Slowly Sipping Coffee

Half Marathon – Yeah, I did it!

It's also a belt buckle! Yeah Texas!

It’s also a belt buckle! Yeah Texas!

This weekend I ran the Outlaw Half Marathon in Luckenbach, Texas, and I finished! Yeah!! While I didn’t hit my stretch goal of finishing in under 2 hrs, I still had a lot of fun and really enjoyed it, and I think I may have found a new hobby. Even as recently as last December I hadn’t broken the 5 mile mark with my running, but since I’ve written about that already, you can catch up here if you missed it. This post will focus more about the race day, feelings going into it, and random thoughts during and after the race.

Just so I’m not wasting anyone’s time, there’s no financial stuff in this post, but if you want to read more about the half marathon journey, continue onward!


I’d been scanning the weather forecast because I knew that my training temps and race day were probably going to be 2 different things. I usually go running at night, in the dark, when it’s generally cooler (you know not quite 80’s) and the race was daytime, in Hill Country, and there would be sun. Gah, sun!!! I know from my experience running on the weekends that I am a tad slower when it’s hotter, more humid, and sunny, just because I’m sweating more and it can feel like you’re running with a thick, warm, wet blanket wrapped around your chest and lungs. Fortunately, it was supposed to be cloudy, 50’s and a chance of rain – perfect!!

I’d been training for this for about 8 weeks and I felt really good about it. I knew I could run the distance, but I wanted the stretch goal of completing it in under 2 hours. That didn’t happen, but I don’t feel badly about it. I finished in 2:12 mainly because I’d severely underestimated the hills on this course.

Uphill then downhill - no problem...

Uphill then downhill – no problem…

Yes, I know it’s in “Hill Country” and that there would be hills, and even though I’d committed the course and climbs to memory, I still sold myself short on how much energy hills take. I also severely overestimated the amount of elevation gain I had gotten on my training runs. I knew my runs weren’t close to that 465’ of elevation gain and I knew it would be harder, but man…

My runs had no elevation gain, respectively

My runs had no elevation gain, respectively

This was confirmed in the first mile or so of the course, when we started out and gained about 80’ right off the bat, and my inner voice was telling me, “Well, you’re hosed, because you didn’t train for this…” I kept a good attitude, however, I knew if that little blip on the elevation profile was “this” then the rest of the course was going to be tough. I chugged along, focusing on my pace, remembering to breathe, and even enjoying the scenery. Everything was green, the deer were active (I saw a couple of herds in the fields we ran past), there was a lightning storm off in the distance that was pretty spectacular, and we were running along a stream for various sections, so overall it was really pretty.

The first 4 miles flew by and then we really started climbing. I pulled up the elevation profile in my head and then I realized where I was on it and thought, “Ohhhh, fuuuudge….” Then I came over the top of the little hill to see the big climb laid out before me like the Golden Staircase at Chilkoot Pass. I know it wasn’t that extreme but it literally made me laugh out loud when I saw it.

It seemed like it was this steep, lol

It seemed like it was this steep, lol

No worries though, I knew this was the big climb, so I just started up. Down the backside, there was another climb before the turn around, and this was when I knew I was still doing well. I hit halfway in an hour even with the hills and now just had the big hill to do again, and then all the rest of them, but I was still feeling fine. After I’d gotten over the big hill again I started clocking miles versus time to see if I would hit 2 hrs. I hit 9 miles with ~40 minutes left so I thought I’d really be able to make it. I knew the profile showed this was almost all back downhill with just a few climbs, but then I started running out of energy. I’d even eaten an energy pouch before the last big hill and it helped, but I was gassed. The little climbs on the way back were just draining me and at the 10 mile mark I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep up even a 10 minute mile pace for the last ½ hr.

At that point though something happened. I quit focusing on time and went back to focusing on the present and the other lightning storm that we were running towards, and the cool breeze, and the stream again, and it was like a load was lifted. I just enjoyed the last 3 miles even though I knew my stretch goal was out of reach that day.

Like I said, I finished in 2 hrs and 12 minutes, and I was pretty proud of myself. I had fun, enjoyed myself, and I got a cool medal/belt buckle out of the deal! The next day, except for morning when my outer left knee screamed at me while going down stairs, everything else muscle-wise felt like normal. Wait, my toe beside my big toe on my right foot felt like someone pounded it with a hammer, so the down hills must have slammed it in the shoe more than I realized. D’oh! Otherwise everything else felt great, and even the knee felt fine later in the day, so all the training did pay off in that regard.

There’s another half marathon in Mandeville, LA in October that I might run with a friend and I feel I can definitely break 2 hrs then. It’s run along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, so there’s no real elevation change. Maybe by then I could try to break 1hr 50 minutes!!

Did you have anything you didn’t think you could do, but you worked at it and succeeded? Let me know, I’d love to hear about it!


26 thoughts on “Half Marathon – Yeah, I did it!

