This past weekend I was suppose to do a long run on Saturday or Sunday. Something to get me close to the 25 miles per week goal I've got for myself during my base phase of training for next summer. 10 or maybe 12 miles would be good.
My wife and I were going down to Manteo for the weekend and had a bunch of cleaning and painting stuff we wanted to get done and I didn't get down there until late Friday night because of work.
I bagged the Saturday run.
Which meant I would have to run on Sunday.
Which was when the Outer Banks Marathon and Half Marathon were being run.
While I painted the front of my house I traded texts with people in the local running club and a friend who works for Outer Banks Sporting Events which puts on the races each year.
There was room in the Half and I could catch a ride to the start with a couple of friends. One of whom was Amanda who was hoping to break 2 hours and get a PR for the Half. Another club member and friend, Pete, had worked out a strategy for her and the three of us decided to run together to help get her there.
Run a Half Marathon on less than 24 hours notice? Sure. Why not.
The weather at the start of the race was absolutely perfect. Hell, for the whole race it was wonderful! Right on 50 degrees and sunny, then up to about 65 degrees by late morning and the finish of the full marathon.
Pete, Amanda and I talked about her goal of breaking 2 hours and decided we would go out somewhere close to 8:45 pace and just see how she felt. Pete tracked every mile, and my garmin was set to track the overall average. Pete also became the official cameraman and got a lot of great shots.
That's me and Amanda somewhere in the first couple of miles along with Pete's shadow. For running backwards and snapping pictures he did really well!
We settled in right at 8:39 pace and Amanda said she felt great and that it was even a little slow. Since the temperature was going to rise we told her to hold tight at this pace until at least 7 miles instead of accelerating now. After 7 she could move up a little if she wanted, but we had the bridge to cross at mile 10 and that is a long, slow incline that tends to take a lot out of people. Run this race right and you just cruise by folks near the top of the bridge.
We enjoyed the weather and Pete and I talked pretty much constantly. Big surprise there. Amanda remained conversational the whole time, too and Pete and I would give each other smiles here and there because we could tell from her breathing that she was at a good pace.
And ahead of her goal.
Here we are around mile 6 and Amanda was looking strong.
We held that 8:39 pace all the way through mile 9!
As we approached the bridge I told Amanda that the thing to do here was just hold this pace up the hill. It would feel harder, but she wouldn't lose time and would be strong on the other side for the last 2.5 miles. We were doing great overall and didn't need to force the bridge to gain any time. Just hold pace.
Apparently, Amanda is like me. The steeper it got, the more speed she picked up.
Pete spoke up once and said "8:20." I suggested she go a little easier and save some for the last couple of miles.
I talk with my hands...
Amanda pretty much took over and just drove right up the thing. She struggled a little right near the top, but we gained more than a second on our overall pace average in about half a mile! She was winded, but excited she just clicked by the 10 mile mark on the toughest part of this course like she was a machine!
I'm about to touch the center mark at the peak of the bridge. A thing I do whenever I run it.
It took the downhill side of the bridge to get her wind back and Amanda started to say she didn't feel well. Pete and I both knew she was ahead of pace and could afford to back off so we kept telling her to relax, breathe easy, and slow down for a bit.
She relaxed and controlled her breathing really well, but kept on moving.
With a mile and half to go, Pete and I started in on her.
"You've got this!"
"We've run this mile a thousand times, look how close we are!"
"Think of the crowd coming up on Fernando Street."
As we went through a little S turn with just under a half mile to go I talked Amanda towards each turn like a race car driver.
"Shorten the race here. Cut the corners."
Amanda was straining now.
The emotions of what was happening began to flood and she started to get a little weepy.
"Hold on just a little more. We'll all cry at the end!" Pete told her.
She was hauling ass as we came around the last turn and saw the big finish line and the crowd and got swallowed up by all the music.
Amanda took off and Pete and I had to push to stay with her.
Her goal was 1:59 something and Pete and I were busting huge grins because she had blown that away.
We crossed the line in 1:53:32!!
There she is landing in the top 20 of her age group: Amanda!
We showed her our watches and the three of us jumped up and down in the chute and hugged. I have rarely seen someone as elated as Amanda was at that moment. As any runner knows, most of what we do is early in the morning, late at night and all alone. It's hard, tedious at times, and takes an enormous amount of determination to keep at it when there just isn't all that much coming from the work.
And then there's a PR.
One of the best feelings of all time is when you do something you had no idea you could do.
It was an absolute joy to witness Amanda's moment.
Thanks Amanda! And thank you, Pete for the strategy and company. What a great, great day!!