Last weekend I gave up my usual habit of sleeping in for waking up early to run my first road race as a Texas state resident. I choose to bypass the larger, more popular runs, in favor of a smaller, more challenging course that would prove useful for my upcoming Boston marathon – Moe’s Better Half. I was excited and nervous. Not only would this be my first race as a Texan but also the first real race since I ran the New York City marathon in November and had a very poor performance at the Race with Grace 10k on Thanksgiving.
The day started out chilly and dark – awaking around 5am for the 7am start. I rolled out of bed, had my typical pre-race breakfast of whole wheat frozen waffles topped with peanut butter and a sliced banana (keeps you full and fueled through long runs and it’s delicious) a big cup of black coffee and I was on my way.
At around 40 degrees when I walked out the door, it felt more like upstate NY weather than Texas, but the sun soon rose and it was a perfect morning for a half marathon. The group of runners headed towards the starting line. One of my favorite moments of any race is the start. All the nerves and excitement for the challenge we’re all about to face. With only about 350 registered runners, this race was probably one of the smallest I’ve ever run. I couldn’t wait to see what the course would hold.
I was warned from the beginning—it would be a tough course through the hills of San Marcos along country roads. The warnings were true, but I felt strong the entire time. With very few fans along the way, I really embraced the course enjoying the scenery and letting my mind wander from time to time. Often people wonder what I think about when I run – especially during long runs. I’ve heard from many that they get bored running. I use my time running to focus on what is stressing me out and think about the things I need to accomplish that week. During races, I’m often focused on the race and how I feel – but this race I felt strong and so, I found myself thinking about what motivates me to run.
Many of my friends and family know that I started running in middle school and became more competitive about it in college. I started running to help in my recovery after a ski accident and so that I would be better at my primary sport of choice, field hockey. But I also ran to prove to myself and others that I was and still am an athlete.
One thing most people don’t know about me is that in 4th grade my gym teacher at the time decided that I was an appropriate candidate for “special gym,” essentially a gym class for kids that were considered overweight or obese. At the time I had no idea what it meant but soon it became apparent to me; I was not physically fit. At such an early age I became aware of my body image and how I was bigger than most of my peers. Needless to say, it did not make for a fun middle school experience.
By the time I entered 9th grade I was considered obese and was constantly being told by my pediatrician to cut out the candy and move more. It wasn’t until I had a skiing accident and the doctor told me I had to start working out more or my knee might never recover, that I seemed to finally get the message.
My dad, an avid runner, encouraged me in my efforts and by the time I graduated high school I was able to keep up with many of my teammates and was considered a normal, healthy weight. What really made me feel better though was the same gym teacher that put me in “special gym” was now teaching gym in high school. We were required to do a physical fitness test every year which included a 12 minute run. Not only did I run laps around my peers, I ran them in front of the gym teacher who made me feel inferior as a kid. I could not be happier.
So back to Moe’s—I’ve been sticking pretty close to my training schedule and it seemed to pay off. I ended up running one of my best races, with a time just under 1 hour and 40 minutes and placed second female in my age group. The race and day could not have been better.
I celebrated with a day of primping and pampering followed by an indulgent dinner of microbrews and bbq at Uncle Billy’s Brew and Cue. It may not be the best bbq in Texas, but they do have a to-die-for brisket, called “wet brisket.” The particular cut of meat has more fat than your typical brisket and paired with their slightly spicy bbq sauce, it’s the perfect match to their hoppy microbrews. Feeling satisfied and full, this was one of the best days I’ve had in Texas, and in general, in a long time.