“Soy El Pancho”

It was just 10 hours after landing back in Tampa that the alarm went off again.  “Wake up, Man Child.”  Mexico here we come!

With every trip we take, traveling becomes easier and easier.  It helps that Tampa International Airport is so efficient to navigate.  It took exactly 23 minutes from the time we locked our front door, until the time we were seated outside our gate at the airport.  TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry were life savers on this trip!

As we waited at our gate, the Man Child spotted someone he knew.  Typical.  (If he doesn’t know someone everywhere we go, he has to make a new friend):

The Man Child: “I’m going to go say, ‘hi.'”

Me:  “Do you really need to harass someone prior to 6am… (but the Man Child was already deep in conversation).

While he used his gift of gab, I spent some time reading a book and napping.  We did have a long layover in Houston before heading on to Puerto Vallarta.  I wanted to be rested when we finally arrived!

While in Puerto Vallarta, we were staying at The Hard Rock, all-inclusive resort.  Having just come from Atlantis, The Hard Rock seemed so small in comparison, but also much more intimate.  I would definitely recommend this property to anyone heading to Puerto Vallarta!

On the first day, we spent the afternoon in the pool and by the swim up bar.  The resort than hosted a Mexican beach party, where we had live music, entertainment, and the best tacos!  Plus, you couldn’t beat the setting for the party!

After a couple margaritas, the Man Child ended up on stage entertaining the crowd.  I’ve shared a little video clip below (see link titled “Soy el Pancho”).  The sound quality isn’t very good, but you get the gist.  Essentially, the Man Child was supposed to re-enact a skit where he played the role of “El Pancho.”  The best “El Pancho” won the competition.  It was just an excuse to get some tourists on stage acting ridiculously and drinking tequila.  The Man Child enjoyed himself too much.  And, for the rest of the weekend, people on the resort referred to him as “El Pancho.”

“Soy el Pancho”

On our second day, the bride and groom planned a “dia de los muertos” themed luncheon followed by what we thought was a tequila tasting in Puerto Vallarta.  The luncheon was fantastic.  Again, the hotel provided the perfect back drop.

Knowing that we had a tequila tasting that evening, the Man Child and I ate quite a bit at lunch.  We wanted to make sure we didn’t hit the tequila tasting on an empty stomach! For the tour, our entire group was taken by bus to downtown Puerto Vallarta.  There, we met our tour guides, broke into small groups, and began our adventure.  We began our tour with a stop at two different, local taco stands.  Of course, the tacos were amazing!  For our third stop, we hit a local restaurant which served us some amazing seafood enchilada dish.  At this point, I can barely eat any more food!!  Though, I still haven’t seen any tequila.  Between the luncheon and the taco stands, I thought my stomach might explode!  But, no worries!  We only had one more food stop.  OMG.  Here, we had some incredible marlin fish dip.  I don’t remember what else was served because I could barely put another bite in my mouth.  When I looked over at the Man Child, he was sweating profusely, and he looked like he was about 7 months pregnant.  Though that didn’t stop him from eating at least two more tacos!

We ended our food tour at a cool, little tequila bar which specialized in various kinds of handmade margaritas.  As someone who is really picky about margaritas, I can honestly say these were fantastic!

We spent our last night in Puerto Vallarta celebrating the marriage of our friends.  It was such a beautiful place for a wedding!  Here are just a few of my photos from the weekend:

On Sunday, we packed up our stuff and headed home.  When we arrived in Denver, I was so thankful that the Man Child and I got Global Entry.  We were through customs and immigration in less than 2 minutes, while some of our friends waited for close to an hour.  If you travel out of the country at all, Global Entry is absolutely worth it!  We even got Global Entry for free as a perk through my American Express Platinum card.

Before I leave you all, I just wanted to add a little bit about the Hard Rock in Puerto Vallarta.  One of the best things about the resort was the staff!  They went above and beyond to make our stay memorable, comfortable, and fun.  We even left with a few new friends!  I hope to return the favor if any of them ever make it to Florida!

UP NEXT: A 10.5 hour road trip (with the dogs) leading up to a week long stay in a cabin in TN with the Man Child’s family.  This is bound to lead to some great stories.  I can’t wait!

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Bahamas Baby!

