Running the Livestrong Austin Half Marathon last Sunday was unlike anything I expected.
First of all, the hills. Hills, hills, hills. As I said in my sister’s and my short recap of the race, those hills were HARD, but we conquered the crap out of them.
Then, the sheer amount of people racing stunned me. I’ve only ever participated in small road races of a couple hundred people or so; and the half-marathon that I ran last year was probably under 4,000 people, which was the biggest race I had ever run. The Livestrong Austin Marathon & Half Marathon had over 10,000 people running the half marathon, plus several thousand others running the full marathon at the same time. It took a full 15 minutes after the starting gun was fired before I finally crossed the starting line to begin the race.
My favorite part about the race that I wasn’t expecting, though, was how awesome the FANS were! There was barely a point during the 13.1-mile journey where there weren’t fans on the side of the road cheering all us crazy people on. And I was certainly entertained by all of the witty signs they had, even laughing out loud at a couple of them as I huffed and puffed my way by.
I think I was only ½ mile into the race, running uphill, when I saw the “in our minds, you’re all Kenyans” sign—definitely made me chuckle (and then choke as I tried to catch my breath at the top of the hill).
Several miles later, I saw the sign about Ryan Gosling supposedly 50 feet ahead. Trust me, I kept my eyes peeled, but sadly, no hunk of muscled love was in sight. All I saw was an old guy with a long, scraggly beard; pretty much the opposite of Ryan Gosling, those liars…
Later, with only a couple miles to go, I went through the Livestrong cheering area (which you couldn’t miss, with the amount of bright yellow everywhere)—these had to be the most excited people I have ever seen, out at 8 am in 45-degree weather, just ecstatically cheering and high-fiving runners non-stop. It was amazing and put a lot of pep back in my running.
As I came out of the Livestrong area, I looked to my left and saw the woman holding the “You’re running for me” sign. My breath caught, not because I was running too hard, but because for a moment it hit me that there are so many people out there who have these unfortunate and unfair illnesses, and I’m lucky to be one of the few running around the streets of Austin for 13 miles on a random, sunny Sunday morning. I hope that every breath, grimace, bead of sweat and ounce of effort I spent on those roads, goes towards something good for all those who are really suffering in a completely different way.
I was soon smiling again as I ran along towards the end of the race. “Worst parade ever” of thousands of runners struggling up yet another hill? I bet it wasn’t the most entertaining, but I’ll also bet it was the most inspiring parade anyone’s ever seen!
Special thanks to Pam LeBlanc at the Austin American-Statesman & Fit City for letting me share their photos!