Yesterday was a bittersweet kind of day. It was the Route 66 half/full marathon day, the race I had been training for before Mr. Hip Flexor cried “ouch” and made me stop training.
I woke up in a total funk, to be perfectly honest. I can’t even tell you how disappointed I was at not being able to participate in the race. And it looked to be perfect running weather, not cold and blustery like the day before. So I laid in bed, debating whether to even go to the race or not. Finally, I kicked myself in the butt and got going. Really? I was going to lay in bed and mope because I can’t run instead of cheering on my friends? What kind of friend, and runner, am I?
And I’m so glad I got myself out the door. It was a gorgeous fall day! Bright blue skies, just that right temperature, very little wind. Just being outside lifted my spirits.
I decided to take advantage of the fact that I would be watching the race to see parts of a race that I don’t get to experience when I’m running the race…like the start. Sure, I can hear the gun and feel the surge of the crowd as we near and cross the start line, but I’ve never seen what that start looks like. Wow! So fun!
The race started with the national anthem.Then the wheelchair racers started. Can I just say that wheelchair racers are a-mazing! Running a marathon with the use of big leg muscles is hard enough; I can’t imagine doing it without the use of those muscles. Then, it’s time for the open race. The drum beats out a rhythm that gets your heart pounding. The announcer counts down the seconds: 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1! The gun sounds; confetti fills the air and the racers are underway! Just standing there taking it all in, I could feel my heart beat with anticipation, as if I was in my corral waiting for my turn to run through the confetti and cross the start line. So fun!
The runners were still running fairly tightly, and I because I was hoping to be able to see some of my friends, I cheered on the masses for a bit and then scoped out another spot around the 7 mile mark.I have to say, driving around town during a huge race gave me an understanding of the frustration I hear from non-runners trying to get where they need to go. This is a common site during a race. Intersections blocked with police standing watch make it hard to maneuver the city, but as a runner, I am most grateful for the many, many police who stand for hours to protect the runners.
I saw a few friends, but I decided to move on to another location. I found a spot at around mile 20 on the marathon route. I got there ahead of the runners, and so I saw another first. Here comes the first place marathon runner! How exciting!I hung out on the corner for a long time. By now the crowd had thinned out and the racers were coming by one at a time and then later 3 or 4 in a group. It was so fun to be able to encourage them individually as they came down the hill and turned the curve to face this:Let me tell you. If may not look like a big hill, but after 20-21 miles, even a molehill feels huge!
And standing on that corner, I encountered a blind runner. Yes, you read that correctly. A man with no sight was running the marathon, and he was ahead of the 4:30 pacer. Translation: this guy was moving! Application: I have no excuse to not try.
And so my Route 66 marathon ended, not with a medal and a PR as I’d hoped, but with an appreciation again of the beauty of the body in motion, deep respect for the runners who put so much time and effort into running this race, and sincere gratitude for eyes to see the race, a voice with which to cheer, and legs that may not be able to run a marathon at the moment but do work and will, in time, run again.
Congratulations to all the Route 66 finishers! You guys are awesome!