Tag Archives: austin half marathon

“Consider to hope against all odds, dream in response to fear, and survive in the face of adversity.”
-R. Wilson

This quote resonated with me today, and like the 24 hours before Feb 16, the 24 hours after Feb 16 – my mind is still racing at a million miles an hour. It’s over. The Austin Half Marathon is over. I finished (with a good time), and what do I do with myself now?

Cliché alert: while the actual race day has ended, I feel like I just started something. Never did I EVER ever ever ever think that me, Thu Nguyen, would take two steps outside, let alone run 13.1 miles up and down hilly Austin, Texas. While my hip is doing some weird popping thing, my legs feel broken, and my toes feel smashed- what an inexplainable feeling.

What’s next? I don’t know, but I know I’m not stopping here.

If you would like a bit of comical relief (or something), this is how my Race Day went:
Anxiety, anxiety, anxiety.
*Clear the mechanism.*
Start – “Go…slow, slow, slow, pace, pace, pace, oooh Gatorade, hydrate. I can just throw these cups on the ground? Okay.”
South Congress – “Oh look, there’s St. Edward’s. I just ran to St. Edward’s…and I have to keep going.”
Ben White – “There’s a dude wearing a sign that says ‘I’m Drunk.’ Ha! Keep going.”
South 1st – This stretch felt like eternity. I kept running and running and running and I was thinking to myself, “Where the hell is that bridge? What mile am I even on? ONLY 8!?”
Somewhere between Mile 8 & Mile 9 – A person was holding a poster with a giant Coach Taylor face that said “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Run Fast.” I clearly shouted “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” as I ran past that glorious sign. Keep going.
Split from 26.2 runners – “I know exactly what is about to come, but do I really?” Nope. Naive Thu did not know what was in for the next 2-3 miles…
Einfield Hill – “Shit. Shit. Shit. And there’s running to do on the other side of that hill, shit.”
Last 500m – *Cosmic Love by Florence + The Machine comes on* Perfect timing but also thinking, “Why does this feel like the longest 500 meters of my life?”

Ok, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m…F I N I S H. Done. Fin. What just happened?

If you got all the way down here: thanks for sticking around, I couldn’t have done it without you.

Time flies. I blink and I can’t believe that it has been a year since I picked up running as a habit. It’s not unusual that I get asked how I started starting and I give the same answer that I give when I first blogged about running: the book,  The Power of Habit (…and emotions).

The Austin Marathon & Half Marathon is in about 17 days and now I feel like running has become a chore. I wake up every other day when I’m not doing stretches/squats/recovering with the mindset that I have to run X miles (in Y min/mi). Each time increasing my distance a little bit, so I don’t end up totally left behind as my brother blazes ahead.

For training and interest purposes, I started using Strava, an app that generally is used by cyclists but runners as well. It tracks your pace, your distance, your route, etc. Last night, I looked up when I first started running (or when I first started recording). By sheer coincidence, the first day I recorded my running was the same day I last ran a year later. Look below:


And, excuse my profanity (it gets me through running)- HOLY SHIT.

Here are my *initial* thoughts:

  1. Wow self, you ran slow.
  2. Wow self, you ran barely 3 miles.

Here are the thoughts I should have reminded myself:

  1. Wow self, what a difference a year makes.
  2. You never thought you would run, ever.
  3. But now you’re running a half marathon in 2-ish weeks.
  4. And you’ve got a pretty good pace.
  5. But it’s totally not about the pace, you’re aiming to finish.
  6. Keep going.
  7. Don’t hurt yourself.

What are the chances that I run the same day in the span of a year (actuaries or statisticians?). It’s difficult to remind myself that I’ve come a long way. And I think that has extended to everything I do. I constantly have to…need to remind myself that I started at Point A, everyone starts at Point A and with time, practice, and trying- I’m/we are going to get to Point B.

Treasure the journey and don’t forget the middle part. It’s easy to forget.
17 days.

lets talk music

Do you run with music? Do you exercise with music? It’s a rare occasion to run without headphones in. The only instance is when I’m running the last stretch. For whatever reason, I can’t deal and I yank them out of my ears for the last couple of blocks on my route.

