"Yes", was the only thing she said. We were moving fast, but it seemed as if time had stopped. I was now looking at her feet. Our legs in sync. With about 100 yards to go, I decided to go a little faster and with that I was gone. Crowds yelling for us. A run that had been going on for 2 hours and 26 odd minutes, boiled down to a 'duel in the desert'. This was how I finished a wonderful day of running in Queen Creek, Arizona.
This is a charity run to raise money for kids battling cancer. London was such a kid. There was a table (pictured) with pictures of all the kids. The race was held at Schnepf's Farm, an agritainment farm southeast of Phoenix proper. About 50 minutes from my home. I felt like I was going to the county fair as my car was in line to park in the field with less than 30 minutes until race time.
I had to make a decision. Run the 10k or run the half. I decided 13 miles would be good distance today and I had reason to run it anyway.
As you might know, I visit the Runner's World forum and leave posts and comments. There's a few of us Arizonans that do. One guy is AZ Nick in Queen Creek. We've discussed meeting at a race, but our race schedule never lined up. Lately, I and a few others convinced Nick he was ready to run a HM. He picked this race to run with a relative. Then, that relative bailed on him and he was preparing to run it alone.
Now Nick seemed like a nice guy, but I only knew him from RW and facebook. Do I want to run for over 2 hours with a stranger? What happens if we can't stand each other? One of us would have to suck it up and run away.
Nick called right as I was entering the porta potty. I told him I'd call him back. We finally met. I got to meet his wife and BIL. They ran the 10k. I told Nick I'd run with him and we decided to do his 4 minutes of running and 40 seconds of walking pattern for an 11 mpm pace. Nick's 4 minutes were long. And his 40 seconds were short. Seriously, we did skip some of the walk breaks and we settled into doing sub 11 mpm miles for the first 4 and then 11 to 11:35 miles the rest of the way.
Nick and I talked the whole way. Kinda like when Karen and Lisa run. But, not about pedicures or tissue paper. We talked running. Jobs. Men stuff. After about 2 miles, I knew we would be running the whole race together and that it would be a pleasure.
I started running with my Phoenix Coyotes sweatshirt. Nick's a big time Coyotes fan, so he was alarmed that I was going to leave it road side. I did at the four mile point. Never to see it again. But, after the race as I was watching them award medals to the 10k winners, I looked down and saw a Coyotes sweatshirt. It was old and beat up and I'm thinking, "oh, someone has a sweatshirt just like mine. Wait, it is mine." The volunteers picked it up and my sweatshirt beat me to the finish line.
The last three miles Nick and I were trying to figure out if we could a) finish under 2:30, b) finish under 2:27:09 (my PR). I kept doing the math, looking at my garmin and telling Nick what we needed to do. Our start was 15-20 seconds late and we did a short stop so I could refill my water bottle. With half a mile left we knew that 2:30 was in the bag, but could I get a PR? As a side note, I wear my garmin really tight. The picture below is what my wrist looked like after the race. I mean 30 minutes after. I guess I plumped up during the race.
Back to the race, Nick and I had a final turn to make and then it was about 200 yards to the finish. I said let's go and started running hard. That's when I caught up to the 'lady in black' that was a willing racer.
In I came at 2:27:15 or 6 seconds over my best time. No PR today. But, a great run anyway.