Sometimes, the sidelines are The Place To Be

The ING Philadelphia Rock ‘n Roll Half-Marathon happened on Sunday. While I wasn’t running this one, several of my friends did—so I went to cheer for them. For some of the newer members of my running group, this was their first “official” half-marathon; for others, this might have been their second or third (or seventh or eighth, for those who set themselves a “12 in 2012” goal) of the year.

I think being a spectator was exactly what I needed; the excitement of the crowds lining the course was infectious, and I was soon cheering not only for my friends, but for complete strangers as well.

One of the things that occurred to me (not for the first time) is that, for all that running appears to be a solo sport, there really is a sort of esprit de corps that builds up whenever runners gather en masse. Runners share tips and support (and even their their Kinesiology tape!), they encourage each other, they slow down to make sure someone is okay when they see them cramping up on that last, mean little hill before the finish line. Sure, maybe it’s not true for everyone—but I’m always impressed by how considerate, generous and kind runners can be, even when they’ve got their own goals and times and splits running through their heads as they run.

My own training has been up and down all season, and I’ve been feeling rather lackluster and unmotivated; I’m getting out there, I’m getting my miles, but I’m struggling more than I did last year, and it has definitely been messing with my head. I’m pretty sure that my next half-marathon (the hilly Runner’s World Half in October) is going to be the slowest half I will have ever run—but watching this race, and then hearing my friends talk about it afterward (or reading their blog posts, such as Kristie’s blog entry, Redefining Personal Best and Paula’s entry, A Half-Marathon Completed Two Miles at a Time), reminded me that I get to decide how a slower half makes me feel. I don’t have to feel disappointed and defeated; I can adjust my mindset before I ever get there, and prepare to be happy with finishing, and make the goal to have fun for 13.1 miles, instead of stressing over some semi-arbitrary time goal.

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3 thoughts on “Sometimes, the sidelines are The Place To Be

  1. Spending time on the sideline – whether cheering, volunteering or just on the outside looking in – is a great way to clear the head, refocus the lens or jumpstart the batteries (sometimes all three). AND you made a difference to those of us running and walking that day. Thank you.

    • Doug, I think that’s possible due to several factors. I’m trying to write a post about it — struggling a little to give enough information that it makes sense, without divulging more personal health information than I feel comfortable sharing. I guess… stay tuned? Maybe I’ll have something up tomorrow evening.

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