As mentioned in my last post, this weekend O and I travelled to Columbus, OH for him to run the Columbus Marathon (a rather large affair - by the way - close to 20,000 runners between the half and full marathon!).
It was an awesome weekend. We stayed with the same homestay family that hosted me when I did the Columbus 5i50 in July, the Kennedys. It was great to see them again! Michelle is doing her first Ironman next summer and just got her first tri bike and Robert was doing his first half marathon on Sunday. They fed us dinner and then we watched The Lorax on their crazy do-everything-but-the-dishes TV that is 3D capable. The Lorax in 3D is pretty fantastic!
Race day came quick and before I knew it, I was kissing O goodbye as he wiggled his way into his assigned corral with 10 gazillion other people. Holy cow. 20,000 runners is A LOT of bodies!
And then the hard part of being a sherpa began. You see the "easy" part of being a sherpa is the driving, the carrying of bags, the hunting down of Gatorade, the scouting of the course, the helping up and down stairs after the race, and all other associated jobs. The HARD part, on the other hand, is the waiting and hoping and praying and wondering how the athlete is doing. The athlete doesn't have to worry about this part. They are, after all, the one racing! They know how they feel, how they are doing and whether or not it's going to be a good day. The sherpa, though wants just as badly for the athlete to succeed, but has absolutely no control over how it will all go down. I'm glad O was just doing a 3 hour race and not a 10 hour one! :)
After his race started, I started my own long run so as to occupy myself and not sit around worrying. I timed my run as such so that I could catch O as he ran through downtown again at the halfway point. He looked great. This buoyed my spirits for the 2nd half of my own run. The last 20 minutes of my workout was at a fast pace and as I struggled to maintain the numbers I was aiming for, I thought of O struggling through those tough miles from 20-23. It definitely inspired me to finish strong.
I finished and changed in time to see the tail end of the elite runners finishing and wait for that magical 3 hour marker (and hopefully see O BEFORE it came). As many of you know, O has been trying to break 3 hours for the better part of 3 years and he's had a lot of heartbreak in process. Multiple times he has been on pace through 20 miles, 22 miles, even 25 miles at one race, but has actually never run faster than 3:14 due to some bad cramping issues (that seriously debilitate him to the point of not even being able to walk!).
I waited and prayed and cheered for others and saw the 3 hour pace group run by and...no O. AHHHHH!!! I wanted this sooooo badly for him! This sherpa was seriously sweating it out! And then...then I saw him. I SAW HIM! He was obviously in a world of hurt but sooooo close to breaking 3 hours. I knew he had started about 1-2 minutes behind the start clock (so many runners...chip times really make a big difference in this race!) but didn't know by exactly how much. OOHHHHHH!
After much searching (and perhaps knocking over a few small children in my rush to find him), O actually saw me first and I finally got to give him a (nasty and salty) hug. And he showed me his watch - 3:00:46. PAINFUL! But I was so darn thrilled for him. And I knew he was thrilled too. It was a HUGE breakthrough, a 14 minute PR and most importantly, a day where he didn't cramp and wasn't reduced to walking. I know he'll get those 46 seconds and many more in the future but first he had to get the cramping monkey off his back. Whew. The hardest part of being a sherpa was over! I could spend the rest of the day beaming with pride over how well he had done. My delight for him felt just as bright as the delight I have when I have a great race myself!
All in all a wonderful weekend. After the race we headed towards home, stopped at a Y in Ohio for me to get my swim in and for O to get a shower ('cause he *really* stunk) and then we ate burgers, fries and...TIMBITS! O had been dreaming of Timbits for all 26 miles of the marathon. :) He was one happy camper.
|What 46 seconds? :) Close enough!|
|Oscar and our friend (and my Ballou Skies teammate) Billy. Bill ran 3:01:xx last year at Columbus and came back with a vengeance to run 2:58 this year. Oscar will have to follow in his footsteps next year to make that sub 3 official! :)|
|Oh yes, Timbit goodness!|