Sunday, October 10, 2010

My World Wide Festival of Races Half Marathon

Today: 13.1 miles in 1:50:13 (8:25 pace)

This morning I ran my WWFOR half marathon.  I did it as a training run on my own.  My route started in downtown Austin along the Colorado river.  I parked near the MoPac bridge at 7am and headed off west along Lake Austin Blvd and did a 4 mile loop over Stratford Rd.  This street is very hilly and rolling.  I like it because of the hills, but also because it is tree lined with some serious mansions and a view overlooking the lake.  I saw two male deer this morning and observed a beautiful pink sunrise over the river.  At the end of the road, there is a very steep, plunging downhill that reminded me just how far I had climbed over the last few miles.  At this point, Stratford road re-connects with the trail along Townlake (south side), where I observed a fury of activity for the Austin City Limits music festival.  I then ran along the trail until the I-35 overpass, crossed the Colorado river, and then ran back to the MoPac bridge.  I added a short, 1.6 mile detour along the Shoal Creek trail to make the whole run 13.1 miles.  I finished in 1:50:13.

The Townlake trail is one of my favorite places for long runs.  A large portion of the it is soft, dirt trail with good shade cover.  With 6 bridges, it is easy to design a route of a desired length.  The entire trail (Longhorn Dam to MoPac Bridge) is 10.1 miles.  When that isn't long enough, I can add length on either the Barton Springs trail or the Shoal Creek trail, both of which intersect the Townlake trail.  Another major advantage is cold drinking water along the trail.  RunTex, a running specialty store in Texas, takes it upon themselves to deliver coolers of drinking water (and sometimes sports drink) and paper cups at three points along the route.  This is a really awesome, gratuitous service that many Austin runners enjoy.

Overall, I was really happy with the run.  My legs felt great the whole time and I was never overly fatigued.  Initially, I was worried that starting out by running the hilly Stratford Rd would tire me out, but I felt good the whole time.  I think part of that was the change in weather, it was cool and slightly overcast this morning, ideal for running.  I also tried GU Chomps (orange) for the first time.  Previously, I would use chocolate GU on any run longer than 10 miles but sometimes the gels didn't sit well with my stomach and they were hard to take if I didn't have water handy.  The GU Chomps are gummy candies, which I found really easy to chew and they didn't upset my stomach at all.  This was the first time I tried them.  I still have some left, so if I have repeat success on my next long run, I think I'll make the switch away from gels.  The only downside is that pieces can get stuck on your teeth...

Anyways, great training run and WWFOR half.  Congrats to Mark and Peggy for finishing the Chicago marathon today.  I look forward to hearing about your experiences :)

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