When my mom called me about a year ago and mentioned planning a family vacation, I was excited.  I mean, we all know how much I love a vacation!  The problem is that there is a big difference between a vacation and a trip.  You can take a trip, and it can be a complete chore.  Maybe you have to take a trip for work.  Or maybe you have to take a trip for other personal obligations.  Just because you get to go somewhere cool, does not mean it is a vacation.  Those of you who travel for work surely understand this.

So, upon second thought, when my mom mentioned a vacation, I was concerned this would end up being more of a trip.  When I’m on vacation, I do not like to have a schedule.  I do not like people telling me what I have to do, what I have to eat, or what I have to wear.  I want to do what I want, when I want.  That is what vacation is all about!  My mom may say that’s because I’m a bitch.  And, maybe that’s true.  But it doesn’t change my opinion.

For our vacation, my parents chose Atlantis in the Bahamas.  I thought this was a great suggestion as I’d never been to Atlantis, and I love going new places.  But, as we started the planning, I realized how expensive Atlantis was!  Four nights at Atlantis (not including food and drinks) cost more than the total cost of any trip the Man Child and I had taken in the past several years!  Those of you who know me know that I love nice things, but I also like a good deal.  I am always trying to figure out how I can travel for the cheapest amount possible (yet still take advantage of any and all available upgrades). I love taking advantage of travel clubs, rewards programs, and points.  As an example, between points and a companion pass, the Man Child and I have not paid for a Southwest flight in over two years (and it looks like I’m about to qualify for a 2018 companion pass)…

But, back to Atlantis.  The resort is expensive!!  So, I was super skeptical.  The Bahamas are absolutely beautiful, and, being close by, it is the perfect stop for a long weekend.  However, there are so many great places that are reasonably priced.  On top of that, as we got closer to leaving for Atlantis, my mom kept talking about the schedule and location of dinner each night. WHOA!  WAIT!  Is this a vacation or a trip?  After a brief “disagreement” on the phone over where we wanted to eat, I decided just to “suck it up and get over it” (one of my mom’s favorite sayings)!

When the Man Child and I arrived at Atlantis, I was blown away by the size of the resort. The place is basically its own mini city.  We stayed in the main tower, The Royal Towers.  It was crowded, and the room was generic.  We also had a nice view of the taxi stand.  So far, not impressed.  Bigger is not always better.

That first night we met my parents for dinner at one of the restaurants in The Cove (the luxury part of the resort.  The food was fantastic!  Though, my dad complained that it was quite expensive.  No complaints from me as my dad picked up the bill (for every night we stayed at resort).  Thanks, Dad!!!  After dinner, we grabbed some drinks and spent some time touring (and losing money) in the casino.  As we toured the resort, I began to see why Atlantis was so expensive.  It’s a beautiful, themed resort with something for everyone.  It is exactly like Disney.  Those of you who read my previous post know how much I like Disney even though it is also overpriced.  Ok.  So, I can get behind Atlantis now!

Overall, Atlantis was a great place for a family vacation… and yes, I am calling it a vacation.  I haven’t been that relaxed in a long time.  I spent time floating through the river rapids, touring the aquariums, and reading a book by one of the many pools.  There was something for everyone to do, so I didn’t have to worry about entertaining anyone.  Even the Man Child found ways to keep himself busy.  He did this mostly by losing our money in the casino and making friends with the bartenders.  Either way, he was happy too.


Even though Atlantis had plenty to keep us busy, the Man Child and I wanted to explore the island and see some of the local culture.  In particular, I wanted to find a local conch stand.  On one of our morning runs, we ran over the bridge and found a series of local conch shacks down by the docks.  Perfect.  We stopped in a couple different places to try the conch.  Each one of them was incredible!  I had the best conch fritters I have ever had!  The conch salad was delicious as well.  Of course, I had to try the local concoction known as “Sky Juice.”  It’s essentially gin and coconut water, and it is my new favorite drink!  I can’t believe how good it tastes!  On the last day of the trip, the Man Child even convinced my parents to join us for some local conch.  My dad was skeptical and did not want to go.  Begrudgingly, he joined us and cleaned his plate of fried fish!  I think he’ll even admit that he enjoyed it.  🙂

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Sky Juice!

