February 19, 2001
Dateline: Austin, Texas
With Antarctica less than a week behind me (see the full
report here), I
took off for Texas for the Motorola Austin Marathon. The plan was to take it
easy, hang at the Expo, speak at the Pasta dinner, run some along the river
path, and make it to the finish line sometime Sunday morning to watch. HAH!
I arrived Friday in time to help with the first of three
Runner's World pace team clinics, found out I could still get a race
number if I wanted, found out there were people expecting me to lead the 5 hour
pace group, and discovered that I REALLY wanted to get back into the action.
Lucky for me, Cathy Myers (a friend with whom I had split the pacing at Country
Music 2000) was also in Austin and was willing to help with pacing. So....
Sunday morning I lined up holding the 5-hour pace sign. Two
weeks after running the "on deck" marathon in Antarctica I was
chugging along the streets of Austin. Another stroke of luck...the group of
people running with me in Austin was about the most enthusiastic bunch I
‘d ever led. With their help, we got to the half marathon point (and
Cathy) in 2 hours, 28 minutes. It felt good to run.
Later I waited near the finish line to see them cross. Many
of the group came in earlier than 5 hours... all looking great. Cathy
arrived right on time with a couple of people in tow. One young man, a first
time marathoner, had run next to me during the first half. He was running
strong at the end, but there was emotion building. You could see it in his
I ran the last few hundred yards with him. When we crossed the finish line, the
young man just exploded. He began to cry, almost wail. I threw my arms around
him, hugged him, stroked the back of his neck, tried to comfort him, and
encouraged him to feel the emotions as deeply as he could. After a few minutes,
he calmed down, walked through the chute, got his medal, and disappeared.
He'll be the meaning of the weekend for me. I've
no idea why finishing the marathon moved him so much. I've no idea what
crossing that line released in him. It doesn't matter. It also
doesn't matter that it took him almost 5 hours to feel it. It was real,
it was his. He earned it.
Not to get off on a rant but...there are runners closer
to the front who don't "get" that part of marathoning.
It's a powerful emotional experience, in addition to a physical
accomplishment, for many of us. The time it takes us to experience those
emotions is our business. And no one has the right to deny us the chance to
find those feelings.
On to Ft. Worth and the Cowtown Marathon this week.
Takin' it to the streets...