Yesterday was a real treat. I rode the 6:45am Amtrak to D.C. to surprise my friend Nancy who was running the Marine Corp Marathon for the second time.
You may recall me telling you about Nancy last year. The short version is, Nancy is a serious hiker, a real outdoors adventurer but she had never run. She has friends, me being one of them, who always talk about running. So she decided she wanted to know what running a marathon is all about. This is one trait I love about Nancy – her fearless curiosity. She found an on-line program and told no one, not even her husband. She trained in total secrecy, made her hotel plans, and then only told her husband a little more than a month before the marathon. She emailed me on her way home from D.C. telling me of her great success and all the fun she had. In our first conversation after the marathon she was already saying, “next year.”
So this year I made a secret plan to cheer Nancy. We had been emailing quite a bit. She started doing track workouts in Lake Placid, about a 40 mile drive from her home. She gave up hiking to run more miles. Her tallies are hugely impressive:30 weeks training, 169 miles of hiking, 15 high peaks, 610 miles of running. Nancy sent me an email one week before the marathon telling me she was going on “a little backpack” How can any backpack, especially in the ‘Adirondacks be little?
Because no one knew I would be in D.C., I had to make a good plan to see her. I looked at her time last year, 5:24 and estimated a faster run 5:00. I made three hand painted signs. Once in D.C. I ran directly to mile 16, and waited. It only took about 15 minutes and there was Nancy. She saw my sign “Nancy Morrill is a Star” and shrieked with joy, we had a very quick hug and I yelled to her, “go, go.” I crossed the mall and caught the above photo of her at mile 19. She was simply jubilant and just motoring along.
We had one more brief greeting before I jumped on the Metro to the finish. I ran down to mile 26, my phone dying so I could not track her but she kept tight to her pace. The road was packed with people, and like clockwork, there she was. I was screaming to her, trying to send energy because there is a seriously steep uphill at the end. It goes straight up and is rather cruel.
I did not know if I would see her again but I thought it would be really nice to actually talk. I had no idea where she was staying or what exit she would leave the athlete village, so I just picked the most crowded exit and sat myself there. I figured I would wait 30 minutes and see if she comes by. If not, I would go to Chinatown and get a hopefully non exploding bus back to NYC. Thirty minutes passed and there were a lot of people so I gave it a few more minutes and guess what? Nancy came walking down the road. Holy Cow! What an exciting moment. I was so thrilled to see her, to congratulate her, and give her a big hug. I had not seen Nancy in 2 years. The day could not have been more perfect.
Nancy’s marathon was magnificent! She ran 32 minutes faster this year, a 4:52 and was 20th out of 90 in the 60-64 age group, that’s 65.7% AG. I do not know anyone who has taken over 30 minutes off their time in just one year. She was just amazing.
So will next year be a Boston Marathon Qualifier, is only another 7 minutes? No, next year is all hiking, her number one passion. Rumor has is it, her plans include some big mountain in Nepal.
more photos will hopefully follow