The marathon began one year ago. Out of work, broke, stranded in San Antonio, I started running, mainly to keep from going crazy. It took about three or four months to get up to the point I could jog the three mile loop behind my house. It took even longer before I could say that I “enjoy running.”
When I moved to Austin, I knew that it would be months or years before I would be accomplishing many of my life goals . So I set a new goal, run a half-marathon. I trained for about 3 months and completed the run in November. My life is still a mess, but I was in the best shape ever, so I started training for a full marathon.
Since I’m obsessed with podcasts and audiobooks training wasn’t that bad. Runs became special times for me to hang out with my favorite public radio hosts, church leaders, and authors.
The worst part of the race itself was getting up far earlier than normal and charging off into the cold to find parking. Some smart people made jackets out of trash bags, which they could easily discard.
I started the race off listening to David Crowder’s “Church Music.” Though I’m not a big CCM guy, the Christian themes and heavy dance beats seemed like a good idea.
The race looped as far south as 71 and as far north as Anderson Lane. Although it was well supported, there weren’t as many fans, drinks and food as there were in San Antonio. I stopped every time for water, and grabbed every random snack I could along the way, from boiled salty potatoes to animal crackers.
I had hoped to come in under 4:30, but began to drastically slow down around mile 16. At mile 19 my playlist hit Green Day’s 21st Century break down. Someone offered me an orange. I exploded with juicy goodness and punched the sky in my old punk rock fashion.
Running became a spiritual experience for me when I heard Billy Joe singing a chorus of “you are forgiven” in a style reminiscent of the nah-nah-nahs of “Hey Jude.” Overwhelmed by the truth of the lyrics and the reality that I was just a few miles from completing a task I never would have imagined possible, I burst into tears.
At mile 25 I reached the capital of Texas, which for the first time struck me as majestic. I switched to David Crowder’s cover of “Oh, How He Loves Us” and sang along at the top of my lungs. I can only imagine what the other runners thought, but I hope they heard.
Reaching the 26 mile marker, I found myself sprinting faster than I knew I could, knowing that I had to give my best, finish strong, and move on to the other goals in my life.