An Athlete’s Perspective – Issue 11

An Athlete’s Perspective is a blog series of event and/or training experiences written firsthand by the athletes themselves. An Athlete’s Perspective is a completely unscripted and raw look into the mind and daily life of an athlete as they prepare for their next race. Readers will discover training regimens, eating tips, gear recommendations, and an uncut perspective into the lives of people like you and me.

From Australia to Austin

By: Mike Marshall

The Marshall family.

I live in Brisbane, Queensland Australia. I’m married to Kylie and am the father of 2 boys, Zach 9 and Jake 6. We are now four weeks away from racing in the Austin Marathon and 5K race. How we got to this point started about 12 months ago I decided that in 2017 I wanted to set a goal to run some marathons and see exactly what I could achieve with a targeted focus.

My background in sports had been “on pause” for the past 12 years while we started the family and may have extended a bit too long as I “enjoyed the life” of excess and “normality” (ie not getting up at 0400 and being constantly tired, sore and irritable like all hard training endurance athletes). I had never really specifically trained and “run” a marathon, I had completed a bunch as part of training but these were always part of a “bigger IRONMAN picture” so I was not fully focused, trained, or tapered during these races and I suppose that’s what lead to the goal.

This goal seemed to fit well with the family as they all showed interest in getting involved. We decided that the “main event” of the year would be the Honolulu Marathon in December followed by a Hawaiian Christmas vacation (sounded perfect end to a year of hard work).

I set about training utilizing the Under Armour Connected Fitness Apps, Map My Fitness, Record, and My Fitness Pal to monitor, review, and hold me accountable throughout the process After so much time away from training I was substantially “well-conditioned” (read: overweight).

Mike and his boys, who’ll run the Austin Marathon 5K.

As the year progressed I started to see some improvements in both running and the weight front, racing a half marathon in May and a marathon in July where I managed to record the same time I ran 12 years prior despite an epic “blow up” at about the 33K mark.

From July onwards the focus was solely on Honolulu. As the last 11 weeks approached I saw on the Map My Fitness App a challenge for the month of October: The Under Armour Australia “Reward your Run” Challenge. The concept was pretty simple, most KM in 28 days, two sessions per day, min 20 mins per session, max four hrs. The major prize for Australian residents was a trip for 2 to the Austin Marathon in 2018 and for those in places 2-100 a pair of shoes. I figured I would enter the challenge to help “keep me focused” on the training for the marathon and given the volume I was running figured I might end up winning a pair of shoes if I was lucky. I got off to a slow start in the challenge as I was away and missed the first day (as it was my rest day following my long run the day before) and I was planning on racing the approaching weekend. At the completion of the first week of the challenge I found myself in about 5th position and looking at what I had done and the gaps figured I might be able to do a bit better than what I thought. Pretty soon I found myself focusing on achieving the most KM per day so I could to “Get to Austin.” The KM increased and the fatigue set in. My family were a huge support to me throughout the challenge and we were trying not to “Dare to Dream of Austin Marathon.”


At the conclusion of the challenge I had racked up 878 KM and was declared the winner. We now found ourselves Austin bound in 2018. This challenge helped me prepare well for a good performance in Honolulu in December 2017, but also gave me something further to focus on heading forward. With Honolulu ticked off, the work is truly underway with the goals set for the Austin Marathon.

Glad to say that thanks to the Under Armour Australia “Reward your Run” Challenge not only will I get the opportunity to race the Austin Marathon, but my wife and boys will also race in the Austin Marathon 5K. Needless to say, we are all super excited to get this opportunity to go halfway around the world to race and experience a city like Austin.

The reality of racing in Austin is what is motivating us all to prepare and train hard for which I expect is the whole point of the event being held. The Austin Marathon event seems to be comprehensive in bringing in a complete experience of the city and state which is super exciting for an Australian family. Would love to hear the suggestions for post-race meals, parties, and experiences so we can capitalize on this opportunity at the Austin Marathon thanks to Under Armour Australia.

If you see me out there say “Gday,” if I am not too out of breath you will probably get a “Hey Mate” back.

