This past weekend, 15,000 runners and walkers met in Dayton Ohio at the Wright-Patterson AFB for their annual marathon/half-marathon and 10K. What an experience!! There was a fly over by the Spirt of Ohio B2, and people jumping out of planes w/US flags who landed right at the start line. AWESOME!! The man who heads this, along with over 2000 volunteers did a fabulous job. I'm sure there were some "behind the scene" glitches, but all in all it was extremely well done. Along the race route, the different groups dressed up in costume, played music or simply cheered us on to victory. One group handed out cold, wet sponges which were a welcome relief to all us us believe me. There were people along the route who stood outside their homes, or at the street corners, to cheer for us and give us much needed encouragement. We applaude each and everyone of them with grateful hearts.
It was inspiring to meet new people and hear why they were there (supporting someone, running for a cure, or simply just to experience the event). During the race, people you didn't even know, gave you moral support when they saw you were struggling a bit and helped you make it to that finish line. There were young, old, big and small people from every state and I believe 15 countries. There were people there called "stars" who wore and different bib from the rest of us with a notation of just how many of these races (USAF marathons) they have done. What an inspiration! Some of those older people blew me away - I don't know how old the oldest was, but NONE of them quit. The AF give 7 hours to complete the full and 6 to complete the half, but people stayed right there until the last runner/walker crossed over the line. At the finish line there were tears of joy, fatigue and disbelief. One woman broke down just as she and her friend crossed the line and was heard to say "I never thought I could do it" - she was bald (wearing a baseball cap) so I imagine she could have been a cancer patient. What an example of inner drive and the friend stayed by her the entire time. We met a young man who was there primarily to help his friend qualify to run the Boston Marathon next year. The stories go on and on - it was amazing.
Our story is a simple one really. This was John's first HM, and he says his last, and my 3rd, and probably my last as well. I know it is something I can do now, but honestly it is not something I whole-heartedly enjoy. I like the events and the people, but not the toll it takes on my body. We are not runners, but we like to be healthy so we may just stick to the 5K races with maybe a 10K thrown in from time to time.
You may wonder how we made out? Well, this is tough to believe, but we finished just 27 SECONDS apart, but never saw each other at the finish line. I finished in 3:11:07 and he came across in 3:11:34 (those are chip times) that put us in the top 1/3 of the group as I was 4593 over-all and he was 4607 - only 14 people crossed the finish line between us. Imagine that!!
I know there were some spark people there but I didn't get to see too many of them - to WonderWoman, I saw your cheering section but didn't get to meet you for which I am sorry. It was great to see Tom McCourtt, Bill Axel and Renee though. Any yes, I did have my JASR SP patch pinned to the back of my shirt and there were some people who asked what it was for...some guy would say "there goes snowflake again" as we passed each other. LOL
All in all, it was a great time and I am glad we had to opportunity to be a part of it. Keep your self in the game everyone - no matter how old you are, or where you are in your health journey - stay active and strive to push your limits outside that comfort zone at least once in a while.