And, just like that, our trip to Atlantis came to an end. We had a great time, and I am looking forward to the next family vacation!  The Man Child and I flew back to Tampa that evening, and we had just enough time to unpack, re-pack, and get some sleep before our morning flight to Mexico.  Up next, Puerto Vallarta!!!

Moving and Such

I’ve been a little quiet on the blog lately.  Not because my life has been boring, but because I’ve been in the middle of a move.  The Man Child and I finally took the plunge and decided to move downtown.  We’ve been talking about moving for a while, but we finally did it.  And, now I remember why we haven’t moved in so long.  Moving is such a pain!!  But, it’s done.  It’s only been a few weeks in the new place, and we LOVE being able to walk everywhere!

The timing of the move was pretty bad too.  We closed on the new house in the afternoon on April 28.  We left for the Bahamas in the morning on April 29 and returned May 3, only to turn around and fly to Mexico on May 4 for a wedding.  So, things have been a little crazy!  More on each of those trips in upcoming blog posts!

Besides the Bahamas and Mexico, we also took a couple, quick weekend trips in the past two months.  The first one, and one of my favorite, annual trips, was a one night trip to Disney to “eat and drink around the world” at EPCOT.  As annual passholders, the Man Child and I love heading to Disney every opportunity we get.  EPCOT is one of my favorite parks as I love the different food and art festivals which they host throughout the year.  At the end of March, we got a group of friends together to head over for the new Festival of the Arts.  As always, it was a great time!  The champagne didn’t hurt either.

Besides our weekend at Disney, we took a long weekend to head to Fort Lauderdale for some work, and we arranged it so that we could hit Tortuga Musical Festival while we were there.  This is the 2nd year in a row that we’ve gone to Tortuga Musical Festival, and it was a blast!  We’re hoping to make it back again next year.  The first time we went, neither myself nor the Man Child listened to any country music.  We still had an incredible time listening to live music and hanging out on the beach all weekend.  Ever since the concert, I’ve been on a country music kick.  If you’re interested in joining us next year, let me know!  It’s such a fun weekend!

 

 

Besides all that, we’ve been working quite a bit and planning our upcoming trips.  We recently joined a travel club, and we’re getting amazing deals on vacations!  I plan to use that club quite a bit over the next year.  I believe that you should travel while you can.  You might not get the opportunity in the future!  People always ask when we have time to work.  The truth is, when we’re home, we’re ALWAYS working.  It’s why we like to get away.  And, we also do some work on our trips.  The Man Child is most productive on a plane because he can get his work done without interruptions!  When he’s in the office, there’s always some sort of distraction.  Some people might call that ADHD.  For me, it’s just a part of living with Jim Jenkins!

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I carried the Man Child on my shoulders so that he could get a better view of Kenny Chesney.

St. Patty’s Day Weekend in Boston!

What do you do when you realize you have free airline vouchers that are about to expire?  You book a last minute trip to Boston over St. Patrick’s Day!  With a large Irish population, plenty of Irish pubs, and a St. Patty’s Day parade, Boston is the perfect place to celebrate!

In all seriousness, we planned to use the vouchers to visit the Man Child’s grandparents and family in Massachusetts.  It just so happened that our calendar and the airlines availability sent us to Boston over St. Patrick’s Day.  Either way, I’m not complaining!  Who wouldn’t want a (practically) free trip?!

As always, flying in and out of Tampa couldn’t have been easier.  We left our Friday morning meeting at 8:30am, and we are at the airport, through security, and sitting at the gate by 9:12am.  Making it in plenty of time before our 10:30am flight.  Seriously, if you live in the Tampa Bay area, and you don’t take advantage of how easy it is to travel out of Tampa International Airport, you are totally missing out!

We landed in Boston just after 1pm.  The weather was brisk, but beautiful.  Not a cloud in the sky, 30 degrees, snow still 0n the ground.  Super cold for us Florida peeps, but we were prepared!

Just a short, $10 Uber ride and we arrived at the Hilton Downtown Faneuil Hall by 1:30pm.  Even though we were early, our room was ready…and as an elite member, I received an upgrade to a corner room.  Perfect!  Not that we spend any time in the room.  We immediately dropped off our stuff, bundled up in our winter gear, and headed out for an adventure.

