It was hot and I was wearing a thick black cotton volunteer T-shirt, but I can't really complain because I was standing around, not running. It was a small race, probably 200 people, and the participants ran the gamut from the winner, who averaged a 5:25 pace, to 12 year old boys, to mother-daughter combos, to walkers, to folks from the Gateway House.
I love a race. I especially love cheering during a race. I am that girl, the one who tells you that you are awesome, to stay strong, that you're looking great. Sometimes people wave, sometimes they say thank you, sometimes they ignore me, and sometimes they look like they want to knock my block off. I've been there; I get it. The interminably peppy are often irritating, especially in situations such as these. But I've been in plenty of races when all I want to see is someone on the sidelines, someone telling me I'm doing well, someone telling me I don't look like I'm about to expire. Even if it's a bold-faced lie.
I'll never forget last October when Chuck and Katie and their two small boys were hanging out at mile 11 of the Spinx half, in the rain, holding a sign that Charlie had made with my name on it. Or in January 2004 when Katie and Clark and their then 2 boys showed up at the end of the TR half, right before Joy and I had to climb that excruciating hill to the finish line. Or when Rob and Stephanie and their 2 girls cheered Joy and me on at the end of the Spinx half in 2007. These unexpected displays of support, these gestures of friendship--to a runner in a race, these are vital, they keep us going.
During a recent race, a friend was running on the course with no one in sight. Below details what kept her going, a short but effective conversation she had with a spectator.
Spectator: Dude. You are so kicking a** right now.
Friend, irritated: What?
Spectator, after looking into the distance behind Friend: Seriously, I can't even see anyone behind you. That's how far ahead you are.
This story, it makes me laugh. It made my friend laugh, and helped her get through the last portion of the race with a smile on her face. And at the end of the day, that's what we're out there to do, after all. Have fun, push the limits, make some friends, laugh, get stronger, see what we can do. And support each other.
So you should sign up for a race, to run or volunteer. You know I will support you, cheer you on, and will definitely have a sign with your name on it.