Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Running into surprises

I started writing a blog post about my half marathon experience this weekend. The Illinois marathon in Champaign, IL. There was so much to it and so many points that I want to expand upon and celebrate.

However each time I think about the race or try to explain it in person one thing keeps coming up.

The energy.

Everything surrounding this race, the day before, the runners expo, the race, the runners, the spectators, was so overwhelmingly positive. It felt like we were all a family, maybe some long lost, but so happy to see you and give you a spot of encouragement. A smile. A "good luck". All several thousand of us.

Along the race route I did not expect to talk to so many other runners. I expected to listen to my music and make it through the 13.1 miles running side by side with my sister. Together, but in our own worlds of music and survival. With some encouragement between the two of us. Which there was. We were there for each other when it got hard and we got crabby. But when my iphone decided to stop playing music around mile 3 I started looking around. I spoke to a few ladies, friends who were running together. A couple of guys, one named Bubba. I saw a lady who ran the entire 13.1 miles carrying a large American flag on a pole, waving it high above her head. I spoke to a young childrens minister from Springfield who used to run track and had a kind heart. I laughed with another lady at 2 and a half hours when we realized the most elite had already finished the full marathon. I heard at least 100 people along the side of the road yelling "go sisters!" since that is what our shirts said. Small children along the side of the road giving everyone a high five. Also an old lady doing that in the park. Several bands performing along the way. I saw people stopping to help another runner who was struggling. Yoda and Obi-won. I had friendly zombies handing me a cup of Gatorade. Beautiful country scenery and air. So much encouragement from other runners saying "you got this". Tons of people yelling "Boston strong". Navy ROTC members ringing a bell near the end and EVERY SINGLE PERSON thanking those military persons for their service.

Oh sometimes the blessings that come from things not going my way. When I take off my blinders, or headphones.

I have no idea what to chalk it (the energy) up to. Is it the fact that it was a big race? Is it just Champaign/Urbana? Is this what the running community is all about? Is there something in the air post Boston Marathon incident? Maybe my other distance runner friends can tell me

I have done many other small races. 5ks, and 8k and a 10 k. And don't get me wrong, they were lovely. And I am proud of my participation in them. But nothing like this. Nothing even close.

Whatever it was, it was energizing. It was fulfilling.  It gave me a strange sense that this is what life is all about. As we run this race together, how do we see things and take in our surroundings and help and encourage one another to finish and do our best.

Running this half marathon was one of the most positive experiences of my life.

Is it any wonder I am already thinking about my next half?  I want to do at least one more this year. I cannot wait. Is anyone else in with me?

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