I tend to run alone. It’s not that I’m asocial or don’t like the company. It’s just that I don’t know that many people who want to run at 5:30 (of the morning variety) or are able to get off work to do an afternoon run. Also, there seems to be a lack of marathon runners in my area, so my long runs tend to be out of range for most of the runners I know. All that being said, there’s a beautiful feeling about lacing up your shoes and being out the door before most people are awake and feeling like I have the trails and road all to myself, even for a bit. Usually, toward the end of a run, I begin to see a few people running, walking, or riding a bike. And, in the usual, groggy morning way, we don’t say much to each other. It tends to be the standard “G’morning,” or “Hey.”
In the afternoon, though, people are usually more awake if I happen to cross paths with them and this bodes well for the community that running can create. Even running into a person a few times doing a loop can give a new sense of camaraderie. And this connectedness can be integral for getting you through difficult miles. Last week, on my 20-miler out to Clear Lake, I was passed by a few cyclists headed that way and they slowed down enough to talk to me. Just chatting about riding and running for a few minutes was a nice respite from the noise in my head. Later, when I got to the turn about, I saw them again and we greeted each other warmly again as we crossed paths. I don’t know their names and I’m sure they don’t know mine, but for a short time, we were together. The words we shared were an encouragement on both sides.
This is one reason why races (marathons, in my case) are so much fun. As the joke goes, when you run a marathon, you don’t do it alone. You do it with “20,000 of your closest friends.” People are there to speak kind, encouraging words because they have been spoken to in that way. People are holding signs because, even if they haven’t done it themselves, they understand that you and everybody else has dedicated a lot of time and energy into this event. Some want to make give you heartfelt comments, others want to make you laugh, but they heart of kindness is behind each one.
All pictures found at Best Race Signs.
Bottom line of this ramble is this: We need each other to help us finish our journey, whether it’s a marathon or 5k, a time of grief or a time of rejoicing. You don’t need to know someone more than a second to encourage them. Make the world better for your being there.
Race signs are a fun way to encourage someone. What was your favorite race sign?