We all get to the finish line a different way…

I have been speaking with several of my friends who are runners this week regarding half-marathons and marathons.  And, well, to be blunt it seems as though I am one of those runners that other runners get aggravated with…  Let me explain…

First, I tend to dance while I run… not exactly productive for a great running time and apparently that gets in the way of some of the other runners.

Second, I really like to look around and listen to others while running.  You would be amazed at what you can learn if you listen and watch while running.  This past run, I had the privilege of running behind two women who had just beaten (or were in the process) of beating cancer!  How courageous they were.  I also had the opportunity to meet a Japanese – American who was running to honor his son’s and grandson’s dedication to the United States Military… yes, if you just did the math, he grew up in Japan during World War II and here he is running in the Marine Corps Half-Marathon to honor his son’s and grandson’s dedication to a military that more than likely took the lives of members of his family, how inspiring is that?  I also had the opportunity to see a double-amputee soldier running his first race with his prosthesis.  If that wasn’t amazing enough, he was running with his wife and a gentleman who appeared to be his commanding officer.  As we were running down a hill, his left running prosthesis got caught in a manhole cover and he fell.  What amazed me is that as we were all rushing over to help him along with several of the Marines who were lined along the course, he looked up and with no self-pity in his voice, only determination said, “Don’t help me… I can get up on my own and I will finish.”  At that point we all took a step back and watched as he painfully put his prosthesis back on, and through sheer brute will pulled himself up off the ground, dusted his shirt off and kept running like nothing happened.

Around mile 8 as I was coming upon another hill I heard a group of people clapping, but I could not see any reason for them to be clapping until I got halfway up the hill.  Wedged between some runners was a hand-cyclist who was exhausted and this hill was trying to beat him.  A couple runners had come out behind him to keep him from rolling backwards, however, they were starting to look tired, so I sprinted up to help as I could.  I got a good look at this man at that point, and let me tell you, I don’t know the last time I have seen somebody look so defeated.  But, people weren’t going to let him give up… the crowd that had gathered changed from just clapping to cheering to screaming to cowbell ringing to one of the most beautiful moments I have had the opportunity to witness.  Bystanders were coming out and forming a tunnel for him to cycle through and cheering him on the whole way.  The transformation on his face was awe-inspiring.  You want to know the amazing thing… he not only made it up the hill, but he finished the race!

Third, I apparently get distracted along the route.  First, around mile 5 or so, I was a bit thirsty (and bear in mind, I was running with a sinus infection so I couldn’t smell anything, sometimes that was nice as I was running behind some very sweaty people) and I saw some people with a sign that said FUEL YOUR RUN!  Great, I thought, I was kind of thirsty, so I stopped asked for one and threw it back… and it wasn’t water, it was tequila, straight tequila.  Although, thankfully they did have a lime to offer me!  Later, there was a beer stand and I stopped for a beer en route.

Finally, I think I like to do races as much for the atmosphere of the people I can meet, watch and learn from as the running itself!  Anyway, if the weather ever abates and I can put my ark away, I will get a run in today!

JCP

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