Everyone is different, but I think music preoccupies our mind while our body tries to fight our brain.  We push ourselves into these high-stress, endurance-heavy situations and while I believe our body is resilient, there is always that wall. You’ve seen it on Man v. Food when Adam reaches that wall and feels like he can’t put another 20 fries in his mouth. It’s probably because he already had 5 lbs of fries, but I digress because I’m not talking about eating food, I’m talking about exercise and the mental game.

That’s what it is. That’s why I labeled my playlist, “It’s just a mental game.” Featuring artists like Phantogram, Kendrick Lamar, and my latest add, Odesza, they are all high-energy, motivation-heavy music to keep my legs moving. I also have a couple of slower songs like M83’s “We Own the Sky,” because for whatever reason, that keeps me going.

When “Tom Ford” by Jay-Z comes on, I know that no matter how little energy I have or how I feel mentally, I have to run. I don’t have many tips about how to choose music, but I’ll try below with some song suggestions too. One of my friends listens to Tyler, the Creator, another listens to old school rap like Missy Elliot, and my brother listens to Lord Huron.

Tips on Picking Music for your Running Playlist:

  • Take your time, it’s trial-and-error.
  • Have multiple playlists (thanks for this tip Hannah!) because sometimes it can get old. Have two or more, trade with your friend, collaborate with a friend, pick and choose and make your own.
  • It can be slow music or fast music, I mean at one point I listened to Sufjan Stevens, it’s not hardcore rap, but it has a good tempo for me.
  • My favorites at the moment: Jay-Z (“Tom Ford”), a whole lot of Justin Timberlake (“Mirrors,” “TKO”), Phantogram (“Black Out Days”), this remix by Grizzly Bear and Diplo.
  • Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle” will always be the one though (Warning: It’s explicit).

What do you listen to on your run? I’ll link my Spotify playlist if you want to click this.


011E4552-44CA-4D2E-AD8A-194D2B3DEF8CAccording to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, motivation is defined as “the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something; the condition of being eager to act or work; a force or influence that causes someone to do something.” According to people? Well it depends. It can be found in one person, a group of people, a breakfast taco, a pint of beer, a past/future event…the list could go on and on.

Despite this never-ending list, there are still moments where I feel completely unmotivated. In theory, it seems impossible. In practice, it’s easier than I care to admit.

Running and training for the Austin Half is all I think about now. Am I eating properly? Should I have cross-trained today? Did I get enough sleep? It has affected me in more ways than I thought it would. Again, if you’re just coming into the conversation: the Austin Half Marathon is my first half marathon event, my first running event, my first exercise-related event. It’s a big deal to me. On top of that, this is the first sibling exercise-related event that my brother and I are doing together.

So back to motivation. Everyday is a struggle. I started running at the beginning of the year for two reasons:

  1. I was reading The Power of Habit.
  2. I needed an outlet for my feelings.

The Power of Habit talks about this habit loop, which is the way [the author] Charles Duhigg said we developed our habits. There’s a cue, the habit, and the reward (tangible or intangible). Needless to say, I turned running into a habit when I was cued by feelings and the reward was a smoothie. Well, at first it was a smoothie and it transitioned to something more intangible: a clear mind. I ran and ran and ran until I had no feelings. Jk, I ran until I got injured.

There’s a lesson in here I swear. After I healed from my injury, wherever I was in my mind, I didn’t have as many feelings and so I had no idea why I was running. There wasn’t a cue for me, I didn’t feel inclined to run. So what happened? Did Thu lose her soul?

No, no I didn’t. But since I’ve started training, really training, my motivation needed to change. My running cue started at my own feelings, but turned into something else. One day I was running for food, another day I would run for my brother, two weeks ago, I dedicated my long run to BatKid (5 miles for each year he fought cancer).

