We jogged and talked (and they entertained me) for a couple of miles. I told them there was probably no way I’d be able to keep pace with them for the rest of the race. I’m stronger in the first 4 miles than I am in the middle. (True that.)
They were awesome! They would not take no for an answer. I pushed through mile 4 to stay with them. I wanted to start walking in mile 5. They weren’t having it. “You can do it, Aurora. Come on!”
You’re right. All right. I’m with you. We kept jogging, taking a couple of fast walking breaks here and there.
When we crossed London Bridge, I saw a photographer. “Look! A photographer! Let’s all look like we’re really good at running.” As we passed, the photographer said, “Wow, you all look like you’re really good at running.” How fun, right?
Everyone I met in Havasu was so polite and sweet. Most of the runners wouldn’t even drop their cups on the ground!
I saw people look for trash cans, not find any, and then say “I’ll just hold it ’til I get to the next one.” It’s a sweet idea, but this is the first place I’ve ever seen runners be that polite.
I dropped a cup out of habit a couple of times when I didn’t see trash cans after the water stops. I thought, “ugh. You’re being ‘that girl’ – a rude LA person.”
Hopefully no one noticed or cared… I saw some other people doing it. It was the first time I ever felt weird about it…
Around mile 7, I looked at our time and realized, “Holy cow! If we keep this up, I’m going to get a PR. Here we go, friends. 3:14 or better. We can do this!”
We ran together for a while longer. Around mile 9-ish, I became the one saying, “You can do it!” They were saying “Go on without us!”
We did a nice job encouraging each other for so long. I didn’t want to leave without them. Ben told me, “In all seriousness, go on without us. We can’t all keep up, and we want you to achieve your new goal. Go ahead.”
Thanks, Ben. Okay. I’ll miss you all! I ran forward. It wasn’t quite as fun running alone, but I was ready to make my new stranger friends proud!
I fired up some music on my iPhone, and kept on running. At each mile, I was still on pace to break my PR (but not by much).
I passed a familiar face, when I saw Marty (of Wendy and Marty), working a water station..
As I’m running into the final mile, Wendy, sweetly and supportively comes along to jog the last bit with me.
We come around the corner toward the finish. I turn up Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” Sing it to me, Michael! (I think I literally said, “Sing it to me, Michael” out loud.) His voice played in my headphones as I ran to that finish line.
The official half marathon clock hadn’t hit 3:13. My official time: 3:12:02. I did it! A new personal record, y’all. I would not have done it today without the kindness of strangers.