This morning, I ran my first 5K . . . 3.1 miles. I believe that's the furthest I've ever gone running toward something. I'm no Forrest Gump. The last half mile was inside the zoo--the last half mile. By that time, I didn't care all that much about the hyenas and hippos. Though, the elephants were still kinda cool. "Oh . . . pant . . . pant," I said to Katie, my running buddy, "there . . . ele . . . phants . . . "
The thing was, I didn't realize that the race continued inside the zoo. When we got close to the gates, I kicked it in. Once inside, I didn't see anybody stopping--bad sign. So I had to recover and keep up some kind of a pace just to stay with Katie. Katie's a good pace-setter. I wouldn't have done nearly as well without her. I mean, there is a lot of pride attached to doing something like that on your own, but there's a lot that gets pulled out of you when you're with someone else--especially someone else that's pretty well matched.
As Katie pulled ahead to pass runners in front of us, I would pull to the side and follow her around. It was just understood that we were staying together. As I stared past her back, it occurred to me that I need pacesetters in my life. I needed Katie to decide to pass the girls with walkmans in front of us (do they still make walkmans?), because if she hadn't, I wouldn't have. I had been telling myself that I was just trying to finish this thing. But there was a lot more in me than I thought. Because of Katie, I exceeded my own expectations today. I probably could have finished those 3.1 miles by myself. But it wouldn't have been in 31 minutes.
In a brief Boston marathon moment, we poured our dixie cups of water over our heads at the 1.5 mile mark, laughing. Just afterwards, we passed the park restrooms and saw a girl come sprinting out to rejoin the race. "She went to the bathroom, and she's still beating us," I panted to Katie.