If you are very, very lucky, you have at least one person in your life who, when you say “I had a crazy idea,” will immediately respond with, “what time should I be there?”
Given how many people like this I know, my luck is deep and vast.
About month ago, shortly after I revealed that the universe decided I should run the Rehoboth half marathon as the next race in my 50 state quest, my Seneca 7 teammate Marianne texted to tell me she’d jumped onto the waiting list. She was number 100-and-something with just a couple of weeks to move her way to the front of the line.
We hatched a loose plan. If — and it was a big if — her number came up, I’d drive from Oneonta to her place in New Jersey, then we’d continue on to Rehoboth on Friday. After the race Saturday morning, we’d head back to her place. I’d spend the night and drive home Sunday morning.
As plans go, it was a good one. But I didn’t think it was going to be deployed. I thought that right up until the weekend after Thanksgiving, when Marianne got the official email. She was one of the last ones off of the list and into the race. The fates had smiled again.
The whole “smiling fates” feel describes my entire Rehoboth experience. The weather was perfection. The course was gorgeous. It meanders along the shore for a bit, then back through town and onto a series of trails through a marsh. Additionally, the organizer takes care of her runners without ever smothering them with rules. I recommend Rehoboth highly.
One of the bummers of pursuing 50 states is that I don’t have enough time, money, and stamina to revisit the races I’ve loved. It's a good regret to have.
Apart from the location, the race director, and the weather, one of the reasons why this race was such a hoot was that I went in with only two goals. Goal #1: Don’t die, which is my standard goal. Goal #2: Keep in under three hours, unless that will interfere with the first goal. With those parameters, how can you fail?
Which isn’t to say that I didn’t have a moment or two fervently hoping that I could skip ahead to the finish line. Nor does it mean that I didn’t wake up preemptively exhausted by the concept of running for more than a few minutes. Nor does it mean that my build-up to the race was ideal. The last few weeks have been kicking my heinie both at work and at home. Nothing truly awful has happened, mind you. Just a lot of random stuff has crept into my relatively organized life.
In short: My Strava data from the last four weeks shouldn't be used as a model for anyone prepping for a half.
My reduced expectations are what made Rehoboth such a lark — and are what set me on this 50 state nonsense to begin with. Continuously trying to beat my PR sparks zero joy. I’d like to say that I’d run 13.1 miles simply for fun but my pants would burst into flames if I tried. For me, anything over ten is just too much bother. I need a reason to tack on that extra 5K. The 50 state club gives me one. Plus, I like coloring in a map.
Even with all of this in its favor, this race wouldn't have been a balm for my stressed soul if Marianne hadn't come with. Sometimes, what you need is time in a car with someone you don’t see enough. Or sharing a motel room, watching Say Yes to the Dress, and snacking on a seasonal KitKat. Or a reminder at mile nine that your funk could likely be broken with some calories.
It's cheesy AF to say that “the friends I’ve made along the way” make running rewarding. Still. Here we are. While I like running well enough, what I really love are the adventures with friends the running brings.
What comes with that, too, are the rare weekends when the fates break out into a big grin, if only to remind you to appreciate your luck. These moments are like jigsaw puzzle pieces that snap satisfyingly into place. You might have a pile of pieces left to figure out, but one small section of the picture makes more sense.