Close to 200 runners from Austin are entered to run Monday’s 123rd Boston Marathon—widely regarded as the foremost marathon in the world. All of those runners have stories, and Ready to Run focuses in on two who show why the Boston Marathon is so special.
Paul Carmona, 55, is Director of Regulatory Integrity at the Texas Workforce Commission. His wife Katie Carmona, 50, is a career law clerk for The Honorable Lee Yeakel, US District Judge for the Western District of Texas. Although they don’t do all of their training together, Katie joins in on track and hill workouts that Paul leads weekly.
RTR: How many marathons have you run, and how many Boston marathons?
PC: I have run 66 marathons. The first one was 2001 in San Diego, and the latest was REVEL Kulia in Kona, Hawaii, in March of 2019. Number 67 is Monday in Boston. This will be my 9th time to run the Boston Marathon.
KC: Monday’s race will be my 19th marathon and my second Boston, although I have never had the opportunity to run Boston as a qualifier until this year. I ran the Boston Marathon in 2014 with an invitational entry that I received after my experience at the bombings in 2013. I’m also going to run the London Marathon just 13 days after Boston this year. It will be my 20th marathon.
RTR: What makes Boston so special for you?
PC: The Boston Marathon is special for me because the first time I qualified in 2008 – after years of trying and coming as close as 39 seconds – was only 8 months after doctors told me I would never be able to run another marathon. I had contracted a staph infection in my left leg from a cut I got in a triathlon. It infected my lymph system and I ended up in the hospital for IV antibiotics to treat the staph infection. In February 2008 I had to stop running when I started receiving treatment for lymphedema in my left leg. In June I started running again but doctors warned me not to run more than about 5 miles at a time. I set my goal on qualifying for Boston in December 2008 and did it. I ran Boston the following April of 2009 and again in 2010. I missed 2011 and 2012, but have been back every other year since then, including the bombing year – 2013. Qualifying for Boston is a goal for many marathoners. The prestige, pageantry, and grandeur of the race is special. Qualifying multiple times after being told I’d never be able to run another marathon is extra special. I had run 13 marathons when the doctor told me to stop running them. I have run 53 more since then!
KC: The Boston Marathon is particularly special to me because it is so hard to get into and because the spectators are probably the best in any race out there. I have watched Paul race in Boston for many years, so the opportunity to run this year is particularly special to me.
RTR: What is your marathon PR?
PC: My marathon PR is 3:16:38, which was the Austin Marathon in 2002. At the time I needed 3:15:59 to qualify for Boston, so I missed it by 39 seconds. Other than Boston, which I generally run “easy” to around 4 hour finishes, I run most of them around 3:20-3:40. I constantly train for 8:00 minute miles, which equates to a 3:30 finish. The year-round training at that pace enables me to run most of my marathons in an average of about 3:30.
KC: My marathon PR is three hours and 52 minutes and 54 seconds. I just ran that PR in Hawaii last month.
RTR: You are amazingly consistent in your marathons. What’s your secret?
KC: The secret to our consistency is Paul Carmona. Seriously, this is a question for Paul, although he has really taught me the value of being consistent in my training and my racing.
RTR: Looks like it could be cold and rainy again this year for Boston. How do you deal with that?
PC: Another rainy day in Boston is likely. There’s not much I can do except wear running gear that accounts for the rain and cold. I try not to overdo it with cold weather gear, though. Last year in the extreme rain and wind my clothes got heavy with rain and nearly dragged me down. I wear water proof gloves and a hat to keep the rain off my face and eyes.
KC: I’ve run marathons in the cold and in the heat, but I have never run one in cold rain. Fortunately, the weather forecast is improving a bit in that it doesn’t look like it’s going to be as cold as first forecast. That being said, I am doing whatever Paul tells me to do to prepare for the weather on Monday since he experienced it firsthand last year.
RTR: What has been your absolute best marathon experience looking back on all of your marathons?
PC: The absolute best marathon for me was my first qualifier in 2008. I tried several times and missed qualifying, and then this bizarre medical condition appeared to end my marathon efforts. When I got back to running in June 2008, I could barely run 2 miles, and it was slow and painful. Six months later…BQ!
KC: My absolute best marathon experience so far was running the Boston marathon in 2014. I was a spectator at the 2013 Boston marathon, and I found myself within a few feet of the first explosion. The Boston athletic association gave me an invitational entry to run the 2014 Boston marathon, and it was an experience I will never forget. It seems like the entire population of every town I ran through that day came out to cheer for me.
RTR: Marathons require a lot of training, they are difficult, and require significant recovery. How can you do so many, and don’t you get tired of the 26.2-mile distance?
PC: Marathons are indeed hard work. I never get tired of running them, or I haven’t yet. I don’t have a goal number in mind. I hope to just keep going until I can’t anymore. I ran eight marathons last year, all from June to November, basically one per month. I qualified for Boston in six of them. I am able to recover quickly by getting back to running as soon as possible. I have run every day since February 1, 2013. Running immediately after a marathon, although it hurts at first, gets me back into training very quickly. The pain I endured in 2008 with lymphedema was rough. It still hurts every day due to swelling in my leg, and I have to wear hot, uncomfortable compression stockings 24/7. So, the pain during and after a marathon, though different, is just another pain to run through.
KC: I am finding myself running more and more marathons every year. I have six on my calendar this year. I think that consistency is the key again and setting goals for a race or for my training keeps me from getting bored. It is surprise me that running more races has made it easier for me to recover from each race.
Upcoming Races: Saturday, April 20 at 8:00 a.m., ASH Dash 5K Bunny Run at the Austin State Hospital grounds at 4110 Guadalupe between 45th and 38th Street. Saturday, April 20 at 9:30 a.m., the Hula Hustle 5K at Lake Pflugerville Park, in Pflugerville.