Time: 6:31:33 (walking)
Don’t get too excited. After a promising few runs, my plan was to run the initial lap of the Texas Kingwood marathon, and then walk the remaining 3. Each lap is 6.55 miles, and after a successful 10k run in record breaking Texan Christmas day heat and sunshine, I was feeling positive about completing my first marathon in over a year in under 6 hours.
Things didn’t go to plan.
I crossed the start line of the New Year’s Day marathon in high spirits with 328 fellow runners/walkers. I passed some of the familiar landmarks from the course that I remembered from 2 years ago, and got caught up in the fact that I was running. IN AN ACTUAL RACE! I kept my pace slow and steady, and beamed despite the threatening rain clouds above. I also had the same race number I had for the 2014 event: 262. As in 26.2…. Get it? It was fate! Today would mark the start of my running comeback!
I passed the first mile marker. Then the second. And then? The familiar tightness on the outside of my right knee, brought on only by running, sent a pain shooting through my knee that could only be matched by my heartache. I slowed to a walk and glanced down at my Garmin to survey the damage. I shit you not, I was 2.62 miles into the course. Exactly 10%. With no hope of making up any more time running. So what did I do? I kept walking. For over 6 more cold, dreary, grumpy hours. For a medal the size of my face, and so that I could say I had completed my 10th marathon.
The laps seemed endless, but at least there were always people around. In fact, I played leapfrog with the marathon organizer, Steve Boone, for the majority of the race, and enjoyed his (nearly) infectious enthusiasm towards everyone there, and the tales he told to people he ran/walked with. One snippet I remember is that this tree was recently hit by lightning, and that there is an old pet 6 ft snake on the loose in Kingwood. I’m not sure how true either of those stories are, but the tree did look cool.
Over 2 hours slower than the last time I was on the course, I crossed the finish line while my mom snapped (probably) terrible photos of me, and my dad cheered. It was like swim meets and soccer games all over again. I grabbed a slice of complimentary pizza and then limped to the comfort of my dad’s car’s heated seats.
Of course, entering the marathon was an afterthought, prompted in part by my knowledge that it caters to the velocity-challenged (translation: open to walkers). I also knew the gym classes would likely be off on New Year’s day and that without concrete motivation to get out of bed I would likely end up in some dive bar making questionable decisions on New Year’s Eve. It seemed like a good idea to get start off the new year with a medal, and I was hoping that a more positive outcome would be a harbinger of further running progress.
Obviously my main reason for hitting up Houston was to visit my family and spend some time with my 13 month old niece. And obviously to check out the bitching light displays in River Oaks (now a family tradition), where people have so much money that Christmas decorations have become penis extensions.
Oh, and I got to take my niece to the zoo with my brother, where she seemed more interested in the Christmas lights and dry leaves on the ground than all of the exotic animals….
I arrived back in Scotland yesterday, and apart from going to the gym, I have done little apart from sleep. Jet lag is always worse on the return leg, which bodes well for my first day back at work tomorrow…
Although things didn’t quite go to plan during my vacation, I’m trying to be positive. I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and here’s to a killer 2016!
Edit: For Dan –