Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sweet Austin has forever a place in my running heart

Running the Austin Marathon in under three hours felt spectacular on Sunday. I have to honestly say that the whole race flew right by me.

It felt so care-free. So automatic. Just like a regular run out in the park with new found Texan friends.

I have to thank my pacers, Patrick and Paul, who were truly amazing. They kept us right on track mile after mile at near dead even pace to 3:00.

Official finish time: 2:59:10
1st half: 1:29:51
2nd half: 1:29:19 (**NOTE: Current "official" 1/2 marathon PR is a 1:29:21!)
50th place out of 4,051 finishers

The weather was picture perfect. The fans were outstanding. The elevation was challenging in many parts. There was really only one obnoxious hill at 24 as we headed into the UT campus.

I don't have any really dramatic moments to share. The toughest strech were miles 15-17, which were dead straight as an arrow into some strong head winds. When we turned the corner into mile 17 out of the wind, our entire 3:00 pack gasped a sigh of relief and joy.

I have a fond memory of the confidence I felt to hold what used to be such a daunting 6:50 min/mile pace through wind and hills. I worked so hard throughout the winter through some tough mornings, days and nights to get to this place.

Of course, when I made that turn into the final 385 yards knowing that I sub-3 in the bag, I let loose with my fist pumps and cheerleading antics. (See picture below with the Capitol building in view.) It was an amazing feeling, as usual.

I now have a list of shorter distance PR's that are not in line with my marathon PR. I'll need to chip away at a few of those this summer.

My next marathon goal will be to run a 2:55 to allow me guaranteed entry into New York. I need to improve a measely 211 seconds. Although this is very achievable, I do not feel I have enough time make this modest gain at Boston, which is only 9 weeks out. I'll mull that over a few more days.

I think I will attempt another 2:59 at Boston with my good running pal, Aaron in Pittsburgh, who is training up as I type. I can't wait to run the Super Bowl of Marathons again this year after waiting for Alivia's birthday last year.

I will have to decide if San Fran is a conducive marathon to make my attempt at 2:55. The course elevation does not appear much more challenging than what I just did in Austin.

For now, I am going to savor this one for a few more days. We head back to Chicago tomorrow morning from my wife's grandparents here in Houston.

When I arrive home, it'll be good to see my ol' buddy, Mr. Treadmill, in my basement, who I can thank for helping me achieve my goal in Austin. He and I spent a lot of hours and miles together the past few months.

I want to leave a thought with anyone who doubts their ability to achieve their next big marathon time goal, whether it be a BQ, a sub-3 or even just to complete a marathon.

I ran my first marathon in Pittsburgh in 2001 in 4:16, never dreaming I would be where I am today. I kept at it because I grew to love this sport, and what it did for me, my fitness and my confidence as a person.

I know from experience that with commitment, planning and perserverence, you can achieve your goals. When you do, it feels so amazing.

The success I have gained for myself out on the road has helped me tackle many challenges in life. I'm so thankful to God and my wonderful wife, and now my precious little daughter, for supporting my running endeavors.

Marathon #15 is in the books, and it's a special one, to be sure.


jen said...

Wow, Ryan. What an incredible end to your sub-3 quest. Absolutely amazing work. I love the pictures and the attitude. You deserve those fists pumps!! I'd still be pumping if I were you. :P

You really are a very lucky man. You have a beautiful family and are an incredible athlete. :)

Enjoy Boston! I think both Boston and SF are incredibley tough hilly courses, but that can't stop you! Go get em.

Arcane said...

congrats! I love her little shirt!

monicac2 said...

Congratulations on achieving your goal; I know you feel great! I recently achieved my goal of breaking 2 hours in a half, so I know a small piece of what you must be feeling!

You are a true inspiration - keep up the great work!

Darrell said...

My hats off to you Ryan. You worked so hard for this. It is great that everything fell into place.

Keep up the good work and congratulations.