Today was the two year anniversary of my first half marathon and I celebrated by watching valiant efforts and fighting back tears. Well, I actually stood behind the finish line and watched a slow herd of battered souls chomp on cookies and chips while rejoicing that I chose not to run, but still . . .
Thousands limped by with huge smiles it took me back back to that painful day two years earlier when I embraced what may have been the proudest moment of my endurance life, including Ironman. I’d only been running about 4 months when I took the half marathon challenge, and it sparked a fuse that burned out of control.
That race hurt so badly I started laughing at mile 10, and getting delirious at mile 12. Somehow I crossed the finish line in 2:14 without walking. It was a major victory and I proved it by wearing my medal all day . . . then deep into a major-league afternoon/night of celebratory drinking. I could barley walk the next day, or week. Battle scars reminding me where I’d been.
But, enough about me . . .
Today’s weather was perfect and tons of East Nasties were on the course. I saw most of them and graciously took this group photo with my personal flip phone.
Admittedly I didn’t see much running until I left the finish line and walked along Woodland Street to witness the misery that is Mile 18 of a marathon.
My final destination was the Nashville Running Company water stop where I volunteered to rake paper cups out of the street for an hour. Tons of runners thanked me for the hard work, and while that never gets old, they had no idea how much I love grounds keeping.
The encouragement flowed from my lips as well, but it’s hard to seem convincing when someone stumbles by in a stupor and you’re screaming, “You got this!” For many, it was getting dicey, and considering mile 18 is often called the marathon wall, I’m sure the fact that it was all up hill didn’t help.
It was inspiring and I can’t say enough about how good it made me feel to see all of these runners pushing themselves to the limit. Throwing it on the line to be better people and create an endless stream of positive energy in my city.
That said, I do have a small beef that I need to get off my chest.
I get that people like to run with music, but I feel like it steals from your experience. Especially when the entire route is lined with live bands and tons of crowd support shouting inspirational bible verses or Michael Scott quotes. I mean, I’m raking my ass off and spewing goodness to all these wonderful people but half of them can’t hear me because they’re listening to Eye of the Tiger on their iPod. Talk about sucking the wind out of your cup raking.
Yet, here they were, 30,000 people, exhibiting countless hours of preparation and sacrifice. A truly moving scene, and I can honestly say I felt the same way long before I was a runner and was merely shooting emotional marathon videos that made people cry their eyes out.
There can never be enough inspiration in this world and few events showcase human spirit better than a major marathon. Every year it reminds me that life is for living and there’s no better time to pursue that freedom than today. I just wish the cranky drivers that complain about “their street” being closed for a few hours would figure that out.
I mean, look at these happy Nasties: