But also, 2:23.
And (give or take), among top 10 female finishers. (As of Wednesday morning, I was the 9th woman to sign up. "20 kilometers is a little long for women," the secretary told me. I didn't remind her that it was 21.1)
What's in a number.
It's actually really hard being last. I knew I was running the right pace for me, and I knew that in another race there would have been plenty of other people around me.
I knew I couldn't run any faster, but that if I kept going, I'd finish.
But there was a tiny voice screaming inside my head: last? LAST? Run faster, you idiot.
Then I ran past a man collapsed on the side of the road. Less than five kilometers in.
Be the tortoise. Love the tortoise.
Theo met me at 7.5-kilometers on my bike, with a backpack full of provisions. I didn't expect to see him so early. I did expect him to say hello, and then jet off to a later part of the course.
But did I mention I was last? All alone? So when he just kept riding next to me, you'll forgive me for not complaining. I felt slightly ridiculous to have my own personal support crew, except also? It was awesome. And he was fantastic. He handed me my iPod (which I'd left at home, and which he'd gone back, on the bike, to get for me), and just hung out, being there.
Around 10 kilometers in, a guy in front of me pulled a blue t-shirt on over his lime-green-race-issued tank top and walked off the course.
And a few kilometers later, we saw another guy walking. "You can totally catch up to him," Theo said. "Not gonna be last," my inner voice cheered.
He ran for a bit when we caught up to him (Theo, far too nice for my own good, kept encouraging him to keep going. My inner voice: Idiot! We can beat him!). But eventually he also dropped out.
And so for the next 8 kilometers or so, I ran a few feet in front of the sag wagon, with ever supportive, but brutally honest Senegalese people cheering me on. "You're last but it's okay!"
So I kept going. And when I started to flag, Kari and Rick, my new roommates, appeared out of the blue with oranges.
Finally, with only a few kilometers left, I saw another man straggling. But I was starting to hurt too, and twice I almost caught up to him, only to have to start walking because of cramps (in my left ankle, of all places).
But, and here's where I admit that I was lying in the opening to this post, with less than a kilometer left, I caught up to him. We ran together for a little bit but somehow I found a final kick and I totally smoked him.
But I'm still claiming my title. Last for 20 km out of 21 is close enough.
(P.S. I have the best friends. Julia was there at the start, including buying a last minute bottle of cold water, after the start was delayed more than half an hour. And Naw was waiting at the finish line to cheer me on as well. Yet more people to add to the long list of people who have been incredibly generous with their time and support in my various attempts at athleticism. Thank you!)
(Also P.P.S. After rumors that the entire Reuters bureau, a fun bunch of guys, were going to run the race, only one showed up. We warmed up together, but he soon took off in front of me, and ran a fantastic first half-marathon. He finished in 1:59! Pretty impressive, no?)