The second half of my 2010 New York City marathon was an incredible ride, and I have a woman named Karen to thank for it. I had run the first half relatively slowly, pacing a friend. Then this short, sinewy stranger passed me as we entered the Bronx. Something about her form and speed drew me in. For a while I drafted. Then I passed her. She stayed with me. We said “hi”. Eventually we ran side by side, passing countless struggling runners as we sped toward Central Park. We shared water and a few words. Mostly, we ran –raced– like a little impromptu pack.
It was not my fastest 26.2 miles, but it was my best. With a negative split I finished feeling great in 3:08, weeks after my 3:03 p.r. in Amsterdam. I know that I wouldn’t have killed it like that without Karen.
In my book I write about the thrill of running with tough-as-nails women like Cécile and Chris. My sense has always been that they are better runners. I don’t mean faster, per se. Maybe smarter is the right word. They seem more balanced and capable of finishing strong. Now the Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece about just that. Women do run different, smarter races, the experts say. I knew it! From the piece: “In the last 2.19 kilometers of the race, women were significantly likelier to speed up and finish strong.”
Men, let’s watch and learn.
(Oh, and the book it’s finally coming, for real, in English. An agent is looking at the first draft of the English version. Stay tuned just a little longer.)