I’ve recovered from my first half marathon! It has taken me a few days to post again because I spent a lot of time considering why I didn’t do as well as I wanted, which included a rainbow of emotions for me to process, but I think I’m at peace with it now.
I wrote quite a long post analyzing my race performance and what I plan to change for my next race, but it was so boooorrriiinnng to read, even for me, so I deleted it. Then I tried to write another post, an educational thing about speed work and the adjustments to my future training, and it just made me tired and stressed, so I deleted it too!!! I have been so caught up in thinking about strategies that I was losing sight of the reason why I like running in the first place.
Finally, I came across this quote posted on the Runner’s World Facebook page, which reminded me of a story from my race that I feel needs to be shared with you all.
While running the Volition America half marathon, my mom was waiting for me at mile 12 so she could cheer me on when I needed it the most. Since she’s The Greatest Cheerleader of All Time, she also cheered for every single other runner that passed her (which was a lot, because I was near the back of the pack.) While she was waiting for me she saw a runner collapse. Like a noodle, mom said. The girl went straight down. My mom ran over to her and saw the girl’s body twitching and convulsing – she was having a heat stroke. A man had already reached her and was holding her head up and offering her some water from his fuel belt. He was being so kind to her that my mom assumed he was her husband, but he said “nope, I’ve never met her.” So my mom coaxed the girl to say her name, then her fiance’s name, and then took off towards the finish area to have the announcers call for the fiance. Someone called 911 and they all stayed with the girl until the EMTs showed up to put her in an ambulance.
While they were waiting, hundreds of runners were still in their race, trying to push through mile 12, many of them on track for personal records. I’ve only run one half marathon, but I know that mile 12 is supposed to be a mile where you kick into a higher gear and try to get through to mile 13.1 feeling strong. But here’s the amazing thing about humans: my mom saw runner after runner stop their race, come over to the side of the road and ask “what can I do?” It didn’t matter to them that they paid $80 to run this race and that by stopping to offer help they were losing time on the clock. What mattered was that a fellow runner was down, and she needed help.
It’s easy to get caught up in PRs, speed work, mile splits, and all the competition. After all, those things are great motivators to keep us progressing in our sport. But I think the best thing about being a runner is being a part of a community that is so welcoming and supportive.
Runners cheer just as loudly for the first person to cross the finish line as the last.
A 7 minute per mile runner is happy to befriend a 12 minute miler, and an experienced marathoner is thrilled when she gets a friend to start running.
We all understand that everyone starts at their own level of fitness and has to work extremely hard to improve, and we can all relate to the horrible feeling when a run starts to go wrong.
Runners understand that sometimes you pass out in a half marathon even though you have run Boston.
So when someone in our community is struggling, we are happy to lend a helping hand, because we all know that it easily could have been us.