An Athlete’s Perspective – Issue 9

An Athlete’s Perspective is a blog series of event and/or training experiences written firsthand by the athletes themselves. An Athlete’s Perspective is a completely unscripted and raw look into the mind and daily life of an athlete as they prepare for their next race. Readers will discover training regimens, eating tips, gear recommendations, and an uncut perspective into the lives of people like you and me.

6 Tips for Running the Austin Half Marathon

By: Kyle Kranz

Living in western South Dakota does not give me many options for winter half or full marathons.

After missing my half marathon PR by 1 second and 20 seconds in the fall, I was super pumped when gifted an entry into the Austin Half Marathon for a third try!

Below are my six favorite pieces of advice I like to share with those who ask for general racing tips, tuned specifically for Austin. Keep them in mind as you train for and when you run the Austin Half/Full Marathon and I have little doubt you’ll get a bit closer to that PR! You’ll notice that none of these have anything to do with your fitness level. They are applicable to everyone and every event.


An Athlete's Perspective1) Take the Tangents

We’re starting with the easiest.

Did you know that courses are measured via the shortest possible route?

People not running this route is one of the most frustrating things I see at races and something so easy to fix. Run straight from corner to corner instead of staying on one side of the path.

That means when you take a turn wide, you’re running farther than the course actually is! Now imagine you take 10 wide turns over a half marathon. You signed up for 13.1 miles, not 13.5! There went your PR.


2) Slow Down Going Up

I’ve read a lot of research studies over the years, but one that compared racers in an actual race and their position before and after a hill was the one that has stuck with me the best because it’s so applicable to real life and easy to put into practice.

This one is simple as well, slow down when you go up an incline instead of trying to maintain the pace.

The researchers determined that while this may cause you to lose time compared to other runners right at that very moment, over the course of the race duration the individuals who slowed going up had more stamina once they reached the top and were able to accelerate and pass the runners who expired because they maintained their pace.


An Athlete's Perspective

3) Preview the Course and Event

Course previews range from the obvious physically checking out the course before race day to reading about the event online.

A fast way is to simply search Google for the name of your race + race report and read the experience other people have had during past years of the event. Race reports will often mention how the start is organized, what aid stations are like, crowd support, etc.

Of course, the race website is full of helpful information as well. Get familiar with what hydration and calorie options will be available and at what intervals on the course, and look at the elevation profile so you’re aware of any steep bridges or climbs at the end of the course.

The absolute best option is to actually train on the course. If you’re training in Austin, your long runs will likely be very near to 15-20 miles and doing them on the course is wise. The more familiar you are the better!

Another note from a friend of mine that did the full: Be aware that for the first few miles you’ll be running with a bunch of half marathoners. Know when and where the split is. Otherwise, you may suddenly and surprisingly find yourself running solo.


4) Be mindful of the weather

When I arrived in Austin it was actually warmer in South Dakota than in Texas on that February day! However, on race morning it was about 70 degrees and humid.

I re-evaluated my pacing and goals and decided to skip the warm up to keep my core temp down and take the first uphill 5k super easy before dropping the hammer for the remaining 10 miles. I ended up running the first 3-4 miles about 25-30 seconds slower per mile than I would end up averaging.

Due to the proper pacing, I was able to run comfortably for the entire race duration, never needing water or calories and not experiencing any cramping or stomach issues.


An Athlete's Perspective

5) Don’t Forget the 5P’s

Proper pacing prevents poor performance. Do not forget it!

No amount of good training, perfect calories, and adequate hydration will save you if you run the first third of the race distance too fast.

The final third of a race is full of people barely shuffling forward who “had a great first half.” Don’t be one of them! Let people go off ahead during the first third of the race distance, many of them will expire and you will pass them feeling well. Just don’t count passes out loud, it’s rude.

For just about any distance, I like to recommend my clients break it up into three parts. Run the first part easy, which will be much faster than your typical easy pace. Speed up a bit for the middle third but keep it controlled. And then for the final third, whether it’s during a 5k or a marathon, you can basically run at best effort. It’s harder to bonk when your body knows the finish line is near!


