Last Saturday wasn’t what I originally envisioned it to be. I dreamed of this day since my brother and I signed up, in December, to run our first half marathon together. I pictured us pinning our bibs on together; him for the very first time. I pictured us lining up at the start together. I pictured us running alongside each other. I pictured the look on his face when he saw my friends cheering for him. I pictured us crossing the finish line together, where I’d undoubtedly cry tears of pride for what he had accomplished.
My Mom has always taught me, “we make plans and G-d laughs.” I suppose she may be right. Nope! Last Saturday didn’t quite go as planned. As you probably know by now, I fell six and a half weeks ago; taking me out for the entire spring racing season. But, and I know this is entirely uncharacteristic of me, there were still tears of pride at the finish line. What? I’m human. And, seriously, you don’t know me by now?
My brother spent the last few months training. Learning about gels, foam rollers, compression socks, Garmins and all the things he’s heard me talk about for years.
Over time, he started to enjoy that feeling of crushing a training run. Of getting faster. Of it getting easier. Of finally feeling yourself getting stronger. I remember the day he ran his first double-digit run; 10 miles. He talked about running for the rest of the day. The very thing he and his friends made fun of me and my friends for all summer. You just can’t help it. The endorphins. The running high. They take over.
As the race drew closer, I would ask, “Are you excited?” To which he would respond, “whatever. I’m just gonna go run it.” BOYS. I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t getting excited like I do in the
days weeks leading up to a race. But his text on race morning? Oh yeah! He was EXCITED. I could feel it through the text. And then I couldn’t help but get even more excited to be out there. To be the one cheering for him this time.
He cheered for my when I ran my first half marathon.
He was there for me as I crossed the finish line of the Long Branch Half Marathon; surpassing my wildest dreams for that race.
And most importantly, he was there cheering for me as I ran my first marathon last fall. He even jumped in and ran with me for a few minutes.
He has always been there. Cheering me on. Supporting me. Encouraging me. And helping me cross the finish line of so many races just by believing in me. This time it was my turn. My turn to cheer for him. To support him. To encourage him. To believe in him. And to help get him across the finish line of his first half marathon. And even though that day wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned, it was absolutely amazing!
When I realized that I wouldn’t be able to run the race with him, I enlisted a friend. I knew Steph had to run her last long run before the B&A Half Marathon (which she will undoubtedly CRUSH this weekend). AND she lives in Queens. AND she’s one of my favorite running buddies. So I asked her if she wanted to run with my bib and at least line up at the start line with my brother. She didn’t even hesitate. I felt relieved that he would be able to at least start with someone he knew. Have someone to show him how to pin on a bib.
What happened after that I could never have imagined. Steph was planning on only running nine miles of the race and then cheering with me, Allison and Ashley for the rest of the race. I bet you know what’s coming, don’t you? THEY RAN ALL NINE MILES TOGETHER!!!
My heart could not have been happier. He was having a great race and loving running with Steph. In fact, I “jumped in” with him for a brief second (read: we walked together for a few seconds while he opened his gel) and he told me, with a huge smile on his face, that the last mile was 9:42.
I think he was both shocked and apprehensive about his speedy mile. Running with Steph will do that to you. She’s sneaky. She makes it seem like you’re setting the pace, and she’s following you, when really she’s secretly the one pushing the pace without you realizing it. Sneaky. In the best possible way.
The great thing about the 13.1 Half Marathon in Queens is that you can stand in basically the same spot for the whole race and see your runner four times; between miles three and four, just past the 10K mark, mile nine, and between miles 11 and 12. It’s cheering perfection. After we saw him between miles 11 and 12, he looked at Steph and said, “I need you Coach, get back in here.” Still eating half of a bagel, she jumped back in for a minute or so.
After she ran back over to us, we made our way over to the finish line to help cheer him through the finish and watch him become a half marathoner. I was worried that #brokenwing would slow me down and it would be a close call getting to the finish. I did not want to miss him finishing. Another great thing about smaller races? You can get right up close and see your runner cross the finish line; to me, the biggest disadvantage of races like the New York City Marathon. Thankfully we made it with time to spare. We found the perfect spot where he would see us and get a boost to finish strong; which is exactly what happened. He rounded the final turn, saw us, and took off to become a half marathoner.
It was such an incredible feeling getting to watch him cross the finish line and getting to hug and congratulate him just a few moments later. I was so proud of him. I cried tears of happiness, pride and camaraderie. I was overjoyed to see him finally experience that feeling I’ve tried to convey to him for years. That feeling of crossing a finish line. That high you get after reaching your goal. Of doing that thing you didn’t know if you could do. Of being on top of the world. Something you can’t fully understand until you experience it for yourself. He and Steph bet one dollar that I would cry at the finish line. I suppose I am that predictable.
I’m forever grateful to Steph for running with him last week. My Mom has also always taught me that everything happens for a reason. I truly believe that it was Steph, and not me, that was meant to run that race with him.
After the race was over, we did the only logical thing you do after a half marathon. In Queens. We grabbed some champagne and head over to Queens Comfort to brunch and celebrate.
I asked him when he wants to run another half marathon. We need a do-over, after all. He said, no way, he’s one and done. We’ll see about that! That’s what I said after finishing the 2013 New York City Marathon too!
Have you ever felt so much happiness and excitement watching someone else run a half marathon?
Do you believe things happen for a reason?