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A buddy makes the long miles shorter

After months of training, having a friend next to you on race day may help you reach the finish line. Read an excerpt from Runner's World magazine.

Twitchy. That's the best word to describe Paige after she put her watch in her numbered gear bag and checked it in. My friend, running partner, and veteran of 15 marathons has never gone on any run, let alone the Boston Marathon, without her watch. But we had other things in mind for this day. Making it to Boston was cause for celebration and reflection, not measurement — chronological or personal. Ditching the watch symbolized our commitment to remain in the moment. How often in life do we place undue emphasis on our performance and fail to appreciate the pleasure of our accomplishment? It's like praying for a miracle and then forgetting to say "thank you" when it arrives. It takes a specific effort to break that cycle, but we wanted to give it a try. At the Chicago Marathon, where we qualified for Boston (and I set a PR of 3:35), Paige and I wore pace bands listing split times and "prayer intentions" — the names of 26 people to honor each mile. In Boston, our bands were time free; they listed "praise miles" — 26 things to be grateful for. No requests this time, just thanks. We began the downhill start with my friend Scott Dunlap. Scott is a 2:54 marathoner, Paige can run 3:15, so I consoled myself knowing that these speedsters had to be sticking by me for my wit, charm, and conversation, however limited. (As I said, it was a day to celebrate gifts, not focus on shortcomings.) We were in the second of the two start waves, so none of the official race clocks along the course applied to us, and we ran in blissful ignorance and liberation. In the early miles, we ran for the gifts of life, love, health, prayer, family, and protection. Many times during the journey from Hopkinton to downtown Boston, people ran up beside me and flashed their pace bands--with prayer intentions beside the splits. It felt so good to see that something personal had resonated with like-minded souls. Runners are an inherently spiritual crew, having firsthand experience with the concept of "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Going physically beyond yourself helps you understand that there is something bigger and mightier than you.

Excerpted from "Buddy System" in Runner's World. To read the full article,