My friend Suann has already graciously offered to run with me from the start to the finish, despite the fact that her marathon PR is a whole hour faster than mine and that she is going to have to slow down a whole lot to do that. She's already paced me to a great half-marathon on New Year's Day and was with me for our "dry run" 20-miler a few weeks ago. That she is willing to do this is so amazing to me, and I am so appreciative. But, I still felt like I wanted some additional support, not just moral support, which I know I have in overflowing amounts, but actual physical support. And this is where I realized that I truly have some amazing friends.
This is what I mean: When I asked for some help with Operation Sub-Five, they all stepped up without hesitation. Nearly everyone I know is already running the half or the full or the ultra at Cowtown, so remember that what I asked for would require a couple of more miles in addition to their race efforts that day. And everyone responded so enthusiastically that I just feel so, so lucky. So here's the deal:
From Mile 19 to the finish, I will have one or more of my friends come along with me and Suann to keep me to my pace and help me get past the mental blocks and the mental pain that always make me slow down. At around that point, I usually drop back, or back off, and in the back of my mind it becomes OK to accept that, hey, I'm going to finish, and that's just fine, right? And I know I can break through that and keep the pressure up and keep the pace going to what my body is capable of, and having a crew waiting for me along the course is going to be what gets me through this time. I *know* I am strong enough to turn it up instead of backing down, but I feel like I need a little extra reminder from all of these wonderful people to help me remember that. Especially when it gets hard in that last 10K.
So, I present to you, the Team Members of Operation Sub-Five, some of the most amazing people I am lucky enough to call my friends:
- Suann "Intensity" Lundsberg - her first marathon was OKC last year, followed by Chicago on 10/10 and then an amazing redemption race in Fort Worth last November. She knows all too well the mental battles that I have fought. She is going to be with me from the start to the finish. I am so grateful.
- Michelle "The Girl from the Video" Blackard - I met Michelle at my first NTTR event this summer, and recognized her voice from her Trans-Rockies video, which made me instantly fall in love with her and want to be like her. Since then I've had the chance to see her at races & out at GRAW & she's just as awesome as I thought. No, that's a lie. She's MORE awesome.
- Greg "Maniac Ninja" Sisengrath - I met Greg out on the trail last summer, when we hit these ridiculous trails in Oak Cliff with my Banderawesome buddy Sarah Thomsen. In the intervening months, we've done trail runs together, I've watched him run his first marathon in a tutu next to his lovely bride, and I have come to absolutely adore not only Greg's tenacity and athleticism, but his devotion to his wife & family. I only slightly hate him for becoming Maniac before me. =)
- Fiona "Wonder Woman" Lu - Fiona ran her first marathon last December after picking up running less than a year or so earlier. She works full time outside the home and has the most beautiful three little girls I've ever met. How she manages to fit in all her training and always be so upbeat and cheerful I have no idea. She is a true wonder & I admire her greatly.
- Jan "STFUR" Malone Blackburn - Back when I first started running with a group, after years of solo running and training, Jan was my pace group leader for my FWRunCo training group. She inspired us on a weekly basis, kept us laughing and enjoying our long runs (even the damned repeats on Hidden Hill) and routinely harassed me for never. shutting. up. while we ran!! She became so much more than a coach, and she is making a special trip back from heaven (aka Front Range CO) to cheer & pace a bunch of her friends. I'm luck enough to be one of them.
- Kris "Pancakes" Stevens - She's one of the WRL Girls. Enough said.
- Marci "No Pickles" Sims - Marci has talked me through some pretty serious sh!t and pulled me off some crazy emotional ledges. I can't imagine anyone else I want with me at Mile 25.
- Jeremy "Banderawesome" Day - Jeremy is doing the ultra this weekend. His pace is such that he will likely finish the ultra before I finish the full. He would totally be helping me this weekend except that he doesn't think I need it. He thinks I have this solid without all of this. He is probably right. But I don't want to go up on the trapeze without a net, and all of these people are the most supportive net to catch me if I fall that I can imagine. So while Jeremy may not be able to physically run me in, I know that he believes I can do it, and that means just as much.
So there you go. The team members of Operation Sub-Five. Ultimately, they can't pull me across the line. I have to do the work to physically stay strong. But having them waiting for me and ready for me, and just the fact that they are willing to run an extra mile or two after their races, means so much to me. And that tells me that no matter the time on the clock when I cross the finish, I am already a winner.
Let's do this.