Together for the Long Run, or Not?
I can hardly wait for this coming Sunday: My best friend from high school, Courtenay, and I are going to run the Philly Half Marathon. She summed it up perfectly in an email: “It feels like waiting for Christmas when I was a kid.” Because we live on opposite sides of the country, this is a rare opportunity to be together. As soon as I told her I was promoting the book at the Philly race, she signed up to run it and booked us a hotel room for the weekend. We get to spend a whole, glorious, kid-free weekend together. I’m giddy with excitement…yet twisted with indecision and guilt. You see: I’m wavering whether or not to run the race with Courtenay or not.
A marathon-runner-turned-triathlete, Courtenay is a dedicated athlete. She’s trained more diligently for this half than I have. (Given how frackin’ long it’s taken me to recover from my 10/10/10 marathon, I’ve logged a single long run—14.25 miles on Saturday—and no speed sessions.) Yet she insists she can’t run a sub-2:00 half. I suspect she’s sandbagging, but obviously we won’t know for certain until race day. We’ve talked on the phone about our expectations for the race, and she insists I should run my own race. She says we should start together, then meet each other after the finish line.
In my gut, I know that plan makes the most sense: At Portland Marathon, I found it difficult (and distracting, quite honestly) to stick with a running partner who I knew for a fact could run at my pace. In Philly, the race course will be more crowded and less familiar, in addition to the question of do-able pace. So, yes, logic tells me running separately is the way to go. Yet in my heart I worry I’ll be missing out on a very special opportunity—the chance to run next to a person who ranks in my top 10 list of Folks I Most Love on This Planet. And, for what? To maintain my sports-ego of running every race to the best of my ability? To avoid making Courtenay feel “guilty” for holding me back? To brag about my results on Facebook?
I’ve been mulling over this decision for weeks, yet writing about it makes it seem like such a trivial, almost idiotic thing to debate. Heck, at times I think we should just ditch the race and have a leisurely, mimosa-fueled brunch instead. (Huh, Court, whattaya say?!?!) I’d love to get your thoughts, chicas, so I can throw those into my decision-making hopper.
In the meanwhile, yesterday I took a step toward alleviating a smidge of my guilt: I made a hip-hop-happenin’ half-marathon playlist, titled BFF Half Marathon, burnt the songs onto CDs, and Priority Mailed them to Court. If we end up running separately, at least we’ll be together with our tunes.