This past Sunday, I had the pleasure* of watching a few of my dear friends run a race. Lina, Nick, Abbe, and Abbe’s brother, Jon, ran in the Rock N Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon and at the risk of sounding too cliche, I must tell you: they ROCKED IT.
Abbe, Nick, and Jon had all never run a half marathon before; not only had none of them ever entered into an official half marathon race, but none of them had ever run that far – period. It would have been a huge accomplishment for any one of them to simply finish. These guys, however, went above and beyond and each of them surpassed his/her own hopes and expectations for finishing by finishing even faster than they anticipated. At the finish line there were smiles and stories galore, so I think it’s safe to say that they all look forward to doing another one at some point.
Lina had also never run an official half marathon, although obviously, she has run the distance before (to be exact, she’s run double the distance!). This added experience as a runner lead her to have a very specific time goal going in to the race, but in order to not steal her thunder, I’m going to insist that you read about her race from her, here!
Overall, I am extremely proud of each of my friends!
Now, since I can only do justice to my own experience (somehow telling you about Nick’s rush of energy at mile 9 is less cool coming from me than from him), I’m going to selfishly talk about Sunday from my perspective. That’s right. I’m self-involved enough to write an entire post about a race I only watched. Forgive me?
First of all, I learned that I’m better at participating in these big races as a runner than as a spectator because out of the eight possible opportunities to see my friends, I only managed to see them twice. How did I miss all four of them at the 5 mile mark?? Until Sunday, I didn’t appreciate how much attention it requires to try and spot a single person among thousands and thousands of runners.
*Secondly, I have to be honest and say that ‘pleasure’ is the right word to describe my experience as a spectator if and only if pleasure has some new, complicated meaning that includes
copious amounts hints of jealousy, guilt, pride, excitement, and love. I’ll break those down:
I was excited because at huge races like this one, the energy level is so high that you can’t help but get excited. Also, getting the chance to cheer on my friends was exciting because they have all cheered me on at one point or another, so it felt great to return the favor.
I was jealous because once I saw people running, I wished I were running with them. Really, it’s almost unbearable to watch other people run when I’m not running myself.
I was proud because whether a runner is one of the fastest or one of the slowest, runners as a breed are so determined, disciplined, and gritty, that it is an honor to be one of them.
I was feeling guilty because I was supposed to do a 6 mile run before leaving to watch the race, and I didn’t do it. I had an excuse (it was too dark that early in the morning), but it made me feel incredibly lame to skip a 6 mile run and then go watch 23,000 people do a 13.1 mile run.
Lastly, I felt a great amount of love for the sport of distance running and it literally made me tear up to watch some of the people cross the finish line. I love this sport because it is dramatic (people! pain! determination! failure! success! competition!), and watching the finish line is a prime place to watch the drama unfold.
Having watched Sunday’s race, I am even more excited for the Chicago Marathon than I was before. What’s more, I’m only one really long run away from the taper! And I really need that taper. The past few weeks have really tested my resilience as a runner and my legs are ready to back off a bit on the mileage.