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We walked outside of Faneuil Hall area and towards the Seaport to try and get away from the lines and crowds.  Along the way, we found a great Irish pub and even stopped in Harpoon Brewery’s Beer Hall for some tasters and giant pretzels.  Of course, we were only at Harpoon for about 5 minutes when the Man Child made friends with a young attorney  sitting next to us, who also happened to be from Florida.  When I say “young,” she was 10 years younger than the Man Child.  He loved telling her stories about his experiences as an attorney and giving her some advice for her career.  Just saying that makes me feel old!

When we got back to Faneuil Hall area later that evening, we attempted to find a place with live, Irish music.  There were plenty of them around.  But, the lines to get in were around the block at each place.  And, it was cold outside.  And, we were the oldest people in line.  At that point, we decided to skip the green beer and head to a nice dinner instead.

The following morning we made the trip to Plymouth to visit the Man Child’s family.  I love this area of Massachusetts.  It’s quaint, with such a rich history.  We had dinner at a restaurant occupying this beautiful, old farmhouse which was built in the 1780s.  Such a cool place!

We spent most of our time in Plymouth relaxing and catching up with family.  It was a great visit.  I wish we had more time to spend there.  We’ll just have to plan another trip soon.

We arrived back in Boston just in time for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade!  This is a huge event for the local community!  For those from Tampa, it is a lot like our Gasparilla Parade.    We thought about going, but it was really cold (for us Florida people), and we weren’t sure we wanted to brave the crowds.  So, we stopped into an Irish Pub for lunch (since the Man Child never got to hear his live, Irish music on Friday).  Surprisingly, the Man Child made a new friend from Toronto within 5 minutes of being in the pub (this is definitely a theme with our travels).  After finishing our lunch, we received an invitation to a parade house party.  This would be an authentic, South Boston St. Patty’s Day tradition, and we wouldn’t have to worry about standing out in the cold.  We couldn’t miss out!  And, neither could our new friend.  We had to invite him to join us!   Unfortunately, the city shortened the parade route because of weather, so we never actually saw the parade.  But, we had the best day meeting new people and getting the true Southie experience!!  We are both so grateful for that amazing opportunity!

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The Man Child made a new friend and so did I!

All in all it was another amazing trip even though it was a quick trip.  With that one behind us, we are already planning for our next trips!  If only I could find a way to get paid to go on vacations…

 

 

It’s Not all Fun and Games

People often think that when we travel we’re just out there having a good time.  Well, it’s not all fun and games!  Check out the collage of the Man Child in action (he really is ALWAYS working):

 

P.S. I HATE that he is always on his phone!  We have had to come up with rules relating to the use of cell phones.  1) No cell phones in the bedroom.  If you want to use the phone as your alarm, then you have to put it in airplane mode and put the phone on the other side of the room (out of arms reach).  2) No cell phones on date night.  They stay in the car. Sometimes, you really need to put it down and see what’s going on around you.  A real conversation is nice too.  And yes, I realize that by taking photos of him on his phone, I was on mine as well.  (insert face palm emoji).  Do any of you have restrictions on the use of technology among your friends and family members?

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“Put it away!” – me

Keep Austin Weird

Austin, Tx is one of my favorite cities in the U.S., so when I had the opportunity to run a marathon in Austin, I couldn’t turn that down!  I had been trying to find a reason to get back to Austin for a few years.  I talk about how much I love Austin all the time.  I have been raving about the barbecue, Mexican food, live music, and beer. The Man Child had never been to Austin, and the things I love about Austin are some of the Man Child’s favorite things (bbq, tacos, music…beer).

Planning a trip to Austin is so easy, and relatively cheap too.  Southwest flies direct from Tampa to Austin (approx. 2 hr flight).  As a loyal Southwest Rapid Rewards member, I can cover my airfare with points, and I have a companion pass, which means the Man Child travels with me for FREE on any Southwest flight.  Total cost for 2 roundtrip flights from Tampa to Austin = $22.40.

As we were running the marathon, we chose to stay at the Marriott Courtyard Convention Center.  The marathon had worked out a deal with local hotels for reduced rates.  For this reason, going through the Austin Marathon website was cheaper than booking directly through Marriott.  We were able to book a room for $189 per night.  The hotel was in a perfect location.  Two blocks from the marathon expo at the convention center.  Five blocks from the race start line.  Three blocks from the race finish.  Three blocks from the infamous 6th St.  One half mile from Rainey St.  Our room was really large and updated, and the hotel staff was incredibly accommodating.  I would absolutely stay there again!

