This is my fourth year to complete the Shiner Beer Run. So, to borrow BookLadyWalker’s term, it’s a “rerun.” The run takes place in Shiner, Texas, the “cleanest little city in Texas,” at the Shiner Spoetzl Brewery. There is a 5K and a 1/2 marathon. The first year, I completed the 5K with my husband, as I was a newer runner. The last three years I have opted for the 1/2 marathon. I particularly like this race because it marks my running progress, but also because I get to go away with my husband without the kids for a weekend race. Shiner is about 2 1/2 hours from our home. Each year we meet my parents, who live an hour from us, and deposit our daughters in their car, then we motor on up to Shiner for a fun getaway.
The course is quite challenging. For one thing, there are hills. I live in a suburb of Houston, Texas. The only hills we have are overpasses. Additionally, because the race always takes place the weekend before Thanksgiving, the weather tends to be a bit yucky. This year it was the wind and light rain that was troublesome. It is difficult to run up a hill, but twice as difficult to run up a hill as the wind pushes you backwards. There is one section of the course where we run through a pasture on a rocky road. Because we are running through an open pasture, there isn’t anything to block the wind. This part of the course was particularly difficult for me.
Every year I am challenged by this race, and because of this I will continue to go back each year because I love it so much. This is what running is all about. It’s about ignoring that little wussy voice in our heads that tells us to stop. It’s about struggling to make it uphill with winds pushing us back, but pressing on with sheer determination and then rejoicing in our accomplishments. This is why we run. We run to to feel free. We run to feel free from barriers, negative thoughts, worry, and apprehension. When we are running we are strong and confident. We are fearless and capable. Courageous and inspiring. Sometimes it is an easy, comfortable run and sometimes it is a challenging and frustrating run. In short, running fills a void. A void that we can’t even pinpoint. We are better because of running.
I am nostalgic about the Shiner Beer Run because it marks my evolution as a runner. The first year it was the 5K and I actually placed in my age group. The second year it was my first 1/2 marathon, and I did it in under two hours. By the third Shiner Beer Run, I had completed three other 1/2 marathons in under two hours and attempted to break my 1:56 PR by going out fast in the beginning. I hit a wall toward the end of the race and had to walk. I finished that year in a little over two hours, but I learned some valuable lessons that day.
The first lesson I learned is to trust my training and not to try to go out and do something totally different on race day. The second lesson I learned is that I will fail as a runner from time to time. Either because of my fitness or because of my brain, I will fail. Every run will not be perfect. I must admit, at the after race party that year I was quite a brat. I was so angry at myself for the time that I got. My husband had to tell me to drop it. This year, I promised him I would not be a brat after the race, no matter what happened, and I wasn’t. This year, I was conservative in the beginning and allowed myself to slow down some during that challenging pasture section of the run. I kicked it back up again as I neared the end of the run, and I finished at 2:01. I’d be lying if I didn’t have to quiet my annoying runner voice in my head saying, “If you’d just pressed on in miles 4 and 5 you would have finished four minutes earlier.”
The truth is, breaking personal records is quite fun, but so is simply enjoying the run. Every runner experiences doubt, fatigue and complacency. Running is like life. It isn’t always going to go our way. It just isn’t. Sometimes, we have to simply enjoy our runs, even those bad ones. Just enjoy every last miserable minute.
The 2015 Shiner Beer Run was great. I had a great time with my husband and I ran my own race. I remembered to look around at the cute town of Shiner. I remembered to wave at every spectator that had taken time out of their lives to simply cheer me on. I listened to my music through my headphones and lip-synced my favorite songs. I high-fived spectators that had their hands out to high five me. I remembered to enjoy my run. I remembered that I am fortunate to have found running. As I approach my 39th birthday, I just want to keep running for as long as I possibly can. I want to be positive and remember that running is my gift.
Thank you running.