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Marathon no match for Cathedral grad

Published 12:01am Sunday, April 14, 2013

BEAUMONT, Texas — The first marathon was a dare, but it got Natchez native Kelley Graves-Goeddertz hooked on running. Now she has four marathons under her belt, with the most recent one testing her resolve on a 26.2-mile course.

Graves-Goeddertz competed in the Gusher Marathon March 9 in Beaumont, Texas, and placed second in her age group. After fighting through windy conditions the entire day, she said it felt really good to finish so high in the standings.

“You can kind of hear the announcer as you’re coming back around calling your name,” Graves-Goeddertz said. “When they announced I was second in my age group, I said, ‘Wow, this is awesome.’”

Tish Jones, a friend of Graves-Goeddertz’s, chose the Gusher Marathon as her first marathon, and Jones invited Graves-Goeddertz to run it with her. Because of a lapse in memory, Graves-Goeddertz didn’t begin training for the marathon until well after she should have.

Kelley Graves-Goeddertz recently competed in the Gusher Marathon in Beaumont, Texas, placing third in her age group. (Submitted photo)
Kelley Graves-Goeddertz recently competed in the Gusher Marathon in Beaumont, Texas, placing third in her age group. (Submitted photo)

“About six weeks before the marathon, she reminded me, so I only had five weeks to train,” Graves-Goeddertz said. “That’s not what you’re supposed to do, but it worked out.”

The track at the marathon wasn’t a long running loop, Graves-Goeddertz said, but instead was a two-lap course, which added to the mind games they both had to fight through.

“When you get to the finish line and realize you have to go (all the way around) again, that’s when the mental games kick in,” Graves-Goeddertz said.

With windy conditions enduring throughout her run, Graves-Goeddertz said she got tired much more quickly than she usually does.

“We took our first big break around mile 8, and that was a lot sooner than we’d hoped to,” she said. “The wind was brutal. I think around mile 8 is when it first started to hit that we were running a marathon.”

But Graves-Goeddertz said there were plenty of people around to help encourage her, including a man named Felix Lugo, who has competed in 25 marathons while carry the American flag to honor fallen soldiers and veterans. Toward the end of the marathon, the two helped each other carrying on, and they both crossed the finishing line together.

“He was just dying because it was a big flag with the wind, but we started feeding off each other’s energy,” Graves-Goeddertz said. “When I would start back running, he would, and when he would start back running, I would.”

A Cathedral High School alumna, Graves-Goeddertz played soccer throughout high school and even into college. But the amount of running to train for high school soccer doesn’t compare to what it takes to train for a marathon, she said.

“It definitely opened my eyes to running, and I had never been a runner before,” Graves-Goeddertz said. “When it’s a marathon, you have to convince yourself in you’re head that you’re capable, because your body gets tired.”

Graves-Goeddertz picked up marathon running to convince her brother-in-law, who serves in the U.S. Army, that she could finish a marathon.

“He was talking about running a marathon, and I said something to him, and he bet me $100 that I couldn’t finish one,” she said. “I took the bet and proved him wrong. He was actually proud of me. After I did it, I liked them, and he didn’t have to pay me (to run them) anymore.”

Graves-Goeddertz said she’s thinking about running in the Honolulu Marathon in December.