I ran a half marathon yesterday. My second ever. And in nearly every way, it exceeded my best-case scenario hopes. The weather was mild, the course was gentle and lovely, and we finished minutes faster than my stretch goal.
Yes, “we” finished. Because I ran the entire distance in step with my dear friend Aaren. Which is pretty amazing considering that the 15-minute warm-up the day before was our first-ever run together. Sure, we’ve hiked across Wyoming together. And when we compared training notes long distance, it did seem we were roughly the same pace. But that leaves a whole lot of room for doubt about sticking together through an entire half. It turned out we couldn’t have been better matched if we had trained together every day for the last three months. She pulled us out faster than I was comfortable the first couple miles, and then I held us steady through the middle; when I started feeling it around mile 10, she kept us moving. And we sprinted to the finish stride for stride.
I couldn’t be prouder of her for deciding to spend her summer waking up extra early to run, for throwing a training schedule into the mix with grad school and a just-one-year-old and a farm and rocking it. This whole plan to fly across the country to run a race when there are countless options in my own backyard seemed less and less reasonable in recent weeks. But today it makes perfect sense. I pounded out countless miles this summer in preparation of the day when I would see what I could do over 13 miles and that run was faster, more fun, more exciting, and generally better in every way that I can imagine, for having a friend at my side.