Secrets of a Successful Race

Rosy cheeks: my twin, Molly, me, and Linda Williams after the finish

For Molly and me, the Race for the Roses was dang near perfect from the weather (34 degrees and sunny at the start) to the outcome (she ran 1:56:54 and I crossed the finish line 14 seconds later). Here are the elements that cemented our strong finish (Molly’s first sub-2:00 half—and a PR by nearly 6 minutes. Woot-hoot: Give it up for Molly!):

Tunes: Our playlist was--wait as I contort to pat myself on the back--spot on. The opening song, Brendan James’ “The Lucky Ones,” set the ideal pitch for the race. The refrain, “This moment is yours,/This moment is mine,/And we’re gonna be fine,” got me a bit choked up as we scurried across the Broadway Bridge. Then, near mile 4 and about halfway up a long climb when I was doubting my ability to lead our charge, Katy Perry started singing, “Teenage Dream” in my ear. Game back on! Toward mile 12, after struggling mentally for about a mile, back-to-back Black Eyed Peas and Enrique Inglesias rekindled the fire under my feet.

Camaraderie: Molly’s pre-race excitement was infectious. By Saturday, I couldn’t remember how I ever got hopped up for a race by myself. Instead of fretting about the exertion, I simply looked forward to being by Molly’s side and helping her reach her goal. Making the race be about her did wonders for me. And along the way we bonded with a RLAM fan I first met the day before the 2010 Nike Women’s Marathon, Linda Williams. We passed her going up the long hill, but when we stopped for a GU at the top, she must have zipped past us. Lead by Linda, the three of us staged an impromptu dance party in a downtown intersection around mile 6. As I congratulated Linda on a strong race so far, she said, “I better enjoy it now as I’ll flame out by the end.” Wrong! Despite us trying to gain on her in the final 5K, she finished a near full minute ahead of me, a PR for her. (Woot-hoot: Raise your hands in the air for Linda now!!)

The Badass twins (in front of, natch, the minivan) pre-race, pre-dawn

Matching outfits: Okay, so the race had very few spectators, but the few there were loved our look! One diehard fan (perhaps a TNT volunteer?), who we passed twice during the race, yelled out, “Go, twins!” For this actual mom of twins, it got me going—and laughing. I was able to see us through her eyes: Suddenly we were, “those gals in matching outfits.” It was a label I never thought I’d wear…but it sure felt comfy. Like I could get used to it. (Watch out Rock n Roll Nashville, here come the dynamic-matching duo of Sarah and Dimity!!)

Sense of humor: One of the many reasons I love Molly is her quirky wit. My laughing muscles had been primed at the pump by some eps of "Modern Family" the night before, so Molly and I traded a few favorite scenes while waiting at the start line. (Like Cameron introducing Lily to Mitchell’s family to the strains of, “Circle of Life.” Perfection!) We kept it going during the first few miles, recounting great lines. We segued into quips about places we were passing. Me pointing at main post office and asking Molly if she needed any stamps—and her funnier retort, “No, but I need to get my passport renewed.” As we all know, jokes are 10x funnier in the moment, while exercising, than recounted later, so I’ll spare you the rest.

An inspirational message (and finisher's rose) in Molly's house

A little healthy competition: Maybe I’m projecting and getting all Type A on this one, but I sensed Molly gained confidence—and pride—by keeping up with me. It was ideal: I felt like I was setting the pace, but I rarely, if ever, felt like I was pulling her along. (Okay, maybe near mile 8.5…) Molly had run the race twice before so she was more familiar with the course, especially the final miles. I could feel myself flagging, but my tunes near mile 12 helped. Then a steady climb up a bridge on-ramp proved a little too much for me. Molly got a few steps ahead of me, and a simple, “Go for it, Mol” was all she needed to cruise up and away. I tried to catch her when it flattened out, but I ran out of time—the finish line was right around the corner. We agreed (maybe for the sake of my oversized sports ego!) that if there’d been another half-mile, I would have caught up with her. Instead she finished 14 seconds ahead of me—and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

40 responses to “Secrets of a Successful Race

  1. This is great Sarah! I did miss this but glad I came back to read it. I have a hard time keeping up with my blog roll. Congrats! Inspiring for sure. Great event you put on today! I’m really glad that Julie told me about it and I’m so glad I made it. Thank you Sarah! And thank you for the amazing goody bags. I’m writing about it on my blog right now.

  2. Sarah! Nice race and you guys looked so cute!!! Love the purple socks!! I love the quote in mollys house!!! I’m going to have to find me one of those!!! Congrats!!

  3. Love the message. There are many things that go into the successful race, it’s like a recipe, and sometimes it comes out perfect, true?

    SO ~ the outfit. LOVE. IT. The socks, the skirt, the bada**ness… everything. You are a SWANK runner…

  4. Thanks Sarah. And hi Linda. It’s funny I PRed (yeah!) at the 10k, but had almost the exact experience. I signed up on Thursday before the Sunday race; did it solo; used the same play list I listen to most every run, forgetting I don’t really like the last 20 minutes, so had to switch it about mile 5; was over dressed; and wore my least favorite running pants. But the sun was out!

