Runners pick races to enter based on a variety of criteria – location, course elevation, entertainment along the course to name a few. I don’t think too many runners would select a race because they hand out office supplies in the goodie bag. I needed to run a half marathon in Texas during winter because the typical warm weather in Texas isn’t compatible with my Transverse Myelitis. I heard about January’s 3M Half Marathon in Austin. The runners get 3M products in their goodie bags. This idea of free office supplies to runners was intriguing and just the sort of thing that would appeal to a funatical runner like me.
I took a look at the course and the elevation map before I left for Austin. I was delighted to see that, except for a hill at the start, this course was down hill. That kind of course is PR (personal record) friendly. I planned to give it my all and see how well I could do.
On my way to the Expo, I stopped in the Rogue Running store. I have been following them on Facebook and on their blog for a while. They have a lively community of runners and I wanted to see it for myself. It didn’t disappoint me. I’d be a regular if I lived in Austin.
The Expo was held in the Austin Convention Center in a hall next to a tattoo convention. From what I observed, I can tell you that runners are very different looking than people who are interested in tattoos. Runners wear bright colors and tattoo enthusiasts are more fond of black. The goodie bag did contain a variety of 3M products, including a Clean Sanding System. One runner I talked to thought the products handed out this year were “weird” compared to previous years. I expected more Post-Its and not a sanding system.
It was chilly on race morning with the temperature in the upper 30s. This was a point-to-point race so I packed my gear bag with dry clothes to change into for the ride back to the start area. The bag drop-off was several school buses. Each bus covered a range of bib numbers with people hanging out the windows to collect the runners’ bags.
The race field was a comfortable size of about 5,400 runners. I didn’t feel like I was vying for a path on the course – there was ample room for all the runners. There was limited course entertainment but that didn’t bother me. I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to be standing around outside in the cold. I did see plenty of cheering spectators, especially an energetic group from Rogue Running who made their way to several spots along the course.
I came within 27 seconds of a new PR for the half marathon. I might have made it, if I hadn’t stopped every time I saw coins on the road. I found a dime, two pennies, and a quarter – not enough to pay my expenses to this race. PR or not, I was very happy with how my race went.
Because of the blizzard on the East Coast, my return flights were canceled – twice! – and I was stranded in Austin. I was able to take the extra time to tour the city. Austin is very unique with plenty of bars, craft brews, and, of course, music. I can’t think of another city that I have visited that puts as much effort into promoting small businesses as Austin does. I especially enjoyed the stores along South Congress (SOCO) that were selling clothing, art, jewelry, antiques, even fancy cowboy boots. I was tempted to buy all sorts of things but my travel budget was already blown by the additional expenses due to my extended visit.
I might have been stranded in Austin but I can think of worst places to be. Austin is a fun town and there are plenty of interesting things to see. If I am still looking for that sub-2 hour half marathon at the end of this year, I might have to head back to Austin.
If you live in the Austin area or even if you are just visiting, stop in Rogue Running. I have seen plenty of running stores all over the country during the course of my travels. This is by far one of my favorites. And if you can’t get to Austin, you can always travel with Rogue Expeditions on one of their “run-centric vacations” to places like Morocco, Kenya, Patagonia, Lake Tahoe, and Bend, Oregon. Their trips accommodate runners of all levels and enable you to truly experience each destination. Sounds like an exciting adventure to me!