Picking up from yesterday, I was gearing up to not come in last.
With somewhere between a mile and two miles to go, I came upon Maria.
Maria was limping along. I asked if she was okay. She said she was in a lot of knee pain, but determined to finish. I asked if there was anything I could do, but there wasn’t. There weren’t any medical professionals I could run up to (no medical stops at this race). I didn’t have anything on me that could be helpful (wrap, ice, painkillers).
A part of me thought about just walking on to the finish. I was sort of on autopilot, ready to be done (and to not come in last).
A bigger part of me thought about how I try to convince my friends that they should run with me. I find running and running events to be so very joyous, and I want to share them with everyone!
When I offer to do half marathons with friends who’ve never done them, I make a promise to them. I say that I will not let them fail. I will entertain them through pain (if they have any). I will hold their hand. I will let them lean on me and hobble along if necessary. No matter what happens, I will not leave their side until we make it to the finish line.
I thought, if that’s what I’m offering my friends, how can I not offer that same thing to a stranger? I’m obviously not setting a PR here. As Will Ferrell’s character says in Talladega Nights, “If you’re not first, you’re last.” So, who cares if I come in last or not last, when really they’re both last by that logic.
Leave Maria to hobble the last mile-something alone? I just can’t do that.
I ask if she wants a walking buddy, and she starts crying. She thanks me, and talks about how she’s been injured for a few miles and it’s been so lonely. We exchange names. I do my best to get us talking about things that make her happy – her kids, her husband, her hobbies.
It’s not too long before her husband runs up from the finish. Her trainer comes along not too far behind him. We all stay with Maria until we get to the finish line. (I was going to say “we got Maria to the finish,” but we didn’t. She obviously got herself there with her determination. She is awesome and will not be stopped.)
We finished strong. We all hugged a lot, and said our goodbyes.
…and we didn’t come in last!
Day 2 complete.
One more note before we move on to the final half marathon of the weekend. I made the paper! If you want to see the article in the Tahoe Daily Tribune, you can check it out here.