Austin Marathon Happy Hour with nuun and Clif Bar

Who doesn’t love happy hour?

Interrupt your week by joining us at the Austin Marathon Happy Hour at The Wheel on January 4th, brought to you by nuun and Clif Bar. Run with us through the newest parts of the Austin Marathon route and try products that will help your training now while helping you execute your plan on race day. Let’s get together and have a great start to the new year!

Kick back, relax, and enjoy happy hour with your fellow Austinites. Friends, great drinks, and a good time isn’t the only thing you’ll get at the Austin Marathon Happy Hour. Walk away with treats and swag from some of your favorite endurance brands! We do happy hour right; don’t miss your chance to win prizes because what would happy hour be without a raffle to top things off?

The benefits just keep on coming. The first 50 people through the door will receive a drink ticket and an awesome nuun pint glass! Join us January 4th at The Wheel (1902 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.) for some cardio, drinks, and camaraderie with your fellow runners! Don’t miss the run, it starts at 5:30. You absolutely don’t want to miss happy hour, which goes from 6:00 to 8:00. We can’t think of a better way to conclude your exercise than by ending it with a few drinks and great people. RSVP today. Please make plans to have a designated driver. Hope to see y’all there!

Austin Marathon Happy Hour

Staying Vertical with Kayleigh Williamson

On Saturday, November 18th, Kayleigh Williamson and her mother, Sandy, spent the morning training on Town Lake and then sat down with William Dyson for the next Staying Vertical interview. Kayleigh is a highly decorated athlete and became the first runner with Down syndrome to complete the Austin Half Marathon in 2017. During the Staying Vertical interview, they chat about what it felt like to cross the Austin Half Marathon finish line, the support of her friends and coaches, what’s it like to impact people around the world, and who would win if she and her mom competed in various events. Read her interview below and if you see her on the trail or running around town give her a huge high five!

Follow Kayleigh on Facebook and join Kayleigh’s Club today! You can see all her recognition and awards at the end of the interview.

Staying Vertical

Kayleigh’s Club at the Austin High Track.

William Dyson – You’re a runner. When did you begin running? Why?

Kayleigh Williamson – I started running in 2013 because of my health. I had to take medication for Grave’s disease. I’m in remission now, no more medication. But I still take vitamins.

WD – In addition to running, you’re a decorated basketball player and swimmer. Why is physical fitness important to you?

KW – Because it keeps me moving. I’ve been playing basketball since 2006. I’ve been swimming since 2008.

WD – Aside from running, you have to choose one: basketball or swimming. Go.

KW – Swimming (without hesitation).

WD – What are some positives you see from remaining so active? What are some obstacles?

KW – Because I’ve been swimming for a while, I’ve seen the progress athletes see when they get better from practice. I get better sleep at night. I don’t have to take my medicine anymore. I always remember the Special Olympics motto, “Let ME be brave. Let US be strong.”

When I started running more I had a leg injury. I went to RunLab and they fixed the pain.

Staying Vertical

Shane and Kayleigh.

WD – Earlier this year, you became the first individual with Down syndrome to complete the entire Austin Half Marathon course. What was going through your mind when you crossed the finish line?

KW – I remember crossing the finish line and felt so happy that I had to do my victory dance. I was so glad to have my friends at the finish line. My friend Shane from RunLab was there the whole time, holding my hand at the finish line. Shane would play Britney Spears, she’s my favorite because she’s from the same place as me, McComb, Miss.

WD – You’re a superstar. What was it like to get coverage on ESPNW, Runner’s World, TODAY, and People?

KW – I really do like it. I liked being on TV, talking about my mom. I’m proud of myself. I do races and events for my grandma. She has a bad memory, she can’t walk or run. She’s my motivating factor.

WD – Your story has been seen and your impact has been felt around the world. You’re positively impacting others with your accomplishments. How does that feel?

KW – It’s a good thing. I’m proud of myself. I’m showing everyone what I can do and that they can do it too.

WD – You plan to run the 2018 Austin Half Marathon. Do you feel like you have unfinished business?

KW – Yes!

WD – What are your race-day goals for February 18, 2018?

