The best fellow runners inspire the rest of us

We’ve just come off a running weekend that proved to be huge for many of us, but not necessarily in the ways one might expect.

Several friends completed milestone races.

None of us sprinted from the first starting corral or took home any top titles. But the weekend was still significant for a host of reasons.

  • Lana racked up a personal PR in her second full marathon, beating her personal best by nearly 20 minutes, despite starting in an all-out downpour.
  • Kelly did a rugged full marathon with a 30-pound steel plate strapped to his back.
  • Jennifer returned to her favorite half marathon to put up a PR.
  • Sprinter Joe ran his first half marathon, achieving his goal of coming in under two hours.
  • Cathy cracked her three-hour goal in a half marathon.
  • Another Jennifer slugged through a tough and hilly course to finish a half marathon.
  • Lottie completed her first ever half marathon, pushing through pain in the final miles.
  • Cheryl stomped out a half marathon, urging other participants along on the way.
  • Melissa, a 22-year Army veteran, cranked out 13.1 to the finish line.

These folks inspired me – right when I needed it most.

I hate to admit it, but I came awfully close to canceling my participation in a half marathon yesterday.

A tendon injury has nagged me for several weeks. Last week, just as it seemed to be improving, I took a funny step in a muddy horse pasture, and winced with the pain. That afternoon, I set out to jog a three-mile loop with my dog, only to turn around after one mile and limp home.

Ugh. How would I do a half marathon within the week? I groaned to myself.

I wrapped the sore ankle back up in the dreaded brace for a few days. It seemed to help.

Three days before the race, my annual spring allergy nightmare hit, bringing me a stuffy and pounding head and a wheezy chest cough.

Would this cost me the race day? I wondered.

Sunday arrived, and I decided to go for it anyway. I stumbled out of bed at an ungodly hour and joined a couple of friends for the half marathon. Before we’d reached the second mile marker, I was already hobbling a bit, although the brace added support.

I was grateful to pass the miles with two friends. We stuck with each other for the entire 13.1 miles. As back-of-pack volunteers, we weren't even clocked. But that didn't matter.

Together, we did it.

Meeting a slow, but spirited, jogger along the way fueled my own resolve. As we passed this resolute runner, she said she aimed to finish in four and a half hours.

“You go, girl,” my friend said.

It gave me pause. What determination. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Just when we thought we’d never reach the end of the race course, we ducked into a pedestrian tunnel, clomped on through, and emerged into the daylight – just in time to see the finish line arch.

Is there any more beautiful sight for a tired runner at that point?

We picked up the pace, grinned at the race finish photographer, and completed the course. We bowed our heads, so the finish line volunteers could hang the hard-earned race finisher medals around our necks.

Later, as we munched on post-race snacks and licked our proverbial wounds, we couldn’t help but talk about what races we might do next.

Friends help friends go on, even when the race is hard.

This was not my fastest half marathon. But that's beside the point. I think I will look back on this finish as one of my most memorable. I'm proud of my awesome running friends, who pushed through personal challenges to get the job done. And I celebrate completing the course, even though it hurt like crazy at times.

Adapted from public domain artwork.

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1 comment:

  1. It's funny how just by doing what you love, you inspire others without even realizing it. We're all in this together...everyone has their own reasons, goals etc...but we are all connected through our passion, running. And I leave you with my favorite quote, "Dreamers can never be tamed"


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