We arrived in Austin on Friday night (with the marathon on Sunday morning), and the Man Child IMMEDIATELY started making friends.  When we landed, we were really hungry.  We checked into the hotel, threw our bags in the room, and went straight to find some food. After walking just a couple blocks, we saw a sign for Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ.  Done!  I grabbed us spots at the bar while the Man Child got in line for food.  Check out this spread!!

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Seriously, this was the BEST BBQ, I have ever had (needless to say, we ate there 2 more times before leaving).  While we chowed down on a giant plate of brisket and sausage, the Man Child made friends with the bartender, who also happened to be named “Jim.”  By the time we finished our meal, Jim had given us a list of places to check out and list of people to meet while in Austin.

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The Man Child was on a mission!  Over the next few days, we walked (and ran) all over the city.  We tried several restaurants, bars, and live music hotspots. We spent quite a bit of time on 6th St. and on Rainey St.  We even ventured outside of downtown to check out Jester King Brewery and Deep Eddy Distillery.  We found that no matter where we went people were incredibly friendly.  People loved showing off their city and giving us tourists great recommendations.  Below are some photos from a “few” of my favorite spots:

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Craft Pride on Rainey Street has a great selection of beer.  Every single one beer was made in Texas.

Jester King Brewery has an absolutely gorgeous facility with even better beer.  If you like farmhouse style ales and sours, I highly recommend the trip out of downtown to visit Jester King!

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Deep Eddy Vodka Distillery


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Banger’s on Rainey St. had over 100 beers on tap…



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And, they serve Manmosas… a full bottle of champagne in each mug

Firehouse, just off 6th St., was a cool recommendation.  It is actually a hostel.  When you walk into the lobby, you can move the bookcase to get into a local speakeasy.  They had great music and drinks!

We tried to get into the famous Franklin Barbecue on Saturday morning.  We walked about a mile to the restaurant and arrived about an hour before it opened.  We were NOT prepared.  People had been tailgating outside the restaurant since 6am!  The line was completely around the block, and the restaurant had already cut off people from joining the line.  From what the locals said, the line is like this every morning, no matter day of the week or weather.  Could the food be that good?!  Let me know if you’ve been!  I’d love to hear your reviews!  Maybe we’ll plan it into our next trip…

If you haven’t been to Austin, I highly recommend you make the trip.  It is one of my favorite cities in the U.S., and I’m pretty sure the Man Child agrees.  We are already trying to plan our next trip!

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The Austin Marathon

 

About 10 months ago, I decided that I was ready for a new challenge.  It has been about 3 1/2 years since I had run a marathon, and now seemed like a good time to try again.  This time, I wasn’t just going to finish the race.  I wanted to race the marathon.  Of course, that required me actually taking the time to train.  I picked 3 different marathons.  The first one, I would use to evaluate my fitness level.  The second one, I would push myself and try for a huge PR (personal record).  For the third, I wanted to run some place exotic, some place I had never been before, some place scenic.  For the third race, my time would not matter.  That one would be all about the journey.

After a little research and a lot “best of” lists, I decided the Austin Marathon would be my first race of 2017.  This race was known for fast times due to nearly perfect running temperatures.  Plus, it was early in the year, giving me plenty of time to adjust my training for marathons 2 and 3.  And, I do LOVE Austin!  I told the Man Child of my intention to run, and as usual, he was supportive.  He even said he would run the race with me!

The next day, I pulled up the Austin Marathon website.  This race looked great.  Might as well register now!  After submitting my registration, I started to register the Man Child.  Maybe I should ask him again before I commit him to this… Nah.  He’ll run it.  He’ll complain, but he’ll run it… Then again, I should ask him:

Me (via text): So, I just signed up for the Austin marathon.  You still want to run it?

The Man Child (via text with his usual lack of punctuation): Ill run the half I heard Austin has good beer

Good thing I asked him!  I had a feeling he would want to run the half marathon.  That’s fine.  At least now he won’t complain the whole time!  Now, time to work on my training plan…

Fast forward to last month, I checked my calendar and realized the marathon was in less than one month.  I still had not even started my marathon training.  My longest run in the past year was 14 miles and that was 8 months ago.  Other than that, my last run over 13.1 miles was in 2013.  Oh. Crap.  Eh.  Well.  It can’t be that bad, right?

