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The Eugene Marathon (annually, end of April, qualifier for the Boston Marathon) drew me and my friends Liz and Al Cratty. We did the half marathon, 13.1 miles, and we walked. Despite the fact that we live in TrackTown USA, running isn’t our thing. But lining up with some of the best runners in the world, even being at the back of the pack, was a great thrill and it’s because of the community support. Thousands of folks line the entire route, and they stick around even for those of us bringing up the rear. They have cowbells. They yell encouragement. They have posters. They don’t care if it’s drizzly raining. I loved the blond kid with the “Run, random stranger, run!” poster.

You will find our names in the results list pretty close to the bottom. We weren’t last, but we finished in just under four hours, which was better than what we had expected.

This was Liz’s first half marathon. It’s my second, but the last one I did was in 2014. We started training in January. Liz and I are pushing 70, OK? And Al passed that milestone a few years back. We are both active, but we aren’t competitive so this is a little outside the usual zone.

I write frequently on this blog about doing things outside my comfort zone, about long projects vs. short ones, and persistence. In regard to the half-marathon, Liz’s desire to participate carried us forward and the fact that we did it together with Al, was key. The buddy system is a genius tool for a months-long effort.

And on race day, the buddy system got multiplied thousands of times over by all the random strangers yelling encouragement along the way. “You got this!” “You’re doing it!” “Finish strong!”

We got it. We did it. We finished strong. Bragging rights acquired.