Achieving Life Changing Goals – The Austin Marathon7/29/2009
I’ve decided to write a 3 part series on some life changing goals of mine. These are goals I created for myself that seemed at first insurmountable, but later became a reality through hard work and determination.
I accomplished two out of the three goals this year, with one more left. (More on that one later). The purpose of this post is to inspire and reflect on what a wonderful ride it’s been. Without further ado, here is my first post about running a marathon.
Never in my life had I run more than 2 miles for any running competition. In highschool, the longest race I competed in was a 2 mile run, back when I was a sophomore. I remember clearly how exhausting that run had been after crossing the finish line somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Ten years later, I suddenly had an inkling to challenge myself to do something quite impossible in my mind at the time, run a marathon!
I was inspired to at least give it a chance after one of my friends began posting about training for the Austin Marathon on his Facebook account. He had run a few marathons before and encouraged me to give it a shot. My mind said lets do it while my body said no way Jose!
I went ahead and signed up for the Austin Marathon event that day, 16 1/2 weeks away from the big race. My life would never be the same.
Here is a map of the actual route of the 2009 Austin Marathon I began training for. A daunting task for sure!
In just over 3 months, I somehow had to get my body ready to run a 26.2 mile race. I had to train at least 4 – 5 days a week for 16 weeks to have a chance at finishing with a decent time. My training began the next day.
At first I started running for 15 – 20 minutes at a time. Each day I challenged myself to run further than the day before. I slowly increased my time as the weeks went by. I experienced subtle amounts of peace and joy running by myself. I took each training session one step at a time.
By week 5 I convinced my mind that I was at least going to show up to the marathon in Austin regardless of what happens. By now, I had increased my training sessions to about an hour, with long runs on Saturday. ( By long runs I mean runs of at least 12 miles. I could squeeze in about 6 -7 miles on my hour runs).
Things were looking up for me, but my runs sure got lonely at times. I kept thinking to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to share this experience with and push me harder in my training”.
About 8 weeks into training I ran into (literally) a guy who I met at the Dale Carnegie Sales Advantage on one of my long runs near Town Lake. He was a Graduate Assistant at the time while I was taking the course for the first time as an employee of Dale Carnegie Training. His name was Thomas and he was one of Austin’s best marathon runners. I was invited to join his group that met every Saturday at 7AM.
The support of a group changed my running experience dramatically.
I now had the encouragement and support of this group to help me reach my goal. I still ran solo on the weekdays, but on my longest runs, I was able to run with others.
Because of the early time commitment, I sacrificed my Friday and Saturday nights. While my friends were out celebrating the weekend the way young professionals do, I found myself at home, by myself resting my body. I had to keep this routine up for 8 more weeks!
Marathon training became part of my lifestyle and routine.
I didn’t think about my runs before hand, I just went out and did them, like clockwork. There was no turning back now. My mind and body were up for the challenge and I truly believed I was not only going to finish the marathon, but finish with a great time.
Everything was going well up until about a week before the big race. I made a very stupid decision to not only purchase new shoes, but to buy a different make, model and brand than I had been training in. On my very first run with my new kicks, I developed shin splints in my right leg. My mistake was running too hard in them up and down hills.
Here is an exact picture of the shoes I purchased.
I spent the next three days icing and praying that my injury would heal in time to run the marathon.
I couldn’t have picked a worse time to get injured. All of my training and work I put in could be wasted.
The area in green marks where I was experiencing the most pain.
I decided to suck it up and do some light runs at low intensity, with my old shoes.
After 3 days my leg was feeling much better and I felt that i would be able to compete in the Austin Marathon. I was faced with a rather tough decision, however. Run with my old, worn down shoes, or go with the new Adidas I purchased a few days back. If I ran with my old shoes, I would definitely be sacrificing time. If I went with the new ones, I was at a greater risk for injury.
I decided to take a HUGE gamble and go with the new shoes.
I determined that I wanted to shoot for the moon and get the best time possible.
The day of the race I was extremely nervous. The Austin Marathon began at 7AM and was over when the last person finished. I hope and prayed that I would finish under my own power.
The gun shot goes off and I am finally living my dream of running the Austin Marathon. My goal is to finish in under 4 hours.
I am well on pace up until Mile 17. The crowd support is absolutely amazing! They are cheering me on on just about every twist and turn.
At Mile 17, I begin to slow down my pace and the 4 hour group passes me. Up until now, my gamble has paid off and my shoes have allowed me to race at my absolute peak.
After Mile 17, everything I had left was given towards this race. I slowed to a jog and later had to walk some of the race.
At Mile 20 I felt my hamstring pull really tight! I stopped and stretched it out as best I could then continued the race.
I wanted to quit so bad after mile 20 but I couldn’t, I had to keep going or die trying.
When mile 25 came around I felt an intense sense of joy. I was almost there! People were cheering so loudly and everyone was giving everything they had.
I crossed the finish line in 4 hours 22 minutes. I immediately collapsed to the ground as my body was spent.
It took me a few moments to realize what an accomplishment that was. I had reached my goal of running a marathon! I didn’t get the time I wanted but I was still extremely pleased at the result.
Over 3 months of training had paid off and every moment of it was worth it! Crossing that finish line truly changed my life forever. Life’s little obstacles were nothing compared to the challenges I faced that day!