Sunday, October 4th, my sister Fantine ran her first race, a 10K, in Tournefeuille, not far from Toulouse, in the South West of France. I ran it by her side to help her and be with her. A first for me and a first for her. We tell you how it went for both of us, in 2 posts. First, it's my version. I will let my siter tell you how it went for her, on the next post.
My sister and I are twins... with a 3-year difference. Or twins in spirit, if you prefer. We don't have the same personality but we've always been very close. She supports me and cheers me up in everything I do or try to accomplish. She's my number 1 fan! I wanted to give her a bit of what it is I found in running.
I was trying to convince her for a while: "What do you think about running a 10K? I'll train you and we'll run it together. You'll see how proud you'll be!" But I've always been turned down. Clearly and firmly. Sports and even more competition are not her thing. And then, this summer, I came back from California. I hadn't seen my family for a year and a half. My sister was casually running to take advantage of the beautiful summer. So, I tried it one more time. She didn't say a big yes, BUT she didn't say no either. So I immediately stepped into the breach.
I found a 10K, in October, not too far from where she lives. I created a training plan for her. I mapped a running route around her place. I made sure she couldn't find any excuse to step back. She followed the plan, listened my advice, and October came. We planned the race weekend and we were off to her first race.
No pressure for me, but pressure to do well in helping my sister. I wanted to make sure she would not be disgusted by running. For that, I had to be good at handling the race for someone else than me. I was excited about opening up "my running world" to my sister and her boyfriend (he also decided to take on the challenge). Fantine is less demonstrative than I am. Hard to tell if she was stressed, happy or excited.
She still expressed her fear to feel ridiculous and be the last one to cross the line. It's understandable. I mean, we all had this fear. I tried to reassure her and I told her one sure thing: she would not finish last because I would never let her.
No time oriented goal for the race. We would just go with the flow and the energy of the day. Still, I had promised myself to push her to give everything she had. I wanted her to feel the pride and happiness we have when we push our limits. I had run with her, the week before the race, to know what was her usual pace. My goal: trying to set a pace a bit faster than her usual one and readjust depending on how she would handle it. It was a way for me to show her she is capable of way more than she thinks.
The morning of the race, side by side, surrounded by the other runners, I was super excited about sharing this experience with her (an a bit emotional, too, I have to admit).
I had told her about how a race normally goes. We started fast, but it's normal. I intentionally didn't slow her down. She would slow down by herself if she needed to. The first mile ticked on my watch. I was totally aware we were running at a 1-hour finish pace. I kept the info in mind, but, honestly, time was not the point of this race.
I kept her running at our starting pace. I kept asking her about how she was feeling: breathing, heart rate, legs. I was chatting to distract her. She was not chatting back. I told her about it... because, you see, on the few runs we had done together, she was talking a lot and I had told her she was not supposed to speak so easily. On race day, I congratulated her for her monosyllabic answers!
The miles were ticking, one after the other. I was making sure to place myself a tiny bit in front of her to make her keep up with the pace she set at the start without her noticing it. She was not giving in. The more we were going, the more I felt proud of her (and the less I felt anxious about making things wrong for her by setting a pace too fast). I clearly noticed it became harder for her, around mile 4-4.5. I didn't say anything and carried on. She did too. It looked like there was no way she was calling quit!
Kilometer 8, I made a slip-up: "Only 2 kilometers to go, it's nothing!"... as soon as these words came out of my mouth, I mentally slapped myself. Seriously?! We all know the last kilometers or miles of a race are NOT nothing. And even more for a 10K AND a first race!
The last kilometers were not easy: a long slightly uphill straight road. It was hard for my sister, I could tell. I tried my best to cheer her up and make sure she would still fight. She did. I was so proud of her! When we saw the finish line, I asked her to give me her hand to help her sprint and cross the line, hand in hand.
(There's a video of the finish line. It made me realize I went a bit too hard for the sprint... Let's just say we can see runners giving their best, and then, 2 crazy girls, way faster than the others, and one yelling like a mad girl... Sis, sorry about that. I hope you're not mad at me almost making you have a heart attack!)
She did push her limits. I hope she felt a sense of accomplishment. You go, girl! You can be proud of yourself. I am! See, you also can do things you thought you could not do.
A great experience for me, a great experience for her too. She will be the one telling you about it, in here, on the next post.
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