This is in tribute to Mr. Alpers, who was the world's best runner assistant today at the San Jose Rock N' Roll Half Marathon. He was our chauffeur, our baggage-check boy, our acquirer of GU and our cheerleader. Our bearded cheerleader. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself how it is that I find myself in these situations: jogging in place with Shirlee (his mom, my running partner today) at 8 am in the morning in a sea of runners, weaving my way through a city still waking up on a foggy Sunday morning. We were surrounded by people in Team in Training jerseys, or in homemade t-shirts with the names of their loved ones written on in puffy paint. I had forgotten my favorite "Diabetes Sucks" cap, but was wearing a belt with pump, GU, continuous blood glucose monitor and blood sugar monitor.
We kept a good pace until about mile 7, at which point I decided to increase my pace. Ryan was waiting at mile 10, which (incidentally) was located right in front of the high school where he works. I kept looking from one side of the street to the other, wondering how on earth I'd see him in this moving, sweaty mob, but when I did finally spot him, he insisted on running alongside me, chattering away, passing me water and GU, his big bicycle bag thumping against his back.
And then we passed the cheerleaders from his high school, all decked out in their school colors, some with ribbons, some with braces, all of them chanting. They slapped high fives and I heard him yell, "That's my girlfriend!" And I felt lucky.
The last two miles were a lot harder than I thought they'd be, especially when I started noticing the number of runners who had stopped, or were seeking medical attention on the side of the road. Ryan later said that, while biking from the 10 mile mark to the finish line, he saw a runner "bonk"; that is, he saw the guy begin to fall backward, until another runner caught him as he fell and helped him to the ground. "I saw a runner go off the course in an ambulance, and it wasn't you or my mom, so I thought the day was a success."
And, all in all, it was. I'm so glad I finally did it, and I'm incredibly grateful for the support not just of Ryan, his family, and my own unstoppable Team HJ, but of all the friends and family members who have donated to JDRF, offered emotional support and overall made it possible for me to do something I at times doubted I could do.
Until next time...