Knowing The Finish Line

Knowing where the finish line is!
Over the 30 years of racing, I have learned a few things. One of the most important is reviewing the course. I always do my pre-race warm up tracing the last mile of the race and making sure I know exactly where that finish line crosses. Yesterday I ran the inaugural Newport 10 miler. The course was a new one and the race did an excellent job of posting the course on line with mile markers, aid stations, etc. It was a very cool course, starting outside Fort Adams and running around the point on Ocean Drive with spectacular views. I grew up in Newport and now spend my summers there so this route happens to be my daily run, so I knew the course well. The race finished back where it started and if you had not been diligent and reviewed the course, you might have thought it finished in the same spot it started. But it finished a good 1/4 to1/2 mile beyond that , following the walkway around the fort to a side entrance and finishing inside The Fort, actually at the back of The Fort.
I had arrived in Newport the day before the race and had spent the last few months in Florida (yes, poor me!) But the reason I mention this is not only was it a lot cooler but there were plenty of hills in this 10 mile course and I had been running nothing but flats for the past 4 months. I was definitely planning on being conservative, knowing the hills would be a challenge. My husband was being my usual awesome cheerleader, riding his bike around the course and giving me a boost each time I heard his voice.
With a little less than a mile to go we crested the last hill, on the access road to The Fort and I heard him ride up alongside me and give an encouraging, “come on let’s move it. Finish strong”, and then a quiet, “you got company”. I figured there would be someone tracking me, and I tried to stay steady, knowing I still had about 3/4 mile to go. With about 1/2 mile to go I heard her footsteps coming up closer and listened for her breathing. She was working hard and so was I but, she was laboring more. I heard my husband again, this time a little more forceful. “Come on kick it!” Well I am not a spring chicken anymore and I knew what my 55 year old legs had left. I was hanging on and picking it up a little, but it was too early to kick. Then we rounded the corner and I think the girl behind me realized she misjudged the finish and had spent what she had left to catch me. Her steps started to fade as she saw there was still no finish in site. My husband had peeled off and entered The Fort through the first gate. He was waiting inside where we entered The Fort. I burst through the tunnel with about 200 yards to go and now it was time to kick. Using my upper body, pumping my arms a little faster, knowing my legs would follow suit, I began my kick. Glancing over my shoulder with about 100 yards to go, she was spent and I held the lead with increasing the distance between us I crossed the finish line.
I waited for her to cross the line and catch her breath, then gave her a high five and said good race. She was much younger , but I am guessing, next time, she will make sure she knows where the finish line is.

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