Italy, day nine
However, over the course of the arduous week, I had come to believe that the half marathon could not possibly be a serious plan. Even less fathomable was driving four hours that night when Beat wouldn't finish the race until 6 p.m. and hadn't even given himself a single minute to recover. "You can't possibly still be thinking about that stupid race," I snapped back. My comment was mostly directed and convincing Beat that I was exhausted and had no business driving that night, but it was the wrong way of saying it, and the words "stupid race" really irritated him. I instantly felt bad about it given the last thing I wanted to do was steal his thunder, which is why I hadn't planned to meet him on the trail in the first place. I tried to dial it back and apologize, but we were both up against a raw edge. When we reached the pavement of town, Beat broke into a celebratory sprint and I let him go. Because of this, I actually missed seeing him finish. I arrived several minutes later to find Beat sprawled out in a folding chair with a huge smile on his face. All was forgotten and forgiven.
I'm incredibly proud of Beat and grateful to have shared in a small part of his experience. The little support I offered him was really for my own satisfaction; he didn't really need my back massages, dessert deliveries and commiseration, although I like to think that maybe I contributed a small part to the mental fortitude that led to his success. And of course supporting Beat meant traveling with him to Europe, which has been such a great experience for me. Some have asked if my first venture outside North America has been strange for me, and in some ways — the terrible soda options and the driving — it has. But here in these beautiful mountains, among people who love mountains, is in other ways as close as I ever feel to home.