Austin was not supposed to be my race; I ran Chicago and closed in on my Boston qualifying time by 3 minutes. My next race was Houston but my father-in-law Bob passed away the week before the race so knowing I would not be running Houston I signed up for the Austin Marathon. I have run Austin 3 other times and the best I could do was 4:10. I have been chasing a BQ time for 4 years and came close with Chicago but knowing the Austin course and how I have done in the past I wasn’t sure if I could come in under 4 hours. The day before the race I consumed as many good healthy calories as I could, well I guess the Pop Tart doesn’t count, drank at least 90 ounces of water, and then had to pee all night long. As always before a race I felt nervous but tried to think of this as a long training run. Minda and I got to the starting line , found James at the 4:10 pacing group, and saw Brandy, Scott, Chuck and Tony. The plan was to start with the 4:10 group and stay at that pace until mile 6 then over 2-3 miles catch up with the 4 hour group. Within 30 seconds of crossing the start line I couldn’t see Scott, Minda, or Brandy. Around mile 6 I tried to squeeze out the GU that I had put into a small plastic container and try as I might I got only 1 or 2 drops out – note to self – GU gets hard when it is cold and in plastic. I passed the 4 hour group at mile 8 and had not looked at my time until then. I knew that if I got to mile 13 by 1:58 I would have a chance at a sub 4 hour. Mile 13.1 came and my time was 1:56:57. I was carrying a water bottle which was now empty and I felt I could stop for a few seconds to load up again which I did at mile 14. Lonely time between mile 14 and 18. I turned my Ipod on at this point and the first song I heard was by Tony Bennett, not sure how that got on my Ipod. I then started doing multiplication tables in my head but didn’t get far. I saw my husband at mile 19 and got a big hug.
I ran along two ladies, one of whom was a coach with a Rogue shirt on, and tried to listen to her as she coached the runner along – she was saying “this is all mental now, ” and boy was it ever. I passed them and just kept looking at the road in front of me. Mile 20 and I am at 3 hours. At mile 23 Minda came up along side of me and I thought how great now I’ll have some company but she pushed ahead and thank goodness she did because it was the little bit of competition I needed to keep me going. My feet are burning, my left hip hurts, I want to cry, and Tony Bennett is still singing. At this point I have had no GU and only water. I felt a small wind at my back and looked to the sky and said “thanks Bob” (my father-in-law). “800 meters” to go and I heard someone shout out my name and I felt llike a rock star. What a difference it makes to have people cheer you on. I have no idea how fast I ran the last 400 meters but I ran harder than I thought possible. I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:56:53. Austin was my 14th marathon in 4 years and finally my Boston Qualifier. Thank you Scott and Minda for the support and stories on Saturday morning long runs, thanks James and Kim for being supportive enthusiastic coaches, and thanks Bob for the wind at my back when I needed it.