Party on a stick.

lovefest

lovefest

Remember that time I ran the Lakefront Marathon with Annie? We had fun. Everyone say hi to her: HI ANNIE, HI!

In the time since, she's become one of my absolute favorite partners in crime. Times a hundred. Look, we even MATCH. We've run race after race after training run after training run together. Like my birthday run, and our late night lake loop that ended in the best bottle of Mountain Dew I've EVER TASTED. I kind of want to keep her in my pocket at all times. Rochelle, too. She's my little bee. I want to smoosh them both:

flankers

flankers

A few months back I recruited Annie to be a pace leader with me for the Madison Half Marathon. We'd be leading the 2:20 group. Sure, it's a pace much more comfortable than my own (running is harrrrrrrrd), but I was wee nervous about it. I've run with pace groups before. PEOPLE DEPEND ON YOU. I depended on those pace leaders. If I tell you I'm going to get you across the finish line in two hours and 20 minutes, I damn well better do it. I don't know about you guys, but I don't like pressure. Makes me nervous. When I'm nervous, I sweat. And, oh God, let's just all take a deep breath here.

Woooooooooooo. OK, better.

So, last weekend was the race. This is what we looked like:

pacers

pacers

Uh. How awesome are we? It's OK. You can admit it. We were pretty pumped by that point. WE GOT TO CARRY A STICK. All very, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Except we didn't speak softly at all. We were LOUD. I don't know if you KNOW us, but shit gets real when we're in the same room. Or in this case, crowd. Or race. Or city. These people that were going to depend on us for two hours and 20 minutes were going to have fun. Or want to stab us. Either/or.

We yelled. We made jokes. Mostly just jokes that no one laughed at but us, but, you know. Like that time Annie was all, "OMG YOU GUYS WE'RE HALFWAY, WOOOOOOOOOOOO." And then: silence. Because we still had another half-mile to go until we were halfway. Oops. It was at that point that we told our followers that our success would come out of lies and deception. It worked.

We riled up spectators. We made fast friends with our faithful pace group. Steve, for example. WE LOVED STEVE. He grabbed a beer from a spectator in the early miles, and stuck with us all the way. Annie and I both gushed with pride when he high-tailed it through the finish with a PR. And little Lisa. Oh, she was precious. I think I hugged about eleventy strangers post-race as I congratulated them, and they thanked us for pacing them. That was a GOOD feeling.

Being a pace leader was awesome. It wasn't about me. It wasn't about Annie. It was about helping everyone else. It's kind of incredible how appreciative people were. "YOU GUYS WERE SO FUN." And that made me happy. Not only did we do our job, as evidenced by the photo below (look at the CLOCK, bam), but we made that experience enjoyable for people. For many of them it was a first half marathon. For several others it ended in a PR. I felt like a proud mama hen.

220

220

But I also got to spend another race doing something awesome with Annie. We just keep checking things off our list. The more I do races for the memorable experience rather than the thrill of a PR, the more I appreciate everything about running.

I suppose I'll just keep doing it.

finishers

finishers