I get by with a little help from my friends
This past weekend wasn’t about me and my running. For once I wasn’t the person pinning on my bib and heading to the start line. Most of my running buddies had their big marathons or half marathons so I instead played support squad and traded in my bib for some neon poster board.
I haven’t actually been on the cheering side of a race since the finish line of the Boston Marathon, and I was surprised at how much could be evoked six months later. The signs, the cowbells, the repetitive cheers… it brought back some pretty powerful feelings that I guess I don’t notice when I’m the one hitting the pavement. At one point we were walking back towards the finish line and happened to wind up on the sidewalk across from a building on fire and the sound of all the sirens made my heart jump out of my body. Maybe it’s something that will take a while to go away. Maybe it’s something that will always come back when I’m on the other side.
Ironically the race I was spectating was the B.A.A.‘s Half Marathon so while there were some eerie goosebumps, it also felt really great to be back out there doing some well deserved cheering. Part of me felt a little left out that I was the one staying behind while my friends headed to the start line without me, but I’m happy with my decision to wait another month before attempting my own half marathon. This wasn’t my race to run.
So instead I drew up my best signs and pulled out my strongest cheering voice. I woke up before my alarm and could barely finish my breakfast simply because I was excited at what great things were in store for them that day. I sent good luck texts to the ones far away, and gave the others good luck hugs before I sent them off to the start line. Along the course I chanted their names, reminded them how great they were doing. I did the things that I know mean the world to me when I am trying to will myself to a finish line. And while I gladly would have hopped over the barricades to join them if given the chance, it felt good to be on the other side for a change.
I played volleyball in high school because I felt like playing a sport was what I was supposed to do, not because I fell in love with it. And therefore while I enjoyed the two short years (Yep, didn’t make it past JV folks) on the team, I don’t think I ever really got the full experience. While I won’t tell you that if I were to go back in time I’d join the track team, running is what makes me happy at this point in my life. I’ve fallen in love with it. It’s evoked a passion in me that I never thought I had, and therefore has given me another circle of friends that I never expected to find. And while I love and treasure all the different groups of friends from the different aspects of my life- there’s something to be said for your running friends. A friendship that revolves around long runs, planning race logistics, and good foot talk. A friendship where some of your best conversations come from an early morning run. A friendship where you can all sit crammed in a small car and not even notice the awful stench. A friendship where the dress code for dinner is spandex pants and neon shirts. I started running as a way to lose weight and somewhere along the way got sucked in more than I ever expected. I don’t know that I’d still be running if it wasn’t for their support along the way- I certainly wouldn’t be running my first half marathon in less than a month. I’d be lying if I said they aren’t one of my favorite parts of being a runner.
And so I spent my weekend helping coordinate outfits, calculating projected times, and taking pictures of big grins and medals. I joined in the the usual post race food fest (Being the support team makes you almost as hungry as running!) and celebrated them the way they celebrate me. And when Monday morning came around I woke up feeling energized and ready to tackle my long run. After all- some of us still have a half marathon to train for.