This past weekend was the first time in 5 years that I didn’t run a single race at the Little Rock Marathon weekend. It felt weird. Really weird. I didn’t like the idea of not being able to do something I had planned on. Runners hate the idea of registering for a race and not even starting it. I had been sick for over a week and I just didn’t need to be running no matter how much I wanted to. My husband stepped in and ran the 5k that I was supposed to run with our daughter. I took one of the dogs and spectated for a change. Teddy was thrilled with all the attention. I felt out of place on the sidelines.
I love running races. I train alone, but I love running in groups. It is always so much fun in the starting corrals. Everyone has been working toward a goal and they’re bouncing up and down to get it done. The Start is music and laughter and weird stretches and thinking you should have brought a jacket or worn shorts instead. It’s wondering if today is the day you break your personal record. The Start always happy and everyone is cheering and smiling as they head out onto the course – even the ones who have ran it before and know what’s coming!
Somewhere along the way, depending on how long it is, there will be a tough spot – or a thousand! A knee starts hurting, a hip decides to lock up or there’s a hill that just never ends, followed by yet another… Tears flow. Curses fly! Bargains are made with the Running Gods. Someone on the course, either running or watching, sees the struggle and offers encouragement. The aid station volunteer gives you a piece of candy. High fives are given by spectators. Funny signs and cowbells are waved. Don’t discount the healing power of cowbells! A stranger comes from behind and slows pace to keep up with you and take your mind off the agony. Runners want everyone to make it to the finish.
Because the Finish, oh man, the Finish is where EVERYONE is happy again! That final straight stretch into the end, those hurts go away. You find an extra gear that you didn’t know you had and you just pour it on because you know you’re going to make it. It’s RIGHT there. You can see it finally! Your body is so happy to be almost done that it’s willing to do anything to get there. You cross that mat and throw your arms up and enjoy the feeling of conquering the course! A volunteer places a medal around your neck and it might as well be Olympic Gold. The chocolate milk tastes like the finest of wines. Everyone tells you what a great job you did you believe them and you forget everything that went wrong for a few minutes, basking in being done. The Finish is what keeps runners coming back again and again.
I didn’t get to run this one, but I loved supporting my family. I stood in the coral with them and waited for the start. I met them at a couple of points along the course and cheered them on with everyone else. Teddy gave licks to anyone that stood till long enough and wagged his tail so hard I’m surprised he didn’t break something. I loved seeing the smile on my daughter’s face as they sprinted past me into the Finish. I loved the fact that she was laughing after she got her medal. I loved the fact that she enjoyed herself enough to say she would do another one with me someday. I’ll have to start looking for a good one in Miami.
Maybe after we move I can get back to a full time training schedule. I think I like the 10K and Half Marathons most at this point. I don’t have the time to train for a full marathon anymore. Do you run? What’s your favorite distance?