One of the most surprising things about taking up running was the amazing level of support that other runners (and athletes) offer you. I had no idea. Anytime I post about a run, I get people cheering my effort on, which in turn helps me want to push further, go a bit faster and challenge myself even more.
Even better than receiving the encouragement from others is that I have the chance to cheer others on in their own journeys. I get emotional reading stories from the MegsMiles facebook page of runners meeting and beating their goals. I watch the finish line videos with tears in my eyes, so proud of others earning their medals. It’s kind of crazy to feel this way when I don’t know these people. but I think that we share an awful lot. We are connected by the same desire to accomplish something that one day we each thought was impossible. We have probably both had days when we felt on top of the world and other days when we were defeated yet somehow found the will from within to pull through and try again the next day. We have laughed and cried at our own training. We have cheered others on and been cheered on by others. We know the taste of sweat, the feeling of hunger in wanting something so badly that we push ourselves past what we ever thought was possible, the sense of wanting to go even further the next time. I don’t know how I got involved in this community, but I did, and boy am I glad! It is uplifting and motivational, and I hope that I am able to give at least as much as I receive.
Recently, someone I know (Katie, I’m looking at you!) decided she was going to do a half Ironman to celebrate a milestone birthday. (For those who don’t know what a half Ironman is: 1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike ride and a 13.1 mi run. Yes, it’s pretty intense!)
Katie and I used to work together, and sadly, we haven’t seen each other in more than 7 years, I think (YIKES!). When I saw her post that she was taking this challenge on, I was literally so excited for her! I couldn’t wait to cheer her on, and waited to see her updates about what she was doing, and of course waiting to see that she crossed her own finish line on May 30th. It was my privilege to donate to her fundraising effort (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society), post a few of my favourite memes to her wall, and congratulate her in a post when she finished. I forgot track her live on race day so I could get excited and tear-up every time an update came across, so I missed out on this aspect of being part of the cheerleading squad.
Katie finished her goal in just over 7 hrs (7 hrs! Holy moly! Katie, you are AMAZING!!!), and I was so desperate for information, I kept checking her Facebook page for updates. Thankfully, one of her friends posted her finish time and this picture from the race. I am so proud of her, proud in a way that another athlete understands. It’s been fun to see you achieve your goal. Congratulations!!
And of course, what does she say to me? Something about how she could never run a marathon and she is inspired by me. Katie, that street is two ways, and I have to say that your journey has been an inspiration to me on those days when I just feel like I want to give up. I picture your journey to the finish line and I figure, ‘I’m only trying to run! Katie swam, biked AND ran. Surely I can do this one thing.’
So as a runner, I have been surprised beyond words by the way we each support and lift each other up in our personal journeys. I think in the end, we all realize that we are not competing against each other; instead, we are each competing against our own selves. And why shouldn’t we cheer each other on as we meet and exceed personal goals? It doesn’t cost anything and we may even get a cheerleader or two in our own corner. So anyone else that needs a shout out to help keep you going, I’m here for you, cheering you on toward your goal!!