A Texas Sized Race Recap

“What is your race plan for tomorrow?” I just want to win.I get asked that question on the regular, and I usually follow it up with that answer. That doesn’t mean I’m going to, but I figured it sounds easier to say I want to win instead of hashing out some pacing scheme for each mile of the race. I went all in last month at the USA Half Marathon Championship. I came up a bit short around mile 8 during the race. That’s where I fell apart and slowly started realizing my fate. But my fate in that race turned out to be pretty positive looking back on it. 13.12 miles at 4:50 pace looks pretty easy to me on paper, and seemed like it was going to be easy, especially when I had such a big group to run with. My back had other plans for me. It slowly started getting tighter around my waist line and before I knew it, my form was going to shit, and things started locking up. The next 3-4 miles felt like a slow death and the last mile felt like a walk of shame through downtown Houston. But upon crossing that line and seeing the 1:05 time on the clock. I had this small moment of clarity.

I went all in last month at the USA Half Marathon Championship. I came up a bit short around mile 8 during the race. That’s where I fell apart and slowly started realizing my fate. But my fate in that race turned out to be pretty positive looking back on it. 13.12 miles at 4:50 pace looks pretty easy to me on paper, and seemed like it was going to be easy, especially when I had such a big group to run with. My back had other plans for me. It slowly started getting tighter around my waist line and before I knew it, my form was going to shit, and things started locking up. The next 3-4 miles felt like a slow death and the last mile felt like a walk of shame through downtown Houston. But upon crossing that line and seeing the 1:05 time on the clock. I had this small moment of clarity.

“If 1:05 is a bad day, then what’s a good day?”

There was really no sense in being upset. I went for it, I didn”t get the time I was looking for, but I knew I would sooner or later. I have to say though, seeing so many guys get the qualifying marks for the Olympic Marathon Trials was pretty awesome. I had a lot of friends run smart races and snag that sub 1:05.

I gave myself a few days rest that week before shifting my focus back to LA Marathon in March. I wasn”t really thinking of racing the Austin Half Marathon. But as it got closer, something inside me wanted to come back and be on that start line. After winning it twice in 2010, 2011, getting crushed in 2012, and then taking two years off from racing it, I felt like it was time to come back and see if I could get a W. John Conley has been assembling a pretty stellar field the last couple of years, so I knew he would do the same for this race.

So the question got asked “What is your race plan for the Austin Half Marathon?” I didn’t really have any specifics in mind, except I didn’t want to wear my watch, and I definitely didn’t want to lose. Not in Austin, not on my own streets. I was comfortable going out in anything under 4:50 pace since I had gotten pretty far at Houston Half before I fell apart. I knew with the hills that Austin wouldn’t allow it to go out as fast as that, but I couldn’t underestimate who would show up.

7AM and the gun goes off, As we charge across the bridge towards the 3 miles of hills on South Congress, I immediately find myself all alone. I sort of looked around like, am I in the right race? Mile 1 came and went, mile 2 came and went, and no one came along side me. I shrugged it off and kept churning up the hills. Mile 3 we hung a right and headed towards South First. Bombing down the south first hills was nice because I could work out this side stitch that had crept up on me, and still keep the legs moving decently fast. I came back into downtown to pass the amazing crowds screaming in my face, which helped to inject some more adrenaline down my spine.

My friend Billy Harlee was the bike lead for the 2nd place half marathoner. I knew that if I saw him, the 2nd place runner was coming. Once we got through mile 7, the marathoners came up on me, and Billy was right there riding. I calmed myself a little bit and I tucked in to the marathoners for a brief moment. The 2nd place half marathon runner never quite caught up to us, so I just kept grinding. We started rotating pacing duties for the next two miles. I was basically winding myself up for the next 5k of nasty hills that west Austin was going to give me. I figured that if I could start hammering through the hills, it would be my race to lose.

We took the right onto Enfield road, I took a deep breath and charged up the first section of hills with the marathoners in tow. I gave the marathoners a thumbs up as they took a right turn at exposition, and I kept into the hills. The big hill on 15th street was looming, but I was ready for it. I started pumping the arms up the hill and crested it no problem. Once I got over the hill I started opening my stride knowing I was close to sealing this. Right before I came up to the Capital Building, I gave my roommate and best friend a high five, and turned for home. I could hear the crowds getting louder as I got closer. I started getting a bit choked up with just pure happiness.

Coming down the stretch was such a nostalgic and just happy feeling. I ran down that finish line with so much pride and joy. My parents were there to watch, my friends, people that I love so much were there. It was a humbling moment. I grabbed that American flag draped over my shoulders after I had crossed, held it as high as I could, and did my victory lap. Here is to hoping I can continue this success going into USA Marathon Champs in LA in one month. Just know that I will be going for the win there too. I always do.

Big ups to everyone from Jack and Adams, my coach Derick Williamson at Durata, John Conley and Conley Sports, my friends and family, and everyone that supports my endeavors to be the best I can.

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