In the Shamrock half marathon (and even the marathon), the turn on to Fort Story is a huge turning point in the race. The course changes directions. Heading north is done. The course is now southbound straight to the finish line. As I made that turn on to the base, I was overwhelmed with emotion for all my friends on the race course. I said it in my race recap, and it is worth repeating. I knew their stories. I knew what they were trying to achieve that day. All of them had worked their butts off to get to the start. I hadn’t fought the physical battle they had fought to show up feeling strong. My obstacles to overcome were injury and staying mentally engaged. I knew I had to let my mental strength carry me through this race because my body wasn’t ready yet. When I got tired, I pulled from the energy I knew they were using to run their own race.
To thank them, for inspiring me, for pushing me along or pulling me forward, I can gush and rave about them for a few minutes (in order of how they popped into my brain on race day!)
My friends and running partners, Leah and Laura (not always a duo, but on race day, together they were my rock) – I’ve trained with these girls, drank too many beers with these girls, and laughed way too much with these girls. We went our separate ways at the start line, but I promised them I’d do my best to catch them. Laura is a fast starter. Leah is a strong finisher. I knew the reality of seeing them on the course wasn’t likely, but I loved knowing they were in front of me the entire race. Both had races worthy of celebrating. We may have shared a beer or two together after the race too.
My true soul sister, Heidi (LoveEachStep)- we share a brain. Everything she feels I can relate too. Whenever I have a thought, a feeling, a complaint, an ah-ha moment, I know she will understand it. She was on a quest to beat her own PR on race day. I gave her a hug as I made my way to my own corral, and I knew she would be at the finish line just after I arrived. My entire race, I kept hoping she’d sneak up behind me.
Kim – We had Identical goals this race. If all went well, we wanted a 1:xx on the race clock. Sometimes I think we have identical hearts too. She lost her father just a few days before the start. I knew what emotions she would travel through during this race, and she showed up ready to run. The fact that she started and finished still amazes me. When I saw her around mile 11, my heart filled and sunk all at the same time. Honestly, I didn’t want to pass her, but I knew she’d kick and scream if I slowed down. I could tell she was tired, but strength oozed out of her. She was in her own magical bubble when I found her. I ran beside her and she told me to go (just like I knew she would). I blew her a kiss, told her I loved her, and ran for her and for me. My feeling of gratitude grew.
Lesleyanne (BeachyRunner) – she was my sanity check this training season. She was my sounding board when I needed to decide between the half or the full. She was my sounding board when my ankle was injured. She kept me sane. I also knew she had really big goals for this race, and I also knew that she was about to race on less than ideal circumstances. As I approached the finish line, I kept hoping I’d find her with a huge smile on her face (sadly, I never found her!)
Jess (The Fit Petite) – Our running resumes share far too many similarities.We both had nearly identical PRs going into this race. We both ran in high school, we both slowed down, and we both are on a quest to speed back up. When I was stuck at home on a bike while everyone ran, I quietly cheered for the success she found in her runs. Week after week, she got stronger and faster. It pulled me through my injury and pulled me through my race on Sunday. I know every runner is different, but I feel like she is paving the way for me. She has trained hard and found huge success on race day. She is proof that following the plan works! As I crossed the finish line, I hoped she was already enjoying a beer. (I also missed seeing her after the race!)
And then there is my sweet friend Jenny! I’ve known her since elementary school. I didn’t see her on the race course. Our running has overlapped a lot in the past two years. We’d run a few miles together in a race, and then she’d normally leave me behind. I saw her husband (who deserves a pat on the back too! he broke the 1:30 mark on Sunday!) in the beer tent after the race. When I went to say hi, he told me she also broke the two-hour mark! (I get goosebumps just writing it). In the past two years, she has run her first half in 2:28, she’s had a baby, and she just made her come back by running a 1:59. I saw her as I was leaving the race, and it was the highlight of my whole afternoon. The picture says it all!
I adore these ladies. The running community and the friends I’ve made through life and through running make all of this fun, rewarding, and huge part of my life. Running feels like home. I absolutely love it!
Now, who can I convince to run the Flying Pirate Half Marathon in the Outer Banks on May 4th with me!