When race morning arrived, I was ready.  Sure, my training did not go according to plan, but I was feeling strong (both physically and mentally).  The Man Child and I stayed close to the starting line, and we had just a quick 5minute walk before we entered the corral.  I quickly scanned the crowd and headed toward the 4 hour pace group. My strategy was to start off slowly, and gradually descend my miles.  I did not want to go out too hard and suffer through the last half of the race.  The 4 hour pacers would be running a 9 minute mile, which should have been a nice, easy pace for me.

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Twenty minutes later, and we were off.  The Man Child decided that he would run the first 10 miles of the race with me.  With 18,000 runners all starting at the same time, the first mile was really crowded.  That was perfect because it kept me from going out to fast.  As We hit the 1 mile mark right at 9 minutes.  Perfect.  I should be able to keep this up for a while.

Mile 2 – The course was still really crowded, and I already felt the humidity.  With the humidity hitting 95% at the start of the race, hydration and pacing were incredibly important.  The Man Child was running directly in front of me, and I could see that his shirt was already soaking wet with sweat.  It’s going to be a long morning!

By mile 4, I began to struggle.  I was still running 9 minute miles, but they hurt.  It was way too early in the race to feel this bad.  I could barely breathe.  Each breath felt as if I was  gasping for air through a wet cloth.  And, I was having occasional heart palpitations.  Was this from race-day anxiety?  Why did this feel so bad?  I’ve been running so well lately.  Maybe today just is not my day.  The four hour pace group started to creep out of my sight.  Maybe I should shut it down.  No.  Keep going.

Right around mile 5, I found my stride and things started feeling better.  We were heading towards downtown, and the crowds energized me.  My pace quickened to about 8:30 per mile, and by mile 6, I had passed the 4 hour pace group and had my sights set on the 3:55 group.

The next few miles flew by.  The Man Child and I were holding a steady pace, though I slowed back to the 9 minute mile.  I still had 16 miles to go, and this humidity was no joke.  Right around mile 10.5, the half marathons were routed toward the finish line, and the marathoners began their long journey on the back half of the course.  I turned to say goodbye to the Man Child, but I couldn’t find him in the crowed.  I slowed, waited for about 30 seconds, then decided to just go on my way.

The moment I made that turn, the turn away from downtown, away from the direction of the finish line, away from the half marathoners who already had the end in sight, that’s when things really started to get bad.  In my mind, I was already half way through the race; however, I was really only 10.5 miles through the race.  Talk about mind games!  “Now I remember why I never run marathons.”  “What made me think this was a good idea?!”  “I really should’ve trained for this.”  “I’m never running another marathon again.”  “Why didn’t I sign up for the half?!”  To make things worse, as soon as I made that turn, we hit a huge hill.  Followed by another hill.  Then another hill.  This continued for the next few miles.  My pace slowed again.  When I stopped to wait for the Man Child, the 4 hour pace group passed me, and I did not have the energy to push myself to catch them.  That destroyed me mentally.  I thought about walking, but I knew people were tracking me live.  I couldn’t stop now. Plus, even if I fell behind the 4 hour group, I did not want that to turn into me falling back to the 4:30 group. I knew how easily that could happen with so much of the race still in front of me.  I just kept moving.

When I reached the halfway mark, I started counting the miles backwards and just tackling the miles one at a time.  I received a few text messages (yes, I run with my phone) with words of encouragement from friends.  I wanted to stop, text back, and let them know how miserable I was.  But, I didn’t.  I just kept moving.  The longer I kept moving, the sooner I would be out of hell.

The next few miles are a blur.  I “woke up” around mile 17, and I realized that I felt pretty good (considering).  Mentally, I felt as if I was almost there.  My pace quickened, and I started passing people.  I hurt, but I found a comfortable rhythm.  We ran by a neighborhood where several spectators were out in their driveways passing out free bacon.  I didn’t really want bacon at that moment.  I really wanted sugar.  Where the hell was the Cliff shot block aid station?!?  I hadn’t seen one since mile 9, and I had already blown through those samples.  But, I need something, and there were these cute, little kids passing out the bacon.  I watched how excited they got when one of the runners accepted their bacon offering, and I just couldn’t pass it up.  I took a small bite of bacon.  I immediately regretted it.  While my body needed the salt, my stomach wanted nothing to do with it.  I waited until I turned the corner (so the kids couldn’t see me), and I tossed the rest of the bacon into a trash can.

