Last weekend I ran the Morristown Superhero half, dressed in something fun, embracing the superhero theme, but run friendly.
There were four of us running the event: my running friend, her husband, his brother, and me. Batgirl, Batman, Green Lantern, and me… Supergirl.
I stepped out the door to 78F, 90% humidity, no clouds. 2:10-2:20 was my BRF's goal. The humidity would drop to 50% within an hour of the start, and the pace wasn't an issue.
Note… the weekend before we added one last long run to our schedule. My usual weekend run, the yellow trail. A five mile loop that we ran twice. She paces us on the trail, running single file. During the last mile, I tripped and rolled my ankle. It was bothering me all week but only for the first few minutes of the day. This let me know it wasn’t serious but to be gentle all week. Saturday the pain was worse, on race day I couldn’t put weight on it as I climbed down a flight of stairs. After 5-10 minutes, the pain is gone so I self diagnosis a strain. I will run and then take some time off to let it heal.
I got this.
The starting line:
To get to the starting line, we had to walk through the racers lined up at the front. I guess something happened last minute to cause the situation (strange right?). We just stood off to the side and waited for the 2:15 pacer to run by, and then joined to crossed the start line.
Here we go!
The first six miles offer several hills and no shade. My 10:30 miler BRF surprised me by running fast. I remember thinking to myself that we will slow down, she doesn’t run this fast. I was fine with the pace but my body wasn’t happy the hot/sticky start.
Looking back I wonder if having her husband running (his goal was 1:40) brought out a competitive spirit... which I totally support. Of the four miles we ran together, we didn’t talk so I knew she was demanding a lot from of herself (she talks, I mostly listen).
I separated from her at mile four. My ankle didn’t feel great, I was mentally prepared for 2:10, and the heat was draining. I dropped back to a pace that felt good and kept running.
For me personally…. this was the best decision.
I learned that her name is Rachel. She started running a few years ago, after the birth of her fourth child. She held a tiny pink t-shirt in her hand, and her feet were on fire. I wasn’t leaving her side.
My costume didn’t have pockets, so I decided to run with a handheld water bottle. I had 2 GU, gum, and SPF lip balm in the zipper pouch. I gave her a GU and had her drink my water. I refilled the water bottle at the next water stop.
With no medical in sight, I ran silently next her, asking for a thumbs up/down every few minutes. It was a terrible day for runners. I saw at least six people on stretchers, all with issues much more serious than Rachel’s. We walked. We jogged. My goal was to get her to a water stop outside the wooded trail, hoping there would be medical care. I couldn’t leave her in the woods.
She told me she had to drop her daughters pink t-shirt she held for ten miles.
I stayed with her until mile 11, handing her off to medical. She kept apologizing for slowing me down, and I replied ‘thank you for letting me run with you.'
My BRF had a personal best, finishing with 2:03, I finished 2:15. These three miles will forever be on my short list of running experiences.
The next day:
My friend called to see how my foot was, the pain now an all-day dull ache.
She told me, in a kind voice, “you’re a better person than me. I don't think I would have stayed with her.” I understand what she meant, there were plenty of people around us but I wasn’t trying to qualify, was running alone, and this was a fun run for me. I just know how much I would have appreciated the kindness of a fellow runner. Something you experience in the 10 miler group of a marathon. It starts around mile 18.
Local 10K's this summer, and I have entered the lottery for the 2016 London Marathon...