Unfinished business in Austin

The Houston Marathon was my A race this year. My initial goal with Houston was to run a sub-3-hour marathon. It’s one of those things that pops in your head as a runner. There’s always a number. Always a new goal to chase. Instead of just a sub-3, I pulled a 2 hour and 56-minute goal out of thin air. Might as well swing big, right?

Last year I also signed up for the Antelope Canyon 50-mile ultramarathon, which is coming up on March 14th. But Houston was my A race. I never thought about Antelope Canyon during my Houston training. I told myself there’d be plenty of time to think about Antelope after Houston. So, the Monday after running 2:56:45 in Houston, I started thinking about how to train myself to run 50 miles.

I only had 6 weeks to train, so there’s no time to really rest and recover. Four days after Houston I signed up for the Austin Marathon, which is on February 16th. That gave me a little shy of 4 weeks to jump back into training. Exactly one week after Houston and on my birthday, Elise and I drove downtown and I ran 21 miles of the Austin Marathon course with Elise beside me on her bike. Since then I’ve been following the last 4 weeks of my Houston training plan.

So far so good.

I decided to sign up for Austin for a myriad of reasons. I’d originally thought about jumping into the marathon because John was signed up for it and I was going to pace him the last half. He hurt his foot some weeks ago, so he had to drop out. Another reason is that running a marathon less than a month after running my A race marathon is probably going to keep in really good shape for Antelope Canyon. I don’t know if this is 100% true because I’ve never run 50 miles, but hey, I’m going with it. I know my fitness is there. I’ve trained myself to run 26 miles fast. Running 50 miles is going to take me a long time, so hopefully the discomfort adaptation translates to the longer distance and extra time on my feet.

Austin is supposed to be a training run, however, there’s an element of redemption that’s sitting just below the skin. Austin was the second marathon I ever ran back in 2017. I bonked hard in that marathon. I’d gotten injured at the 3M Half Marathon the month prior and I took nearly 2 weeks off from training to deal with a hip and knee issue. I wasn’t able to get in any long runs leading up to Austin, and that showed on race day. The frustrating part was that this was the final race in the series for the Austin Distance Challenge. I was fighting for 1st pace in our age division against Shawn. I didn’t really know Shawn at the time, and now he and I are thick as thieves. Shawn beat me in cumulative time by 25 minutes and it all came down to the marathon.

I stayed really steady for the first 17 miles and then the wheels started falling off. I hadn’t put in any distance runs during my training. The furthest I was able to muster leading up to the race was 17 miles, and that’s probably why I came unraveled at mile 17 on race day. My back was open and ready for that monkey to jump on it.

It was a slog for those last 9 miles. There was a lot of walking and a lot of convincing myself that I wasn’t a runner. Running is stupid and you’re not good at it. I ran a 3:52:51 in the 2017 Austin Marathon. I hated that race. I swore I’d never run Austin again. Stupid Austin Marathon.

I came in second in our age group behind Shawn in the distance challenge. A few days later, my spark was reignited. Shawn moved up to take first in the Masters Division, which bumped me to first in our age division.

In June of that year, Elise and few to Seattle and I ran a 3:05 marathon along the Snoqualmie River which qualified me for the Boston Marathon.

My race performance in Houston will get me into the 2021 Boston Marathon by a large margin. And while it wasn’t on my radar, that same performance will get me into the 2021 New York City Marathon as a time-qualifier.

But I have some unfinished business to take care of in my home town. Austin is supposed to be a training run for Antelope Canyon. But I’m going to swing big. The Austin Marathon is not an easy course. It’s hilly. But this time, I’m ready.

Goal A: 3:15 – Boston Qualifying time, even though I don’t need to
Goal B: 3:19:59 – Sub-3:20
Goal C: 3:30 – I could hang with my newfound running friend, Lawrence
Goal D: 3:50 – PR my previous Austin Marathon time