I’ve never been much of a runner, but Robin, my wife, certainly is. If you know Robin you know she’s incredibly fit. Her positive energy and attitude is, she’s often suggested, due at least in part to how running makes her feel.
In the past I have thought running to be somewhat monotonous and, frankly, a fairly inefficient way to exercise. I thought that what I could accomplish in the gym in 45 minutes would take twice as long running along the side of a road.
Over the past two years I’ve made a conscious effort to widen my view and to experience things that I might have previously avoided or dismissed. As Steve Jobs often intoned, the journey is the reward.
Recently, I suggested to Robin that we visit Austin and the hill country of Texas. Sharing a love for nature, I thought she would find Austin and the surrounding area both fun and soul-satisfying.
The Texas Hill Country is located in the Edwards Plateau region in the central part of Texas. It’s known for canyons, rock-strewn hills and hundreds of brooks and springs. The topographical range is from a hundred feet to over 3,000 feet above sea level, creating several micro-climates that are home to any number of rare plants and wildlife.
As luck would have it, Robin found a half-marathon event taking place in October - the Hill Country Half Marathon. As both a fun and semi-serious running event, Robin thought it would be a terrific opportunity for her to challenge herself while I participated in my first timed event, a 5k.
The Hill Country Half Marathon is a Halloween run supporting the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas. Attracting primarily locals, it’s the type of event that attracts runners of various skill levels in support of an excellent cause.
Robin’s goal, in addition to cajoling me to run with her, was to best her most recent time for a half marathon. My goal for the Hill Country Half Marathon was a bit more modest. I just wanted to finish!
In preparation for the event, Robin went about her normal, strenuous, daily training schedule. For my preparation, I embarked upon a new training regimen of running 3 or 4 miles, three to four times a week. At first, I found the training boring. Within a few weeks, my forty-five minute runs became an eagerly anticipated time when I could free my mind and become totally involved in my surroundings. As a result of my new appreciation for running, and the progress I made, I decided to attempt the half-marathon, rather than to do just the 5k.
I’m proud to report that Robin came in third in her age group with a time of 1:48:15, that comes out to an incredible 8.14 minutes a mile over 13 miles! How did I do? I finished with a time of 2:30:18, nearly 45 minutes behind Robin but with just as big a smile on my face!
Running the half-marathon made me feel great and I have Robin to thank for encouraging me to have that experience. In a small way I helped support the Austin families who live and love with a family member with Downs Syndrome, while also enjoying a wonderful extended weekend in Austin with my beautiful, fleet-footed wife.
Here are some additional photos of the many who found joy running this Fall day for a good cause.