I completed the Omaha Half Marathon yesterday morning as the sun rose here on the Plains. Though on this race, unlike others, I had company, which was not the original plan. A few months back, I recruited my old friend Myron to attempt the 13.1 mile adventure. He agreed and successfully trained. However, in the haste and hurry of rushing to the starting line at the last minute, my partner in crime accidentally dropped and lost my chip strip (electronic timer) that is to be attached to each runner’s shoe in order to have an accurate finishing time. So, with literally seconds until the start, I decided to ditch my pre-planned pace to instead run alongside my friend for his first ever race, because that way, my time would be identical to his and I would know my finishing time. A sign of solidarity and a choice I did not regret. For one, the slightly slower pace helped me sort of savor the race and enjoy it without constantly stressing my time. Hey, I got my money’s worth, right. Omaha was beautiful with live music throughout the course and a perfectly cool temperature that makes a “muscle cramper” like myself rejoice.
And most of all, I realized that the shared experience of racing beside a close friend trumps a fantastic finishing time any day in my book. For nearly two and a half hours, we talked between breaths about life, marriage, work, ministry, and so on. When he was tired, I would talk so he could catch his breath, and vice versa. Then finally, over two hours after the pistol fired, we crossed the finish line together with the Missouri River in full view and to the cheering sound of fans and faster runners.
So, in hindsight, the Omaha Half Marathon was a completely different experience for me than I initially expected, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Often I promote distance running to be “solitude on foot”- a chance for the socially awkward introvert in me to hide and explore mental and spiritual depths that I could not reach in the presence of others. But yesterday, I realized it to also be a sport for close friends- to momentarily forsake two separate lives and join together in a shared effort that offers a deeper look into the other’s soul and then leave in different directions with a mutual understanding that can be felt only by people who ran together.
There’s your over-philosophical race review for the week…
Oh and by the way, our official finishing time was 2 hours, 23 minutes, and 58 seconds.