KW – I want to improve on my time. I want to run more of the course and walk less.

Gabriel, Kayleigh, and Natasha.

WD – How is training coming along?

KW – I ran four miles today (11/18) I’m doing good. I have my mom and my friend at 24-Hour Fitness, Gabriel, who helps me with the weights. Capital Metro takes me everywhere: 24-Hour Fitness, RunLab, McBeth Recreation Center.

WD – Take me through your Saturday training regimen.

KW – I get up early at 5:30 to run. I go to my Weight Watchers meeting with my best friends, Norma and Beth Ann. I roll at home with my pink Worm. I have a monthly dance at McBeth Rec Center on Saturdays.

WD – You can give advice to someone who’s beginning to go through a situation similar to yours. What is that advice?

KW – Come run/walk the Austin Half Marathon with me!

WD – You’re training, you’re exhausted, you want to quit. What keeps you going?

KW – I keep going because I want to beat my mom.

WD – How do your RunLab coaches inspire you?

KW – I inspire them! Dr. Davis started Kayleigh’s Club. Natasha is now the coach of Kayleigh’s Club. She’s a sweet girl, she’s with me every step of the way.

WD – You have a big supporter and training partner in your mom, Sandy. How does that impact you?

KW – My mom challenges me, I love her. I call her Coach Mommy. She’s my sweetheart. On Mother’s Day, I tell her she’s the best mom in the whole world. She plays Bohemian Rhapsody for me.

Staying Veritcal

Sandy and Kayleigh.

WD – You and your mom compete in the following events. Tell me who wins:

KW – 100m dash Me.

One mile – My mom.

Basketball game, first to 10 points – Me, I’ve been playing basketball for a while.

100m freestyle – Me.

WD – Favorite place to swim and run in Austin?

KW – swim – 24-Hour Fitness – William Cannon; run – Town Lake

WD – Favorite non-training activity?

KW – Dancing at McBeth Rec Center.

WD – What do you do for fun?

KW – Dance in the car with my mom, I’m the better dancer. We listen to Shania Twain, Man I Feel like a Woman, and Aretha Franklin, You Make Me Feel like a Natural Woman.

WD – Favorite Austin restaurant?

KW – West Gate Central Market, WestGate and Mr. Natural’s.

WD – Morning or evening workouts?

KW – Both.

WD – Friends or family come to visit. What’s the first Austin thing y’all do?

Staying Vertical

Kayleigh: half marathoners.

KW – Town Lake, I want to show them where I run.

WD – What’s your favorite holiday?

KW – Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

WD – You can choose one – dogs or cats?

KW – Both, we have four dogs and a cat. Their names are MegPie, Shadow, Nara, Maggie Mae, and Hercules (cat).

WD – What’s your favorite color?

KW – Red and black, those are my swim team colors.

WD – Kayleigh, thank you for taking the time to visit our office and lend your time for this interview. I had a blast getting to learn more about you, your motivations, and the amazing things you’ve done. We wish you all the best and we’ll see you on the trail and then at the start line on February 18th. Keep training and working hard and you’ll accomplish all your goals. Thanks for bringing your mom!

KW – You’re welcome. Thank you for interviewing me. I tried to keep my mom from talking too much. I will keep working hard because I want to beat my half marathon time and my mom. I also want to have more friends run with me. You can come to one of the workouts with Kayleigh’s Club. See you soon!

Recognition – At State (this last October), Kayleigh medaled in the 100m freestyle, the 50m backstroke, and the 25m breaststroke.  She has more than 15 medals at Area and State in swimming and more than 10 in basketball in Area and State.  She just completed her second 10-mile race (Run for the Water) in addition to 14 5K races, two 10K races, and two 8K races. She has Special Olympic medals in tennis, cycling, bowling, and track. The longest distance she has swum is 1600m.  

Kayleigh was the first individual with Down syndrome to train in International Krav Maga. Krav is Israeli self-defense. She trained for three years. International Krav has to be trained under a Master Krav Instructor. There are only two Masters in the US, one being in Texas.

Williamson will be the Ambassador for the Austin Rockin’ Resolution 10-Miler on 12/31.