My friend Sue is helping a group of friends/coworkers get to the start line of their first half marathon this Fall. She’s been running with them, often doing double duty, as she checks on runners who might be having trouble or just a little bit slower than the others. She has excitedly told me how their long runs have been going and that she “thinks they’re ready”.
In 2009, I ran with Sue during her first marathon at Disney. Ironically, through all the cold and harshness of our New England weather, we got a terribly humid marathon weekend that year. It was a tough race that year and the weather took its toll on the runners. We saw too many runners down and out, being tended to by EMT’s, whisked away just a couple miles from the Finish, and just looking like death. I remember looking at Sue at about the 23ish mile range – in the Boardwalk area – and saying, “That’s why we walked when we did”.
I’ll never forget the gratifying feeling I had that day, that I had something positive to contribute to my friend’s first marathon experience. She didn’t need EMT’s or supplemental oxygen. She didn’t break. She finished and, if my memory serves me correctly, she finished smiling (though she was screaming for a Diet Coke!). Sue did all the work; she trained all Fall and some of Winter, she gave up her weekend mornings for long runs, and she carried herself 26.2 miles. I merely served as someone who had been there/done that and who could confidently assure her “You’re fine” and “You WILL finish”.
So when Sue told me she was “coaching” her friends’ first half-marathon training, I exclaimed, “Hey, you’re ME!” And she replied, “I know, cool right?”
Paying it forward….