Monday, July 12, 2010


This past Saturday afternoon Jay and I volunteered at the Greenville Drive 5k. Though my position on the route at mile 2.5 was not exactly scenic-see left-I did at least get to point folks to the shade about 200 ft up on the right, where they turned in to the Swamp Rabbit Trail.

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.


Peggy said...

Best picture EVER!!!! Can't believe you had no comments...........I thought it was great.

tommyday said...

I love the race environment too! If nothing else it gives me hope that our human "race" is not destined for "Idiocracy" (you MUST see this movie if you haven't already). A bunch of fit people who have sacrificed to varying extents to come out and judge themselves and each other. It's great. I also love a good crowd. Most of the time I'm like a foster kid running from one spectator to the next with hopeful eyes and heart, desperate for a "let's go # 6371!" But sometimes, when I'm in the depths of despair, when everything in my world is going sideways, my mind and body screaming STOP, I see the "interminably peppy" with their cup of coffee (it's 10:30 for the love-are you STILL drinking coffee?!) and their fold up WalMart BBQ chair (that you're not even USING BTW!)and I want to, as Kelley says, knock their block off. Here's a word up to Elizabeth Barnhardt who competed in the Charleston Half Ironman (as swim relay) and THEN volunteered on the run course. Hitting both sides of the raceday equation in one day-I was really impressed-and grateful that she ran 3/4 mile with me while i had a huge cramp. Good on ya Liz!

Stephanie said...

Go Kelley, go!! We will always cheer for you!