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Weekend in Austin & Marathon. Keep Austin Weird!

Weekend in Austin & Marathon. Keep Austin Weird!

Feb 21st, 2008, 06:24 AM
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Weekend in Austin & Marathon. Keep Austin Weird!

My Austin girlfriend had been boasting about the sunny warm weather for weeks. It just so happened that it was chilly, gray and rainy when I arrived on Friday Feb 15. No matter, I was coming from Chicago, so anything above 35F seems like a heat wave.

My girlfriend Sue was working when I arrived, so I took the Austin Super shuttle to the Barton Square Mall. The shuttle was fast and easy and cost $20 with tip.

Sue picked me up after work and we headed to the Hula Hut. I love that place! It’s on a pier jutting into Lake Austin. I got my first introduction to queso: cheese and pepper dip. I’m hooked. Even though it was cool and overcast, it was a great evening.

Saturday we rose early and had a lovely breakfast at Austin Java. I had an omelet stuffed with fresh spinach. Black beans and bacon on the side – heaven.

Then we headed to the Palmer center to pick up my race number and see the marathon expo. The Palmer Center sits along the river, and there is a pathway we walked, watching the rowers train, and snapping a photo of the Stevie ray Vaughn statue (my husband is a huge fan).

After that, Sue took me to SoCo for some shopping. This is a strip of about 6 blocks on South Congress with funky, offbeat shops. The ‘Keep Austin Weird’ theme is strong here – I bought a cup and T-shirt.

My favorite part of this excursion was stopping by the ‘Hey Cupcake’ trailer. This is a silver airstream with a rotating cupcake on the roof. It sells fresh cupcakes and the line was around the block. Rightly so. I ate two of them which sent my blood sugar through the roof. Well worth it.
Queenie is offline  
Feb 21st, 2008, 06:30 AM
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Saturday eve I needed to carbo load for the marathon. So Sue and some friends took me to North. This is an Italian restaurant in a new, upscale shopping complex called ‘The Domaine’. The restaurant was pretty tasty; I had the capellini with pomodoro sauce and shrimp. Do get the mozzarella and tomato appetizer if you go; it is served in a mixed state and is very good.

Off to bed early with a bloated tummy full of pasta and cupcakes.

Sunday morning comes quickly when you have to rise at 4:30 am. I ate 2 bowls of oatmeal, and decided to wear shorts and a light weight capiline long sleeve shirt with gloves for the race.

Sue drove me near the start line, which was at 2nd and Congress, right downtown. It was still dark, about 6:15 am. I had on a trash bag for warmth, and sat on a bench waiting for the start.

A gal sits next to me, and we talk. Turns out she is from Milwaukee, very close to my home. We complain about the winter weather in the Midwest, then wish each other luck and push into the mass of runners by 6:50.

Promptly at 7 am the start gun sounds. Now, I have run many marathons but have never had this: at the start there are fireworks going off. It is so cool! We run right through the fray. Kinda like being at some war re-enactment, but everyone is running in the same direction.

The fist mile is across the Congress Bridge. In the summer, bats nest under this bridge and I understand it’s quite a sight to see them. Then we run up S. Congress, right by my beloved ‘Hey Cupcake‘ airstream.

Queenie is offline  
Feb 21st, 2008, 07:15 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
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I've spent lots of time in Austin, both in college and as a "grown-up", and your friend took you to some great places! I love the Hula Hut too, and can't wait to try out the Cupcake Trailer. I hope the rest of your race and visit went well!
beckytx is offline  
Feb 21st, 2008, 07:33 AM
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The sun is rising, and the weather is warming. Crowd support is simply fabulous. Austin is gorgeous. We run along the river, then up along Exposition drive where it does get hilly. At mile 10 we are on a hill overlooking the capital; quite a sight.

Just past mile 10, the half marathoners peel off. The running field is greatly diminished and it becomes much easier to run.

