Looking for a fast half marathon to add to your race calendar? Give this 3M Half Marathon Race Recap a read and get ready for 13.1 through Austin, TX.
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Last weekend, I ran the 3M Half Marathon here in Austin, my 13th half marathon. Contrary to popular belief, 13 is not an unlucky number (at least not for me) because (spoiler alert) I scored myself a nice new PR! After taking a year off from trying to race my races, I’m pumped that my return to “race racing” was a success. Are you ready to hear all about it? Let’s start from the beginning!
I volunteered at the 3M Race Expo the Friday before the race. I manned their photo booth gif station and had a ton of fun helping people capture their pre-race jitters. I also learned that explaining how gifs work to people was clearly not as easy as I thought.
We’re just going to take three pictures in a row. You only have three seconds between photos, so I’ll tell you when to change your position. Then the app will take those photos and put them together into a little video.
90% of people would start moving around in jerky motions like they were already a gif. Face palm.
Anyway, I played fancy photographer for a few hours…
GIVE ME FAST! LIKE A CHEETAH!
… and picked up my bib and packet with ease. I don’t know what the expo was like on Saturday, but it wasn’t crowded at all on Friday. It was easy to get your packet, peruse vendors and of course get your photos and gifs made by the pros (aka ME!).
I have to give a shout out to the 3M swag bag. It was loaded with goodies you wouldn’t typically see in a swag bag.
You know you’re an adult when free sponges and post it notes get you excited.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
The night before the race, I order a cheese burger (gluten free bun) and fries. MWAH!
I laid out Flat Nicole and headed to bed a little after 10pm for a 5:55 wake up call.
I always get nervous that my alarm won’t go off the morning of a race, so I set three. Will also set one. I still checked my alarms about five times before finally falling asleep.
THE MORNING OF
I did not, in fact, miss my alarms. I woke up on time, got ready on time, and left the house on time. Will freaked me out at one point when he said, “The countdown on the race website says the race starts at 7am.” I was planning on getting there at 7am. But thankfully, the countdown clock was incorrect; the race start was slated for 7:30. PHEW!
Traffic getting to the race wasn’t bad at all (I was coming from the west), so Will was able to drop me off relatively close to the starting line. I immediately went to the porta potties (always my first stop) and was shocked by the lines.
Not only were the lines long, there was absolutely zero sense to them. They snaked around all over the place to the point where I couldn’t tell which line was for which section of porta potties. I eventually just hopped in a line. Fortunately, I made my way through it and to the starting line with five minutes to spare, but next year I think there needs to either be A) a different porta potty set up or B) volunteers helping organize the porta potty lines (like traffic cops).
There weren’t any set corrals, but pace groups were clearly marked. My goal for this race was to PR, and since my previous PR time was 1:53 and change, I decided to start with the 1:50 pacer and see what happened. My friend, Gabrielle, was doing the same, so I found her, we took a pre-race selfie, and we were off!
I was a little nervous about sticking with a pace group. I thought it would be crowded and difficult to navigate, but it wasn’t bad at all! The starting line mish mosh spread out pretty quickly, and I was able to keep the pacer just ahead of me.
To finish at 1:50, you have to maintain a 8:23 average pace. The pacer had us passing mile one in 8:08. “I hope she slows down!” I thought, “I can’t keep this up for 12 more miles!”
Fortunately, she caught herself and had us running at closer to 8:23 for the rest of the race. PHEW!
The beginning of the race isn’t particularly scenic. We were mostly running down busy roads (shut down for the race but usually busy) and right under a major highway, and by mile two I was starting to feel the effects of the 98% humidity. But I told myself to stay positive.
YOU CAN DO THIS! I told myself.
Gabrielle and I managed to run without music for the first 4.5 miles, but we mutually decided we needed something to help push us through the rolling hills we weren’t expecting (I’m really terrible at looking at course maps and elevation levels before races).
I tried turning on an audio book but quickly decided, nope, I need something more energetic. On went the running playlist.
I was feeling strong. I was pushing. Hard. But I never once thought to quit. Crowd support started to pick up around mile 7, so that helped motivate me to keep on keeping on. There was even a family making and handing out bacon on the side lines! (I did not stop for bacon.)
I managed to stick with the 1:50 pacers until mile 10. At that point, they pulled ahead, but I kept them in my sights. Fortunately, I got a burst of energy from a few friends who came out to cheer between miles 10 and 11 (thanks, guys!).
When I hit mile 11, I took the last of my fuel and knew that if I could keep this up for two more miles, I was going to crush my PR.
YOU CAN DO THIS! I told myself again.
At mile 12, I could still see the 1:50 pace group. We passed through the University of Texas and headed toward the capitol building. A huge wave of energy greeted me at the last quarter mile.
I saw Will cheering on the side lines.
I looked down at my watch. I had 35 seconds to make it to the finish line in 1:50. I gave it everything I had and…
I DID IT!
I PRed by almost 4 minutes, and I crossed that finish line under 1:50!!
My splits were:
5K – 25:51 (8:20 pace)
10K – 52:13 (8:25 pace)
15K – 1:18:17 (8:25 pace)
Finish – 1:49:54 (8:23 pace <—- NAILED IT!)
I found Gabrielle, who finished a few seconds before me (and snagged a 19 second PR herself!) for a mini celebration. We got our medals and post-race snacks. By the way, they give you a BAG of snacks at the finish line. I know this sounds silly, but bags at the finish line are SO APPRECIATED. That way I don’t have to juggle all the water and snacks YOU KNOW I’m going to be scooping up.
Then I went back to find Will at the finished line and cheer for my friend Charlotte, who was running her first half! (She crushed it, btw).
I didn’t explore the post-race party too much because we were going out for a celebratory brunch, but I do know there was a beer garden and some yummy-looking food trucks!
Also, check out this medal! So fun. The star spins!
OVERALL RACE PROS:
- Well organized expo and race experience
- The perfect-sized race (about 5600 finishers)
- Great swag bag
- Bags at the finish line!
- Awesome medal
OVERALL RACE CONS:
- Crowded porta potty lines
- Very little crowd support during first half of the race
Have you run any good races lately?
How would you direct someone on how to use a GIF photo booth?