So This Is What I’m Going To Say About Motivation:

  • You have to find it. Whether it is yourself, your tacos, your favorite quote from your favorite author, your mom, or your dog. You’ve got to find something or someone.
  • It’s not easy. I’d be delusional to think that it’s easy. I usually text someone when I prep myself for a run. Sometimes they get back to me, sometimes they don’t. I think the action of me telling someone I’m going to run, commits me to do it. Maybe try that out, I don’t know. It’s all a learning process.
  • I guess as I’m typing this, I’m realizing that there can be a transition of motivation as long as it’s getting you to your goal. For whatever reason, I thought this wasn’t possible. Sometimes I run a little slower because my motivation isn’t as strong, but at least I committed to the day and I did the run/cross-train. You have to start somewhere, right?
  • Lastly, sometimes I tell myself I can’t eat until after I run. I read in Runner’s World that if you’re working out for less than 30 minutes, you can get by without eating. On those days, it’s hard on both ends, I’m hungry and I’m over-exhausted toward the end of my run. But when I get to the finish line (aka my apartment)? Oh sweet tacos and soda, you’re all mine. (Soda = simple sugars, stop judging me.)

So tell me, what or who is your motivation?


I’m coming up on Week 3 of training…and in short, it is ruff. Rough. Rough.

My weekly exercise schedule goes a little something like this:

  • M, W, F, Sun – 3 of 4 days of cross training (by cycling or elliptical or squats or stretching or swimming) 1 day can be taken for rest. I’m failing to bring myself to a yoga studio…
  • T,TH – Short runs. 2-3 miles. Goal is to run without stopping.
  • Sat – Long runs. 4+ miles. Goal is to run the distance.

Only 95 more days until the Austin Half. *Nervous mental vomit* I’m learning about myself everyday. For example: I’m learning that my body is demanding. Some might say frail. Since I’ve started running at the beginning of this year, I’ve gotten injured multiple times and had to rest for weeks at a time. Then there was the bruise in the face, the bike accident, and concussion… Through all of that, how did I learn my body is demanding?

This is how and why:

  • I learned that I have to cross train. I won’t get by without injury if I don’t.
  • On the note of cross training, I have to have a strong core, or else my body can’t support my running which leads to injury (which sucks).
  • There is such a thing as overdressing and my body hates my brain a mile in.
  • Then there is such a thing as cold ears leading to ear aches after a run. It even happens when I wear an ear band.
  • Hydrating has never been more important. I learned that when you’re running in the cold and don’t feel thirsty, you should still drink water.
  • I bought this thing called a foam roller. Runners will know what this is. Well, it’s my new best friend. I really think this is what keeps me from seriously injuring my IT-band.

And maybe it’s my brain demanding myself to stop running…no, it’s definitely my brain. The body is more resilient as long as you take care of it, but the hardest part is definitely conquering that small voice that says, “I don’t wanna run, don’t run.”

Thankfully, I have my brother, a handful of friends, and a deep love for eating to get me out the door. Whatever gets you there, right? More on motivation later. Today, it’s about learning to listen to my demanding body…and taking care of it. Stretch, cross-train, run, repeat. 95 more days. Run or perish.

I got suckered into it. Maybe it was exhaustion. Maybe it was because Tommy played the “brother” card. Or maybe it was the adrenaline/craziness I felt from drinking coffee at 9PM (never again if it’s not Finals Week).

So I’m blaming both Tommy and Hannah for this non-refundable decision I made Saturday morning. Thank you for ruining my life (I’m just kidding, I think).

I’m simultaneously excited, nervous, and scared.
Excited because I have never done anything like this, ever. Getting to do my first event with my brother (in Austin) is the cherry on top of the very tall sundae I just ordered for myself.
Nervous because although it is in February, I will constantly be thinking, “Do I have enough time?” or “Have I prepared enough?” What is enough?
Scared because again, this is my first event and I’ve never really been known to be athletic (until late). What if I barf? What if I have to pee? What if I don’t make it? What if this dumb runner’s knee doesn’t heal (but that will be my fault if I don’t stretch and blah blah blah…I never knew the many things that went into running…aside from running)?

All in all, here’s something I made and set as my phone background:


Hope to see you at the finish line. OR BETTER YET, running alongside me!