My First Austin Marathon Experience

I would like to start telling this story by giving you a little background. I was NEVER a runner. In fact I was the chubby kid growing up. I was the chubby kid who did not operate as though he was chubby. I was naively optimistic assuming others saw me as buff or as “a football player who needs the extra weight.” All fat-kid’s parents wish their kids viewed the world the way I did. J  So somehow I always carried that happy self-confidence that says, “I can really do anything if I try.”

Little more background: When Facebook first came out I had to answer the question, “What are your hobbies?” I thought about it for a minute and realized I did not have anything I really loved … just a few things I hated. I wrote as my hobby “I hate running.” That was it!

Fast-forward a few years. I was working at a Starbucks just after college and had a woman come through the drive-through in running clothes. She mentioned she just finished an 18-mile run and was treating herself. “Why would you run 18 miles?” I asked.  This was her reply; “I am training for my second marathon with my baby sister. I ran my first when I turned 50 and now I want to run with my sister who is also turning 50.”

I think that was my tipping point. I still had that happy, “I can do anything” mindset. There were also much deeper reasons for wanting to tackle something like a marathon. But this was the tipping point. I remember tackling the first SIX-mile “long run.” I remember the first time to make it ALL THE WAY AROUND Town Lake. I wanted everyone at those damn water stops to know I just did the ENTIRE loop (I did not yell it out but I wanted to).

I soon realized I was on a pretty cool journey that just might change my life. I did not love running yet but I loved the feeling of finishing big runs. I kept working!  Many weeks I felt like I was not doing enough (and I wasn’t) but I just kept showing up and going through the motions. (By showing up I mean my wife drug me along and made me stick to my commitments.)

Feb. 15, 2009 finally came. I was on the starting line of my First Austin Marathon Experience. I wont give you a full race report but I did the same as every rookie. I went out too fast. I believed those LIARS on Exposition who told me “Last Hill … good job!” I had my first doubts at mile 15. I felt alone and abandoned on Great Northern and tried not to think about the fact that I had to make it back down town if I wanted that medal. I hit the wall at mile 18. I was completely demoralized when we turned left in Hyde Park, instead of turning right towards down town. I walk jogged a few miles. I wanted to cry and die through miles 22-25 … then I sprinted like I was an elite on the last .2 of the race. It felt so good to finish! It felt so good to have that first medal.

AND as you can imagine – I am now a runner. I have run the Austin Marathon 3 times and love it more each year. I have taken over an hour off that first race. I am still a LONG way from qualifying for Boston … but that’s not the point, I just love running these things. I like getting better on each one. I love hearing people say, “Oh, Austin is tough.” It is! That is why I am even more proud of doing it. My PR is in Austin and I hope that when I do qualify for Boston it will be here, on my home course. The next Austin marathon is Feb. 19, 2012. That means training season is just around the corner. I will be out there. Will You?

Information on training:

James Dodds – August 2011


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