Last Thursday I ran the Elvis is Alive 5K with my friend R. It was so much fun, and a great way to end my racing season (I'm still running, only no more events for the year). The Dude was right, even with this being a non-competitive, untimed event, I still pushed myself --- first, to run the whole thing without stopping, and then, in the last mile, to pick up the pace and keep it there. And of course, at the very end, to go all out. It is a good thing I let him talk me out of the half marathon I'd wanted to do this month.
R was the perfect running partner for this event. I always enjoy running with her, we run very comfortably together (talking the entire time). But in our previous races, I've been pacing her, just because of where we have been in our training at that particular moment. Making sure to keep an even pace, pushing the pace as I felt she could, checking in constantly to make sure she was still handling it, giving encouragement. And not concerning myself with my time or pace. I get great pleasure and satisfaction out of pacing people in races, so for me it's just a different race experience, not a diminished one.
This time she paced me, doing all those same things. And it absolutely made the race for me. I would have finished without her there, I'm sure, but not with the same pleasure of pushing myself and then the satisfaction of knowing I had. I mean, running is kind of uncomfortable these days, even when it's going well. That whole needing to pee the entire time thing, for one. And I know I was more comfortable pushing myself knowing that she would be with me the entire time and looking out for me, making sure I wasn't overdoing it. I know The Dude had been relieved to know she would be with me for this event, since he knew he couldn't talk me out of it (having already talked me out of the aforementioned half).
And then the party afterwards! I should have mentioned that there were folks dressed up as Elvis everywhere, a treat just on its own. They had an Elvis impersonator providing the music, our recovery fare was beer, watermelon, frozen chocolate-dipped bananas and peanut butter banana sandwiches (plus the usual water, pretzels, and Gatorade), and the whole thing took place on a grassy, tree-lined hill, with the moon and sailboats on one side of us, and the city stretching up on the other. I love living in Chicago!
And now I can set racing aside for myself for the year, and completely set my race focus on supporting The Dude as he gets ready for the Chicago Marathon. Plus maybe a little scheming over my race calendar for next year.