I've felt the burn, experienced the pain, enjoyed the success and with last Sunday's 12 mile run, I am anxiously counting down to race day. Sunday mornings run started at 5.45 am, the temp at 34 degrees. Our 12 miles would take us through the beginning of the marathon course. It would also serve as my last long run and Spence's longest run ever. We started with some trepidation. The Austin Marathon has traditionally been a point to point downhill course. Big changes in the course this year meant some hills and many more elevation changes than in years past. I'd heard some commentary about the new course and portions to watch out for and was eager to see it and "feel" it for myself.
The first two uphill miles clicked by and we quickly hit our stride. Talking about the race, about training, about work and about family, we headed through the streets anxiously awaiting the challenges that were just up the road. The first section of hills came and passed and as I checked our pace, I was pleasantly surprised to see an average mile consistent with our "non-hilly" training runs. As we made our way through the middle miles or our run, it all started sinking in...this was it, the end of this training cycle was coming. One mistake I made last year was going through marathon training without having an exit strategy. I did the training, did the race and left with a hollow feeling of "what now?" There was no race to look forward to, no purpose to my training, and I felt the letdown. This year, I'm going to be gearing up by transitioning into Tri season. I'm facing my fear of the swim by taking a much needed swim course taught by Andrea Fisher of Texas Iron. Andrea is a professional triathlete and absolute speedster in every sense of the word. The class starts tomorrow...and I'm hoping to be able to share some good news Thursday (namely that I survived.)
Spence and I kept cranking out the miles Sunday and talked about our next plans. We're both seriously considering a May Olympic distance tri....hence my need for swimming instruction. Our situations run very parallel and we both don't take lightly the time commitment training takes in terms of balancing it with our family. Last year while doing the marathon my wife was pregnant with our second child...this year Spence and his wife are planning on number 2. Having that support and a compatriot — both from an edurance sport perspective and family perspective — has been a great experience.
Miles 5, 6, and 7 came with little fanfare or challenge, but we knew what was to come. Mile 8 hit and so did the hills. There were some pretty big hills, but I was excited that with each one climbed we were still feeling good. I am confident that our training has prepared us well for the challenges, but I'm also mindful that come race day I'll have to pull off the gas a bit knowing that I'll be running for a lot longer. As we decended out of the hills and back to lake we were both bolstered by our success and excited to take a step closer to race day.