We run past Camp Mabry, and there is a military band. Just beyond is a terrific high school drum squad and their rifle corp. A bit further is a lone bagpipe guy. Oh the music was sprinkled throughout the course, and was a real joy.

By the half way mark, I was running faster than anticipated. So I ratchet it up a notch to try to get a good finish time.

Water stops were plentiful and well organized. After experiencing the Chicago marathon fiasco this past October, which did not provide any water for miles, this was much appreciated.

Folks came out of their homes and were offering oranges, bananas and gummy bears. Angels! My favorite was a plate of spiced raw potatoes. Had never eaten those in a race before, but enjoyed them.

By mile 23 or so, we were in the UT campus, and ran past their gigantic stadium. Apparently it is undergoing further construction. They do things big in TX, that’s for sure.

We are back in town now and I am counting the blocks to the finish. I am really hurting, but have in my mind to finish under 4 hours, and I succeed.

Now don’t be fooled. The finisher’s medal is key. I have turned down races if the metal is too skimpy or bland. I have run races with cool medals, just for the sake of the medal. Size, color, enamel, moving parts – all very important. Happily Austin has a cool medal with a guitar and the river and capital building, and the thing weighs about 5 pounds!
Queenie is offline  
Feb 21st, 2008, 07:45 AM
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Really nice report. Yep, gotta keep Austin weird!
dfr4848 is offline  
Feb 21st, 2008, 08:05 AM
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we were there that weekend too not knowing there was going to be a marathon. We ended up watching a bit of the run. you had great weather for the sunday run! it was unexpected because of the rain friday and sat.

glad you had a good time!
maria_so is offline  
Feb 21st, 2008, 08:44 AM
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Last Part!

To celebrate a good finish, we head to The Oasis. It’s a restaurant high on a bluff overlooking Lake Travis. The rear of the restaurant is a cascade of outdoor porches and balconies where the view can be savored. It is incredibly beautiful. As we are eating our queso and downing a few Sam Adams, the sun sets. Then a bell rings and everybody claps. Guess that’s some Austin tradition. Keep Austin Weird!

I was to fly home Sunday eve, but 10 hours before my flight AA called and said the flight was cancelled due to weather in Chicago. Strange thing was, there was no weather problem in Chicago for Sunday eve. It was all a bit fishy, especially since they could not find an open flight to send me home till 2 days later.

So I spend the extra time hanging out at Austin Java (where I was noted to be the only diner without a laptop), luxuriating in Sues back yard in the sunshine, reading books and dozing. It doesn’t get much better than that. Especially since the high in Chicago had been reported as 5F or something.

I will be back. Keep Austin Weird!
Queenie is offline  
Feb 21st, 2008, 10:26 AM
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Congrats on the marathon and your finishing time! Under 4 hours is impressive!
vlcgoddess is offline  
Feb 21st, 2008, 01:25 PM
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Thanks for the great trip report and congrats on your terrific marathon time!

AustinTraveler is offline  
Feb 21st, 2008, 03:07 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Hey Queenie, come back to see us again soon!!

I live near the Domain and I would like to know the name of the Italian restaurant please.
P_M is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 08:17 AM
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Thanks everyone!

P_M, I didn't know you lived in Austin! I remember our discussions about travel to Jordan last year. Next time I'm in town maybe we'll go for coffee!

The restaurant was called NoRTH. Its near Joe DiMaggios and Jaspers.

Queenie is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 965
So glad you enjoyed your trip to Austin. You really did come visit during a great time of year weather wise. I am planning to take my mother and son to the Children's museum in a few weeks and I might try Hey Cupcake. A girlfriend told me it was very good. Is it me or are cupcakes the rage right now? I wanted to have some for my son's next birthday party not because they are hip but I thought they would be easy for a 2 year old to eat. Keep Austin Weird!
ilovetulips is offline  
Feb 25th, 2008, 02:41 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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You betcha Queenie, it's a date.

And thanks for the scoop on the restaurant.
P_M is offline  
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