In the early hours of Saturday morning, before I had to leave bed to get to the race, I was already at the start line, only it was in my dream. I was frantically looking for a bathroom before the race started.
I walked in to what appeared to be a museum. I finally located a bathroom and after waiting several minutes for other runners to use the facilities before me, a stall opened up. I walked in and the stall was larger than a normal handicapped stall. There was a shelf to put your things, a toilet and a periscope coming down from the ceiling – like you would see in a submarine. (I know, you’d love to spend just a day in my mind. It’d be like an acid trip without the dead brain cells).
I was in a hurry, but I had to take a look through the periscope to see what was there. How could I not? I put my eyes up to the lens and was looking right in the eyes of my best friend Tonya whom I’ve known since birth, minus three months (I was born in February, she was born in May).
We just stared at each other as both our mouths dropped open in disbelief. She said she was thinking to herself that she wished there was a way to tell me she would be with me in spirit during the race, cheering me on from afar, and then there I was. I told her I was just trying to have a pre-race bowel movement and never expected to see my best friend. Through a telescope. While sitting on the toilet!! But, wow, was I happy she was there because I needed her support, especially now that I didn’t have time for said bowel movement and had to head to the start line! Nothing gives me more anxiety before a race than making sure I have gone to the bathroom.
She wished me luck and said she’d be with me in spirit. When I felt like not going on, she said, I should listen for her cheers. I left the bathroom stall and my alarm — the real one — started going off. I turned over to shut off the alarm and on the night stand was the heart pendant and necklace that Tonya gave me for my birthday a year ago. On the card she sent with it she said to remember I am loved every time I wear it. I didn’t wear it to the race (I don’t normally run with jewelry) but I think it served its purpose just the same.
I’m not sure if Tonya was thinking of me during the race or not. She was three hours behind me in Arizona and was probably just waking up at about the time I was finishing. But she was with me in spirit, whether she knew it or not, especially for the first 19 miles until another friend took over.
Lisa and I met in 2004 when I was training for my first marathon. She was a pace group leader and she and I and Peter always found ourselves branching off and spending the runs talking politics and sharing lots of laughs. After that marathon, we continued running together in our own ad hoc running group which came to be known as TRAAG (Two Redheads And A Greek – Lisa and I were the redheads, Peter the Greek)
Lisa stopped running marathon distances a while back but has continued to support me and Peter in our marathon and half marathon-running endeavors. She was a major factor in my training success as she met up with me for at least half of my long runs, keeping me on pace for the last grueling miles. I don’t think I would have kept any kind of consistency in my pacing without her help. When she offered to sign up for the Sunburst just to run me in the last six or seven miles, I was humbled and more grateful than I can express.
She not only agreed to sign up for the race, but she also got up before the roosters (if there were actually roosters living in downtown Chicago), rented a car and drove the 90 miles to South Bend, which was also an hour ahead of Chicago, to fulfill her volunteer duties. This after a week of entertaining family that were in town all week and had just left the night before.
She ran those last seven miles with me with as much energy as the Energizer Bunny and with enough enthusiasm for the both of us. She kept me entertained as we knocked out those last few miles with a pace similar to the one with which I started the race. I know, without a doubt, that pace would have been nowhere near the same level had I been flying solo. I can’t thank her enough.
Thanks to everyone who sent emails, or made comments here and on Facebook wishing me well before the race and congratulating me afterwards. I’m lucky to be surrounded by so much support, even from those who aren’t consciously aware when they are giving it 😉