We had plans. Big plans. To go to Big Bend National Park. Because its the ‘playground of Texas.’ And we like playgrounds. So we booked a spot at the Marathon Motel & RV Park. Because we need internet. And Texas’ playground does not come with internet (its old fashioned or something). We also needed groceries. Because we’re hungry people. The town of Marathon, TX has exactly one grocery store. And its about the size of our RV. Regardless, it was an excellent little grocery store. It had all the things we needed, like ice cream and chorizo. And a flyer advertising that Marathon, TX would be holding a marathon (26.2) on the day that we had planned to drive from Marathon down to Big Bend (Saturday). Plans aborted. Jake really does love me. We decided a marathon in Marathon could not be passed up. Did it matter that Jake hadn’t run more than 20 miles since June? No. Did it matter that my running has been consisting of ~3 days a week of leisurely 5-6mile runs and an occasional 10 miler? No. At least we had the taper portion of our training down.
Regardless of our initial reasons for coming to Marathon, TX, we found it to be a really awesome tiny town full of quirks, trains, and pride. The ‘downtown’ area (I use this term lightly) is dominated by The Gage Motel, a Texas gem. In addition, there were a few small eateries (we got a chance to grab breakfast at Marathon Coffee before leaving town- yum), a post office, the ‘grocery store’, an art gallery, an RV shop, and an over priced gas station. Oh, and a large, lush, green oasis of a garden in the middle of desert climate called ‘Gage Gardens’. While out for a bike ride one evening, we got caught up in the exploits of a local (very talented) photographer named James Evans who needed some help whacking the branches of trees with a long pole in the gardens . So we helped him. And when we whacked, hundreds of Monarch Butterflies would fly off their perches and whirl around before landing back where they started. And James would take a bunch of pictures. It was an excellent way to spend an evening. Oh, and James’ lady friend, Marci stopped by too. And I slowly figured out that Marci was the coordinator of the marathon in Marathon. And that she owned the ‘grocery store’. And that she had a pet JackRabbit. And after James was done taking pictures of the butterflies that we whacked out of trees (no butterflies were hurt in this process! I think they kind of liked the excitement?) Marci invited us to come visit her baby JackRabbit, Pip. Her cats dragged a tiny baby Pip in one evening and she has been living with Marci ever since (Marci was unable to release her due to an incident where Pip broke her leg and now Pip only likes to eat things like apples and human food, and nature doesn’t consistently provide rabbits those things). Since we were officially ‘tapering’ for the marathon (in Marathon, TX) I had extra time to take walks around town (ok, ‘official taper’ was pretty similar to my recent months of ‘non taper’- lots of walks around unfamiliar places). The homes and buildings in Marathon are so different than anything back in NY; I loved them all! So many colors, so tiny, so clearly loved. In summary, Marathon,TX is a tiny, unincorporated town with friendly people who clearly love their home, and don’t mind sharing it with the gypsies passing through.
While staying in Marathon (and still ‘tapering’) we made an afternoon trip out to Marfa, TX because we heard it was cool. Sadly, we made the mistake of making this trip on a Tuesday afternoon. Because we did not know that everything in rural, southwestern Texas is closed on Tuesday afternoons. So, for us, Marfa was kind of a ‘bunk’. Nothing was open, except for a laundromat which also functioned as a coffee shop and ice cream parlor (GENIUS!!!). We contemplated hanging around for a few hours because we wanted to check out the ‘Marfa lights‘, but literally could find nothing more to do in Marfa, so we headed back towards Marathon, stopping in Alpine for some dinner and Takis (Texas has an abundance of Takis. Get on it, NY… snack, snack, snack, crunch). We figured out that you can stay the night in your rig out at the ‘Marfa Lights’ viewing area, so we’ll plan on doing that if and when we travel back through. Which is a high probability because there aren’t too many roads to travel through in Texas.
So, about that whole ‘marathon in Marathon‘ thing. Sometimes awesomeness outweighs knowing you’re about to do something that will cause you great pain. We’re runners. Even when we’re not ‘actively pursuing feats of running’, we’re runners. And a runner can’t pass up a marathon in Marathon. After a week of hit or miss crazy storms rolling through (reminder: we’re from NY. Where it snows a lot. And is cold. But we don’t know about things like 60mph sustained winds. Or tornadoes. Those things scare us), Saturday brought a cool front with it (temps in the 60s) and winds from the north. We got dropped off 26.2 miles north of Marathon, TX, and let those northern winds carry us into town. And by ‘carry us’ I mean ‘push us’. No, the results of not training for this marathon AT ALL were not pretty. If we had trained, I would tell you about what a well organized, small town, mostly downhill, wind at your back marathon was. And how instead of selling hotdogs, the booster club sold tamales at the post race party. But most of what I remember involves wondering when I could walk (damned ultras have ruined me for life) and how much walking I could do but still run under 4 hours (stupid pride). But we met some really neat people (John, Marla, Troy, Steve, Nicki), ate pasta with the really cool people and drank beer and listened to country music with the really cool people. Steve & Nicki are from Australia (okay, Steve is actually a Canadian -dun,dun,dun- but was living in Australia) on an epic road-trip through South America and eventually back to the Canadian homeland while living out of their car. Marla & Troy are super fast running school teachers who really love snakes, and John is an Ironman/chiropractor/dad from near Austin. They were all cool. And made the stupidly earned soreness which would plague Jake and I for the rest of the week well worth it.
Until next post, we’ll be in San Antonio licking our wounds.