I did something yesterday that I've never done before. I swept the course for a 25K race. I ran with the last person in order to tell the water stops when they could breakdown their stop. I suppose I was also out there to find any struggling runners who couldn't go on. Luckily I never had to do that.
The day turned out to be absolutely gorgeous! A little cold at first but the sun was out all day and eventually beat out the cold and made it warm. I waited a few minutes after the start to try and find who was actually the last person in the race. I Thought that part would be easy but as it turns out it wasn't. I had a couple friends who forgot to get a chip and didn't realize it until after the gun went off. They had to go back to the table and get one. So as I was running with, what I thought was the last person, I looked back and saw other "bibbed" runners behind me. Damn, I thought, I'm failing at this already! I stopped and waited for them and was overjoyed to find that they were some of my best running friends whom I rarely get to run with anymore. So that was a nice little reward.
Eventually they passed the runner in front of us and went on. I spent the rest of the day walking and running in the wonderful sunshine with this wonderful athlete. We didn't speak much because I didn't want to interfere with her race. I did get the chance to watch her as she struggled through this distance. I shouldn't say struggled, she wasn't having a bad day, this was her normal pace so she wasn't struggling anymore than you and I struggle through a typical race. She ran when she could and walk when she couldn't. She never quit, she never stopped pushing herself, she was racing and, at least in my opinion, working harder at it than the guy who won the race. I believe I saw the dedication and self-drive in her that I have been missing in myself for some time now. I saw that determined look that comes when you are racing nobody else but yourself and the clock. That race when the world around you stops and you are just aware of each step.
Since it was an out and back course we got to see everyone as the came back towards the finish. Many of the front runners congratulated this wonderful woman and gave her words of encouragement. I honestly believe those that encouraged her did so because they saw themselves in her. For those front runners it was a "them" that was a looooonnnnnngggggg time ago but I suppose everyone starts out slow even if they were 2 years old the last time they ran that slow.
So I ended up walking/running 15 or so miles yesterday. At some point in the race I met up with my very best friend in the world. She was out on a training run but decided to walk with me instead. I have to say that looking back on the day it was almost perfect. At first I was a little sad that I wasn't running the race but in the end a sunny 15 mile walk with a wonderful athlete and a great friend was so much better.
Thanks for listening