6) Treat YourselfAn Athlete's Perspective

No one needs a sport or luxury car, but when you have one it sure is nice.

No one needs the VIP Experience at the Austin Marathon, but it sure was nice!

From the indoor waiting area with couches, refreshments, little breakfast burritos, and indoor bathrooms to the post-race meal looking over the finish line area and massage, it made me pretty darn special to be a VIP for a day! Oh, and I LOVE the free cap I got at the expo for being a VIP.

 


I hope you found these tips helpful!

Regardless of your experience level or knowledge, putting even one of these into practice will help. You will put hundreds of hours into training for this half marathon, don’t sacrifice your goal by making any easily avoidable mistakes at the event!

– Kyle Kranz

Kyle Kranz finished the 2017 Austin Half Marathon in 1:27:46. He works with runners from around the globe helping them achieve their goals. Follow him on his social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube) to gain more insight!

An Athlete’s Perspective – Issue 7

An Athlete’s Perspective is a blog series of event and/or training experiences written firsthand by the athletes themselves. An Athlete’s Perspective is a completely unscripted and raw look into the mind and daily life of an athlete as they prepare for their next race. Readers will discover training regimens, eating tips, gear recommendations, and an uncut perspective into the lives of people like you and me.

New Course Insight from the Professionals

By: Erik Stanley and David Fuentes

Athlete's Perspective

AUSTIN

Erik Stanley: After a week of seeing Austin runners debating whether or not they liked the new Austin Marathon course, I decided to get together with our Trail Roots roadrunners on Sunday (9/17) to test it out. I also called up my buddy David Fuentes to join as well.

David Fuentes: The times they are a-changing. The Austin Marathon has done something that we all wanted, they expanded Austin’s pride and joy race to more of Austin. On Sept. 17, myself and Erik, with Trailroots, set out to preview the course just a couple of days after it went live to the public. To my knowledge, we are the first (that we know of, and non-High Five Events employees) to have run the new second half of the course.

UT Tower

ES: We connected on Enfield near Lamar to make sure we didn’t miss any of the new hills. The Enfield climb was just as tough as normal. Once we hit Guadalupe I got excited. I could imagine tons of people and college folks out cheering along the drag. I imagine this section will be full of energy and help the marathon runners during the second half of their race. I also like that this route gives runners a great tour of the UT campus, including the UT Tower.

DF: We started out around Mile 10 of Enfield and began the preview of the course. The downhills of Enfield into the light 100 ft. climb once you cross the Lamar bridge is early enough into the race that you will still have enough for the last half marathon. Turning left on Guadalupe you have about 2.25mi to get back into your rhythm and find your pace. The UT Campus section is sure to have screaming crowds out front which will help you find the energy and drive.

ES: Guadalupe north of campus should still be pretty energetic and action-packed. Once runners hit Hyde Park the route is flat and downhill with lots of shade from the huge oak and pecan trees.

DF: Heading right onto 45th street will be a nice steady downhill, with a short jaunt up before turning onto Red River. A right, then a left, and you are on the awesome downhill of Duval. If any momentum was lost before, this is where you need to make it back up.

Til Death Do Us Part

ES: Dean Keeton will be tough no doubt, but each climb is followed by an immediate downhill.

DF: Remember that once you get up Dean Keeton, across Manor, then turn on Chicon, there are no steep hills like the Dean Keeton climb until you get to a mile or two from the finish. Webberville, Tillery, and 5th Street are going to be great, light downhill sections to get back into your rhythm if any was lost.

7th St. bridge over Tillery St.

ES: Running through the eastside brings a new feel. I really like running back down on Cesar Chavez towards Austin. The road narrows a bit closer in to town and I imagine the bars and restaurants will all be open with people cheering. This part is super flat and has a great view as you are approaching downtown. Make sure to save just a little bit of energy to get up the 11th st climb. It is steep. I do like that the hills are in a few distinct sections rather than a long slow climb. I can’t say yet if this course will be “faster,” but I do for sure like the energy and excitement that this route will bring to the race.

