I woke up early on Saturday,
rested, but still contemplating rolling over and going back to sleep. After all, I did have a pretty big day ahead of me on Sunday. As I lay bundled up in the biscuit, I went over the dream I had just woken from. I was in a triathlon and could not for the life of me seem to get through the transition. I couldn't find where I was supposed to be, couldn't find my gear, couldn't get my shoes changed. It was a mess! And all the while, I was very aware that the clock as just a tick, tick, ticking away. So thankful there are no transitions in a marathon.
I decided that sleep could wait, there was always a nap to be had. This morning, I had the opportunity to watch the Olympic time trials! And none other than Ryan Hall would be running. How often does a Pink Girl get a chance to see Ryan Hall run???
That got me out of bed in a hurry. I had a quick breakfast of Cheerios and Clementines (remember that I travel with plenty of grub) and got dressed to take an easy run. Need to shake those sillies out of my leggies before the race.
I really enjoyed my run. It was a beautiful day in Houston! A far cry from the storms predicted for Sunday, race day. A perfect day for an easy run and watching some Olympic hopefuls.
And just as I approached the intersection where I hoped to see Ryan run, the elite men zoomed by! There he is in the white tank, right in front, Ryan Hall. I admit, I teared up just a bit. Look at that stride! Here I was, solid middle of the packer Pink Girl, watching one of the fastest American born runners ever. He was less than 50 feet from me! You should have seen the smile on my face. I knew this was a day that I would remember forever. Ever have one of those moments? Making a memory. I was sure glad that I didn't go back to sleep!
It wasn't but a few moments later that the elite women flew by. You see the woman in turquoise about 4 or 5 back? That's Jen Rhines. Remember that name.
I stood there for a few moments more, watching the other runners pass. Then I spotted a fit young lady walking down the sidewalk, bib fluttering in the breeze, head down, crying. I approached her cautiously. "Are you okay?" Sobbing, she shook her head. She looked like she desperately needed a hug and agreed when I asked if she did. I hugged this tiny woman and felt her lean on me with exhaustion. I didn't know what I could do for her but I knew she didn't need to be alone at that minute.
She told me that she had been sick all night the night before. And around mile 4, she got sick again. She made the very difficult decision to drop out of the race. She was just too sick to continue. Bless her heart! I learned she's from Colorado and this was to be her very first half marathon. She's been working for months for this race. She has Olympic dreams in her eyes. I thought of every bad race I've ever had. Nothing compares to seeing your Olympic dreams start to fade away.
We chatted while I walked her back to the staging area. Her name is Cassie Slade and she's one determined redhead! More so than seeing Ryan run, I was so thankful that I got my lazy self out of bed and made it to that street corner that morning. As someone who has needed her friends to lean on while she cries, I was go glad that I could provide the same for her. I might have been a stranger, but I wouldn't have wanted to make that long walk alone if it were me. I hope that she is feeling better and can start her training again very soon. Be looking for Cassie Slade as the Olympics approach. I know I'll be cheering for her to make it!
Once I made sure she was safe and secure, I found a good viewing spot at the finish line. The race started at 8 am and it was but a short hour before they starting careening in! First I saw the press truck. Then I knew the winners were approaching.
Mo Trafeh finished first in 1:02:17 (uh, wow) and Ryan was right behind him. Look at that kick! My feet barely leave the ground when running distance. I don't get a kick that high even at my fastest speed session. Just incredible. I couldn't believe that I had seen Ryan Hall TWICE in one morning. Tears of joy filled my eyes. I looked around, wishing I had someone with me to share this moment. But there was no one to hug, no one to high five, no one to share in my joy. So I just watched him silently, a giant smile plastered on my face.
As soon as he was given an American flag, he ran up and down the course, high fiving all of the spectators. He made several laps. He just seems to be a really great guy.
Jen Rhines won the women's race with an impressive 1:11:14. That's a full hour faster than my best half time. Remember her from earlier in the post? She was several runners back. Just goes to show, you don't have to start out ahead to win the race. She had the endurance and the kick at the end. Side note, Jen and I are the same age, the same height, just about the same weight and definitely NOT the same speed! Ha!
One more of Ryan for good measure. Made my day!
Have you ever had one of those days where you just knew you would remember it forever? A day that started out so ordinary and turned out so extraordinary? A gift. That's what Saturday, January 29th was for me. A gift. And I'm so thankful. I'll hold those memories in my heart always.