This morning, the Hubby and I got up obscenely early to not run. Not that Hubby runs anyways, but I do (sometimes), and about the only time I get up obscenely early is to run. Today, we volunteered at the Columbus Marathon.
I talked Hubby into it a few weeks ago. You might remember that I decided not to run the half marathon this year. I wasn’t being consistent enough, and 13.1 miles still felt like a really long way to run, among other reasons. However, I did know several people who did run today, a couple who did the half, and a couple that did the full. And they all did fantastic!
At the races that I’ve been to, the volunteers end up being the ones who help give you that little bit of encouragement just when you need it, when you’re out on the course and it’s getting harder and harder to keep going. They remind you that no matter what, the fact that you are out there at all is an accomplishment. At all my races, I try to smile and make eye contact with every volunteer and police officer out on the course and say ‘Thank You’ to them for being there. Without them, things would not go as smoothly. And today, I was proud to serve that function for approximately 17,000 runners and walkers.
The sight of so many people coming by, not once but twice, so determined was beyond inspiring. Seeing the elite runners go by looking like they were barely breaking a sweat, using this marathon as a training ground, possibly to qualify for Boston. Seeing the other athletes go by, the ones who are that good, even though this is not actually their regular job. Seeing the groups of friends and families that are supporting each other and treating this as a great adventure, possibly a life-changing event. Seeing those who might not normally be considered athletes determinedly putting one foot in front of the other, looking towards that finish line. And today, they are all athletes.
Every. Single. One
Whether they finished or not, they all had the courage to start. At the heart of it all, that is what makes an athlete.
I also learned that I should not be so hard on my race photographer. And that maybe I need a new camera. With so many people, it was really hard to pick out my friends that were running. So much in fact, that I didn’t actually see any of them until they called out my name. Doesn’t seem quite right, does it? And in the time it took for me to untangle my camera from my wrist, get it the shutter open, press the button, and then wait for the camera to actually take the photo, they were already approximately 2 miles down the road. No joke. (ok, maybe a little)
It was a great experience. I have come to think that everyone should take a turn at volunteering at an event, especially if it is an activity that matters to you. You get such an additional sense of appreciation for all the people that make your day better.
Congratulations to everyone who ran today! You rock my world!