My 2011 marathon season wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. You can read about both my marathons here and here. The plan was to run Houston on January 30 and Austin on February 20. My training season was okay, but definitely my toughest. Race day weather was mediocre. It just didn't turn out like I had hoped.
I told my husband afterwards that I just wasn't sure what 2012 would bring me. I didn't know if I'd want to run another marathon or just stick to half marathons and wait until 2013 for my next full. I was pretty sure I was going to skip Houston or any other out of town race. If anything, I'd only do the Austin Marathon. But that decision would be made after our training season began in August (I'm an assistant coach with Round Rock Fit).
The off season has surprised me. I ran the Texas Indepedence Relay in March and was surprised at how good I felt, and then I joined a gym in order to use the treadmill rather than always having to run in the Texas summer heat. Whereas last summer I was suffering through every single run and really not enjoying it at all, I'm feeling very different this summer. I feel strong and fast. I'm not having trouble getting through runs at all. When I do run outside it's not always very pretty, but my treadmill runs are surprising me and giving me a huge boost in confidence. I started thinking that maybe Marathon Season 2012 was not out of the question.
Three things about the Houston Marathon in 2012 that are very appealing to me: first, I have other friends who planned to run it. Second, it coincides with the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials, being held in Houston. And third, it's on my birthday. I knew if I decided to run Houston after all that I probably wouldn't have my family trek there to watch me this time, but rather just come to watch me in Austin. So having friends there would be a huge thing for me. I couldn't imagine starting and finishing a full marathon with zero support. And the idea of getting to see the elite athletes tough it out for a coveted Olympic marathon spot? How could I forgo that opportunity? Lastly, about my birthday....that's a more bittersweet reason....
I lost my older sister in 2009 at the age of 37. I was never one for celebrating my birthday much prior to her death, but since she passed it's been the absolute last thing I've wanted to do. I was 35 at the time of her death and the two birthdays I've had since have been extremely difficult to take. She was clearly too young to die, and as I crept up on her age it made the pain and guilt of being the "survivor" very unbearable. Birthday number 38 is on January 15, 2012, the day of the Houston Marathon, and my toughest birthday yet. My sister didn't live to see 38. I really will need the distraction of something big and grand to keep my emotions in check. To hit 38 years old with a bang seemed just the way to do it. I feel like it gives me a bigger purpose to my running, and makes the approaching date feel exciting rather than just dreaded.
Will it take away all the pain? Of course not. Grief doesn't disappear, but any self-therapy I can come up I'm going to take.
I was lucky enough to get selected in the Houston Marathon lottery, so it's definitely going to happen. I have several friends who got in as well, and at least a couple who plan to be in Houston for the Trials, too. It will be the perfect way for me to officially be the "older" sister that I never was growing up. Bittersweet, yes, but maybe a little sweeter than I thought it could be.
As a bonus.....the Austin Marathon will be on February 19, which just happens to be my daughter's 7th birthday. I couldn't have planned it better myself.