It was May of 2015...the Pittsburgh marathon and half marathon. Pittsburgh is a city near and dear to my heart. I did my residency there, and both of my daughters were born there. As I was getting back into distance running, I tried to do a race every so often, and this was a great opportunity to do a half marathon and visit one of my favorite cities. My mom and daughters came with me and we booked a hotel downtown close to the start of the race.
Here is a story about one of the good aspects of social media...
I saw a post from my then work acquaintance Lisa saying she would be running the Pittsburgh marathon. I commented that I would be doing the half marathon, and we then made plans to meet up with each other while we were there. At that time, Lisa and I had already worked in the same hospital for about 9 years, We crossed paths from time to time in the operating room on Fridays but we were in different specialties. We would sometimes work in ORs right next to each other though, so we chatted in the hallway between cases and had many friends in common. We got to know each other a little during those years, but had not spent much time together outside of work.
As we discussed plans for Pittsburgh, we discovered we had booked rooms in the same hotel. I arrived first with my family, and when Lisa got there, we decided to meet for a drink in the hotel lobby. The race was the next morning. We met for that drink and had a great time talking and getting to know each other better. We then found out that we had both booked the "VIP" option for the race which allowed us into a special waiting area before the start with breakfast and some other perks. We decided we would meet in the morning and walk to the start together.
We called it a night early because of the race, but found that we really enjoyed each other's company and had a lot in common. We got in the elevator and I pushed floor 8, asked Lisa what floor I could push for her... she was on 8 too. We got off the elevator and turned the same direction down the hallway, ultimately stopping at rooms which were directly across from each other...what are the odds of that?! So we shared a laugh about all the coincidences and went to bed. We walked to the race together the next morning and enjoyed some coffee and a light pre-race breakfast in the VIP area,
We talked more at that time about prior races, how we trained and what our pace was. We both trained and typically ran alone with earphones while listening to music. Lisa was the far more experienced marathoner, and was doing the full marathon while I was doing the half. The races started at the same place at the same time. We were pretty well matched for pace, so we decided to run together. We still had our earphones in but often stopped our music and talked as we ran together. We parted ways around mile 8, and Lisa went on to finish the full, and I completed the half. This was the start of our running partnership which ultimately lead to our most significant accomplishment almost exactly 3 years ago. I have written about this in other places, but Lisa and I completed the 4 day event in Disney called the Dopey Challenge in January of 2018. This is 48.6 miles in 4 days. The event consists of a 5K, a 10 K the next day, a half marathon the next day and a full marathon the final day. It was a very proud moment for both of us as we crossed the finish line of the full marathon together.
I have since given up distance running in favor of ballroom dancing, but Lisa has continued and was supposed to run the NYC marathon this past November. I had plans to be there to cheer her on. The week after that she had plans to come cheer me on at a dance competition. Of course, none of those events could happen, but here's hoping it will all be able to happen this year.🤞🏻🤞🏻
The best part of our Pittsburgh marathon string of coincidences was that it marked the start of us becoming much closer friends. Over the past almost 6 years, Lisa and I have become the best of friends and as of last year, we are now business partners too! It is so great to have a BFF who you can count on for anything. Love ya Lisa❤️