Another one in the books….but this was was rough. This was my 17th year running Austin with 16 of those being the full marathon. 8th year pacing. Marathon number 38. I trained for a fast 3M half and added in my long runs and had done some serious work. I felt ready.
What I wasn’t ready for was my partner texting me at 4:30 am the day of that she woke up sick. Shit happens, but you don’t want it on marathon morning. I panicked. I justed had checked the weather, 70 degrees and 90% humidity already. It was going to be a tough day. Getting ready was a series of phone calls and texts and we came up with the plan she would start and drop around mile 9. I felt better with a plan. Not ideal but at least I could start to wrap my head around running solo.
Running solo isn’t a big deal normally but when you pace, you cannot fall apart, fall off pace or have a bad day. There are two pacers so if the worst happens there is still someone to carry the group. That just means the remaining pacer cannot fall apart in any way. Given the weather, I was concerned. I was well trained and not sick in anyway myself so there was that.
As we headed to the start, I relaxed a little, and quickly panicked again when one mile in I was drenched in sweat. Only 25 more miles is dripping out every ounce of fluid in my body, every electrolyte, and not slowing down. CRAP.
Meredith and I worked together for her miles. They went fast. I was secretly panicking more and more as it got hotter and more humid. Humidity kills you on a long run. Once she turned off, I struggled to breathe, as I was freaking out. By this point we had a pretty good group, all depending on me and I was completely soaked in sweat.
I started talking to the group, practically for my benefit. We were about to hit a series of hills and I decided we’d slow on the hills, and pick up on the flats. 10 miles in and I felt a little cramped in my quads. Only 10 miles in! CRAP.
I relaxed when the half marathon turned off. I had a plan and the miles were ticking off. This section of the course is really tough, so talking the group through it gave me something to focus on.
About mile 16 I hit a huge low. I couldn’t deny the humidity was starting to sink its claws into me. The splits were hanging in there, but I had doubts that I could hold on for 10 more miles. I knew Mike and Jasper were at mile 19 and decided I just had to blow kisses and keep on keeping on. If I talked to them for a second, I’d start bawling about how nervous I was about finishing.
They were a huge lift. I started to feel confident it would work out and by now I was down to 3 runners determined to break 4 hours (this is a huge barrier in marathoning). My plan was take it a little slow through each water station to get a full drink and dump a full cup over my head. I passed this onto my remaining runners and they liked it. The soaked feet caused some wicked blistering, but so worth it.
Holy crap, 21 miles. I was now stronger than my peeps. They were starting to really suffer, and I was focused enough on them to not completely focus on me. Splits getting hit like clockwork. Giving out salt pills to my peeps like candy.
Mile 23.5, watch dies. Back up watch (I wore two!) won’t connect to saltellite. No GPS. I’ve got a clock still, so two and a half miles of doing guesswork and praying I am getting it right. CRAP.
Mile 24. Feeling hot but knowing I’ll make it at least within a couple minutes. There’s that whole no watch thing, and mass carnage. Runners dropping left and right. It would appear extreme humidity bothers everyone. I pass two Aggies where one is holding up the other on wobbly legs. I give them my last gel and tell the sturdier one to feed it to his buddy. Medical is about a quarter mile away but I hope the don’t need it. Praying my gel picks him up. Anyone who made it this far needs to finish.
Mile 25. The huge ass hill. It gets everyone. I slow to shuffle and pray I am guessing my time correctly on my no timing watch. I have two runners with me who ran each step of the the way as the pace group. Please stay with me!
Finish. Nothing like hugging two sweaty strangers. They both got massive PRs. All the nerves were worth it. I staggered to our hotel meeting spot and I’m embarrassed that I actually cried because I was so relieved I didn’t screw this up, and I noticed my under the toenail blisters for the first time. 3:58. My remaining two got under 4 hours.
Glad it’s done. I’m super satisfied. It didn’t go 100% how I wanted or planned but it worked out. What a freaking metaphor for life. Now a week or so of rest and a couple months of fun running before the next one. Chicago 2017. 🍕🌭🏙💨