Prior to the Hamilton Marathon, I had never brought a music player to a race before. But given the course logistics and the size of the field, I figured I might be spending a good percentage of the time alone with nothing but my own footfalls and breathing to keep me company. So after a lot of personal debate, I decided to bring it along just in case I needed a boost. It was cold at the start of the race and I didn’t want to fuss with my gloves, so I even put in one ear bud, ready to hit “play” if necessary. I ran almost the entire race wired for sound, but never once used it.
You don’t need it so much at the start of the race – there’s a lot going on and you’re still surrounded by people for the first little while! Shortly after the start, I became conscious of a person a few feet away but directly beside me who was keeping perfect time with me. I kept an eye on her using my peripheral vision – she looked kind of serious and had her own earphones in, so I wasn’t sure if it was a coincidence. As the pack thinned out, I was fairly sure it was not, so I looked over at her. As if relieved that I finally acknowledged her, she immediately introduced herself as Darlene. She asked me my name, my goal, and if she could stay with me for a bit.
Well “a bit” turned into nearly the whole race, and I have to say, it was great. We both did the majority of our training alone, so it was nice to have someone there. Even though we didn’t talk the whole time – we were both expending a lot of effort you see! – it was nice just to know someone was there. Someone who had family on the course who would cheer for both of us, and would benefit from my family’s cheers – thus effectively doubling our personal crowd support. Someone to reassure me if I blurted out my doubts. Someone who had a couple of doubts of her own, allowing me to reassure her, and by extension, reassure myself. Someone who might keep running and leave me behind if I gave in to the desire to walk.
I lost track of Darlene immediately after the finish line as each of our personal crowds engulfed us – and, quite frankly, as I went looking for a place to sit down – but thanks to the miracles of online race results and Facebook, we did manage to find each other so we could share pictures. I may never see her again, but I guess it doesn’t matter – that day we were a perfect team.
Reflections on the course
Reflections on teamwork
Reflections on a race well run