Like I mentioned earlier this week, the upside to leaping into a half marathon with little time to prepare for it was that my mind wasn’t full of thousands of worries, which had had weeks and weeks to grow. Instead, I was able to focus on just one simple mantra: This Isn’t My Race.
Which isn’t to say I was completely disinterested in the result, just that I found freedom in having only one job, which was to slow Kelly down for the first half of her much longer journey. I reasoned that I could always bail at mile 12 or so if my body just gave up and Kelly would still be well set up to run on. What I failed to account for (and realized at mile ten) was that stopping before the 13.1 mark would mean finding my own way back to the hotel, without money for cab fare or, indeed, any way to find a cab in the first place.
Because it Wasn’t My Race, I spent far too much time on my feet at the Mother Runner booth at the Expo the day before the race. It’s not that Dimity, SBS, and company are demanding, it’s that I was having a good time talking to other mother runners. Then SBS and I got a little bit turned around on our way back to the hotel and the long walk was much longer than it needed to be — but more scenic, I contend. By ten p.m., I was stretched out in bed in a state of quasi-consciousness while Dimity and Jo organized …. something that I never opened my eyes enough to look at. Maybe it involved posters? Or bikes? No idea.
Morning dawned and I flung on my running gear, complete with a number bib that said DENISE. Because of all of the pre-race reshuffling, I was running with the bib of Denise Dollar, one of the behind-the-scenes BAMRs. I can only tell you how confusing it was to hear “Go, Denise!” on the course while people were looking directly at me. I also stuck a little note of the back explaining to any potential emergency personnel that I would answer to “Adrienne” and what my husband’s cell number was. Better to be safe than sorry, right?
After choking down a bagel and some coffee, I hooked up with Kelly in the lobby. Then, after dropping SBS off in one of the speedier corrals, Kelly and I started are long and winding path back to the Blue Corral aka The Corral with Reasonable Expectations. Another mother runner Laura introduced herself the three of us ran together. When Kelly made a potty stop around mile eight, Laura ran on and, I hope, finished strong.
As for the rest of my part of the run, I did my best to force Kelly to slow down. When given just one job, I can be amazingly persistent — so much so that I was wondering if Kelly would sigh heavily at me the next time I reminded her that there really would still be bananas at the finish no matter when she got there.
I kept one eye out for Dimity, Denise (the real one), and Kelly’s daughter Carly, who we saw twice on the course, which gave us a boost each time. My Philly knitter friend Anj was camped out at mile 3.8 and cheered like the dickens when we ran past. While the neighborhoods we ran through were lovely, my favorite bit was toward the end when we were down by the Schuylkill. There’s just something soothing about running along a river. Plus, I knew that my part of this race was coming to a close, which was good because my legs were letting me know that they thought this last minute race was one of my more foolish ideas.
While it was nice to know I’d be done soon, peeling off at the 13 mile split was harder for me than I’d thought it would be. I knew Kelly would be in Jo’s more than capable hands. Still, a big part of me wanted to make sure my charge crossed the final finish line. Instead of losing my dang mind and running another 13.1, I spent the drive home checking social media — at appropriate stops, of course. I might have teared up just a tiny bit when I got word that Kelly had made it.
The downside to leaping into this half marathon was the frantic schedule shifting that forced me to drive four hours back home after two+ hours of running. While I did stop to stretch every hour or so, by the time I pulled into the driveway, getting out of the car required more willpower than the run itself had. Totally worth it — but my neighbors must have wondered why I was walking like the Tin Man after a week in a monsoon.
Here’s the thing: even though my post-race re-entry into real life has been rocky, what with the holiday, sore legs, the looming end of the semester, and a wicked sore throat, I’d do the exact same thing again in a heartbeat. And seeing Kelly, who doesn’t look like what my prejudice thinks a marathoner should look like, finish her race makes me think that I might have 26.2 in me, too.
But not anytime soon. I plan to devote the next few weeks to hard-core rest. I mean it this time.
My question this week -- if you've run a 26.2, what finally made you commit to your first one?