Wednesday, April 03, 2013
As I have been thinking about my training and the race itself there is one thought that keeps going through my mind. I finished at the back of the pack. Then I quickly shift my thinking and this is what I have been focusing on.
I do not think many people realize just how awesome it is to finish at the back of the pack.
First of all, last does not mean loser. I finished.
Last means I got to spend 4 hours and 30 minutes with a woman who I have become friends with over the past 11 weeks. Kim is a lot of fun. She is a definite optimist. She believed in me and encouraged me when I really just wanted to throw in the towel. I promise Kim, I am going to get this whole foot thing taken care of and we are going to fly along the roads. Kim stayed with me every step of the way. She walked backwards just to encourage me to keep coming. At the end, she convinced me that we could actually run the last two tenths of a mile, and we did. Just in case she thinks I did not notice, she let me cross the finish line first. Kim could have finished long before me, but she hung with me every single step of the way. She said we started together and we were going to finish together. I hope I can repay the favor some day, because, I know we have a lot more races in our future.
By finishing last, I had the opportunity to say hi to every single runner on the course. Even though we, the walkers, started an hour earlier, all of the runners passed us. Most of them had words of encouragement. No one told us to stop. They all said keep going, you can do this, you look great, keep up the good work. I saw to see the lead car and the last car. I know there is a name for that vehicle. I just cannot think of it right now.
I had the chance to meet the nice person who drives the car that follows the last runner in. In Westfield, Mass his name was John. He offered me donuts and lemonade. I turned them down. After all, I did not want to change my routine on race day. John came to finish line to see Kim and I complete our first half-marathon. He asked if I needed the medical tent. I told him no, what I need is a hug from you. I am not the type of person to hug my friends, let alone a complete stranger. It was the only way I could come up with, on the spur of the moment, to let John know I appreciated him.
Last, but my no means least. I had the best cheering squad anyone could have ever asked for. The music was still playing. Springsteen was on when I finished (Tenth Avenue Freeze Out), perfect for a girl from New Jersey. My Training for More women formed an arch for Kim and me to run through. Friends who could have left 2 hours earlier waited for me. They all cheered just as loudly for me as they did for the first place finisher. Simply put, I could not have been happier.
I will never forget my first half-marathon. Even when I move up in the pack, I will always wait until the very last racer comes across the finish line, just so that person knows how incredible they are. Some day I hope I can encourage, support and help someone cross that finish line, just like all of the Training for More women did for me. A person who thought they would never start a race let alone finish it.
For now, I am off to continue training for more. I hear voices in my head. I think they are those awesome women from Training for More, my friends and my family. I keep hearing the same words over and over. “Jeanette, do not stop now. You have a lifetime of racing ahead of you.” Oh wait, I think that might be my own voice. It sure is a lot different than it was 11 weeks ago. Thank you to every one who believed in me when I had doubts.