Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Course support

My husband is a good sport. He's been a spectator at dozens of races through the years, and although he doesn't run, doesn't enjoy anything about running, and surely finds the long, cold, and early hours of standing around waiting for me to zip by for a few seconds pretty tiresome, he's been there for every "big" race. An awesome source of emotional and tangible support, he's always good for a dab of Aquaphor here, a Tylenol for an aching piriformis there, and a big hug at the finish line. (The one exception was when he staged a protest and refused to attend my running of the Philadelphia Marathon in 2003. I'd promised him earlier that year that I wouldn't train for another marathon until I finished my masters thesis, but I got bored and impatient with it, and broke my promise. So he didn't come, which was fair enough. For the record, I finished it before running my next one.) I also have an amazing set of friends and family members who have attended various races with me over the years, often going to great expense - and going to very weird places - in order to do so. It takes a special kind of friend to sign on for a summer vacation with you in Fargo, or to stand at the start line in the freezing cold wee hours of a Las Vegas winter morning, just to make sure you hit that starting line with a whole lot of love. Every marathon I've run has stories of love, family, and friendship woven throughout.

My water crew is the handsomest, don't you think? (Photo by John Schell)

I recently signed up for an interesting local race that took place this weekend. The Carlsbad 5000 is a world-famous 5k, a large race made up of seven different age/gender group races that run all morning, with elite races held in the early afternoon. They offer a challenge called the "All-Day 25k," wherein a limited number of runners can sign up to run in five separate 5k races, which take place over the course of the entire morning (totaling 15.5 miles in all, and spanning about 4.5 hours). Since I'm actively training for a marathon now, my intention was not any sort of a PR for the 5k distance, but to use it as a training run in lieu of my scheduled 18-mile long run. I had no idea what to expect from the event, or from myself, but I raced well and it turned out to be a really amazing day. And I spent it alone. Had I asked him to, Marc would have dragged himself out of bed with me at 5:00 a.m., stood around for hours while I repeatedly started and finished, and hung out while I stretched, gloated, and complained during the breaks between my races. But I treasure his support in those races where it matters most, so I pick my battles. There are race mornings when I need him less, and it's okay with me if he spends those mornings sleeping in, walking the dog so I don't have to, and then patiently listening to the mile-by-mile account when I get home. There's no one I'd rather have with me on the marathon course of life, so I figure I'd better do what I can to keep him fresh for race day.

And further to the subject of amazing support crews: my dear sister Stephanie recently launched a crowdfunding effort to raise money so that she can afford to come out to Colorado with me this summer and be a part of my "support crew" in my first attempt at pack burro racing. I am moved beyond words by her excitement over joining me for this experience, and especially love that she has pledged to be my donkey's "chief pooper scooper" if she makes her goal! If you're so inclined, you can visit her page here. My absolute favorite thing about running is the way it keeps me connected to the people, places, and things that I love, and I have no doubt that this summer's adventures in the hills of Colorado will just be one more example of that.

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