If you’ve ever read a half marathon recap on this blog then you know that I’m a social runner and that I talk to lots of people during the race. Yesterday’s half marathon in Columbus Ohio was no exception.
Here are some samplings of the people that befriended me along the way:
1.) The mustache girls . . . or at least that’s what I’m calling them! There were a group of 4 women and 2 children who had cute signs (I regret that I didn’t have a camera with me to take a photo of them) saying things like “Kick Asphalt” and “Fear the ‘Stach”. I saw them early in the race and told them I liked their signs. I saw the same signs just a couple miles later and figured that they were a large group of people cheering on someone. A couple of miles later I saw them again – this time, I knew (thanks to “C’s” observations) that they were indeed the same group of women! It was at the 3rd sighting when we became “friends”. I had written my name on my bib and they began to cheer for me by name and high five me. It was on my 5th sighting of them (around mile 8) when I learned they were cheering for a man named Dick and he had just passed me. The girls told me that I had to keep up with him (and apparently up till that point I was in front of him which is why I kept seeing them, but now if I didn’t keep up with Dick I would not see them). I think I ended up seeing them 8 times along the route. At the 2nd to last sighting they stayed long enough to yell “GO LISA!” before they had to run like the wind to get back to their car in order to go their next location. I felt extremely humbled that they waited long enough to still cheer for me (I’m just lil’ ol’ me – but they made me feel as if they were there solely to cheer for me – what an incredible feeling!). The last time I saw them was in the last .1 mile in the home stretch. They cheered for me like we had been buddies for well longer than 3 hours – I broke off holding “C’s” hand to run over to the side to high five them all for the last time. They will NEVER know the impact they had on my life (dang, I’m tearing up typing this). It’s a true test of character to “adopt” a runner (a stranger) and cheer for them throughout a race as if they are your own! Priceless!!!
2.) Vera – We met Vera at the FREEZING COLD DARK starting line. She was a local and this was her first half. She had such a good spirit about her. She told us all about the route and how it would wind through beautiful neighborhoods and parks and be mostly blocked from the wind. We saw her off and on through about mile 4.
3.) Stephanie – This girl had a cute pink shirt on and was listening to her jamz when I came up beside her around mile 10.5. I told her “Come on girl, you can do this.” She took out her ear buds and talked with me for a little bit. She was 23 and doing her first half ALONE – she had no training partners and no one doing the race with her. I definitely cannot imagine the level of internal drive she had in order to even sign up for the race let alone train and do the race all by herself. Cool! We discussed intervals and I said I was doing 2:2. She said she would stay with me for the rest of the race and do it too. We both looked ahead at a steep (midwest steep that is!) hill and were a little apprehensive. I reassured her that we would do it one step at a time. We probably ran 2.5 intervals together before she needed to walk more. I wished her luck and kept going. We saw her at the end and yelled for her!
4.) All other spectators – I’m by no means an expert runner, but this was my 6th half in 13 months. The spectators were WAY different than anything I’ve ever experienced before!!!! For the most part, the tens of thousands of people lining the streets were quiet EXCEPT for when I spoke to them – then they got all crazy supportive and cheered for me like I was their daughter or neighbor or best friend. It was AWESOME. I mean I would say “Good morning” or “Having fun yet?” and they would clap and cheer and yell my name and shout encouraging words. There were clusters of hundreds of spectators at various parts of the route that were cheering like we were the first group of people (2 hours after the race start I might add) to run past them – how did they have that much energy . . . so early in the morning to boot? What makes someone be soooo over-the-top enthusiastically supportive of not just one stranger but of thousands? The crowds alone would be enough for me to return to Columbus to do the half again. It was probably THE.MOST.INCREDIBLE.EXPERIENCE.OF.MY.LIFE!
5.) Race volunteers – The later water stations were PACKED with people who appeared to have only one mission in their life . . . to encourage me to keep going and to help me to know that I was doing a good job! They called me by name and clapped and screamed like I was their bestie! What’s that about?!?! They were the heros for giving out the water and cleaning up the thousands and thousands and thousands of cups! I’ve encountered supportive water station volunteers before, but NEVER to this level. I always thank the volunteers as I run past them but it just felt like my gratitude was met with unyielding and immeasurable support. It was cool – and humbling!
There were so many other individuals who came into and out of my life one or two miles at a time yesterday. Such an awesome journey to share with such awesome folks! I’m truly humbled by the generosity I received yesterday!
Stay tuned for more Columbus posts– spoiler alert, I met Runner’s Luck (such.a.cool.and.sweet.person)!!!!