Yesterday was the 3M Half Marathon here in Austin. The 3M has a special place in my heart. In 2008, it was the first half marathon I had ever done and BFF ran it with me. I remember it like it was yesterday. The morning was very cold so I overdressed in layers. Then in true Texas fashion, the temperature rose and I got hot during the race and eventually I took off my fleece and shirt and tied them around my waist. I took off my gloves and hat (those ended up on the road somewhere).
Until this race, my longest run had been 9 miles with some killer hills (I later found out that people training for the Boston Marathon often used the Rain Creek Parkway/Floral Park Drive route I did weekly to prepare for that race. I was in good company). And call me masochistic, but I loved hills. BFF dreaded the training runs when she saw me turning onto one of these streets. She would grumble and grunt as we ran the hills but she stuck with me like a trooper. I felt like we were well prepared for the race. The only thing we weren't prepared for was the weather. Until that weekend, our training had been done in cool weather. BFF and I took full advantage of water stops along the way and paced ourselves well.
The final three miles were the most challenging. BFF's bad knee was screaming violently at her so we slowed our pace to accommodate it. She wanted me to go ahead but I didn't. We made the commitment to do the race together and I was gonna stick to it. I started cracking jokes, singing "Eye of the Tiger" and quoting cheesy lines from movies to get her mind off of the pain. One of our favorites was from the movie "The Replacements":
Shane Falco: I wish I could say something classy and inspirational, but that just wouldn't be our style.
[pause while everybody is in the huddle]
Shane Falco: Pain heals. Chicks (we said GUYS) dig scars. Glory... lasts forever.
We laughed our way through the last miles of the race. Two hours, ten minutes and twenty-four seconds after we started the race, we crossed the finish line together. BFF apologized for our finish time (we trained to finish in 1:45) but I poo-pooed that. We got through it and it was even better because we did it together. I could have gone ahead of her and finished in under two hours as planned but it wouldn't have meant as much.
The lesson I learned was that no matter how prepared we think we are for the big race, anything can happen along the route. But the best way to get through it is with laughter, fun and being surrounded by the people that matter most to us. Those things make any victory that much sweeter.