My 1st running partner... Kate

(a.k.a. Little Miss Quick*, Finkasaurus) *preferred

Starting out as a runner is hard - the physical, mental, spiritual aspects of this metamorphosis are significant; it can be overwhelming to deal with oneself, but having a partner can change all that.

I remember my first runs being done solo - as I started to "train" (increase mileage and set goals), I realized I would also need the motivation and camaraderie which comes from having a running partner...if I was going to spend enough time on my feet in training to succeed.  I couldn't have known how true that sentiment would turn out to be...

Kate wasn't an outdoor runner when we became neighbors in early 2007, but quickly took to city running.  I'd begun training for my first marathon, and was only running outside; for reasons I know she still can't define, one day she just began keeping my training schedule herself (carpe diem!) -- my first-timer program suited her status, and our work schedules meshed well that summer. 
Seasoned runners will tell you about the need for goals and training schedules to have flexibility (e.g. raceday A,B,C goals, cross-training/flex days, CVS air-conditioning as spontaneous respite from oppressive summer long-run heat).  For us, this need surfaced naturally, manifest by 'fink' text messages...a last-minute opt-out for the day's run.  Each of us used a handful of finks that summer, though I'll maintain hers came first..hence the alias; but this option kept us sane as weeks/months of training began taking a toll ("Did we run this morning?"), and schedules presented challenges.  The last thing a busy new runner needs is guilt! 

Many coffee spoons and miles later, we were on the verge of our only race before my big October marathon... a September half-marathon in nearby Salem, MA.  We were in uncharted waters, and despite a more-than-typically-chaotic race morning rushing us to the starting line with 3 minutes to spare, we managed to keep (ahem..) my initial pace well past 10 miles.  This put (ahem..) us in the uncomfortable position of having to consider pushing even harder into the final 3 miles of the race - as finishing under the 2 hour mark remained possible. To this day, making light how I pushed us to a sub-2 hour finish yields a darting glance, accompanied by a silent half-smile ;-)

 ...full-smiles, delivered barely-pre-race
by a very-rushed pair of newbies! (photo: Mom Z.)

"The only thing crazier than training for, and running a marathon - is training for, and NOT running a marathon!"

Once Kate had this race (and fantastic finish) under her belt, and was forced to admit that she'd already done the training to run a full marathon, she had little ability to argue with this logic.  She secured a bib for the upcoming Cape Cod marathon in late October - a race in proximity to mine - which meant that she was similarly well-poised for "de versmalling" (Dutch for 'the taper'... my race was in Holland).

Before we knew it, "first-year" runners and training partners Kevin and Kate each had their marathon-finisher medals!   Huzzah!!

Kate didn't run a marathon in 2008 - but when the 2009 running season came around, she found herself wanting to run another big race.  I needed to ground my training for trails in longer city/weekend runs, and while our schedules didn't mesh nearly as well as in 2007, we managed to coordinate her plan of attack, and a number of runs together into mid-summer.

All signs pointed to a solid raceday for Kate - I knew she'd have a great finish, but I didn't know exactly how well her training had gone, and didn't want to probe too much about specific goals; what does a second-time, 4h40m, F14-39 marathoner (having taken a year off, but once again going in very well-trained) set for herself as a raceday goal?  I was pretty sure I knew the answer.... and genuinely thought she could succeed, but didn't want to get her hopes up.

I couldn't be on-site that day, but lunchtime on raceday arrived with a text message of elation - Kate's watch read as a full minute under that "magic" 4 hour threshold as she crossed the finish line!  Later that day though, something was odd when posted results displayed only single times for each runner (not distinguishing between gross and net finishes) and Kate's time capped out a few seconds past the 4 hour mark.  I believe the email subject line was "Oh fudge".

We waited a curious week for the "Official" results to be posted mix of gross-only and net-only results posted as "Unofficial" to be corrected, and were thrilled to find that the watch time was ultimately correct...  Little Miss Quick had earned herself a marathon/course PR by a fierce 40 minutes, entering the family of sub-4 hour marathoners with a time of 3h59m02s!

For Kate: 

Phenomenal 2007, and again last year - the team is so proud of you!!  I wanted to celebrate your emerging running career - and to say thank you; I guess that's what this post is all about.  It's also about allowing others to bear witness to the value and benefits of partnerships ... of teamwork.

I never could have kept up with training so well that first year, had you not been there to keep me honest - a true statement; beyond the mostly-morning-miles and keeping me laughing (sometimes too much), your encouragement began amplifying my initial confidences, in-turn sharpening my senses as a runner.

I'm exceedingly grateful to you for those foundations, and I'm looking forward to many more miles and smiles with you in the years to come.

" I'll see your old-ass tomorrow..." 
~ sidewalk chatter Kate and I overheard whilst running, one summer evening along Broadway in Southie ~