Saturday, March 01, 2003

2003 Motorola Austin Marathon

This is a report I wrote over 6 years ago after my first marathon. I had sent it only in email to my Austin Fit coaches, but had lost track of the story. I recently discovered it was captured on the Austin Fit website, and so I copied it here and backdated the post to keep up with the story in my archives.

I Gotta Stay Ahead of Jim

Before the start, I waited until the last possible minute to take off my warm-up gear. At 6:50 I stuffed my pants and jacket in the drop-off bag and headed to the start line in my shorts and trash bag jacket (Damn it was cold) to find the 4:30 pace group at 6:55. I spotted the sign and headed straight for it, only to find that there were no breaks in the barricade to let me in. There was no time to go find the real entrance, so I jumped the fence as close to the pace sign as I could. The crowd was packed tighter and tighter as more people jumped the fence. At least that kept us warm. I could not get anywhere near the pace group. I could not even see the pace leaders to see what they were wearing, which would make them harder to spot later. Once through the start line, I started trying to catch up to the pace group. I knew one of the pace leaders was Mandy, the AF coach who lead my Saturday runs with the 9:45 group, so I started scanning the crowd ahead looking for anyone with pigtails. I finally caught up to her after the first mile.

I managed to keep up with the 4:30 pace group until 6th street where someone was handing out fresh baked cookies. Yum! Everyone said don't try anything new on race day, but my stomach had been growling for the last mile so I had half a cookie and I immediately regretted it. I slowed down a little bit, then the sick feeling passed quickly. I thought I had lost the pace group. The 4:30 pace wristband told me I was still on target, so I just tried to keep the same pace. Then I was suprised at the Lake Austin Blvd turn-around a few miles later to see my pace group was only 20 seconds ahead of me.

I stopped at the mile 17 water stop for a drink. But when I started to run again, I couldn't. My legs were suddenly sore and I could only manage a brisk walk. This was rather sudden and unexpected, since I was feeling pretty good just before the water stop. Is this the infamous wall? I stopped to stretch it out. Then I heard a familiar voice. I turned and saw Jim Linquist's 4:45 pace group across the street coming the other way down Lake Austin Blvd, a little more than a mile behind me. I realized I was not going to make my 4:30 goal, so I decided my new goal was to stay ahead of the 4:45 group. With that new found motivation, I took off. My new mantra became "I gotta stay ahead of Jim". Each time I stopped for a water stop it was harder to get going again. Each mile was getting slower and slower. In the 22nd mile, I heard a familiar voice in the distance yell "four-forty five" and I knew the 4:45 pace group was leaving the last waterstop, and closing in fast. The pace group passed me at mile 23. I tried to keep up but couldn't. My new mantra became "I can keep this under 5 hours". I skipped the last few water stops for fear that I would not be able to get it started again, and finished my first marathon at 4:51.

Thanks to all the AF coaches.

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