4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Posts Tagged ‘austin

Austin Day 3

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Saturday was day 3 in Austin.  Another great day.  The weather was cold, though.  We were very suprised when we stepped out into what could have been a New York winter day.  Cold and windy.  It was in the mid 40’s, so definitely warmer than your typical New York winter’s day, but colder than we were expecting, for sure.

My goal for the day was to drive the marathon course, and along the way, we would stop off at several touristy stops.  We drove the 1st six miles of the course, and then went to the Austin Botanical Gardens, at Zilker Park.  It was small, compared to others gardens I’ve seen, and since it is the tail end of winter, there was not a lot in full bloom, but it was still wonderful.  They have a great Japanese Garden, complete with a half moon bridge.  They also have a spectacular bamboo forest.  A few of the roses were in bloom, and we also went through the Prehistoric Garden, which has a statue of a dinosaur that was native to the area.

We then hit the marathon course again for another 8 miles or so, and turned off at Mt Bonnell.  It is a large hill with great views of Lake Austin.  It is more like a scenic overlook than a tourist destination.  We hiked up the many stairs to the top, admired the view for a bit, and headed back to the car.  Apparently, lots of people go there to picnic, and there was a couple with picnic basket, setting up for a Valentine’s Day lunch.

Finally, we drove the remaining 13 miles of the course.  We intended to stop off at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum, but changed our minds at the last minute to get a head start on our late lunch / early dinner plans.  

It was really useful to drive the course ahead of time, to get an idea of the hills, the turns, and the different stages of the course.  You can only appreciate the look of the hills at the end of the course once you’ve seen the whole thing and can grasp how big they are and how late in the race they appear!

For our late lunch / early dinner, we went to Salt Lick BBQ.  This is the place that was most strongly recommended among the people we spoke to.  It is way out in the sticks, about a 40 minute drive south and west of Austin, in the hill country.  And yet, when we arrived there at 2pm and put our names on the list, we were told it would be a 1 hour wait.  1 hour (and even 2 hour) waits are typical, it seems, and they had a guy singing and playing the guitar for entertainment in a heated tent.  It was still quite chilly (low 50’s), so we stayed in the tent to listen to the entertainment while we waited.  The wait did end up being 1 hour, but it was well worth it.  Probably the best BBQ I’ve ever had!  And the meal was topped off with a great Pecan Pie for me and a Blackberry Cobbler for my wife.  Another fantastic meal.

We were back at the hotel early and watched Get Smart, before retiring early to bed.  Had to be up early the next morning for the Austin Marathon, which started at 7am.


Written by SCL

February 16, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Austin Day 2

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Friday was day 2 in Austin.  Had a great day.  The weather was stunning.  Early on it was in the 60’s and cloudy, but eventually the sun came out and the high was 79 degrees.  Thankfully the weather would cool before the marathon, but it was just perfect for being out and about.

In the morning, my wife had a business meeting on the campus of University of Texas, so I wondered around for a bit and just sat outside with my book, enjoying the weather.  Also got the worlds fastest haircut at some place on 26th and Guadaloupe.  Afterwards, we met up with another of my wife’s business contacts at Ranch 616, a diner style restaurant with great Texas food.  The special of the day was Chicken Fried Chicken, and I couldn’t pass that up.

After lunch, we had a couple of hours to kill before the Austin Marathon race expo, which was held at the Palmer Events Center, across the lake.  So, we did a lot of walking, and then spent an hour sitting in the shade just behind the expo location.  Just before 3pm, we headed into the expo, and it was a total mob scene.  Very crowded!  Waited about 15 minutes on line to get my bib, bag and shirt.

I went a little bit crazy at the expo and bought lots of stuff:

  • 1 tank top from the ‘discount’ guy.  Last summer I killed 2 of my tanktops from all the sweat, and I can’t get the stink out anymore.  So, I need some replacements.  Unfortunately, he only had 1 XL in a style that I liked.
  • 3 cheap pairs of ‘throwaway’ gloves from the same discount guy.  Figured I’d use one for the marathon on Sunday and then have 2 extra for future cold races or New York City Marathon.
  • Speed laces – I got this at Super Runners Shop last year, but have since had a hard time finding them.  These laces tighten and loosen by drawstring, rather than tying.  I absolutely loved them, and am glad I got some refills – 1 set of fasteners and 2 sets of laces
  • Austin Marathon branded mesh hat and gloves.  My old NYC Marathon branded gloves have gotten a bad case of the stinks, and need to go in the garbage.
  • 3 pairs of shorts (buy 2 get 1 free) from the sub4usa stand.  I love their DryLyte Compression shorts.  I bought 2 of these at the Big Sur Marathon expo in 2005 and after 4 summers of hard use, they were falling apart.  Should be set for a few more years now.
  • 3 pairs of socks – For my size 13 / 14 feet, extra large socks are a must.  I have a very hard time finding them in the running stores in New York.  I tried Super Runners Shop and Jackrabbit, to no avail.  At the expo, I splurged $20 for 3 pairs of super duper, toe reinforced, blister free, dry, etc socks.  Now I can throw away all of my old blister-causing socks.

We walked all around downtown in the evening and then headed to South Congress St to go to Guero’s Taco Bar for dinner.  Unfortunately, the place was packed, as was all the other restaurants in the area.  So, we went back to the hotel and had a great meal at Texas Land and Cattle, a chain restaurant, but still very good.  We ate in front of a fireplace, and topped it off with a great brownie with ice cream.

All in all, a wonderful kid-free day!

Written by SCL

February 16, 2009 at 3:47 pm

A ‘fiery’ marathon

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Have a few hours to kill in the airport before heading back to NY tonight, so will try and post details of my trip and the Austin Marathon yesterday.

But first, check this out: http://nofearofthefuture.blogspot.com/2009/02/fortean-fireball-weekend.html – during the marathon, there was some kind of meteor or space debris that fell in the northern sky.

Written by SCL

February 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm