There was a moment today, there were a few of us tracking one of the guys in our running group as he was attempting a Boston Marathon qualifying time (BQ) for next year, when it really fully occurred to me. There we were, every few minutes, checking on Bill’s progress in the Providence Marathon, commenting on the ridiculous pacing. No other reason to be cheering for this guy other than the fact that we know him.
And that’s when it occurred to me. I was volunteering with a group of people who make time in their lives to compete, and who join others for accountability and for companionship. It occurred to me that I care about this guy and his sometimes weird foibles because, like the other people I run with, he’s got a good heart, he’s a good guy, and we all share a common interest in running.
I ran a small 5k that my running group was timing. I didn’t run a particularly good race, but it was good enough for 5th place and an age group win. I’ve never actually won a race before and an AG win is about as good as it gets for me. My squad celebrated with some goofy pictures.
We had a fun time, told goofy stories, and celebrated.
Another post on the club page celebrated a second members’ BQ time today. Still another celebrated a third club member’s win in another race- Pack Monadnock 10 Miler – with a roster of other club members to run. Just a ridiculously supportive group of people, thrown together for the sole reason we like to pursue a common hobby, but who are actually supportive of each other. It’s not often, indeed I think it’s a special thing, when disparate groups of people come together around a common pursuit and support each other in doing what they set out to do. I think about my half marathon in March when one of the club members taking pictures saw me coming at mile 13, got visibly intense and excited for me and yelled me on – she was excited for me because I was that close to the goal I had articulated of finishing in under 1:50:00. I finished in 1:49, something I credit in part to seeing her there yelling for me – it was just enough to kick me in the pants enough to find just a little more in the tank.
Now, here’s the important thing: not one of those posts were from the person who actually DID the thing of some note – it was only after someone else cheered and crowed about the performance did the individual say something. There were no “I BQ’d today!” posts, there was a post about the journey from surviving advanced cancer and setting this day as a goal after it had been previously mentioned and even then it was about the journey: if couldn’t be farther away from a “lookit me” post.
There are so many inspirational people and things all around if you just take a few moments to look. For me, it’s the Bills and Karens of the world, who worked hard, struggled, and pushed to get their goals. It’s also the folks that come out to volunteer and time races and share in others’ celebrations. Why wouldn’t you want to surround yourself with people with odd quirks, foibles, and personalities who work hard and are there to celebrate for you when you succeed?
I’ve said before that I actually don’t find running fun, or enjoyable. That’s true. I’ve said I run so I can run, that I like being able to do it. That’s also true. Today was the day I realized that I like it for the community. The accountability, the friendship, and the community.
So, we move on. I’m planning my first marathon, I know someone else who is going to run his first. I’ve cheered for a runner who literally finished last in his first marathon. Why wouldn’t you surround yourself with such people?