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I ran the Austin marathon last weekend with my good friend Paul Pender and we finished in 5 hours and 55 minutes. Paul and I go way back to my days as a trainer at the Aggieland Fitness Dome in 2005.

When I met Paul I was just getting into running longer distances. He was an endurance guy and we would go on long runs together all the time. From 2006 to 2012 Paul and I probably ran over 1000 miles together. He and I went on a 20 mile run the morning I was leaving on a trip to Vegas where I proposed to Alicia. I remember telling him on that run my plan to propose.

He would always set waters and gatorades out for us. Our conversations on the run were always fruitful. Paul is 23 years older than me and I would always feel like I learned something deep and meaningful on our runs. Our friendship was built through running.

I had not connected with Paul in a few years and last month when I was in Guatemala Alicia and I ate at an Argentinian restaurant called Buenas Aires and I took a picture of us there and sent it to Paul. He always talked about how much he loved Buenas Aires. He responded of course and we went back and forth with a few texts and he told me he planned to run Austin marathon in February. I told him that if he wanted a running buddy I would gladly do it with him. He said that would be great and we could stay with him because he now lives in Austin. So I signed up for the marathon and Alicia signed up for the half marathon.

We went to Austin on Saturday before the race and had an amazing dinner at his place and got a chance to catch up. It had been several years since I had seen Paul so it was special to catch up. We woke up Sunday morning and headed to the race. At 7am 18,000 runners started the race.

Paul’s last marathon was the one he and I did in BCS in 2011. He is 64 years old now and he told me he would love to finish in 6 hours. I told him that I was happy to be with him and looked forward to running it together. Right before we crossed the finish line Paul got emotional and was in so much gratitude for his body being able to run the race. He played football for Texas A&M back in the day and has had a couple surgeries but his body has held up very well. He is a seasoned mountain climber who has summited mount Everest and many others. This guy is a beast. He wants to be fit and trains his body daily. It was an honor to run by his side and the picture above is right after we crossed the finish line.

This is what it’s all about. My fitness gave me this opportunity. Your fitness can do the same for you. It can be a tool to connect with people in your life. It can keep you healthy so you can be active with your loved ones. It is a beautiful and pure way to connect. Your body is capable of so much more than you think. Keep training and keep making progress. If you need help let me know. I believe in you.

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