The end of September marked a whole year that #WeRunTogether virtually. From Tuesday training runs, to synced race schedules, and virtual pacing support during PR (Personal Record) quests, Andrew Scholte and I have been racking up the joint miles between Boston and Berlin. As much as it’s meant getting out and running, knowing that Andrew’s expecting me to keep my commitment, it’s also been about an encouraging email exchange, sharing training progress, swapping stories, and offering encouragement during the lows of injury.
Last year we kicked off our running partnership by taking part in different races on the same day, both in Germany. As the final Sunday of September came around this year, it was only appropriate that we would find ourselves in racing position again. This time I’d be the one running in the Berlin Marathon, following in Andrew’s 2013 footsteps. Until connecting with Andrew, I never imagined taking a running holiday to participate in a big race, but after hearing about his Berlin adventures, the thrill of running through the iconic Brandenburg Tor, I could only think, “I want to do that too!” On a day when I would be experiencing the high of getting to run with 40,000 marathoners, Andrew would be raising the athletic bar, completing his very first half Ironman.
As a child growing up with unmanaged type 1 Gaucher disease, my body was always trying to catch up. Not only with my peers in recess run club but also with my willpower to run freely. Despite always feeling behind, I’ve never been intimated by the speedier runners that lead the way. Instead, their show of consistent commitment motivates my step. At the half way mark during my race, this admiration for speed brought about my Berlin Marathon moment. I ran past a cheering spectator who was holding a freshly inscribed cardboard sign, announcing that a brand new men’s world record had been set this day: two hours, two minutes, and 57 seconds. While I stood still a long way from the finish line, the previous world record had in fact been broken twice that morning. As a runner coming from the back blocks, I’m sometimes embarrassed to admit that I too run a race to go fast, the very fastest I have in me for show time. In that passing second, reading that sign, I could have felt I had no business being on the high grade Berlin course. Coming back from injury it can be challenging to focus on the path, without getting distracted by the obstacles we put up for ourselves along the way. Yet instead of feeling discouraged, I turned the corner and sensed my chance of a lifetime, to be following in the golden footsteps of the world’s very fastest.
As the tears streamed down my smiling face, I was elated to be a runner on a day for the history books. I forged forward with a touch more speed, saving just enough to make like a pro through the Brandenburg Tor. The medal placed around my neck at the finish line had Wilson Kipsang and his 2013 (past) world record looking up at me, a weighted reminder to keep on running to keep up. Although this autumn Andrew and I aren’t able to meet in person, I am still looking forward to the day when we can run in a marathon together, in the same city and at the same time. I’ll let Andrew set the pace.