Chapter 21 ~ Lisa Faces A Tough Decision During the Marathon

Chapter 21 ~ Lisa Faces A Tough Decision During the Marathon
On the way to the corral Lisa and Nicole met Mia and Leah. Mia and Leah volunteered as helpers for the marathon. They were going to pass water to runners at a station midway through the race.

Mia looked at Lisa and said,, “Are you guys really serious about running today? I don’t think I’d last ten miles before I’d have to walk.”

Nicole said, “We agreed it’s only a fun run. We planned to run together since I went to the university. thing.” Nicole put her arm around Lisa.

Leah looked at Lisa, “Take it easy today. You outworked and out ran all of us the past three weeks. You have nothing to prove today.”

“I feel great. I think I can run two marathons,” said Lisa.

The four chatted for a few more minutes, then fist bumped. Nicole looked at Lisa, “They really like you. They don’t want you to wear out. Their good friends, listen to them.”

“I know. I think we should get in our corral,” said Lisa

Lisa and Nicole found their places in the corral for runners aiming at 3 to 4 hours. They talked about the route the marathon took. It started in Nickerson Park, two miles from their home, circled through town before connecting to the river trail. The route left the river trail and turned on to country roads leading toward the small town of Carlyle. The race circled around Carlyle Fairgrounds, over to Lassiter State Park where the runners ran around Sweet Water Lake over to Valley View before heading back to Nickerson Park. The course was mostly flat. There was a hilly section in the Lassiter State Park. The race finished back in Nickerson with Mason’s Hill a mile and a half before the finish line.

Lisa nudge Nicole, “They’re getting ready to start. I don’t see why we have to wait for the first two groups of runners. It’s not fair.”

Nicole said, “For the one millionth time, it’s a fun run.”

A blasting air horn signaling the start of the race blocked out the last part of Nicole’s sentence. The runners were off. It was fifteen seconds before Lisa and Nicole crossed the starting line.

Right away, Nicole could feel Lisa wanting to push faster. Three times in first two miles she cautioned Lisa and said, “It’s twenty-six miles. It’s a fun run.”

Each time Lisa answered, “I feel like I’m walking. I haven’t run this slow since I was in sixth grade.”

When they entered the river trail at the four mile mark, Nicole checked her Garmin,

“We’re right on pace for a bit over three hours. It’s a perfect time for us. How are you feeling?”

Lisa turned her head slightly toward Nicole, “Can we pick it up to a six thirty pace? Please. I feel great. I promise I’ll tell you if I don’t feel good.”

Nicole rolled her eyes, “You heard what Leah and Mia said. They don’t want you overworking on the run. It’s your first marathon, remember?”

“Come on Nicole, the seasons over. After today, we can rest all week. No running, just hanging out together.”

Lisa didn’t wait for Nicole to answer, she picked up the pace, Nicole stayed with her, keeping one eye on the trail and the other on Lisa. She promised her mom they’d finish together.

They approached the first aid station at the 5K mark four miles outside of Carlyle Fairgrounds, Nicole called to Lisa, “Lisa, let’s grab a drink. We’ve got to stay hydrated.”

Lisa pushed forward, “The next station Lisa. I’m feeling good.”

Nicole said, “I’m going over, come on.” Nicole headed toward the first aid station, grabbed a drink and looked up to see Lisa thirty yards ahead of her. Nicole picked up the pace and soon caught up to Lisa. “What are you doing Lisa? You promised mom you’d run with me.”

Lisa said, “I saw a runner from Stinson, I can’t let her finish ahead of me. Besides, I feel fine.”
Nicole shook her head, “Next station Lisa, we hydrate. Run through it, grab eight ounces of water and a gel pack. I’ll tackle you if you don’t.”

Lisa  knew Nicole meant business.

Lisa and Nicole grabbed an electrolyte infused drink and gel pack at the first aid station at the 10K mark prior to the entry to the Carlyle Fairgrounds. Half way around the fairgrounds, Lisa said, “Thanks Nicole. I needed that. How’s our time?”

Nicole looked at her Garmin on her right wrist. “The last two miles we ran at a six fifty pace. We’re on track to finish around just under two hours. Perfect.”

Lisa said, “I feel really, really good. Let’s pick up it just a bit. There’s the girl from Stinson, she’s only fifty yards ahead.”

Nicole knew there was no reasoning with Lisa. “Two miles and that’s it, then we’ll do an awareness check. That’s what Coach calls it. You do a quick body scan to see how you feel.”

“Okay,” said Lisa lengthening her stride. Her eyes on the back of the Stinson runner.
Nicole caught up to Lisa, and said, “See the red barn off to the right? That’s where we cut it back.”

Twenty seconds later they were five strides behind the Stinson runner. The Stinson runner looked over her shoulder and picked up her pace. Lisa didn’t ask Nicole, she matched the Stinson runner stride for stride. They passed the red barn without either saying a word. Lisa and Nicole stayed just off the Stinson runner’s right shoulder on the road over to Lassiter State Park.

When they entered the state park, Nicole checked her Garmin, “We’ve been running at a six minute ten second pace for four miles. We’ll refresh at the first aid station. Then we’re cutting back, we still have a bit more than eleven miles to go.”

“Nicole, she came in second at states. I can’t let her beat me,” pleased Lisa.

Nicole said, “It’s not a race. It’s supposed to a fun run with you and me.”

Lisa got stubborn, “I’m not slowing down.”

Nicole said, “I’m going to stop at the First Aid station. I’m going to stop running if you keep this up.”

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