  1. Our Next Life

    Congrats, buddy! And what a badass medal they gave you! I love that you’re already setting faster and faster goal times. LOL. But yeah, a flat course would definitely work in your favor. It’s awesome that you got to that state of enjoying the moment in the home stretch — I’m sure that made it all a lot more fun. And if that outer knee pain flares up again, a foam roller can work wonders. :-)

    1. Mr. SSC

      Thanks, yeah I really like the medal. It’s way cooler than the one from last year. :)
      Once I realized I wasn’t going to hit the 2 hrs, I jsut went back to trying and anjoy it and be present, and it worked, plus it took my mind off of my low energy state as well.
      I’ll ahve to try working on the foam roller some with it. It went away once the blood got moving around, but it did not like stairs that early in the day. :)

  2. Bill

    Great job on your first half! I’ve done a bunch of them, and you’re already faster than I am.

    That pain on the outside of the knee sounds like an IT band issue. I had the same problem after training for my first (very hilly) half on mostly flat ground. Squats, lunges, and hip drops (Google this one if you don’t know what I mean) will strengthen your hips and glutes to make that pain disappear.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Thanks, and thanks for the training tips. I’ll have to work in some cross training to help the old body out, instead of “just running.”

      It would be nice to strengthen it and not have it as a future issue as well.

  3. Tawcan

    Wow totally awesome, congrats! That’s a really cool medal. I’m not quite a runner but would love to do marathon or half-marathon one of these days.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Thanks, I wasn’t much of a runner either until this past fall, so there’s hope for you too! Not that I’m trying to convert people to running, I’ve seriously been a bit opposed to it until recently. :)

  4. The Personal Economist

    Fantastic! Those hills look pretty mean. I’m doing my first half marathon next month in Sydney and I’m a little scared but determined to do it, I will be over 2 hours but don’t really care about the time, I just want to finish without stopping.

    1. Mr. SSC

      You’ll have to let us know how it turns out, that’s exciting!
      Good luck on your half marathon! I was hoping for the same, but ended up walking for 30 second stretches towards the last 3 miles. Sigh… Maybe the next one, I can try and hit that goal too. :)

  5. Mr. PIE

    I am sitting at an airport bar reading this with pizza and beer in front of me.
    Guilty as charged. :-(

    Congrats on the significant accomplishment!
    I must do better……

  6. TheMoneyMine

    Congrats, that medal is badass!
    I think those hills would have killed me, I can feel the pain just looking at the elevation map haha. Doing 2h12 on such a hilly route, you should be in a good position to break the 2h mark running around lake pontchartrain and it shouldn’t be too humid then.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Thanks man! Yeah those hills didn’t look as bad until i got there. Like Mike Tyson says, “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth”. That’s how I felt with that first little climb, I was like, “yipe! well that plan went out the window.” Hahahaha

      I think the Lake Pontchartrain course would be more my style and fit my training regimen better. Plus, I may ahve a friend talked into doing his first half then too. Yeah!

    1. Mr. SSC

      Thanks! Like I wrote in that other post, I hadn’t even broken 5 miles until around December, like 4 months ago. :) I just had to focus and switch around my running style. Although I think it was more like “Prancercise” than drunken monkey. If you haven’t heard of that style, follow this you-tube link. :)

      Good luck on hitting 13!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks, I was thinking yesterday that I should look into making it into an actual belt buckle, because, why not? :)

      Those hills weren’t much fun, but if it works out, I think I’m down for trying that course again next year!

  7. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    “Ohhhh, fuuuuudge”. LOL, love that movie!!! Seriously, though, that’s terrific!!! As a former runner (only did 5ks though) I know exactly what you’re talking about. Now that I’m closing out my forties, I stick to hikes, bikes, walks, weights, non-impact stuff. But I remember fondly my running days. :-)

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I wondered if anyone would get that movie reference. :) I didn’t used to like running, but recently I’ve come to appreciate it. I think at some point it might get to be too painful on the joints, but until then…

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks, it was nice having a goal to work towards with running and give it a bit more purpose than just “exercising”.

  8. Dividendsdownunder


    Really nice job on the marathon. I would probably struggle to run a 1/3 marathon at the moment. The effort you made to complete this is a good metaphor for finances, if you keep going, eventually you will get there :)

    That is a really cool medal, something to be proud of and show off.


    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks, although it did come with a lot of work and effort put in to get there. Sticking with it is what got me through the end. I kept telling myself, “Hey in less than half an hour you’ll be enjoying a cold beer.” I also had almost a gallon of cold water first and some bananas and oranges, but that beer was delicious!

      I found a place that I can get the “belt” part ordered from, and think I might just have to turn it into a belt buckle. It’s not hideously alrge like most TX belt buckles I see, but big enough that it would get noticed. :)

  9. Ditching The Grind

    Awesome job, especially with only 8 weeks of training! That’s really impressive. Hills can be brutal. I need to get back into half marathon shape. I always seem to hit a wall at 10 miles on race day, even when I crush longer distances in training. Again, great job!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks, those hills were draining! I have only been out on 1 run since then and everything felt great, but the next day, my toe on my right foot had a heartbeat the whole day. It’s still purple from hitting the front of my shoe on the down hills. I’m starting back running tonight as I figure – okay, lazy butt, 2 weeks is plenty long for a celebratory “rest period”. Hahahaha Plus, I actually miss running… Words I wouldn’t have thought I’d type just 6 months ago even. :)

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