This summer truly went by in a blur. When Labor Day came and everyone was all ‘last day of summer! last day of summer!’ I kind of just nodded and smiled. But then when I’d wake up to a crisp, clear morning with a lawn covered in red and yellow leaves, there was really no denying it anymore.
This summer my physical activity level was that of a toddler-mother, dog-owner, halfmarathon-trainer. So busy. And sweaty.
My sister and I trained together, which was a really, really helpful factor in terms of motivation and long runs. We are competitive but supportive. We are lazy and ok with it. It was a good balance.
The race itself went really well. We both had some setbacks leading up to the event. My sister nearly lost her pinky toe to the most inclusive and disgusting blister I have ever seen. I lost 3 toenails, may they rest in peace, but was secretly glad because I hate those things…what is the POINT of a toenail anyway? Just one more thing to maintain, that’s what I think. Otherwise our training runs were consistent, our health was excellent, and our desire to not finish slower than the other was strong. Makings for a sucessful race.
The weather was sunny but not hot. The course was made up of all our various training runs added together. We got up early, ate our peanut butter toast and bananas, drank tea to get our *ahem* intestines moving BEFORE the race, and hopped the shuttle to the starting line.
I don’t want to brag, but I’m have to brag for a second. Our town is really amazing. This race is in it’s 3rd year and was very well organized. People on the shuttle with us had come from hours and hours and hours away to join the race and enjoy our area. The ride along the lakeshore in the shuttle bus showed and endless glass lake set on fire by the gorgeous rising sun. The air was so clean. The people were so friendly. I was so proud to be from the host city.
Alley and I had made an agreement to run together for the first 6 miles, and then to run however we felt like running from there on out. Solidarity, but not slavery. Our pace for those first 6 miles felt managable but fast. We knew where the hills would be, where the mile markers would be, and I think we both had a feeling we were ahead of our training pace.
After 6 miles, I told my sister that I was not feeling up to changing my pace but that if she felt like speeding to go ahead and hit the accelerator. In my head I was actually saying “Don’t you dare try and beat me you bitch” but that didn’t seem sportsmanlike. Or sisterly. Lucky for both of us she was feeling pretty good at that pace as well.
Per some advice we read off a possibly very unreliable source on the internet, we learned that one good food-fuel to carry on race day was Swedish Fish. Presumably because of the sugar boost they can give you. And because of their deliciousness. I like to think of myself as a hippie approximately 50% of the time, so I chose to use agave gummi bears instead. I packed them into a ziplock bag and jammed that bag between my boobs. It’s the only secure place I could think of in my running clothes, and the fact of the matter is that there is a huge gap between my ladies to allow for candy stashing. That was one sweaty bag of sweets. My sister’s ladies are much closer together, so she needed a fanny pack. No one was winning in this scenario.
The second to last mile of the race consisted of a brutally steep incline followed by a long, slow ascent. My sister and I pushed HARD up that hill and kept yelling to each other ‘SO CLOSE’ and ‘LET’S GO!’ and ‘WE CAN PROBABLY DO THIS!’ and once someone shouted ‘ARE WE DYING!?’ It was painful.
The last mile of the race was an equally steep decline followed by a long, flat stretch with stunning views of Lake Superior. My sister and I let loose down that hill, willing our slightly wobbly legs to hold us, and pressed it hard during that last flat stretch, playing cat-and-mouse with a man who was probably old enough to have fathered us at at age 40. It was joyful.
With about 200 yards to go we could see the finish line clearly. We smiled. We high-fived. We waved to our fans. And then I saw the race clock.
It should be noted that my last race time of 2:11 (an improvment on my first time) and my sister’s last race time of 2:10 were both in our minds as goals to beat. We never said it out loud, because that makes it too easy to feel like a failure. In post-race analysis, however, we both agreed that we had been hoping to be around 2:05.
I screamed ‘HOLY SHIT! WE ARE UNDER TWO HOURS!’
My sister screamed ‘WHAT THE FUUUDGE (she didn’t say fudge)!’ and started full on sprinting.
I’ll be damned if I was going to let that child beat me in the last moments, so I started sprinting too. My legs said no, the knees felt week. I sprinted anyway.
As we crossed the finish line we held hands My sister fist pumped. I raised the roof. We were laughing and screaming and laughing some more. So happy to be done. So happy to have bested our previous times. So happy to have KILLED our previous times. So happy to have finished together.
Below is a photographic representation of what it looks like when you run 13.1 miles in 1 hour and 57 minutes, averaging an 8:58 pace per mile. Amazing. I’m shooting for 1:56 next year.