My Re-do Debut (Houston Marathon Recap)

Houston Marathon

My Re-do Debut (Houston Marathon Recap)

It’s been a little over a week since my last race, the Houston Marathon. During that time I had an awesome vacation with my girls Annika and Makenzie down in Mexico, which consisted of a whole lot of relaxation, an extra 5 pounds on my body thanks to all the food I ate, and reflection about that race, and where I go from here.
Going into the race, I was pretty relaxed and confident. I would jokingly tell people that I wasn’t too nervous, because there was no way this marathon could go as badly as my first one, ten months ago in LA. Coach Martin and I had devised a change of plans from how we approached LA both in training, and in my mind-frame and expectations for the race itself. I was confident the changes we made would result in a desired outcome. The few times I did let myself think a little negatively, did make me very nervous about getting this race right. I’ve been thinking about the marathon for quite some time now, and slowly starting to shift all of my focus and effort into becoming a great marathoner. The decisions I’ve made over the last couple of years, and plans I’ve been dreaming up for the next few years all revolved around me being good at the marathon. With how bad LA went, that hint of doubt would get me to think “what if I’m never going to figure out the marathon?” I know that a 2:12 high marathon time is no world beater; but the way I ran, and how I felt; I am so much more confident about 26.2 miles now, and know that my mind and body are capable of covering the distance without blowing up.
One of the changes with Houston, was how I approached the race mentally. Before LA, I think I put way too much pressure on myself, mostly since it was my debut. I had the goal of wanting to have one of the fastest debut times for an American, and to try and compete for the win, hoping that an American having success there could pave the way for the LA marathon to be a bigger marathon for elite Americans. They have done that over the past year despite my bad race with them being the US Championship for the marathon this year, and obviously the Olympic Trials next year. I didn’t put that pressure on myself for Houston, my only real ‘goal’ for the race, was to have a good, solid result that would give me confidence in racing marathons. I didn’t worry about any time or place that I wanted to achieve while I was training, and as a result of that, didn’t over-train like I believe I probably did a bit before LA. A few weeks before Houston, I told Annika I would be happy with a time anywhere in between 2:10-2:12, I’d be ok if I ran slower than that and under the A standard of 2:15:00, a little disappointed if I only ran the B standard of 2:18:00, and would probably drop out of the race if it was looking like I would run slower than that. So my 2:12:54 left me happy.
The race itself was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed being able to run at a very controlled pace for such a long time. I ran the first 25k with Craig Leon. He is an experienced marathoner, and I figured would be shooting for around the same time I would be. I talked with him Saturday afternoon about what he was planning to run the first half, and we agreed to work together. The first ten miles were all right around 5:05 pace, from ten to the halfway mark, we slowed a bit and came through halfway at 66:51. Right then Craig and I both picked the pace back up to 5:05 for the next couple miles, losing a couple of guys we had run with from 10 to 13. 25k is when I started to feel pretty good, and a little restless of the pace. I wanted to be able to run a negative split, so began to pick it up just a hair, and separated from Craig. I don’t remember any exact splits, most were in that 5:00 to 5:05 range until around 18 miles or so (which is right after I saw my parents and Mak cheering for me) I ran a 4:50. I didn’t feel too fatigued from it, but was cautious to pick it up that far from the finish still. I slowed back down, keeping the idea of patience in the forefront of my thoughts. The 21 mile mark was when I got the most unsure of myself the whole race; I was starting to work a little harder to maintain a good pace, and still had 5 miles to go! I relaxed and tried to focus on catching one of the guys that had fallen off the lead pack and was coming back to me. I caught him around 23 miles, and started to feel much more confident, knowing I only had 5k to go. When I got to 24 miles, I could see another runner a ways ahead, and looked at my watch and thought if I could run really hard for less than 11 minutes, I might be able to catch him and break 2:13, into the time range in which I had told Annika I’d be happy. I ran hard to 25 miles, feeding off the encouragement of the runners running the half marathon right next to me. But then when I saw Annika right after 25 miles, it was like I was struck by lightning! I put my head down and grinded as hard as I could to catch the runner I had seen a mile earlier. He looked back so many times; I had no idea what place he or I was, so told myself he was third, so fight and try to make that last podium spot! He ended up holding me off by 2 seconds; but after the race, looking at the splits I saw that I had run 4:40 mile pace from the 40k mark to the finish.
I crossed the finish line, breaking the banner for the first American, and a huge sense of relief washed over me. I no longer had to worry about my body or mind not being capable of handling the marathon distance; and with how I felt, and how fast I finished; I knew that there is a lot more time to be cut off, and I’m so excited for the next opportunity I get to do that!
It was also such a great feeling to do well in Houston. The Houston Marathon and their foundation have been such a huge support of American distance running. From hosting the Olympic Trials in 2012 and the Half Marathon Championships the last 2 years; to supporting groups and individuals not only in Houston, but in other areas of the country as well, including my old training group, the former Team USA Arizona in Flagstaff. They also have amazing volunteers who do a great job of helping the race run smoothly, and make the elite runners (or at least me) feel like royalty. I’ve gone to the race the last few years, and it was so fun to run well the last two years and have all these new friends I’ve made be happy for me. I hope that I will be able to continue my trek to Houston every January for years to come!
The years to come were on the fore-front of my mind during vacation. I have an idea of what races I want to run next, and how to train for them, and I will be meeting with Coach Martin soon to go over all of that. It will be mainly road races, with maybe one or two track races sprinkled in. I will continue to make decisions based on what will help me the most to make the Olympic Team in the marathon next February.
*Website Note*
You’ve probably noticed I haven’t done any training blogs in a while. Honestly I had considered stopping them a couple times throughout the year, but for different reasons continued. Once I got to November, I decided to stop. That resulted in just over a year of writing my training blogs, which is quite an insight into what I do. That amount of data lets you know the core principles of the training I do, and I don’t plan on taking that information down. I got tired of writing them every week, and thought that it may have started to affect my training, as I would catch myself thinking about how I would explain my paces and effort of a certain workout DURING that workout. I can’t allow myself to do that, I need to be focused on the workout itself, not thinking about what I’m going to say about it.
I will try to keep the site updated, with my racing schedule and results; and may feel like writing more regular blogs like this one since I won’t be bogged down writing training blogs every week. I do want to thank you for continuing to follow and support me and my running!

1 Comment

  • Eric Love

    14.02.2015 at 08:55 Reply

    You the man Aaron Braun!!! I’ve been keeping up with your running for the last couple years and I am so happy to see how much success you’re having. Your work ethic and humility makes you the perfect candidate to represent our country. I wish nothing but the best for you and will be following you from the sideline. I know you have what it takes to take your running even further and I hope you know how many people follow, support, and believe in you. Rio is waiting for you and I know you can make it there. Believe in yourself and you can achieve anything. I can’t wait to see what you do in the next couple years. I mean everything I said. You are the man brauny!!! You can do it!!! I believe in you and I know you do too. Wishing you nothing but the best from an old friend.
    Eric Love
    Go Brauny!!!!!

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