  5. I love your site and want to share that I ran my first marathon with the help of my faithful sherpa Kelley (best friend and sister-in-law) and another friend Anna Katherine with me. Both of these women could have run this marathon alot faster than me (I mean alot lot faster… AK qualified to run boston this year) We ran the incredibly hilly Atlanta Marathon a few weeks ago and had FUN doing it. I finished in 5:03. It was 5 hours of non-stop chatting and laughing. Even in the end when I was not chatting so much, but listening Ifelt great thanks to my faithful sherpas who guided me not only physically to finish the race, but also mentally. Despite the fact I was running slow, I never felt slow thanks to them. They encouraged and distacted me every step of the way! I highly recommend a sherpa for your next race to all you RLAM fans out there. It is very uplifting! I can’t thank them enough for that experience.

  6. Very motivational and inspirational, ladies, thanks! I plan on reading this the night before my half in May.

    And I plan on having that sign made up for my “running” bathroom that says, “She believed she could so she did.” Awesome!

    Thanks so much, I am going out for my first run post (minor)surgery tomorrow, and can’t wait to get out there.

  7. Thank you for sharing the story of your race this weekend! I LOVE the matching outfits and the infectious joy of sharing the race with someone…wish I had someone I could share it with, but alas I am a lone runner!

  8. I’m jealous that I’m running my 1/2 by myself… Unfortunately I can’t find anyone willing to run (or even walk) 13.1 miles.

  9. Awesome! I ran my first half with my TP (training partner) and did MUCH better than I ever thought possible. I couldn’t have done it without her and am so grateful to have had her by my side. It’s amazing what we can accomplish with our friends by our side.

  10. SBS so awesome! I am hoping to PR on my next half! Sub 2hr would be an added bonus. Having some IT band issues right now so not too sure. I love the insipiration you guys gave each other!

  11. I am so proud of you Molly!
    Love the outfits! I think the length was perfect to show off those Awesome legs!

    1. In retrospect, I don’t think my mom would have let me out of the house given how short that skirt is on me… But the knee socks somehow made it seem less short! Molly was AWESOME!

  12. Great race report! So glad you both had a great race and that you helped Molly get her sub-2 hours!!! Nice twin teamwork!

  13. Ahhh, just the inspiration I needed this morning!
    I was at the race too, my first ever, and it was awesome!
    And I looooooved your outfits!

  14. So inspirational, it made my eyes water. Great job both of you! I am now more motivated than ever to get out there and make some of my own PRs! Wonder twin powers – activate!! You ladies rocked those outfits!

    1. Thanks, Jean. Your comments made me smile. It’s taken a day or two for the “import” of what we did to catch up with me. I am so very proud of Molly and our effort together.

  15. Thank you Sarah for pulling me to my PR! It was a great day!
    Don’t forget, you’re taking the kids to school this morning.

  16. Nice work! I saw you guys there, you were a few minutes ahead of me. I PR’d by 25 minutes, and finished at 2:05:15. I had a twinsie too (but we weren’t dressed the same, maybe next time!), and it definitely helped me finish strong. It was a great race, the weather was perfect, and I loved the course. Now, on to the next race!

    1. That’s a MASSIVE amount of time to cut off, Claire!! EXCELLENT job!
      So here’s the question: Were you close enough to see my butt cheeks hanging out of the skirt?!?! Heavens, it was mighty short on me…thank goodness I used self-tanner as part of race prep!

  17. Congratulations! A Sub-2 hour half is one of my goals, so it’s inspirational to hear others accomplish that goal too.

    1. Not dumb at all, Sarah Jane. For a bit, we ran with one earbud out–she was on my right at that point, so her left one was out and I took my right one out. Then, when we stepped up our pace a bit, we just talked louder over the music.

      1. Good to know. I love all the running tunes I’ve acquired since reading this blog- and I need to get my monies worth! 🙂 But I run with my neighbor nearly every run so I tend to leave the nano at home. I’m trying for figure out a polite way to get in the mix. I think I’m being too polite of Minnesotan!!

        1. It’s funny: I LOVE running with people, but I *do* treasure my runs as a time to listen to music or podcast. Lately I’ve been running with friends more and I’m woefully behind on my This American Life/Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me listening!

  18. I love it!! WTG Molly. My friend is running her first 1/2 with me in May and this just got me psyched! I’m diggin the skirts like a ditch! Gotta have one!

  19. This story has got me all pumped up for another race and a cute running outfit too! The hunt is on!

    When I did mu first 10K a week or so ago I asked two ladies that I know are faster than me to run with me – they were my pacers, as I liked to say now! It was great though to run with friends but to also run faster b/c they were there pushing you onward!

  20. Way to go!! So proud of you both – thank you for extolling the JOY of running. Sure it’s hard, but with the right attitude, running (especially racing) is the closest thing we can feel to flying and you gals SOAR!

  21. Where did Molly get the believed she could sign from? That is freakin’ cool. And running a long race side by side with a friend? AWESOME.

  22. Soo completely awesome!! Glad my good mojo got all the way there 😉 Love the outfits and the story. Great weekend for races!

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