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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

Image of Eileen Alvarez and her friend after the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. Her story of finishing the Austin Marathon includes overcoming adversity before she got to the start line.

Eileen and Bernabe at 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!

Explore Austin and Visit these 6 Places along the Austin Marathon Course

6 Places where you can explore Austin along miles 13-18

This list of 6 places to visit along miles 13-18 of the Austin Marathon course provides a glimpse of Austin before all the skyscrapers and traffic congestion. Take a step back in time and understand some of our city’s history and how Austin came to be the Live Music Capital of the World. Perfect for Austin Marathon weekend or when friends and family visit during the summer. Make sure you explore Austin when you’re in town and take home a souvenir or two from these spots!

Check out our list of places to visit along miles 13-18 of the Austin Marathon course the next time you explore Austin.

The UT Tower.

Looking for more places to explore Austin? Check out our other lists of favorite places along the eastern, southern, and western portions of the Ascension Seton Austin Marathon course.

The UT Tower (Mile 13)

This is one of The University of Texas’ most distinguished landmarks and it was completed in 1937. At 307 feet tall, The UT Tower (110 Inner Campus Drive) towers above campus and watches Austin Marathoners as they run by campus for the first time. The Eyes of Texas will truly be upon you on February 16th! Learn about the Tower’s different lighting configurations and schedule a tour of the UT Tower.

23rd St. Artists’ Market (Mile 13)

Check out a few of our favorite murals at this open-air arts and crafts market (2300 Guadalupe Street). It’s open seven days a week, but the best days to visit are Thursday through Sunday. Local artists sell their handmade work at Austin’s original outdoor art market. You’ll find a piece of Austin to take home with you!

Hole in the Wall (Mile 13.5)

When one visits the Live Music Capital of the World, one must visit Hole in the Wall (2538 Guadalupe Street). Hole in the Wall was founded in 1974 and the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lucinda Williams, Gary Clark Jr., St. Vincent, and so many other megastars have graced the stage. So many more that we had to stop listing them in this blog! Grab some grub, order a beer, and enjoy some live music.

Antone’s Record Stop (Mile 13.5)

Image of a classic car in front of Antone's Record Shop. Check out our list of places to visit along miles 13-18 of the Austin Marathon course the next time you explore Austin.

Antone’s Record Shop, an Austin original since 1987. Credit – Antone’s Record Shop Facebook.

Clifford Antone opened the doors of Antone’s Record Shop (2928 Guadalupe Street #101) in the summer of 1987. The shop, another Austin original, is in its original location and contains one of Austin’s largest selections of used vinyl. This is a great place to dig for records, especially if you’re looking for music with a heavy emphasis on blues and Texas artists. 

Elisabet Ney Museum (Mile 15.5)

Elisabet Ney is an iconoclastic German sculptor who moved to Austin in 1882. The building that is the Elisabet Ney Museum (304 E. 44th Street) is her former studio. Ney was also an early leader of the Texas Women’s Movement and a Civil Rights advocate. The museum offers exhibits, special events, workshops, and more. Admission is free.

Hancock Recreation Center and Golf Course (Mile 16.5)

The Hancock Recreation Center (811 E. 41st Street) is named after Lewis Hancock. He brought golf to Austin in 1889. In 1951, the Austin Country Club moved and the land was designated as dedicated park land. Today, the Hancock Rec Center offers varying programs like fitness, dance, youth summer camps, and more. The Hancock Golf Course is a 9-hole, par-35 course.

You have everything you need to explore Austin! This is a great opportunity to check out the course and learn about Austin’s history, whether you’re an Austinite or visiting for the first time. Make sure you double-check their hours before you leave the house. Do you have a spot along mile 13-18 that you love? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

5 Austin Restaurants That’ll Transport You to Another Place

Leave Austin without leaving Austin at these 5 Austin restaurants along Miles 13-18

You don’t need a time machine or an expensive plane ticket to enjoy unfamiliar culinary experiences. All you have to do is check out these 5 Austin restaurants along Miles 13-18 of the Austin Marathon course. Make the unfamiliar become familiar! Step back in time at a burger joint that opened in 1926 or a local deli that honors old-school delis. Enjoy authentic Thai food, explore the tastes of Ethiopia, or experience pizza from the Motor City. Need more? Add more Austin restaurants along the southern, western, and eastern portions of the Austin Marathon course to your list!

Thai, How Are You? (Mile 13)

Image of a bowl of pumpkin curry and a plate of white rice from Thai, How Are You?. Thai, How Are You? is one of 5 Austin restaurants along the Austin Marathon course that people should visit.

Thai, How Are You? prepares authentic and delicious Thai food. Credit – Thai, How Are You? FB page

This gem near the University of Texas serves delicious Thai food and is the caretaker of Daniel Johnston’s Hi, How Are You mural. Thai, How Are You? (2100 Guadalupe St.) is only open for lunch. Their updated menu features curries, noodles, fried rice, and more. Somyong (Noi) Sukkij, owner, uses traditional Thai recipes. She grew up and learned how to cook in a little farming village in Northeastern Thailand (Sichompoo, Khon Kaen).

Dirty Martin’s (Mile 13.5)

This is a true Austin original! Originally Martin’s Kum-Bak, Dirty Martin’s (2808 Guadalupe St.) has been serving burgers and shakes in the same building at the same location since 1926. Fact: it originally had a dirt floor which led to the name Dirty Martin’s! They’ve grown a little since the early days. Gone is the dirt floor. Big-screen TVs hang on the wall. But the way the food is made remains the same. 

Via 313 (Mile 14)

Image of a sandwich from New World Deli stacked high with meat and cheese. New World Deli is one of 5 Austin restaurants along the Austin Marathon course that people should visit.

The sandwiches at New World Deli are stacked high! Credit – New World Deli Facebook page.

The pizza at Via 313 (3016 Guadalupe St.) is inspired by the memories of two brothers who love Detroit-style pizza. Zane and Brandon opened their first trailer in 2011. Detroit-style pizza is unlike anywhere else. Their pies are rectangle-shaped, baked in metal trays, and filled with just about any ingredient you can imagine. Get the 10×14 and warm-up any leftovers in the oven! Pro tip: don’t skip the Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower!

New World Deli (Mile 14.5)

This local deli and cafe has been family-owned and operated since 1997. New World Deli (4101 Guadalupe St.) builds mouth-watering sandwiches that are piled high with fresh deli meat, various cheeses, and all the trimmings. They also offer burgers, salads, and soups. Enjoy live music when you eat there Monday through Saturday, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant (Mile 18)

Image of several Ethiopian dishes from Aster's Ethiopian Restaurant. Aster's Ethiopian Restaurant is one of 5 Austin restaurants along the Austin Marathon course that people should visit.

Visit Aster’s for an authentic Ethiopian experience. Credit – Aster’s Facebook page.

Take a trip halfway around the world without leaving Austin. Visit Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant (2804 N. I-35) and experience tastes, smells, and sounds of Ethiopia. They were established in 1991 and have been family-owned ever since. Their dishes truly represent the Ethiopian culture, especially Doro Wott – Ethiopian’s national dish. Their well-known lunch special runs Tuesday through Friday, from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

You have the information, now you just need to decide where to begin! Do you experience a new country or take a step back in time? This list is the perfect start if you have friends or family coming to town for Austin Marathon weekend. Make sure you double-check their hours before you leave the house. Do you have a place that you love that did not make the list? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.