Austin runner Cynthia Holderer just keeps getting better. The 27-year old, who is originally from Levittown, PA, has been living in Austin since 2018, when she took a position with Amazon just won the Decker Challenge out at the Circuit of the Americas, coming in third overall in 1:03:35. Holderer, now a Senior Manager Facilities, Employee Health and Environmental, Health & Safety at Crossover Health, averaged 6:14 a mile for 10.2 miles, running the three-lap course in 26-degree weather and 20 mile per winds.
“I didn’t notice the cold so much, but the wind was really bad,” she said. “I like Austin a lot, especially because its warm. The cold doesn’t really bother me though.
“I signed up for Decker because I really like the hills there,” she said, noting that she registered before they made the course change. “That first hill wasn’t as bad as I thought,” Holderer said of COTA’s infamous 150-foot climb right out of the gates. “COTA was an interesting course. It was tempting to stop after one or two loops, but it was kind of a tempo/training run. The cold and wind definitely make you mentally tougher. I actually ran a Turkey Trot out at the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas in November where the wind was worse.”
Holderer ran a bit in high school, but didn’t start getting serious about the sport until a few years ago. When Holderer first moved to Austin, she signed up for the Distance Challenge and saw her times steadily improve.
“Training for that, I went from 30 miles a week to 60 miles,” she said.
And when Jeff Cunningham started coaching her last June she really started to see dramatic improvement. Case in point: she catapulted from a 3:17:36 at the 2020 Austin Marathon to a 2:58:23 last October at the Boston Marathon.
“It was overcast and probably low 60s at Boston,” she said. “I felt pretty confident and went out smart but I didn’t really believe I could break three hours until mile 25. I managed the hills just fine—living in Central Austin, I run them all the time.”
Currently averaging around 70 miles a week, most days are easy runs for Holderer. But Wednesdays are reserved for long tempo runs, with a fast finish, or track work at Austin High. Additionally, she’ll get in a long run every other week. “Knowing you can finish an 18-mile run and kick it in at 6:30 pace is a real confidence booster,” she said.
“Before working with Jeff, my training was pretty unstructured,” added Holderer. “I hated running on the track and doing speedwork by myself.”
Next up for Holderer is the Mesa Half Marathon in Mesa, AZ on February 12, and then she’ll run the Eugene Marathon in Oregon on May 1. “It’s relatively flat course. I’m hoping to run 2:54 there. I’ve only run super-hilly marathons so far, so I think I’ll do well on a flat course.”
Upcoming races: Saturday, January 15 at 8:00 a.m., the Taylor Garden Club Run for the Roses 5K/10K, Murphy Park, Taylor. Saturday, January 22 at 7:30 a.m., Tutus & Tennies 5K, Dance Unlimited, Buda. Sunday, January 23 at 7:30 a.m. 3M Half Marathon at Gateway Shopping Center, Austin.