Austin Marathon 2012: Heather Riggins Race Report

Rogue

If anyone ever asked me why I wanted to run a marathon, I never really knew what to answer.  I always just wanted to, just because.  I have always just loved running.  I was never in athletics growing up, never competed for a team, was really never even part of a team, but always enjoyed running.  Last year I ran the half marathon thinking it was a great way to ring in my 30th birthday…who doesn’t want to run 13 miles on their 30th birthday, right?  Well my training or lack thereof definitely became apparent at about mile 10.  I remember walking over MoPac texting my boyfriend “I’m dying”.   Crossing the finish line last year I remember thinking “NEVER AGAIN”…

Which brings me to September of this year; I remember going to Rogue on our first Saturday work out.  Not knowing anyone but seeing a lot of smiling faces.  I felt so out of place…seriously thinking wtf am I doing?  A marathon? Really?  Our first 5 mile run I was dying.  Everyone was passing me.  I tried to blast out any good song on my ipod just to get me through it.  I had to finally stop while going up the “hill” on Waller (I know, right? A “hill” on Waller, what?)

Fast forward months of running; I met many great people, had many great running stories, and had many great (and terrible) runs.  I transformed from only running with an ipod, to running and actually talking to people (I could finally breath, run, and talk at the same time!), to finally running quietly with my team, but alone in my head.  Running became my relaxation…my meditation (which I will find out on race day screwed with me a lot).

My experience with Rogue and being on Bobby’s team was amazing.  Without them I would have never put in the work.  Even though in the end I preferred to run quietly on my own, it was my team that got me through those long runs or those sucky Tuesday workouts.  Seeing those familiar faces every week and knowing they were going through the same sh*t (the good stuff) was motivation to get me out there.   It was the team that made my legs move up those hills and not stop.  It was all the kind words I received after coming back from my injury.   It was just knowing I always had someone to run with.

Race

 I felt prepared.  I felt really, really prepared.  The day before I had laid out everything I was going to take, laid out my clothes, gone to an appt. at Advanced Rehab inside Rogue (btw Anice saved my legs…without her horribly painful but good therapy I would have never made it…seriously, no ankle issues, no shin issues, no calf issues during the race), I had even driven the north side of the course that day bc I was concerned with everything after Shoal Creek up until Duval.  That little area was my nervous point.  However, honestly after driving it, I felt like I knew it since we had run every piece of the course.  It put my nervousness at ease. 

The only point the night before I started freaking was when I couldn’t figure out how to upload / delete music from my ipod.  I hadn’t used it in months…damn updates…but I finally figured it out.  I think I was just cloudy.  I had been contemplating bringing my ipod but finally decided in the last minute that I would…I deleted everything and uploaded 11 specific songs “just in case of an emergency”.  Thank god I did. 

 The morning of, I woke up around 515, got my things ready, ate my morning running ritual of an energy bar and some boiled eggs and we were off.  Nick and I had planned on getting downtown around 630ish giving me enough time to roll out and stretch before I walked to the start.  (BTW thank goodness for Nick during these months of training.  He has been so supportive and helpful with all of this running…never complaining how much time it took…well, actually I’ll just say not complaining too much).  Worked out perfectly.  Nick found a perfect spot to park so I could stretch and roll out my legs.  I was in the mind set of “just doing another long run”.   I felt relaxed.  Soon after, I walked up to the start right as the anthem began.  As I made my way to my pacer I ran into Angela and gave her a big hug (I was SO excited to see a fellow sole survivor), then ran into Cameron and Nicole…again SO excited to see teammates.  I found my pacer at 410 and ran into more familiar faces.  I recognized Adam, and then Chuck and two other girls (from the north team..I am the worst with remembering names) that I usually ran behind on our Saturday runs.  I was so excited that Chuck had a tie dye on.  I knew it was going to be my beacon.  I felt totally relaxed. 

The first part of the run, I started to realize my biggest issue was going to be mental.  I had never thought about the issue all of the people would cause in my brain.  I started noticing tons of smells and I started to get annoyed at people.  It was just me being naïve about what the race would look like even though I had ran one last year.   I had gotten too used to running quietly in my head on the Saturday long runs.   

The second turn, onto San Jac, Chuck jokingly says, “you know, once everyone passes this hill, they actually jack it up a few feet so it is steeper the 2nd time around…we all laughed.”  My right foot was numb at this point…I sorta start panicking since this had never happened.  Did I tie my shoe to tight???  But by mile 2 or 3, it was cool.   I kept my pacers in my sight and always that tie dye Chuck was wearing.  Things were going good.  I remember starting to take my energy things at the times I had practiced during our Saturday runs.  Eating a bit of an energy bar along the way about every hour or so.  Things were going great.  After awhile, people started spreading out and the running made me less annoyed. 

I remember seeing Bobby on S. 1st and I think I said his name like 15 times before crossing in front of all of the runners so I could high five him.  I must have looked like a lunatic…and now I was that “annoying person” (:  It was great seeing someone I knew.   By this point I was in my groove, and really enjoying the race….and all of the people around me. 

