Of Running & Racing

When you arrive to the start of any race there’s a palpable energy in the air. You can sense the thrill of anticipation, the hopes of every runner to have fun and to run the race of their lives.

Some are looking to win. Others strive for a hard-earned Personal Best. While still others are hoping to “just finish”. Whatever the goal, whatever each runner’s backstory may be, everyone who toes the start line has shown a commitment to fitness, a dedication to bettering themselves.

This morning as I toed the start line I was here not for my own race, but for a very good friend of mine who I would be pacing.

I would cheer. I would call out split times. And I would be her friend, keeping her company as she tested her mettle on this 5 kilometre course.

As we neared the finish, I yelled out to my friend to take the final turn as sharply as she possibly could and gun it hard to the finish. And as Don’t Stop Believing blared on the event speakers, she did just that — crossing the finish in full sprint, 90 seconds faster than she has ever been at this distance.

I watched as she eyed the clock in stunned elation. And I smiled, reminded as I was in that moment, of the pure unadulterated joy that running can so amply provide.

I had come to realize that contrary to the song that was playing, I myself had stopped believing. Stopped believing not only in my own running, but also in the very goodness of the sport itself. The ominous gloom of overtraining having overshadowed what had heretofore been a fun hobby.

But in that instant when we had realized just how fast my friend had been, as throngs of excited runners surged to their own personal triumphs, something in me reawakened.

Maybe it wasn’t my race. And maybe it wasn’t my PB. But through the power of human empathy, that shared élan that comes from watching others achieve their very best, I fell in love once again with my sport.

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11 comments

  1. my26pointtwo · · Reply

    It is quite possible to take even more pleasure in the pb’s of others than your own. Takes heart and kindness.

    1. And speaking of heart and kindness …. What a very tremendous compliment to be paid. Thank you Lewis 😃

  2. Sorry to hear that you are still struggling with your setback several weeks ago. I hope this helps re-ignight your passion once and for all.

    In many ways, on the surface at least, our running hobby have had similar trajectories. Obese and sedentary to runners, to marathon finishers. I recall someone calling me out a couple of years ago as a “newbie” and that I would not be in the sport within a few years. I scoffed at the time, but you know of my recent struggles and where it has brought me. He was right.

    His point was that there are three types of runners. The first type is the occasional runner or the “one and done” variety. Then there are those who really get into it and burn out after a few seasons. Then there are the lifers. The second type gets excited about all the rapid improvements, the perpetual PRs, the bling, and the gear. They eagerly read every new issue of Runners World and race to the store for the newest latest and greatest. They then lose interest at the first injury or DNF. They get frustrated by the lack of new PRs, and the amount of work needed for a modest gain. They burn out and fade away. They never truly loved the sport.

    That, I am sad to say, is me.

    I stated that, superficially, our paths paralleled each other. That is true. But their are key differences. You have a natural gift for the sport. You have always been much more focused and devoted to your sport. You love running.

    That is why our paths will now diverge. You are a lifer. You love the sport. This is but a setback (and, if you are a lifer, there will be more), but you will continue to run. And I will be there to chear you on…

    1. I want to say something. But all I can come up with is “Thank you”. That is so overwhelmingly poignant a comment. I am humbled and deeply touched.

      Thank you Raymond.

  3. Great friend! I always have a sense of excitement and feel so happy for others when they accomplish a running goal. When I see them cross the line I get a rush of happiness, even when they fly past me in the same race. Its odd; most are people I’ve met at the race since I have no running friends. You are a great friend Rob, but I’ve told you that before 🙂

    1. Thanks Bill! I hope we can meet some day and go for a run 🤗

  4. Funny you should say that. I was talking to my wife and told her that we should go to Toronto. I used to go there at least 5 times. if not more a year when I was a Engineer with Northern Telecom / NORTEL. Told her we should visit Toronto and Niagara Fall’s and of course I could time it around a race ;P She’s never been to Canada at all.

    1. Wow! That’d be awesome 😃

  5. Andrea Hong · · Reply

    So eloquently written!! I just recently came to a similar realization that I get the same joy and adrenaline watching my running friends run well as I do for myself. You’re a phenomenal running with true spirit. I’ll be there on Sunday to watch you take that final turn just like you described it. 🙂

    1. Thanks Andrea! I appreciate your comment and your friendship 😘

  6. Always love it when I see others attain their personal best. Well done and well said Rod! 🙂

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