Some really bad stuff went down this week in Boston. It's the kind of stuff that makes me want to crawl under a rock and hiberate for a while. It makes me want to never let my children past the front door of my house. It makes me want to panic. I spent the first few days of this week half wanting to listen to the news and half not wanting to.
Yesterday, on the way home from work, I tuned into a radio station that I don't normally listen to. They were talking about the tenacity of the running community and the solidarity that the horrible Boston Marathon events had strengthened. The radio announcers had dedicated this portion of their show to the spectators of races like marathons. They were taking calls and reading e-mails from runners for whom a spectator's actions or words had changed their race. Small actions. Simple words of encouragement. Home-made signs. These things had pushed athletes in moments of weakness or doubt to continue on, to dig deep and find inner-strength to finish achieving their goal, or even to push past their own expectations to personal bests.
It reminded me of the above quote:
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE YOUR ABILITY TO MAKE SOMEONE ELSE'S LIFE BETTER - EVEN IF YOU NEVER KNOW IT.
~ Greg Louganis~
And it made me reflect on the folks who have made my running career better.
I ran the Scotiabank half-marathon five or six years ago and it was hot and humid and I had a terrible run. A fellow runner shuffled up beside me near the end of the race and shared one of her vanilla gels with me. The gel made me want to vomit, but the company and conversation got me to the finish line. Thank you.
The steel drums band that played near the underpass of that same race that spurred me on. Thank you.
My dad got me marathon socks when I registered for my first marathon - They said: 26.2 or BUST. I still haven't run that first marathon. But I will. Thank you.
In Owen Sound this past August, a few country-folk stood out with their sprinklers and garden hoses for over an hour after the first runners passed them. They waited for us. They waited for the stragglers. It was so so hot. And they waited. Thank you.
When I did the Around the Bay, there was a group of neighbours sitting on their lawns pounding on upside down pots and pans. There were folks yelling, "If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!" At kilometre 18, suddenly my friends Ann and Deb were there yelling and running along side me and it was an awesome surprise! I was so excited. It made my day. Thank you.
My very fist 10k race was in Peterborough. Dad, Carmen and Mark came. There were no water stations. And an elderly gentleman who looked like Santa Claus passed me. Knowing people I loved were at the finish line got me there. Thank you.
In March, a very special spectator custom-made signs for me and encouraged me at at least four different spots along the race track. RUN LIKE YOU STOLE SOMETHING!
WATCH OUT FOR RABID FOXES AND LITTLE DOGS!
KEEP MOVING THE MASSAGE THERAPISTS ARE HOT!
She jogged beside me in the last hundred metres and held me up by one arm so I wouldn't fall after the race was over.
And in the spring of 2004, someone whose name I will never know registered and took on the Mississauga Marathon. They ran by my car at Dundas and Erin Mills Parkway and I looked at their bodies and their faces that exuded strength and determination and I thought to myself, "Hmmm, if they can do that. I wonder if I can too."