On Saturday afternoon, we went to the expo for packet pickup. Last year, traffic was a mess getting into the parking garage, but this year, we ended up on the other side and drove right in, parked, turned toward each other and asked "did that just happen?" What a nice change! The expo seemed a little smaller this year - less vendors and much less freebies being handed out. We walked around - I was looking to buy a pair of teal-colored Thorlo Experia socks, which they do make, but no one had that color. I also wanted to get another RUseeN reflective shirt - I bought this one last year and wore the heck out of it, as most of my runs were done while it was still dark. Not only did both of us find shirts:
Mine has the tiara on front and the words on the back, and Jeff's has the running skeleton on both front and back. Fun and functional, as they are super bright and reflective.
...but I also spotted Blogger Tricia! It's so funny to see a blogger in real life. They DO exist!
I've read Tricia's blog for years - it was so cool to finally meet her in person! She was representing the Zooma women's race series and had a booth at the expo. We had a nice little chat - she's as genuine in person as she is on her blog.
After the expo, we checked into our hotel. Now, as you might recall, I wanted to stay downtown so we could walk to the starting line, and we booked our hotel with that specification in mind. We were shocked when we got there and realized that the hotel was at the 26 mile mark! How fun - we would be right in the midst of the race excitement!
The afternoon before: mile 26 marker on the ground by our hotel; Jeff posing near the finish line, which was still being constructed.
The next morning, the alarm went off at 5:10 am, and we even hit the snooze button for a bit - can you imagine, waking up that LATE for a race?! Ahhh, staying downtown was the right decision. Jeff got ready and ate his breakfast while we watched The Barefoot Executive on Showtime (woohoo, fancy cable!) - starting a very young Kurt Russell:
(pretend this is an Instagram shot with the yellow coloring, ok?) Jeff and Kurt. And now I want to rent this movie so I can see the end!
Around 6:30, we ambled to the start line - it took us all of 7 minutes to walk there, and that was with stopping to take a few pictures! Ahhh, downtown.
Runner and spectator, ready for action!
The race started and this year, I stayed at the back of the crowd. I saw Jeff move toward the starting line, but considering I couldn't even see it from where I was standing, I didn't know when he actually crossed it (turns out about 10 minutes after the starting gun). I headed down to 11th St. and Congress, and shortly after I got there, I saw Jeff run by! This was just after mile 1...he was in the zone and didn't see me, but that's OK. I had to wait for a break in the runners to cross the street - no way did I want to impede them in the least! I finally made it across, stopped for a nice warm latte, and headed down to the bridge. Last year I was on the road that the runners turned on after the bridge but this year I decided to stand on the bridge with a gazillion other people. My strategy, as a short person, for getting a good view? Look for a child to stand behind, or listen to see if someone's runner goes by, because then they are usually moving to the next spectating area and I can take their spot.
One thing I discovered, and it was a weird feeling, was that the bridge was moving - yes, bouncing slightly - from all the runners pounding across it. Everyone standing around me was commenting on it. Fairly soon, I spotted Jeff's bright green shirt in the distance, and got his attention - here he is running toward me:
This was at mile 8. He said everything felt good - a quick kiss and he was off again!
I was tracking Jeff via the Austin Marathon app on my phone, but didn't trust how quickly it was updating, so I decided to head up to the finish area after the bridge. The crowds were really deep at the chute, so I went up the street a little, found a clear spot, and waited just a little while until I saw Jeff - this part is downhill, and all the runners looked so happy - not only were they very nearly finished with the race, but running downhill is always so freeing and fun:
Almost there - he just had to turn the corner and run through the finish line!
After he went by, I walked down to the finisher area to meet Jeff. I found a nice quiet spot on a street corner, and then a mariachi band came and started playing right behind me:
"WHAT DID YOU SAY?? I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!"
The happy half marathon finisher!
This year's medal has Willie Nelson on it; last year's had Stevie Ray Vaughn.
We walked back to our hotel, and that's when we realized how much of a great location it was...the race was happening right outside our room! I had Jeff stand next to our bedroom window, and then went inside and took a picture from it. You can't get much closer than that!
Jeff rolled out the desk chair and we watched the runners go by for a while - had we realized just where our hotel was located, we would have brought lawn chairs and a cooler full of snacks and beverages! Ahhh, downtown.
Eventually we got cleaned up, went to Red Robin to have our traditional post-race burger and fries (YUM), then went to a yarn store, where I shopped for quite a while. We came back to the hotel, and the race was still going on! Dang, I can't imagine being out there for that long. I read later that the race director has a tradition where he runs the last racer in - she finished in just under 8 hours. That's some grit, there.
We had a great time in Austin and will be back for this race next year, staying downtown - ahhh.