Last week at this time I was pretty bummed out and feeling sorry for myself. All I could think about was how I didn’t achieve my goal for the marathon. A few hours after the race I got a few text messages, and messages via Twitter and Facebook from friends thanking me for helping them with their training. Some said my blog helped them out. Others said the talks we had and the advice I had given helped them through the race. I have always said that if I do badly in a race I want who ever I know to do their best. I will take a crappy race any day of the week if it means watching a friend do great. I mean that is what part of running is about, helping those around you. During my self-loathing I never took the time to think about something that had happened in the marathon that makes me proud to call myself a runner.
At about mile 18 when my race started to take a turn for the worst I was with a group of runners who also ran into some trouble. There was about 6 of us and we were all starting to feel some pains. I remember there were 2 ladies in black shirts and pink tutu’s and one of them said “has anyone ran this race before?” no one answered so I finally told them I have. Another guy in the group then asked me what the course ahead look likes. I told them we just need to get to mile 22 and from there it is all downhill and flat. Our small group decided we would stay together for the rest of the race. As one person started to get tired someone in the group would say something and try to motivate them to keep going. One of the “Tutu ladies” looked at me and said “We can do this, we finish together”. I nodded yes and we continued to keep moving. At one point another man in our group turned to me and gave me a fist pump and said “we don’t stop!” Some of us drifted apart but were still in eye sight of each other and when one person slowed someone, myself included would try to lift their spirit. One of the guys in our group was a very muscular man with a Mohawk hair due, and tribal tattoo’s all over him. He had a very intimidating look to him and someone I would not want to mess with. He and I stayed close by not saying much to each other from mile 17 on. We would both surge a little and go ahead for a bit and then the other would catch up and we would run together. I think he was using me the same I was using him. I normally will pick one person to pace with and I will make sure they do not get too far in front of me. Finally at mile 24 he looked over at me and said “we got this!” I agreed and we started to set our sights on the finish. We both were in pain and tired and both of us had to tell the other to keep moving. About a quarter mile from the finish I got a real sharp pain in my groin and had to pull back a bit. The man I was running with tried to keep me moving but I could tell I was in more pain than him. I told him go ahead and finish. He pulled away from me and gained a few steps on me. When I crossed the finish line all I could think about was getting some water and a banana, but when I crossed there was the Mohawk man waiting for me, cheering me on. He shook my hand and thanked me for getting him through the race. I thanked him as well and we both went our separate ways.
It wasn’t until the next day when I was telling my wife about my race experience that I realized what had happened. A group of people, different gender, age and races all ran together and helped each other out as if we had known each other for years. I never got one of those persons name but I am forever grateful to each of them for getting me through the race.
Running may be an individual sport, but often we do work as a team. I have read many stories this week about how people ran with someone they knew or didn't know and how they were able to motivate them. So if you are ever in a race and see someone feeling weak and you think they might just need a little push, get next to them and help them out. It may slow your time and you may miss out on a chance of placing in your age group but the satisfaction of seeing that person cross the finish line and knowing you had a part in that is worth more than any medal or trophy you will receive.
Have you ever had to have another runner motivate you through a race? or have you ever been that person that has had to motivate another runner, and if so how did you feel at the end of the race?