During the Summer, I like to have a weekend here and there when I don’t race. I could go on trips, do other things. As it is, I have around 85% of my weekends booked until November so I had left last weekend empty. Would I do the NorthFace Challenge? Would I do a local 10K? Turned out, a friend was driving that morning to do the NJ marathon and I jumped in. Two seconds later, I emailed Kettia and Steph to let them know. Kettia took me up on my pacing offer right away. She actually said she’d love me forever. Well, then, count me in.
I have no idea what I was thinking that morning. Probably nothing cause it was 4 am. But I dressed in shorts, singlet and went. Got to the start, got to see Steph go out, then headed for the shuttle to the finish line where I could walk to the marathoners mile 11. Basically, I was in shorts and singlet for 3.5 hours, outside, with no sea shelter, or any warmth. After 20 minutes, I was frozen. Have you seen the end of Titanic? Same EXACT thing.
I see a few of my friends, and lots of TNTers go by, I look for a Dunkin Donuts to get some hot coffee and nothing, I don’t want to move far from there, what if I lose her?!?!?! I am on a random NJ street, by a deli (I had hoped they had something warm) and a hispanic guy comes out with a big box of green peppers… he waits there to cross the street while the runners go by… he starts yelling to the runners “jalapenos” (while laughing) and we both crack hysterically. It was one of the most randomly funny things I had seen in a race in a while. Even he laughed at his own joke! Ridiculous!!
After a bit I spot Kettia, wearing pink as she promised! Was I ever so happy to get moving… It actually took me 5 miles to stop freezing. FIVE miles. I asked her for a systems check, i filled her up in my morning (sat on a stuck shuttle for 50 minutes!!!), and checked on her pacing so far.
She was right on target for a 3:50, which was goal B. Goal A was to break 4. Spirits were high, we chatted a bit, I actually had to pace her down a few times… The course is so flat it’s deceptively fast. I was actually in shock about this course. I had never thought twice about it, as I had heard horror stories about this race 2 years ago when it was 97 degrees. So I erased if of my “possibilities” bank from the start, never even thought twice about it. But, Sunday, it was 47 degrees, overcast, nice breeze from the ocean and PANCAKE EFFIN FLAT. Really really, perfect racing conditions. It even felt downhill to me!!!! I am not used to flat, at all, so my legs started feeling it, it’s just a LOT of pounding in the exact same position/muscles… and even though it’s perfect for PRing I am not sure I enjoy it much. This shows me how I will really need to adjust my training for Berlin later this year, as I have never done a flat marathon…
Anyway, Kettia keeps trucking along and around 20 we start to fade. I get really obnoxious. I make a mix of inspiration, pushy, bitchy, understanding and all that. And I push her from the back, I get in front and make her follow, and scream how good she looks, all those. I felt horrible screaming at her, but I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing, as much as I would have wanted. After all, this is HER race, not mine. But I felt it was my responsibility, as a friend, to do all I could, even if it annoyed the crap out of her. And we know each other well, I knew she was not gonna take it personal. At some point I told her to tell me when to shut up. And she told me to shut up. HA! The last miles were really rough for her, I just had no idea how to keep pushing her so I lied about how I could see the finish line, I lied about a lot of things. People in the course actually lied with me.
The last mile was gorgeous. And seeing her finally break four and get her medal, was totally priceless. She was really sweet and didn’t even hate me. Her hubby was there too and was thanking me too. I was just happy I could be there for her, as she was there for me last year when I was injured. Inevitably, we all have to go through tough times, but it is so much better to have friends that hold your hand in those times, and even push you through it. I am glad I have her in my life and was able to return the favor.
PS: if you want to PR by a lot, this course might for you. That is, if you are ready for something this flat. I wasn’t.
Mental note: Do long runs on flat for Berlin, don’t forget!!!
PS2: got a burger with bacon and stuff right after the race by the shore. Priceless.