the time of year

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

... to run a 12K trail race called Hark the Herald Angels (a fitting name, since the race was on Angel Island, which meant divine views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz).


... to wear hideous sweatshirts (confession: not just once, but twice) in public.


... to eat way too much food. (Kimchee pancakes from Biergarten, anyone?)


... to find yourself at Toys R Us, face to face with this ridiculousness:


... to continue to unclip with your left foot and lean the opposite direction, no matter how much you tell yourself not to do this. (Dear bike: I'm starting to think this is abuse. Every time I think I'm getting good, you put me down. Literally. As in, I am lying on the ground beneath you.)


... to make new friends.


... and to spend time with your loved ones (and sport silly manicures while you're at it).

cynthia's cim

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Hello, CIM.

This time, you didn't eat me alive. This time, the circumstances were different.


This time, it wasn't about me (and my typically pathetic attempt at running a full marathon). It was about Cynthia and getting her across the line of her first 26.2.

Her husband, Aaron, signed up for the CIM relay so we could pace her in. He ran the first two legs, his brother Chris ran the third and I had the honor of running Cyn into the finish (5.7 miles). (And yes, we all wore shirts with the silhouette of Will Ferrell's naked body, as seen above. Anything to make Cynthia laugh out there!)

From the start, she looked strong. I caught a glimpse of her and Aaron at Mile 11, and they looked great -- on target for a 4:30 finish time. She and I gave each other a giant hug, and then she kept on running and I was off to my relay exchange.

This is what waiting for Chris at the exchange (which was about 20.5 miles in) looked like.


Don't ask me what the person in the white shorts was doing. I really don't know.

I waited and waited, hoping for the announcer to call my number so I knew Chris was coming in. The 4:25 pace group went by, and not too long afterward, there was Cynthia. She looked strong, she was smiling, she waved -- and then she said Chris was "somewhere back there."

Yup, Cyn outran her pacer.

And so I kept waiting. To the point where Aaron (who was spectating now) almost had me go on ahead without the timing chip. What seemed like an eternity went by before Chris appeared. I ran over to him, asked him if he was OK, took the timing chip off of his ankle and then shot out of the relay exchange, sprinting as fast as I could to catch Cyn.

I felt a little guilty having fresh legs while the runners in the final miles of their full marathon soldiered on to the finish line. I wove around, passing people, all the time looking for Cynthia and her blue tank top. I have no idea how fast I was going because I forgot my Garmin, but I was definitely hauling. All I could think about was: If I can't find her, I will have failed as a pacer.

Odd things I heard while running: A spectator announcing, "I have a little girl and I'm already working on match-making!" (I hoped she was talking about a dog.) Two separate conversations about Selena Gomez. One runner singing (badly) at the top of her lungs. (At least this meant she could breathe, right?)

I also saw a fireman running in full gear, a sign that said "Will you marry me?" and a whole lot of people in tutus.

I passed the 4:40 pace group (and memories of last year's craptacular race came flooding back -- yikes) and thought, So this is what it feels like to feel good in the final miles of a marathon. And at about Mile 23 or 24 -- coincidentally, right at Del Taco, one of my favorite CIM landmarks -- I spotted Cynthia.

I picked up speed to catch her, and another full marathoner started keeping pace with me -- almost racing me. I told him he looked awesome, we high-fived and ran together. As we were turning onto L Street, he asked me if I would run him into the finish, but I had to tell him no since by then, we had caught up with Cynthia. I cheered him on, and then settled in next to Cyn, who still looked fabulous, even though she said her back was hurting.

We kept a steady pace the rest of the way. I told her she deserved a massage and a very expensive new purse when she was done with the race. And every time I saw a crowd of people, I'd tell them this was Cyn's first marathon and get them to cheer for her. It was so much fun!

As we got closer to the finish line, we spotted this guy, who had my favorite sign of the day:


Cyn's family was about half a mile from the finish line, and they were all cheering like crazy when we ran past. And she was able to kick at the finish -- we ran in strong, side by side. She finished in 4:36:06 -- a really fantastic performance.


I love pacing people to their goals. It's the ultimate honor to have someone trust you with something so important. Congrats, Cyn!
 
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