Prepare for race day with this helpful Austin Half Marathon advice from the Austin Marathon pacers

You train for months preparing your body to run 13.1 miles. Don’t cross the start line without preparing your mind and building a race plan. There won’t be pacers this year, but that didn’t stop the Austin Marathon Pacers from chiming in to help you build your race-day plan. They know this course front and back and their Austin Half Marathon advice will help you. Being mentally prepared and following your race-day plan are the keys to success. Review the course, digest the Austin Half Marathon advice, and prepare for success!

Pro tip: this pace chart can help you figure out your splits.

Start – Mile 3: Cesar Chavez to Ben White [generally uphill]

RuthAnn Lobos (3:55)

It’s easy to go fast at the beginning with all the adrenaline and energy and music But don’t! There’s an incline the first three miles that can easily zap your energy if you push too hard. Be patient. Be confident in your training. There will be a downhill coming up where you can make up time.

Jessica Head (3:45)

My general advice is to stay patient the first 3 miles. Go on effort (maybe goal pace plus 10 seconds.) Ease into your race on the uphill and don’t overthink it if it feels hard.

Travis Rimel (3:05)

Run the first 8 or so miles well within your means. Then get down to business on Lake Austin Boulevard after you pass Exposition Boulevard (Mile 9). The goal is to save yourself so you can crush Enfield Road as you head towards downtown. Smile as you dance up the wall after you cross Lamar Boulevard (good photo op!). Be kind and offer encouragement to those you pass, they could come back to you. Don’t burn your matches too early.

Meredith Terranova (3:55)

This year the roads will feel emptier with fewer people and no full marathoners. This will give people room to go their own pace. Very exciting to think of folks having a chance to race soon!

Brent Stein (3:45)

Recognize that the patience element is likely to be much more difficult this year. Race day comes with lots of excitement, knowing that you’ve trained for months and the big day is here. The excitement of race morning is an amazing experience, and this being our first Austin post-pandemic in-person race is guaranteed to be something uniquely special. The danger with all of that is that you’re going to feel amazing at the race start with lots of energy. Don’t let those nerves, excitement, and energy get the best of you. Focus on having discipline right out of the gate. Don’t worry about what others are doing around you right now. I like to play a little game with myself and remember the faces screaming by me early and silently tell them that “I’ll see you later.” Start out slow, at least 10 seconds slower than race pace. Three miles times ten seconds means you’re only 30 seconds down … you can easily make this up during the downhills on South 1st Street. Don’t weave in and out of traffic to move forward. 

Matt Fletcher (3:30 and 3x Pacer of the Year)

Austin Half Marathon advice for the technical runners. I always plan my half marathon on the principle that you can endure running super-threshold for roughly an hour before the wheels fall off. If you know your lactate threshold by heart rate or breathing then you run the last hour super-thresh and until then, for the love of PRs, stay just barely sub-LT HR. That means watch your effort the first three miles like a hawk. The grade varies, so maintain an even effort and let the steeper grades slow you down.

Miles 3 – 6: Ben White to Cesar Chavez [generally downhill]

Jessica Head (3:45)

Be even more patient coming down South 1st Street through Mile 6. Too many runners have blown up after these three miles because they trash their quads.

Marc Bergman (3:20)

From a competitive aspect, I have some specific anecdotal advice. The one year I “raced” the Austin Half, I started with a pack of runners who stuck together and maintained the smart start parameters as prescribed. When we turned onto South 1st Street, the pack really stepped up their game. I let them go and stayed conservative a bit longer. This was my mistake. Take advantage of that stretch, especially if it means the difference between hanging with a pack and running alone. I ran most of that race solo and regret not taking advantage of the course at that time. They finished mostly together and at the time I had targeted while I faced the back half of the course basically by myself which was mentally tougher.

James Greenham (3:00)

I totally agree with Marc’s perspective here. In a marathon, you can certainly in my opinion take a more conservative approach. But during the half you need to get down to work or you will find yourself playing catchup. I would use South 1st Street to gain back what you might’ve lost during the first three miles.

Matt Fletcher (3:30)

If you feel good once you turn south on South 1st Street, find your next gear. and Push the effort going down the hill to 10K pace. Then settle in around your 10-mile pace once you hit Cesar Chavez Street and Lake Austin Boulevard. 

Meredith Terranova (3:55)

The downhill sprinter unleashes their inner sprinter down South 1st Street only to be caught on Lake Austin Boulevard. While that downhill can be a gift, don’t force speed and empty your tank. There are still many miles left to go.

Miles 6 – 10: Cesar Chavez/Lake Austin Boulevard to Enfield Road [rolling]

Jessica Head (3:45)

Find a groove in this section and focus on your effort up Veterans Drive and Enfield Road. 

Patrick Hall (3:25)

This mostly gentle downhill or flat with one sharp rise on Veterans Drive.  This section will be where your race is made. Pick up speed if you feel good, but leave enough to get over the rollers.  And take advantage of the downhills from Exposition Boulevard to MoPac, then down to Lamar Boulevard.

Brent Stein (3:45)

I concur that Lake Austin Boulevard is where you can start picking it up, but also save something in the tank.

Matt Fletcher (3:30)

One other tip is to take a 2X caffeine gel at the Mile 9 Energy Zone. It will breathe new life into your legs by Mile 11 and propel you to the finish.

Meredith Terranova (3:55)

If you don’t fuel properly you will start to feel it before you ever turn on Enfield Road.

Miles 10 – Finish: Enfield Road/West 15th Street to Congress Avenue

Jessica Head (3:45)

Start pushing it from around Mile 10 to the finish. 15th Street is challenging, but it feels so good at the top. The miles will start to fly, especially when you see the Capitol. By the time you see the finish line you’re at there, so don’t be afraid to push harder once you get into downtown! It’s a really fun race with lots of variation! 

Brent Stein (3:45)

Push it on Enfield Road. This is where you’ll see all of those sprinters coming back to you. Reel them in one at a time, knowing that you’re getting stronger with everyone that you pass. When you get to the top of 15th Street take all that energy and don’t look back. The finish line is near and nothing can stop you now. Keep pouring it in all the way to the finish line and make sure to have a big smile on your face as you motor through the finish line with a shiny new PR!

Matt Fletcher (3:30)

I love this half marathon course because you can enjoy the first six miles of cruising before you have to go all robot machine. Manage your pace on the flats and rollers to the finish. Plus, in the half you can (in normal years) thumb your nose at everyone going twice as far for the same finish line beer!