they changed the course this year–instead of turning right on MLK (19th Street) and left on Congress to finish at about 17th Street, they had us cross MLK and keep going on San Jacinto almost to 14th Street. Ugh. Seeing the finish line in the distance for more than a quarter-mile really messed with my head. Not only that, the last .10 or so WAS UPHILL. It was the worst of times.
My friends had finished (with PRs because they are badass) and cheered me on through the last stretch. I … was not polite back at them. I was beyond ready to be done. My family was also there, on the other side of the street, and after I finished everyone said I “didn’t look half-dead like a lot of people.” But I sure felt like it.
I finished 11 minutes off my stretch goal, four minutes away from a PR, and two minutes slower than my last half. But it was 30* warmer than the last time I ran 3M, two years ago, which still stands as my half-marathon PR. I wonder how different my results might have been if it had been 20* cooler? Like the day before, for example, or the day after. And every morning for the next week and a half.
On a positive note, 3M 2018 was my 16th half marathon and my third-fastest overall, in disgusting conditions that cost me a lot–both physically and mentally. My new wireless headphones didn’t fall out, my phone didn’t randomly call anyone (which it’s done a few times recenty), my Skratch gels seemed to keep me alive, and I wasn’t sick afterward. So I guess all things considered, it was a respectable-ish performance.
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
This post originally appeared on I Thought They Said Rum.