I am learning more and more that I’m not as much of a planner as I once thought I was. In the weeks leading up to our Austin Half Marathon runcation, Amanda and Brandi had restaurants and attractions lined up while I couldn’t even remember where we booked our hotel room. But sometimes you realize that plans are being executed without you even knowing it. You look back on a series of events and see an invisible dotted line that connects them all together and lands you right where you were supposed to be, without ever knowing there was any plan at all.
For me, that invisible dotted line led me to hearing Bart Yasso speak at the Austin Marathon Expo.
A few months ago when I was shopping the going out of business sale at Borders, Bart Yasso’s book My Life on the Run caught my eye and I thought it would be a good resource down the line for marathon motivation. To be honest, I didnt really know who Bart Yasso was, like, at all. Sure the name was familiar and I knew he had done something important in the running community, but I’ve just never been very in touch with all the stories of the great runners and shakers of distance running.
The book has collected dust on my bookshelf since August. As I was bolting around my apartment doing my last-minute packing for my trip to Austin, I grabbed the book on a whim thinking it might be good airport material. On my four hour flight to Austin, I set a new PR that had nothing and everything to do with running: I started and finished a reading the book–all before I was even instructed to fasten my seatbelt and prepare for landing!
The book was phenomenal. It was laid out chronologically in easy-to-read chapters that highlighted different races, events and milestones in Yasso’s life (including a very tempting and entertaining race at a nudist colony). There are plenty of great reviews online for the book so I won’t go into that but I will say that I would highly recommend the book for anyone who enjoys (or wants to enjoy) running for reasons beyond grueling training regimens and setting PRs. This book focuses on what you really gain from running when you stop thinking about it as a means to an end: the confidence, friendships, stories and life-altering moments.
When I got to the end of the book, I saw that Yasso had listed Austin as the Coolest Host City… this is the point where the dots started to connect themselves. I realized that this runner I had just read about for three straight hours was going to be at the race I was on my way to. How great would it be to actually shake hands with this inspiring man?!
He spoke several times at the confence but the only time we had a chance to hear him was during his last time slot on Saturday afternoon. We got to the expo, picked up our packets and walked around for a little while. I was constantly checking my watch for fear of missing him speak, and with ten minutes to go I convinced Brandi and Amanda to grab seats early so I was sure we wouldn’t miss him. Well, we certainly didn’t miss him… in fact, by showing up early we had plenty of time to say hello and chat with Bart himself!
He was so friendly and easy to talk to! He shared a few anecdotes from his book and had great advice for us and everyone else in the crowd. Bart was truly inspiring to hear speak, especially when you read in his book all the things he has gone through in his life. I ran into him the next day after the race and made a point to thank him for the pre-race advice about the hilly first half of the race (who knew that Austin was so hilly?! Not me!). He immediately remembered me and my sisters’ story and congratulated me on my race.
I asked him to sign my book at the expo, and I love the quote he included: “Never limit where running can take you.”
What perfect words to live by for an adventurer like me!