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Amber at the Distance Challenge tent
Photo courtesy Amber Wadey

Two years ago I ran my first half marathon right here in Austin. I joined Team LIVESTRONG, created my own training plan, and did everything I could do to prepare, but I remember worrying about everything that was out of my control. What if it’s freezing or pouring rain? What if traffic or road closures make it too hard to park? What if I’m not feeling well, or my alarm doesn’t go off? The beauty of running your 2nd or 3rd (or 7th) half marathon is that eventually those details don’t bother you anymore. I know I can go the distance and I’ve logged miles in every kind of weather. I’ve learned that with a little planning, the logistics always seem to work out.

The Distance Challenge adds a new component – balancing recovery from one race with training for the next. If I’m being honest, I focused the last month more on recovery than training, and a few days before the race I woke up with my lower back out of alignment. I spent some quality time with my chiropractor and took it easy, but I knew that no amount of sciatic nerve pain would stop me from finishing this race.

Once again I joined Team LIVESTRONG and this year, my fundraising earned me VIP credentials – as if being a Distance Challenge participant wasn’t already VIP enough! While I wasn’t feeling as strong as I’d like, I went into this super pumped to finish the Distance Challenge in style. Nothing could ruin my day!

Amber's stats
Photos courtesy Amber Wadey

The Austin Half Marathon is an iconic Austin event and if you haven’t run it, I won’t bore you with the details. You should absolutely experience it for yourself. I will say that this year was pretty tough. Even if my back wasn’t hurting, it would not have been my finest race. The humidity made the hills feel so much hillier! After last month’s 3M PR, this one was a PW and I have a feeling I’m not the only one who had a disappointing finish time. Between miles 8-10 I saw people passing out, throwing up, cramping up, and stopping to walk. I decided to stop at every aid station and walk while I hydrated, allowing my body a chance to rest and charge, if only for a moment.

Once I crossed the finish line I headed to the VIP lounge for some food, a couple mimosas, and a much needed massage. Then I stopped at the Distance Challenge tent for that hard earned final puzzle piece. While I am certainly proud of my own effort, I’m more proud of my friends and colleagues who just ran their first half marathon. I’m amazed by my fellow Distance Challengers who finished out the season (many with the full marathon) in these tough conditions. I’m thankful for the volunteers and organizers who arrived before the first runner and stayed until the very end. I’m humbled by Kayleigh and everybody else who has overcome incredible obstacles to make it happen. This running community is so inspirational and that is what kept me going through the hardest miles.

And while my pace is still pretty average, I’m not a newbie anymore! I’ve now finished 7 half marathons in the past 2-years and I am here to tell you that if I can do it, anybody can do it. So get out there and do it!