We were on our way to pick up our numbers for the start of the Tufts 10K for Women, when she dropped it on me:
"Pal, I think I'm gonna get a bib for the Marathon..."
There was no need to specify which one, in our neck of the woods, "the marathon" is "The Marathon."
I turned and smiled. Of course she would, she's Sandy and, frankly, if you know her that's a very Sandy thing to do.
"That," I said - both surprised and yet unsurprised at the news - "is awesome."
I've known Sandy since 1997. I had the great fortune to meet her when I started a new job, enjoying a very bizarre welcome lunch on my first day (I know she remembers it), and cementing what would become one of the best friendships of my life.
The marketing slogan for The Boston Marathon (as if it needed one) is "All in for Boston."
Sandy is all-in for Boston, much like she is all-in in pretty much every aspect of her life.
She's all-in for her family, especially her nieces and nephews, who are the luckiest people on the planet.
She's all in for work, where she has expertly navigated the very tricky world of freelance journalism to craft a stellar career.
She's all-in for animal welfare, volunteering hundreds of hours a year at the Baypath Humane Society - for which she is running Monday and has raised nearly $4,000.
She's all-in for herself. Several years ago Sandy was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease that would have felled many others, content to just survive. Not Sandy. She tackled it head-on and has committed herself to not only living with this condition, but thriving.
She took charge of her health and wellness, losing 50 lbs and getting fit. I started running in January 2011 and Sandy followed suit in September. Neither naturally gifted or talented in that department, we did not let it deter us. If you know us in "real life", this is not news.
We call each other our "domestic life running partner" and I can assure you that running a race with a friend, especially my friend, is one of the great joys of my life. We've accompanied each other from 5Ks to 10K, from half-marathons to, this summer, triathlons. (No, I'm not ready to marathon just yet.)
Sandy calls running and fitness our shared midlife crisis and she's not far off. We're always calling, texting or emailing each other tips, gear ideas, books or new races. Beware any email from us that starts "What do you think about..."
But, like many things in this life, health and fitness is more fun with a friend. And now Sandy has enriched my life in yet another whole new arena.
Lastly, Sandy is all-in as a friend. If you know Sandy, you're nodding your head. Once she's your friend, she is your friend for life.
Sandy was at my wedding. She was one of the first people to hold my first-born. She's supported me in countless ways. You know those friends who say they'll do anything for you, anytime? She actually does.
Last December I was seriously ill and seriously scared. My husband and I had to go to a doctor's appointment on a Saturday and we had no one to watch the kids. He called Sandy, and of course her reply was, "What time do you need me?"
Here's an excerpt from my journal on that day:
"Keith and I returned home and I gently stepped out of the car and up the front stairs. The door opened and there’s Sandy, wanting to know how it went.
“You’ve got this,” she said, before I could even start in on what happened. “You’ve got this.”
She was confident and positive, two attributes I sorely needed at that time. I could have cried I was so grateful for her presence, her positive attitude and friendship.
I immediately flashed back to the Rock n Roll Half Marathon we ran this past August. She was about 20 minutes ahead of me and near Mile 11 there was an out and back. I figured I would catch her, me on the “out” and she on the “back.” After about 10 minutes I spied her, she looked tired and hot, like everyone else.
I yelled across to her: “You’ve got this! You’ve got this!” She needed the encouragement then. I needed it now. We grabbed Subway on the way home, and Sandy and I sat on my couch, eating lunch and talking about the road ahead. Healing, getting back to normal and running. I need normal."
You've got this, Sandy. You've got this.