DF: Cesar Chavez (one of my more favorite sections) is going to be a flat road that will hopefully aid in keeping your pace for the last ~4 miles of the race. Right on Waller, left on 6th Street (short downhill), right on Red River, and then left on the last quick steep hill on 11th St. Once you crest that, it’s an all-out sprint, hobble, walk, or crawl, to the finish.

ES Take Home Notes: Enfield and Dean Keeton are the big hills for the 2nd half. I imagine people will feel energized running through campus, but will be recovering from the Enfield climb. Don’t get too amped up here. Keep your pace steady. Dean Keeton will tear many people down. This is a long, tough climb and is pretty exposed. You still have 8 miles to go as well. Plan on catching people on Dean Keeton. It’s a long straight shot. You can see far ahead in front of you. Use that to your advantage and catch some people. The 11th St. hill climb is tough, but it’s so close to the finish. I wouldn’t forget about it though. Keep it in the back of your mind, so you aren’t surprised when it hits you right before the finish line.

Living the Good Life in Austin, TX

DF Take Home Notes: Looking at the data, the sections of the course, the possible temps, and physically running the course, I really think this could be a great day for a lot of people and the city. Austin has always had a temperamental climate and been blessed with rolling hills. The new route, with new neighborhoods, is really going to make this race even better than in prior years. There is a mental aspect to running a marathon that most know about, most have heard about, and most have lived through, if you have ever run the race. The thing to remember is to always keep moving forward and train for what you will be racing on. Austin is a city that people want to visit, run in, drink our delicious beer, treat themselves to our tacos, swim in our springs, and stuff their faces with our infamous BBQ. There is no better time for these activities than Austin Marathon weekend. (Beer, tacos, and BBQ after the race of course.)

Erik Stanley and David Fuentes are both highly decorated Austin runners with deep ties to the Austin endurance community.

6th St. view towards Red River

Stanley was the 2015 Cap10K champion, 2014 3M Half Marathon champion, and an All-American and Big XII champion while at the University of Texas (2004-2008). He still competes locally and is the founder of and coach at Trail Roots. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Fuentes is a Skecher’s sponsored athlete and a member of the gold-medal winning team at the 2016 World Mountain Running Championships, a 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, and three-time winner of the Austin Half Marathon. He still competes and coaches local runners with Durata Training and Austin Running Academy. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Austin Marathon Joins Forces with Austin Runners Club

Partnership will bring together Austin’s most recognized running entities

High Five Events announces a partnership between the Austin Marathon® and the Austin Runners Club. The primary goal of the partnership is to increase the growth of the Austin Runners Club by offering a discounted club membership during the Austin Marathon registration process.

Austin Runners Club

“We want to increase membership, get more Austinites running, and properly train them for the Austin Marathon or half marathon,” said Iram Leon, Austin Runners Club President. “We’ve experienced tremendous growth over the last couple of years and we’re excited to see that trend continue by working with the Austin Marathon.”

Austin Runners Club is a nonprofit organization that has been running in Austin since 1974. Participants registering for the Austin Marathon, half marathon, or 5K can join the Austin Runners Club for $25 during the registration process. The Austin Runners Club’s annual dues are normally $30 and free group-based marathon and half marathon training is included in the annual membership. In addition to the training, members receive various discounts to local running stores, recovery services, and other events. The Austin Distance Challenge, a series of five running events culminating with the Austin Marathon, is hosted by the Austin Runners Club.

“Austin Runners Club has trained Austinites for more than 40 years,” said Jack Murray, co-owner of High Five Events. “We want to highlight their great work preparing runners for the Austin Marathon and half marathon and offer non-ARC members a chance to join and get trained by their reputable coaches.”

The Austin Marathon will celebrate its 27th year running in the capital of Texas on February 18, 2018. Austin’s flagship running event annually attracts runners from all 50 states and 20+ countries around the world. Having start and finish locations just a few blocks apart, being within walking distance of many downtown hotels and restaurants, and finishing in front of the picturesque Texas State Capitol makes the Austin Marathon the perfect running weekend destination. Participants can register for the marathon, half marathon, or 5K.