21.1 Kms of Friendship

This is a story of friendship:

Lakeshore Road in Burlington, Ontario.  A cold Sunday morning in March, 10:05am.

A and M are two 30-something females who have been friends for a decade through Chiropractic College, weddings, babies, businesses, tears, and laughter.  This is their first Half Marathon together in 9 years.  With 1:23 and 1:20 Personal Bests under their belts in 2004, the two friends are aiming for a 1:45 today.  However, their unspoken competitive natures are evident in their quiet demeanors and anxious pre-race preparations.


Starting Line (Brant/Caroline Streets)
A: Here we go!
M: Woohoo!

KM 1
A: So we’ll head out on this stretch for a 5km out-and-back, and then we run East all the way to the turnaround at Burloak.  (Nervously) So we’ll be able to see a long ways ahead of us once we’re on that straightaway.
M: Okay, thanks for the heads-up. (Checks watch)

KM 2-8
A and M talk about their day-to-day lives, family vacations, and what their kids eat for breakfast.

KM 9
A: (Pulls out energy gel) Okay, so this is Walker’s Line.  Then it’s Appleby Line, then Burloak.  That’s the turnaround.
M: Okay. (Checks watch)

KM 10
A: (Excitedly) I see a police car up ahead with its flashers on, that must be the turnaround already!
M: No, I think that’s just the leaders coming back onto the homestretch.
A: (DefeatedOh. (A is starting to play mind games with herself, worrying that they’ve gone out too fast.)

KM 11-12
A and M excitedly cheer on the leaders coming back West along Lakeshore Road.

KM 13 (Turnaround at Burloak Drive)
M: (Checks watch) Okay, now I don’t want to get you too excited, but if we keep up this pace, we’re going to break 1:40!
A: (Huge smile) I’m going to apologize for my bad mood now.  Let’s do it!

KM 14-17
(M tells various stories about other races and reminisces about her and A’s racing history.  A is silent, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.)
A: M, please go on ahead.  You look strong.  I’ll meet you at the finish line.  Go ahead.  I don’t mind.  Go kick some butt.  I’m hurting.
M: You’re doing great! (Checks watch)

KM 18 (Church volunteers at water station.)
Volunteer: Oranges and bananas!  Oranges and bananas!
(A finds that this phrase matches the cadence of her stride.  She continues to repeat a silent mantra- oranges and bananas, oranges and bananas, oranges and bananas).  M continues to stay beside her, half a stride ahead.
M: Let’s use this downhill (Accelerates).

KM 19
M: Two kilometres to go.  C’mon. (Checks watch)
A: Ten minutes.  Less than ten minutes.  I can do that.
M:  Yep, less than a WOD at Crossfit.  Let’s go.

KM 20 (Fans line the streets, holding signs and ringing cowbells. A and M can hear the music from the approaching Finish Line.)
M: (Checks watch)  Okay, now it’s time to think of your sweet little Drew and Casey meeting you at the finish line.  Picture their faces.  Let’s chase 1:40!
A: (Holding back tears, overwhelmed with emotion and exhaustion.) Okay.

KM 21 (Heading North on Brant Street, the Finish Line is in sight.)
M: There they are!  (Points to A and M’s husbands and children cheering and waving at them)  Look at that clock! (M’s watch reads 1:38)
A: Almost there! Go!

KM 21.1 (Inside the finishing chute; A and M step across the timing mat and embrace.  Tears of joy run down A’s face.)
Thank you so much for sticking with me and pulling me through when I was clearly dying.  I could not have done that without you.
We were in it together, every step, because I wouldn’t have even made it to the Start Line without you.  I’m so proud of us!

~The End


Basking in the post-race euphoria!