 Mile 10 (I think) where Livestrong was, brought a lot of emotion to me.  I was running the race in honor of my dad who was diagnosed with cancer this year, Jan (Nick’s mom who was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago), and Courtney (Nick’s sister in-law that had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer this year).  I placed signs on my back in honor of them before starting that morning to help me get through the race…they have been through tons of sh*t dealing with cancer…I can run 26 miles!  My bottom lip started quivering.  In my head I was just like “get it together!”  Today should be a celebration for them!  I spotted the pacer and the tie dye and got it together.  I was proud of myself at this point also because this is the point I started falling apart last year…I was good to go. 

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Nick’s mom after the race.

Going over Mopac to get to Lake Austin I remember thinking my thighs are burning, which is not something I had been familiar with in my long runs, unless I was doing tons of hill work.  Just something I was noticing…Finally we were on Winsted (?) right before Enfield…Chuck noticed Mountain Laurels blooming and the smell.  Grapes.  It was nice to take a moment to “smell the flowers”.  I was really getting tired at this point.  The hills were crazy.  I just had to get to exposition and Nick and his family will be there.  The next few miles were a blur.  I remember “taking it all in” at the turn of right for ½ or left for full.  It was exciting to go left instead of right like last year.  Then I just remember being tired but still trucking.  At this point my pacer was about two blocks ahead of me.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch up with the 410ers.  But I was okay with that.  I never had a time in my head…looking back I don’t ever remember looking at my pace on my watch…just the distance…I didn’t want time to get into my head. 

I was able to pick it up a bit up the hills on exposition.  I was familiar with these hills, it felt good.  Right at the top I saw tons of familiar faces Bobby and Jason, and I was looking for Nick…but then I could never have imagined what I would see next.  MY family!!!  They live in Kansas and I get to see them like once a year at Christmas or Thanksgiving.  My DAD.  They had driven up from Kansas the night before and stayed at a hotel in order to surprise me.    I was SO SHOCKED.  I just kept saying What????  It was the craziest thing ever.  I was SO SHOCKED.  I started crying, I just couldn’t hold back the tears.  I got the best hug from my dad.  I barely even saw Nick and I didn’t see our other friends that were at that stop.  I was SO SHOCKEd to see my family.  Okay, I was fried mentally from this…I got started again and couldn’t stop tears from rolling…luckily Chuck was right there just trucking along.  The tie dye.  He gave me some nice words about how amazing family is…I had to focus.  But all I could think about was how they got from KS to TX?, did they fly? (I didn’t know they had driven yet) did Nick have to pick them up from the airport?  I bet Nick is stressed with them here (you know…”in-laws”), is my house clean?  Are the sheets clean in the guest bed?  How is my dad taking a day off work tomorrow? (he had used all of his time with treatments)  How the hell did Nick keep this a secret? He’s the worst at keeping secrets.  AHHH.  I think my brain was just a bit scrambled from running and then the BIG surprise.  Must focus. Must focus. 

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My dad and I after the run.           

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Step-mom, sisters, and my Pops.

Okay so back to business, my legs are burning, but turning onto 35th made me happy.  I remember telling chuck just 13 more miles…”that’s an easy Saturday run”.  I think at this point he had started hurting.  The next few miles were okay.  I remember seeing Brian on Shoal Creek which was awesome.  I was now at the north part I was scared of prior to the race.  Great Northern seemed to take forever.  I was able to finally zone out a bit and get into my “relaxed state” I had trained myself to get into during Saturday runs.  I remember turning onto Foster.  Nick’s family was waiting for me there.  It was great to see them.  (I was still shocked I saw MY fam instead of Nick’s family at exposition as originally planned)  Then a bit down the way my family was there again.  I made Nick give me a big kiss as I was running by…still so crazy my family is there but soooo cool!  Then I saw a friend down the way a bit.  Very  nice to see everyone as I am tired.  I think I rememeber slowing down a lot at the next water stop to give my legs a rest…just my quads burning.  No cramping though.  No issues with my ankles, or calves…feeling good overall. 

The night before the race I had made myself a turn by turn paper just like on our normal Saturday runs (I know – crazy, but whatever works, right?) so the next few I just remember looking down at my paper and telling myself…just get to Woodrow,  getting on Woodrow, looking for Romeria, looking for Woodrow again, looking for Northloop.  I was really having a hard time, but still doing okay.  I knew at this point the tie dye was behind me and my pacers were gone.  I figured at this point I was on my own.  I pulled out my next energy thing.  I was kicking myself for not packing another Mocha flavored gu…but I had only ever done one on our Saturday runs…so I didn’t want to change anything for this “long run”.  The honey packet I had in my pouch I had used numerous times before but today it tasted SOOOO SWEET and it was starting to upset my stomach.  But I kept eating it little by little.  I was feeling tired. 

