One Marathoner’s Remarkable Story of Overcoming Adversity
Eileen learned more about herself after overcoming adversity leading up to the Austin Marathon
There were several times during Eileen Alvarez’s journey to the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon start line where she could’ve thrown in the towel. Her best friend could no longer train with her. Eileen had surgery on both of her feet. She thought about dropping to the Austin Half Marathon. Her orders sent her on an Army training exercise three weeks before race day. But like most runners, she added “overcoming adversity” to her training plan. Read about her experiences and see why crossing the 2020 Austin Marathon finish line is a moment she’ll never forget!
Eileen’s journey to the Austin Marathon finish line
I’ve participated in the Austin Marathon three times. I’m a two-time Austin Half Marathon finisher (2013 and 2019). Earlier this year I crossed the Austin Marathon finish line for the first time. I’ll never forget the journey and experience.
I’m an active duty service member stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, and an alumna of The University of Texas. In 2019, my best friend Elizabeth Bernabe asked me if I would help her train for the Austin Half Marathon. She was following a “couch to half” training program. I immediately took on the challenge as I myself was training for the Bataan Memorial Death March. The Austin Marathon Expo was filled with excitement as I completed my last-minute registration. Together we conquered the Austin Half Marathon. I was certain Bernabe would be one-and-done. The very next day she asked me if I wanted to do the 2020 Austin Marathon. Without hesitation, I said, “Of course!”
Overcoming adversity added to training plan
Not even a week after the Austin Half I was told I was having a bilateral bunionectomy. They would operate on my left foot up first in April. I started my recovery on crutches, learning how to walk again. After a few quick runs they scheduled surgery in August for my right foot. After that, I was crutching around Austin with no ability to run. My best friend who was going to train with me found out she was pregnant. I was ecstatic for her, but she could no longer train.
Eventually, my doctor released me from my horrible post-surgery boot. He told me to start walking first… “Sir, with all due respect, I have to train for the Austin Marathon!” So I started training. I beat myself up a lot. Four-mile runs were killing me and I was really rethinking this journey. My bestie helped any way she could. Mainly by saying she’d cancel dinner plans if I didn’t get my mileage in as planned! There was a lot of walking during my training. I had to relearn things I took for granted. Some days I felt like dropping to the Austin Half Marathon. On January 28th I was informed I was going to a field exercise. The Austin Marathon was three weeks away. I had great leadership that let me break away daily to continue my taper.
Eileen’s unforgettable Austin Marathon experience
Sunday, February 16th, was an amazing day for me. I felt every person genuinely cheering me on. I know the work and grit was worth it all. The ice baths, extra oatmeal. I was so nervous at the start. Nervous I wouldn’t finish. Nervous I didn’t have the heart. After all, no one would know if I failed except for me. With every mile I felt the drive and passion, I felt stronger and faster. Crossing the finish line was one of the proudest moments of my life. I had the heart and discipline to keep on when I could’ve taken the easy way out. At any point, I could’ve used the “well my feet are still recovering” card. But I didn’t. I trusted myself, my previous experiences, and my training.
Thank you to the Ascension Seton Austin Marathon and the City of Austin. Thank you for giving me a chance to prove myself and celebrate in the best way possible. I CAN’T WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR and the Austin Marathon’s 30th anniversary!