My next race was all lined up: the Holiday Half in mid-December in Portland. My usual running pal, Molly, and I were going to run it with Kristin, a smart, sassy runner I met last May who makes us laugh almost as hard as we sweat. I was going to help them both cross the line in under two hours, something Kristin had come painfully close to doing (2:00:43) and Molly had done once before when she and I raced a half-marathon.
Last Saturday we did our second long run together. The weather was pretty miserable—heavy rain and temps in the low 50s—but we had a blast. On the docket: 14 miles with five at race pace. Molly had overdone it on a hike the day before, and Kristin had been out the night before. They both had doubts they could speed up, so it was up to me to talk them into it. We decided we’d run the five faster miles earlier rather than later in the run—“better to get them over with,” Molly reasoned—so at Mile 3 we stepped it up. Our race pace would have to be 9:09 or better, but I told the tired gals that we could aim for 9:30-minute miles to ease the burden a bit.
The rain pelted us mercilessly as we ran south along the Willamette in downtown Portland, but it didn’t dampen our mood. When talk turned to the costumes we’d wear in the race, we nearly stumbled from laughing so hard when Kristin suggested we be Joseph, Mary, and a donkey en route to Jerusalem. (Remember, the race is in December.) She said, “we can wear shirts that say, ‘We’ve got places to be!’” and other now-they-sound-idiotic jokes that made us roar. We reverted to our original idea to be elves, debating the aerodynamics of round versus pointed ears, which Molly would craft for us.
With each passing speed-up mile, our pace got a slightly faster; we ended up averaging 9:12s for the five miles. Talk turned to ghosts and haunted houses as we cruised home. Despite being soaked, I was giddy when we finished. After a hot shower, I excitedly told Jack about our run. I chattered on about how much I love hanging out with Molly and Kristin and how much fun the race was going to be. He asked me the date of the race; I told him it is December 16. To which he replied, “that’s great…but you won't be here.”
I was incredulous: Of course I’d be in town—Dimity and I were headed to San Antonio in November, then we weren’t away on business until 2013. Jack laughed, “Yeah, but you’ll be gone with the family. In Mexico.”
It took a few seconds for his words to sink in. Holy Jerusalem-bound donkey: Jack was right. I’d just furiously booked our first-ever family vacation, using frequent flyer miles and a Living Social voucher that expired December 20. I’d been so intent on getting the pieces all in place, I’d completely forgotten the race is the day after we jet south of the border. Guilt and disappointment replaced my giddiness. Jack and I quickly debated changing our plans, but realized there was no way it could work without costing our family mucho dinero.
Later, when I told Molly about the Mexico-race conflict, she was so gracious about saying she understood completely, and I shouldn’t fret about it. She offered a simple solution: The three of us will just have to run a different race together. I couldn’t agree fast enough.