 

The next thing I really remember is seeing Guadalupe which I think I saw a Rogue coach on (don’t know name) but he recognized me which was cool, then 51st and I finally started seeing people die on the hill.  Just stopping.  I stopped to throw my cup away (just rest is all I need…just a little rest)  I told this older gentleman he could do it as I jogged by.  Then the turn at 51st and Duval.  I was spent.  I kept seeing the signs with “a few more miles and a shot ‘o jack” or just a jog to margaritaville…now normally I’m all about boozing it up…but for some reason, the idea of taking a shot at this point made me want to vomit.   I remember looking at my watch thinking this is the farthest I have ever gone.  I’m in it now.  No turning back, no stopping.  I was dying!!!  So I pulled out my “in case of emergency” ipod.  My earbuds where filled with sweat…nice.  I turned it on and felt WASTED…as in drunk.  You know that feeling when you’ve had a decent amount of drinks and you hear a favorite song and you just want to dance on the bar?  I was right there.  I basically was wasted listening to Pearl Jam “Release Me” running a marathon.  It was the best sounding song of my life…either way, the next few minutes passed with me running, sometimes with my eyes closed, I even remember passing a few people, just feeling good.  I took an orange (first one of the entire race)…it was the MOST AMAZING orange I have ever tasted.  Seriously.

 

Next song, The Ting Tings “that’s not my name”…normally I wouldn’t jam out to this, but for some reason it just hit me the night before that I love this song…and I knew it was 5 minutes long…about a ½ mile.  I was mouthing the words and feeling strong.  This took me to Hyde Park and a bit beyond…I remember running down the hill to San Jac (all the time remembering I have run this route so many times thanks to rogue and I KNOW THIS…and I CAN DO THIS!) 

God it took forever forever forever to get through campus.  I remember trying to get that stupid radar speed catcher thingy to go over 6mph at the entrance.   I had gotten it up to 8 once on a Saturday…it wouldn’t budge over 6…I was spent.  Next song Outcast…God I hate outcast…but I did it in honor of Nick…He loves Outcast (the old school outcast…but I can’t do oldschool outcast)…dunno why he likes em…but anyhow I was “shakin’ it like a Polaroid picture” (“new school” outcast) at this point and wanting to die.  Who are these people just passing me at this point?  What the hell are they doing to find this energy?  Who are these two girls in front of me just talking like this is a nice Sunday jog.  Seriously, who are these people?!

Finally I am passing MLK.  I am running up and see fellow sole survivors.  I started giving out high fives.  So nice to see people.  Then Bobby starts running in front.  I felt so cool to have my coach running in front.  I don’t know why, but it came to me, I have never seen Bobby run, except for right now.  Good form…But the bad thing is…he was going so fast!  How the hell was I going to make it up this hill.  I ripped out my stupid headphones, my brain is fried, fried, fried, my quads are burning like lava…way worse then Mt. Bonnell after 15 miles…way worse…but even if I was running slower than I could have walked up that hill, I don’t care…I didn’t stop.  We ran past Ralph who I knew was hurting…I just had to get up this damn f*cking hill.  Chuck was so right…this hill is so much steeper this time around.  What the hell?  Bobby just kept yelling out all of these motivating things about how it was just 1 time around the track (which seems like forever to me at this point), I yell out that my family came to surprise me…anything to get my head out of this stupid hill…he says that’s great…is your fiancé here?  Right as he says this, Nick is there, at the top of the hill, I high five Nick and tell him to run with me.  Is this even legal?? I didn’t care at that point.  I was about to finish an f’n marathon!!! …and if Nick is there with me…even cooler! Bobby says more positive things and turns around to go help others.  Nick is now running in the marathon with me.    He later tells me at this point that I looked drunk…super happy, I just kept repeating, and repeating that I was so happy he was there.  We are running down 11th (I’m pep talking Nick “it’s all downhill from here, you can do it”) and see my family again, then nicks family right before we cross the finish line.  I high five Nick (which I totally don’t remember doing…but saw it on the video).

 

So that’s it.  I honestly felt great afterwards.  I mean, my body hurt and I had the normal hobbling, but I felt good.  My family, Nick’s family, and groups of our friends all met at Scholz’s afterwards.  Beers, good food, family, and friends.  We celebrated the marathon, my birthday (which was the next day), and just having everyone together.  It seriously was the coolest day of my life…seriously.

 

After

This experience was amazing to me.  I still get choked up talking about it in depth.  I loved every bit of it and I feel like I am a different person since completing this great thing.  The last six months have changed me forever.  I have only told people ROGUE is amazing and I couldn’t have done it without my team.  I will always have a place in my heart for this experience and rogue.  We only have our 1st marathon once!  I have never felt so supported by family, friends, a coach, and a team!  Best experience ever!

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I’m trying to get Nick to become a runner…(:  I keep telling him he has already crossed the finish line, he just needs to do the leg work.  It should be noted however, he did take a shot of southern comfort with me and we cheered to “1/2 marathon 2013”…hey, I’m willing to compromise (he refused to cheers to full marathon).  

Until next time…

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2 thoughts on “Austin Marathon 2012: Heather Riggins Race Report

  1. Great race report Heather! I think you had the race I had hoped to have. Well done! I’m already planning for the next one. Shoot me an e-mail some time. – Chuck

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