This is my 3rd year I have ran the Dexter Ann Arbor Half Marathon: DXA2 is how they like it.
This is a very challenging course. I would describe it as scenic, with rolling hills but very picturesque as you run along the Huron river. The race doesn't start until 8:30am though so it gets hot!.
2 days before the run I got a text from "Danielle" letting me know she was signed up for it and running it with me!
|Danielle and I before we got unto the bus to take us to Dexter.|
I was ultimately excited but I did have a couple concerns.1. I just ran my marathon a week ago...What if I was super slow??
2. What if I held "Danielle" back??
3. What if this is the dumbest thing I could do and end up injured!??
We picked "Danielle" up at the Park and Ride on Old 23. It was so nice to see her smiles at 6:30am. There was so much pressure removed knowing we were NOT going to race this....we were going to run the course well but have fun along the way.
The Difference to me from Running Fast and Racing is usually when racing I have a specific timed goal in mind that results in wanting to puke and die.
Running fast means I unite with my surroundings, embrace all the elements, struggle breathing, feel pain but it does not make me want to say bad words!
GOING In BLIND!!My Garmin was not staying on. It would power up but then quickly turn off. "Danielle" was standing beside me in the 8:24 corral. This year they actually had Pacers. I had nothing to help pace me. I had to rely on "Danielle". Danielle I COULD TRUST! We had the Pacers for a guide, but if you remember my Detroit Half Marathon.."Epic Fail." you will remember that I shouldn't rely on them rather rely on myself and my training.
We had a plan going into the race. The plan was to run under 8:30's. I was confident this could be achieved together. We decided we would stay together.
We both had handicaps.
Mine: Running a PR at last weekends Marathon and being still sore.
"Danielles"- Her longest run so far was an 11 miler.
This seemed pretty balanced.
The RACE:DXA2The sun was out and it could not have been a more perfect 60 degree day.day.
We heard the clapping as it migrated closer down towards us in our corral. We must be starting.
It was so congested and bottle-necked we were lucky to maintain our planned pace. But without any pressures of timing we just rolled with the crowd.
We chatted back and forth lightly. There were moments of silence between us to remind us that we were running this race. But when a guy says to us "How are you able to run and talk?" it kinda made me chuckle. I thought to myself "Yeah, sorry buddy you are racing this, that is pain and with pain the slightest annoyance becomes the biggest bother."..And that was what we were to him! I get it. I have been there.
As we quietly passed him we continued to check each others inventory making sure we still were both feeling good and at a maintainable pace.
We both agreed to walk through the water stations. And with each water station we walked though it was fun to see how we always found ourselves right back by the people were were previously running next to!
|SOO Pumped...Love Running with this GIRL!!!|
I knew I was going to see my family around mile 7. I was so excited to see them. I was getting a lot of energy off the clusters of spectators cheering us on but I really wanted to see my family.
I barley recognized Andy's usual cheering spot this year because they turned it into a water station with a large crowd of spectators. It was awesome. I high fived my family and smiled for the camera. But where was "Danielle's" family? They said they might coincidentally be in the same spot. Just a block past my boys on the other side of the road stood her husband with a camera and her 2 kids all dressed for church! They were decorated with full smiles and encouragement to their momma. I wish you could have seen "Danielle's" face. Her eyes were sparkling and as her smile broadened to showed off her "Gina Davis" strong cheekbones and pearly whites.
|TEAM HARLESS...The best support ever!!|
I was very encouraged by this also.
It is a blessing and a cursing streaming on others emeotions. I take so much emotion from others. Both good and bad. Right now I was feeling good really GOOD!!.
Double digits. I love getting to the 10 mile mark. And as I expressed this out loud I discovered I was not the only one-- another runner agreed with us! 3 more miles. I kept asking "Danielle" how she was and I always got the same answer "Good". But now we were both doing good..but not feeling good! "Just a 5k left" she shared.
The sun was hot. I had already removed my shirt and gave it to Andy at the 7th mile. We both took our nutrition, Chomps are my pick and Sport Beans are hers. It was so fun having a partner to run with. She continued to share our pace and each time she spoke the numbers it seemed unbelievable. How were we both maintaining this sub 8 minute mile? It is amazing how well we run together. We are two of the same.
But as we approached mile 12 I could tell Danielle was digging deep. "Just maintain Danielle" I calmly spoke to her as we were coming into direct sun AND also starting our slight incline towards the finish.
I was finishing this race alongside of her. We were going to finish together. Wondering where the finish line is I say to "Danielle", "Steady, relax and get ready for a hill." There is a ridiculous devilish hill that the FINISH sits on top of. It is a cruel punishment to finish in this fashion. I was trying to mentally prepare her.
And there it sat..3 traffic lights hovered over the finish line at the peak of punishment! "You got this Danielle, steady..just maintain.." There were people 3 deep on both sides of the road. Downtown Ann Arbor was looking lively. I heard my family yelling on the right but I couldn't see them. "Just get up this stupid freaking hill and to the finish!!!"
|ON top of the WORLD, Great Finish "Danielle"|
It is FINISHED!We were literally on top of the world at the finish!!! It felt so good. Well more like it felt so good to be done!! "Danielle" Rocked the Race!! She was still catching her breath when we finished but I was trying to do the math in my mind. I was thinking she might have just gotten a PR.
As she caught her breath and we both started thinking clearly Andy and the boys showed up. We both had towering plates with grapes, oranges, bread, and pizza! We giggled and felt life again. As she looked at her time "Danielle" discovered she just had a PR!!! She just had the best half marathon she has ever had!! And I was so tickled..I got to be a part of it!!!
Its sometimes 2 words "Good Job", "That's It" ,"Keep Going" Or "Almost there" But those couple words are the very words that might be someone elses fuel.
I don't know. Maybe I run for 2 words. Maybe I run to be someones fuel. It is that same fuel that drives me.
CONGRATS To "Danielle"! I Thank God He put you with in feet of me last year at Boston. I Thank God You had the courage to call out my name on that 26 mile journey. And I thank God for your friendship, I am so blessed to have you.