After the start, Melanie pulled ahead as I settled into my pace. I felt really good. In fact, for the first 9.5 miles or so, I felt like I was on top of the world. Right around 9.75, things began to fall apart. All of a sudden I felt mentally drained. I could feel tears welling up. My legs kept kicking just fine, but my mind was telling me to quit. I don't know that I could explain it any other way. And then I did what I had been determined not to do. I walked. With tears in my eyes and badly wanting to give up, I ran/walked the next two or so miles. I felt so defeated, like I had somehow failed because I hadn't run the whole way.
Right around the mile 12 marker, I saw Debra. She had finished and come back for me. It was as if she knew all the thoughts flying through my head. "TURN THAT FROWN UPSIDE DOWN!! YOU'RE ALMOST THERE!! FINISH STRONG!", she said, as she started jogging alongside me. She ran with me during the entire last mile, providing the moral support that I so desperately needed. During the last quarter mile, Debra's husband Zac also joined us. Their support along with the hundreds of people cheering in the finishing chute gave me the last oomph I needed to finish strong.
I don't think I could ever describe to Debra in words what her encouragement meant to me. She has been a sort of running mentor for me, and to have her support was really amazing. After thanking her profusely, her response to me was (in Facebook comment form, of course) "Anytime girl! Pay it forward!".
And so this weekend, I did just that. A friend of a friend found out that I was running in the Super Run 10K on Saturday. She had wanted to run, but didn't have anyone who wanted to wake up that early on a weekend. I had never officially met her before, but I invited her to run with me if she wanted. We met on race morning; her goal was just to survive a 10K, my goal was to just get in a good run (and get the t-shirt, obviously). So we jogged, chatted, and encouraged each other. She finished her first 10K race, and I KILLED my PR by more than 3 minutes. Win-win situation. She told me after the race that if it weren't for me, she would've found a million excuses to stop. I almost didn't tell her that I needed her there as much as she needed me. I'm glad I did.
Dear universe, please consider my debt of gratitude paid forward.