Friday, October 25, 2013
2011 was a banner year for me in physical fitness. I completed my first half marathon in February, 5K’s in April and October, and 10k’s in June, August, and December. I made a commitment to myself that each year I would complete six races (usually 75% walking/25% jogging). Race participation keeps me motivated to train between races. So far this year, I’ve completed 5 races (including a full marathon, WOO HOO) and registered for my 6th race. As a result of races, I look and feel better. Although participating in races is good for the body, allow me to share how race support can affect the Soul.
The Tiger Run 10K that I completed in 2011 was my first race that included truly steep “challenging hills”. Like all races, the start included a crowd of runners with pacing and speed working as a crowd thinner. The first three miles only included slight inclines. At the half-way point, I found myself walking alone with participants either a great distance ahead or behind me. However, God sent and angel who had been cheering from the sideline. This sweet stranger said “You’re doing great. Would you like me to walk with you?” She lived in the area and knew the hills I was about to face. I said, “Yes”. My angel then proceeded to help me to finish that race and I thank God for her.
Her support made me think of those that support races by arriving early for race set-up, handle registration, man water stations, stand to the side with words of cheer and encouragement, etc. I thought if I can participate in six races, I can support six races. So I’ve handled traffic for the PTA Fund raiser in El Segundo (people get angry when you tell them they can’t turn onto a street. Oh well), I’ve distributed water for the Prostate Cancer 5K near USC, and most recently my daughter and I set up camp at Mile 20 of the Long Beach Marathon. Mile 20 of the Marathon that I completed was my “wall”. It was the point where maintaining 15 min. miles was no longer of consequence. I was exhausted and wanted to quit but knew I couldn’t. Although my internal voice forced me to press on, it would have been really nice to have supporters there with words of encouragement. All year, I’ve known that I had to support at least one marathon and my spirit said you have to be at Mile 20. So with signs in hand that said “Welcome to Mile 20” and “You Got This!”, my daughter and I cheered, encouraged, ran a few steps, took pictures, and did whatever we could to help the racers finish. A gentleman ran over hugged me and said he just needed that. A lady stopped and began to cry. Countless others thanked us for being there while we in turn thanked them for allowing us to be witnesses of their accomplishment. Cheering at Mile 20 was AWESOME. Each time I’ve volunteered it has been a rewarding experience. Try it. Share SparkPeople love at a race in your neighborhood. I guarantee you’ll love it. And if you are in Long Beach, CA next October, look for me at Mile 20. Yes, races are Great for the Body and they can be Great for the Soul Too!!!