It’s 6:30am, my alarm starts to chime. I roll over to turn it off, and start to get out of bed. I’ve been hearing Erin over the monitor for the past 15 minutes babbling away. Ping is still trying to catch at least 30 more minutes of sleep next to me. I tip toe into the bathroom where my clothes were hung behind the door the night prior. It’s part of my ritual. Everything must be packed in my bag or hung on the door the night before. I must ensure that no essential piece is left behind. If you know any other runners, you know that they too have their ritual the night/morning of a race no matter how big it is. Runners know that if one thing in their careful per-race routine is forgotten, the pavement might not be very nice to them. As I get into my outfit, I take one last look at the shirt I wear at every race. There have been so many races I ran without this particular shirt. I am sad to wear something like this, but joyful to know that it is a reminder of my eternal running partner. Rachel’s name is printed on the front. A typical race shirt- common to see on a course of over 1,000 people. A name on your shirt gets your recognized by spectators, announcers, and photographers. Yet, what’s on the back of mine is what makes it one of a kind: “Our Angel Forever in Heaven 1/3/10-1/5/10.” A loss that society doesn’t talk about, hushes, and discourages you from sharing it’s memories. If it’s one thing I’ve learned in the past two years, society can go stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. Today, and every race day, is my day to tell society that my oldest daughter is with me.
Erin, Ping and I are heading from the car to the globe, Rachel is right there with us. She’s excited. I haven’t worn her shirt for a really long time.
As I finish my last bathroom visit before the start, I realize I’ve forgotten another valuable item to my uniform. My watch. I left it on the charger at home. I have never ran a race without it in the past 4 years. It keeps my time, pace, and distance. Alerts me when I’m going too fast or too slow for my desired finish time. Rachel reminds me that I can survive without this. Today will be a new race for us…no watches attached.
The gun goes off and we head out…it’s crowded. Just like it always is at the start of a large race. But by the end of mile 1, we are in a pretty good groove, her and I. The course is flat and fast. Ping and Erin were able to stay in pretty much one spot due to the many turns and back tracks. It was so nice to see them while running. I could tell Erin was enjoying it. My partner gives high fives to the other runners and spectators. She’s soaking up the excitement just as much as I am.
Mile 6, I make another mistake. I take my Gu not realizing that the next water stop isn’t until about mile 8 or 9. It will be a long two miles, but Rachel reminds me that 2 mileswill go by quickly, water will be here before we know it.
I start to fade a bit at mile 10 and 11. The only thing keeping me from “the shuffle” is my partner. She’s cheering me on. Telling me this is only half of what I’ve been through. I’ve come so far only 2 miles to go. She’s still with me.
I see Ping and Erin for the last time at mile 12. They gave me the boost I needed to get to the finish. My partner and I cross the finish line in 2:04:23. Not our best time together, but it’s pretty good considering the hard work I’ve put in this past year. Rachel stays with me as I grab my medal, some food, water and find Ping and Erin.
She’s the one that keeps me going when the pavement isn’t very nice. She’s the one that knows my thoughts and encourages me to press on when I’m nearing the wall. There are days that I wish she was on the side lines physically cheering me on just like Ping and Erin. But I think her best performance is on the course with me.