For the past year that I’ve been back into the road-racing scene, I’ve consistently been behind Margaret. Whenever we run the same event, she is always one spot – seconds – ahead of me. But, even more frustrating than that is we are in the same age group so she always beats me in the age group awards too.
Three weeks ago, we both ran in Oakville; I ran the 10K and she ran the half-marathon. When I saw that she finished in 1:41, I was relieved that I only ran the 10K, believing that I would have been minutes, not seconds, behind her.
Two weeks ago, we both ran a 5K in Burlington. Somehow, I passed her in the last kilometre; that was a first.
When I saw that she was also registered for the Run for the Grapes, a half-marathon in St. Catherine’s, I was nervous. The data shows that Margaret is a better runner than I, but that one race – that short 5K – gave me hope; perhaps I could outrun her in this half.
Last Sunday morning, I scanned the hundreds of runners at the start line to see where she positioned herself: close to the front. “Good,” I thought to myself. “Now I can see her, and I can pace myself against her. I want to stay back until the time is definitely right, probably at the end.” And I followed this strategy for the first 8K. But, somehow, somewhere between 8K and 9K, I caught up to her.
“Good job,” she commented.
“Thanks. You too.” After a few breaths, I continued, “You’re Margaret, right?” She answered yes. “I’m trying to stay behind you (oh no, I was giving away my secrets) but I can’t.” So, we ran together and chatted for a few kilometres; sometimes I let her pull ahead, worried that I was pushing myself too much and too soon, but I always caught up again. We counted the women ahead of us at the turnaround. “That makes us 14 and 15,” I said. And, then, it happened. I pulled ahead of Margaret at the 14K mark.
I kept waiting for her to catch up and pass me. At 17K, I heard lighter footsteps – a female’s – but it wasn’t Margaret. At 18K, I heard tired breathing but her habitual grunt wasn’t in it. By 19K, I felt that if I could just hold my pace for those last two kilometres, I could do it – I could outrun her.
When I crossed the finish line at 1:41, I looked back but she was no where in sight. Neither was my cheering squad; Dave and the boys had gone out for a bike ride in this quaint rural town and had obviously lost track of time – my time. So, I ran back out. “Go, Margaret!” I cried. She ended up a few minutes behind me, finishing in 1:45. As far as standings go, I finished as 13th female, 2nd master and took home our age group award- Bart Yasso’s autographed book, a running cap, and a medal; Margaret was one spot behind me in our division.
When we walked back to our cars, I learned that she is not only in my age group but is also my age. That means that one of us will never jump into the next age group waiting for the other; we will always be chasing each other to the finish line.
Still in shock that I beat her, I asked Margaret if she was injured.
“No, I’ve just had a really rough week. I’ve been getting my kids settled at school.”
“Oh, did you kids just start university too?”
“Um, no, kindergarten.”
Same mindset, different stages in our lives. We are moms and we are runners; for both of us, motherhood and running are delicately intertwined, making us who and what we are.
Our next big race together will be the half-marathon in Niagara Falls. There, anything can happen.