Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The spirit of the race

This past Sunday, I ran a local 5k race. It was a spontaneous, late-week decision - while I was registering for my next half, I noticed that there was a 5k slated to start at my neighborhood grocery stored, sponsored by SweetFrog. Five minutes down the road AND sponsored by one of my favorite companies? I couldn't miss it! So, there I was, bright and early on a cold November morning, ready to run.

The race itself went off without a hitch. It wasn't my best run, nor was it my worst. I ran alone with my music, through a subdivision that looks mighty similar to my own, and was content with just considering it a normal training run. I finished in just under 30 minutes, which is my usual personal goal for a 5k. I didn't intend to hang around for the awards ceremony or anything, so I stopped by a tree in the parking lot to stretch for a few minutes before I headed home.

While I was doing so, a guy nearby turned to me and said, "Hey! Great race!" I didn't recognize him, so I said thank you, and continued to do my thing. He kept talking though, and he went on to tell me that he had been keeping pace with me for the length of the race, and that he was just behind me the whole time until the last quarter mile or so. That was when, in his words, I just "took off outta no where!" He said he was amazed to see me speed up so much towards the end and push myself through the finish line, and that he was inspired by me. I wasn't really sure why, until he said that the race we'd just run was his second race, ever. He went out of his way to let me know that he thought I'd been a good race "teammate," even though we were both running alone - and I knew what he meant!

That turned out to be the very best part of that race for me. No, the best part wasn't the SweetFrog coupon in my "goodie bag," or the free T-shirt (which has the SweetFrog mascot on it - new fave!). The best part was a random guy who, for me, embodied the spirit of racing. I will be the first to tell you that I don't love running. I really don't. I generally curse and moan the whole time I'm doing it. But I do love racing. I love the community that racing cultivates - the people who cheer for each other, who encourage each other, who push each other to go a little further or a little faster or both. I love hearing people cheer for me as I cross the finish line, people I don't know and will never meet, and then turning around to do the same for someone else. That guy, who stopped me to tell me that I'd run a great race, and that I'd encouraged him? He was the best part of my race, and I wish I'd thought to tell him that he made my day. I do know that, given the chance, I will do the same for someone at my next race, because a few positive words can have an amazing effect, and make a regular race into a great one. So thanks, anonymous runner man! And good luck at your next race. Because it's addicting, and there will be another.


Kate @ Like American Honey said...

I completely agree about running vs. racing. I pretty genuinely hate running, but the races are so empowering (and even fun at times...) A race involving Sweet Frog sounds pretty good in my books. No Sweet Frog in Florida...sad panda. :(

Jamie Danielle said...

I miss Sweet Frog. We moved a couple months after the one near us