Today was the Houston Marathon. Chevron sponsors it now, so, really, it is titled the Chevron Houston Marathon. But I digress. I knew various people doing the half marathon, but I cared most about one family friend who was doing the marathon. This would be his 137th marathon. Last time, I had surprised him near the finish line, cheered him on, and then had lunch with him at one of his favorite restaurants. I aimed to do the same today.
However, I kept checking the tracking system, and he never showed up. Everyone I had been tracking for the half marathon had already finished, and he had yet to begin the race, so far as his tracker chip was concerned. At first, I had expected he might have started late, just because he felt like it, and maybe wanted it a bit warmer. He isn’t going for time, after all; just completion. But, when they were all done and he was nowhere to be found, I had kind of given up on going to see him finish. It didn’t seem he was doing the race after all.
Around noon, I checked my phone one more time, mostly out of habit, but also just in case. To my great surprise – and yet not – he was on there! And not only as having just begun, but at the 18.7 mile marker! I didn’t know what had happened for all the previous checkpoints – perhaps he somehow skipped the mats each time -, but he was certainly on there now. When he hit the next marker, I gauged his timing and got my things cleaned up from cooking, so I could head downtown. I wasn’t sure how traffic or road closures would be, but I had a rough plan that would get me there just in time. Dreadful traffic on the 45S exit changed everything, of course, and I had to change to the backup plan. Turns out, the backup plan should have been the original plan. But, nonetheless, I got to my goal, parked the car, and sprinted to the course.
Long story short, though the tracker estimated that he was not yet to where I was standing, he was just passing out of the intersection as I had arrived to it, ironic as that is. I had a feeling he might have been one of two guys I’d seen over there, but I gave the tracker some faith and waited a couple minutes. However, after two minutes, I was sure that he had to be past me already. Even the tracker said so.
So, I then ran toward the finish line, spirits still high, hopes still up. Alas, I never caught him as I ran alongside the course.
So, I sent him a text. Modern technology is helpful at times, after all.
He called me back, wondering what I was up to, and he was blown away to find out that I was there. We met at an easy point, and I was congratulating him when, suddenly, he tells me that he isn’t finished. ‘What do you mean?’ I ask. Turns out, he is doing the virtual race. He didn’t want to be in massive crowds, so he opted for virtual, started from home when he felt like it, and just joined the course for the last part of the course. However, he ‘finished’ the race at only about 11 miles. He had merely hit pause at the finish line, walked through the convention center, and was wondering what to do with the glass finisher’s mug that had been given to him.
Well, he gave it to me as a present. And he gave me his extra shirt, so he wouldn’t have to carry it for a while. Then he said he’d meet me for lunch in about half an hour.
But, the way he was going and the direction I had parked aligned for a while. So, I ran with him… carrying the glass stein and his extra shirt, of course. Since he was doing the virtual race, and he had turned it back on, we realized that, silly as it may sound, I was running in the virtual marathon with him. Because I was!
And I have the commemorative mug to prove it. ;P
We eventually parted ways, and then met back up for a quick lunch (a quick body charge and phone charge for him!), and he continued on his way home and finishing his marathon.
How silly, right? I knew a good little run would be helpful for me today, what with all the intense muscle soreness that was showing up last night – I seriously had some trouble sleeping, because I was so sore. I hardly expected to end up running a couple miles in the actual marathon. 😛 What a lovely surprise. And I still got to cheer him on while he ran, and multiple times. So, that was really cool. He had always wanted me to run a marathon with him. Now, I kind of have! Haha
Thank you, God and Universe, for the surprising love and joy of today. Thank you. Amen.
(Yep, still got it wrong…)