The last time I ran this race, I fell apart. It was hot. It was raining. It was so long. Physically and mentally.
Three years later, it was an easy long/tempo training run before the Austin Marathon. No racing, just steady marathon goal pace. No music, just friendly conversation, and at the end, a very needed mental game to get us to the finish strong. A shorted 18.6 mile course turned into an almost 19.5 mile mental obstacle.
And I finished 11 minutes faster. Right on target. Nonstop. With miles still in my legs. I have never run this far without stopping. I’ve always been a big believer in run/walk training, but having someone running with you, pushing you, you pushing back on them to get them to be their best. It’s a whole new strength. You just go. And then you realize at the end that you’ve gone farther than you ever thought you could. I’ve run 4 marathons, and I still never thought I could run a whole one all the way through. This year, not only is that happening, but it’s going to be strong and fast.
After five years of running and racing mostly alone, I am never going back. We need each other. No matter how slow, how fast, how easy or how hard, friends strengthen each other. They tell you when to take a break. They tell you when you can push harder. They rejoice in all your accomplishments. They get you back on your feet after failures. Celebrate each other.