I recently wrote a post about training for the Cleveland Half Marathon where I featured the perspective of my friend, Rae as she trained for her first half marathon. Training takes weeks and months and the race goes by so quickly. At least, that's what happened for us.
One of my favorite parts about running races with Rae is that since she doesn't do it that often I get to see everything through new eyes. When we went to the expo I loved seeing her check out all the booths. Normally I'm in and out as fast as possible (better for my wallet that way) or I'm doing smaller races that don't even really have expos. But this time I went from booth to booth with her and actually bought stuff! In fact, I bought this tank from One More Mile and this hoodie from Swirlgear.
On race morning Rae got to play expert and got us to the start line via public transportation with ease. We even got to use an indoor restroom after waiting for it to open. Nothing like a bunch of runners inside a mall food court waiting for security to find someone to open the bathroom doors. We literally cheered and clapped when they finally found someone with a key!
After finding our corral we stood in the chilly morning air and joked about how, as a "loser corral," we didn't even get a loudspeaker so we had to guess what was happening. We knew we weren't really losers. We were going to be winners.
Rae had recently run a 10 mile race at a 10:30 pace so that was our goal for the half marathon. There was a lot of weaving during the first three miles since we ended up stuck behind lots of 10K walkers for some reason (you can read my entire actual race review over at Bib Rave) so although our final "official" pace was 10:38 my Garmin said 10:30 for 13.28 miles.
The first part of the race goes through downtown Cleveland with a substantial bridge thrown in for good measure. We saw our husbands at the start line, again at mile three, and then once more at mile 5. After that it was residential neighborhoods until we turned to head back towards downtown. Rae was doing great! When we race together she listens to her headphones since she trains alone and isn't used to talking to anyone. I let her do her own thing unless she says something to me or until the last few miles when she needs me to be her drill instructor.
Miles 1 through 8 went by in a flash! I couldn't believe how quickly they were going by. I was smiling at everyone and having a great time. The weather was amazing and I was so happy that Rae was kicking butt.
Mile 10 started the hills and bridges that would take us to the finish and I knew I had to start distracting Rae. I danced to the music the DJs were playing. I told her stupid stories. I pointed out the lead marathoner as he passed us on the other side of the divided road. At during the last mile I told her over and over again that she was going to cross that finish line. That she would be so excited. To buck up and get there!
And we did. She ran every single step of those 13.1 miles and I could not be more proud of her.
I feel so fortunate that Rae wanted me by her side each time she tackled a new race distance. She really reminds me why I love running. Even if the next day my hips are super sore and I feel like I've been run over by a truck, I know why I run. Running brings me smiles whether it's me hitting a new PR, finishing a race strong, or just seeing someone else do something they never thought they could do.
Cleveland may rock, but Rae rocks even more.
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