By mile 18, I really needed some sort of fuel.  I always avoid sugar during my training and my races if possible.  I have spent a lot of time studying nutrition and experimenting with my nutrition for endurance events.  Ideally, I would have been able to tap into fat as my fuel source, and I could’ve run the entire race without bonking.  Unfortunately, with my lack of training and having to travel to the event, my nutrition game was off.  I knew that to sustain my energy levels, I needed pure sugar.  And, once I started with the sugar, I would have to continue to take it until I finished the race.  The best I could do was grab a handful of gummy bears from some of the spectators.  I stuffed them into my shorts, and hoped they would get me through.

At exactly mile 18.5, I passed some spectators who were handing out beer with their gummy bears.  I took an entire 12oz can of Lone Star.  All the spectators cheered!  I drank about half of it before I tossed it in a random recycling bin in someone’s driveway.  For those of you who don’t run, you may find it hard to believe, but beer works really well as fuel source in a long race.  The carbonation helps settle your stomach as well.  That was exactly what I needed!

When I reached mile 19, I saw these huge, red inflatable arches in the distance.  I finally found my Cliff station!  I quickly grabbed two gels.  I downed the first one and stuffed the second one in my shorts.  I would use that with 3 miles to go.  The end was in sight!

At this point, I remembered the Man Child asked me to text him with 3 miles to go so that he could be waiting at the finish line.  I wanted to text him now.  I was so close!  (Yes, when you run a marathon, 7 miles to go seems like you’re almost done).  No.  I had to wait to text him.  It would be that much better when I really did only have 3 miles to go!  I hurt, but I was still holding a steady pace.  I knew I could keep this pace for the rest of the race.  So, I settled in and kept running.

The next few miles went by fairly quickly.  At mile 22.5, my bluetooth headphones stopped communicating with my phone, and I lost my music.  Ugh.  The music was helping to distract me from the pain.  I tried to fix it while I was running, but I didn’t have any luck, and, it was slowing my pace.  I just wanted to finish this thing!  My joints were really starting to ache. Thankfully, I often run without music, and I only had just over 3 miles to go.  I tucked my headphones into my sports bra and kept moving forward.  By the time I secured my headphones, I was passing mile 23.  Time to text the Man Child.  Three miles to go!!

With less than 3 miles to go, I picked up my pace.  Everything hurt, but I had to keep moving.  It was still insanely hot, and the humidity had not let up.  There were so many people walking.  I wanted to yell at them, “Come on!  You’re so close!  Stop walking!”  But, I kept that to myself.  No need to waste any energy.

As I came up to the 1 mile to go marker, we started our final climb up toward the Austin Capitol Building.  What kind of sick person puts a giant hill at the finish of a marathon?!?!  The crowd support here was incredible.  I was so close.  I still had not caught up with the 4 hour pace group, but I also hadn’t been passed by the 4:05 pace group.  That means that I’d at least held a steady pace for the last 13.1 miles.  With the lack of training, I couldn’t be disappointed with that.  I picked up my pace.  Barely.  I was almost there.  As I reached the top of the hill, I could see the finish line.  I took advantage of the short descent and just let myself “fall” toward the finish line.  About 50 yards out from the finish, I heard the Man Child calling my name.  I turned, smiled, and waived at the camera.  By the time I turned back, I was running under the finish line arch.  I was done!  My second marathon (not counting the Ironman) was in the books.  4:02.33.  Not what I was hoping for, but not bad considering the conditions.  I would never do that again!

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By the next day, I was already thinking about which marathon I would sign up for next.  I always love a good challenge!

Closing thoughts on the Austin Marathon:  For those of you looking for a destination race, the Austin Marathon is great.  Everything about it (besides the course) was easy.  It was well-organized, there was really good crowd support, there were plenty of aid stations along the course.  The city of Austin was incredibly welcoming as well.  More about the city in an upcoming post!