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Commentary: Whole day of memories from OC Half Marathon

May 06, 2013|By Carrie Slayback

In the homestretch, Mile 11, I see the fairgrounds and chomp my last glob of melted chocolate to the mantra, "Finish strong!"

However, I'm crumbling. I don't realize it until a friend rides by on her bike. Taking a day off racing, she cheers runners on. "Get your head up!" she commands.

I snap my head upward, elevating my chest, improving my breathing.

Entering the fairgrounds, I manage a last push. Hard work.

Ahead, "Body by Ed." When did she pass me?

She's stronger; no catching her.

I see something else. A pacer holding her card.

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Myopic, even with corrective sunglasses, I assume she's a 2:10 pacer, but cannot read the card.

"What's that pace card say?" I ask runners. Ear buds on, they don't answer. Then a young woman holds up two fingers. The two hour pacer, not the male I followed, but a female. With chocolate-fueled finisher's kick, I pass the pacer.

I don't catch "Body by Ed" and forget to look at my clock time. Instead I cross the finish and cling to the chain-link fence, chest heaving.

Later I check my time and my place. I finish at 2:00:41, second place behind my good friend, Jeanie.

And, thank you, "Body by Ed." Turns out you weren't in my age group, but racing you brought me within seconds of my goal.

Newport Beach resident CARRIE LUGER SLAYBACK is an award-winning teacher and runner whose articles have appeared in Coast and Sassie magazines and the Los Angeles Times.

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