I’ve been asked why… why I race.
Why I train and run and run and train and then line my cheeks up to the start line and go. Head feet-long and heart-strong to that blessed finish line.
Well, it’s not for the bling.
Though to say it doesn’t matter is a big fat lie. I mean, lookee at this adorbs medal from yesterday’s Erie Presque Isle – a heron… love it!
And it’s not for the boast. “I am the fastest…”
Because I’m not.
And it’s not for the fitness. I swim, bike, hit the gym… I don’t really need to run nor do I need to race to maintain my health.
Why do I rise at stupid o’clock, why do I gather with a bunch of peeps I’ve never met (at stupid o’clock), why do I endure the jitters of prerace (please, God, let me poop!)
Because of the volunteers and spectators. And other runners.
At yesterday’s race, I was running, aid station to aid station… and both volunteers and spectators were encouraging, “you got this! you look great! keep on! you’re almost there!”
There was an aid station filled with guys wearing nothing but their speedos, handing out water and gatorade… I think one or two were wearing wigs… trying to make us runners laugh.
They made me smile. Okay, I laughed.
There was another aid station where they had hilarious signs and posters: “you’re almost there! only 25 miles to go!” and “Chuck Norris has never run a marathon!” and “all this for a banana?”
People were lined all along the course, hanging out all morning long, and watching all us runners scoot by. “Woohoo! You look amazing! Way to go! Keep strong!”
When I came around the first loop, ready to begin the second loop, there was a runner in front of me who chose to finish after the half marathon point. As he was running under the big FINISH sign, there were shouts of “you sure? alrighty, good job! way to go!” and clapping… I hope the dude felt proud and accomplished. Half a marathon is big shit and worthy of “oh heck yeah!”
On around mile 18, I stopped to walk for a bit. Along came a bike, rider asking me, “hey, sister… you okay?” to which I replied, “yep, my music stopped playing and I gotta figure that out.”
“Sounds good! Just checking to make sure you’re doing alright out here.”
And I felt seen. And loved.
As I rounded the bend to the FINISH line, other runners who had completed their race and had donned their medal were clapping and assuring me, “the finish line is almost there!” It was so encouraging and just what I wanted to hear. Legs trembling, sweaty, soaked shirt hanging off me, I crossed the FINISH line to a loud and happy audience. There were whistles and laughter, clapping and shouts of joy.
Yeah, a whole lotta this.
Why do I train and run and run and train?
So that I can get my toes to the line and imbibe of all this good juju, man. High vibe of Love, excitement, adventure, encouragement. I feel so alive! I am convinced that if I live my life in such a way as to see it as an adventure, toes to the line and who the heck knows exactly how this ends but there’s a finish line and ima going for it, well then I just bet that it’d make all the difference between dragging my butt through the day and Loving my way through it.
And because I know firsthand how amazing it feels to be encouraged, clapped for, shouted about, and checked in on… I figure that’s gotta feel pretty good to another as well. So, I’m learning to bring this Love vibe with me off the pavement, outside of just race day. I want to love others the way I feel so loved during a race.
Hey, man, every day is race. A journey. An adventure. Some of us are the runners, some of us the volunteers, others of us the spectators. And I think we get to be all three throughout our days here.
When I ran, they clapped.
When I walked, they cheered.
When I whimpered, “I just wanna be done,” they concurred kindly. Knowingly. With tender understanding and a little push ‘n shove get-back-in-there.
When I was done, they noticed. Celebrated with me.
Why do I race?
Because the organizers, supporters, and runners remind me of how to do life. They remind me that it’s all good, and sometimes sweaty and hard and hurts and sometimes you have to end early… but still, so good.
And cheering each other on, and noticing each other, and being glad for one another… works. Win-win.
It feels good to be cheered on.
It feels good to be seen, checked on.
It feels good to be Loved.
A hundred-million thanks to all the “volunteers and spectators and fellow runners” in my life. You are making it worth it.
Speedo completely optional.
I love you all,