My races tend to fall in three categories: races I’m proud of because they were the first of their kind that I completed, races that kicked my butt but that I am proud to have survived, and races that just felt good all around. This past weekend’s Austin Marathon was of the kicked my butt variety. It wasn’t pretty, but I pushed through it and felt damn good about that. Do you like my medal?
I have yet to have a really good Austin Marathon. I’ve run this race off and on since 2000. This year, as I started running, I told myself that next year I would run just the half, which is what nearly all of my friends did this year. But it being an Ironman year for me, I did the full. I could tell within the first few miles that it was going to be a long day.
It was warm and humid from the start. I felt heavy. I had trouble keeping up with Kerry almost from the very beginning and eventually pretty much lost her at mile 8. I told myself that was okay because she was pacing for the half and I was pacing for the full, but I know last year I stayed with her until mile 10 when the half and full courses split. I started to panic but caught myself.
When I lost her, I talked myself off the ledge and made a decision to push forward and get through it the best I could, though what my body wanted was to stop. I made it fun by chatting with friends as I saw them along the course. My mom did a great job of randomly appearing all along the course, so it was fun to stop and give her a hug and a kiss each time I saw her. I recognized Sommer’s husband and daughter just before the half/full split. I saw Ashley, another TriDot trainee who inspires me, right at the split. I saw Heather, Betsy and Amy from my book club somewhere along the back half of the course – perhaps at mile 18? I’m not sure. I was pretty foggy in the head by then. Most fun was that I saw a couple walking hand in hand, and as I approached them, I recognized the couple to be Leslie and Robert, old friends from my old church. I hadn’t seen them in probably seven or eight years, so I walked along talking to them for a bit. I also saw Stephanie, who was doing her first marathon. I loved seeing her effort and excitement in the midst of the pain. Marathons are hard, and a first is really something to be proud of.
I got through the race slightly faster than last year, which was part of my goal, but it was nowhere near the performance I delivered at Portland this year. So what did I do? I signed up for next year’s race. I’m determined – absolutely determined – to have a good day at the Austin marathon at some point. I’m going to keep running this race until I do.