Feel free to drink coffee and wave during my race

I saw a post on Facebook today, where a woman congratulated her friend on finishing a rough half marathon. The person who posted wrote the following as part of her message to her friend:

‘I am thankful for your Meg Miles family and all the support they have given you and continue to give you, …..because let’s be honest, me standing on the sidewalk with coffee, waving at you, then texting you I am about to eat breakfast, (while you were running) probably didn’t help LOL.’

She went on to congratulate her friend and encouraged her to continue with training for her first marathon, ending with indicating how proud she was of her running friend.
I’m proud of the runner, but I couldn’t let it go without saying something to this coffee drinking, waving friend. So here goes.

To all my coffee drinking, waving friends and family who sit for hours waiting for that glimpse of me as I run past (and hope that I also see you),

THANK YOU.

You may not feel like you are doing anything special, but all I can feel is the love and support you are giving me. I get it. It’s boring out there for the most part. Depending on the person you are cheering for, their pace, the race distance, and how many times you can try to catch them on the course, you may be out there for four, five and six hours. Sometimes more. It involves an early morning wake up. You may only see your person once. For a whole five seconds. And if you are lucky, they will see you, too, perhaps coming over to say hi and get/give a sweaty hug.

I’m sure this is exactly how really wanted to spend your Saturday/Sunday morning.

So I get it when you text about food or trying to make plans where to meet me after – and I’m not quite half finished with my run. It’s not a glamorous job to be out there, waiting on that quick sighting and letting the thumb twiddling begin again.

Yet for some reason you do it anyway.

And for that, I am truly grateful. Because you have no idea what it means to me to have my own personal cheerleader on the course. If I am struggling with my run, I might be searching for your face as a way to keep me focused to keep going; to hear your encouragement may be the only thing that keeps me running forward rather than stepping off and calling it a day. And if I am having the run of my life, knowing that there is a friendly face in the crowd makes it that much more exciting, knowing that you are there, tracking me, keeping tabs on my pace and genuinely getting excited for me as I close in on the finish line – and perhaps a new personal best. Searching for your face in the crowds of hundreds or thousands of other spectators gives me something to do as I try to focus on anything other than this pain or that ache – or how I still have xxx miles to go. Somehow looking for you makes the miles go by that much faster.

I love all spectators, don’t get me wrong. Having lots of people cheering and making noise is fun! It can get the adrenaline going and helps make some fun memories of a race day experience. But having that one person who there for me is a whole other level of special. No matter how my run is going, you being out there is exactly what I need when I see you. And if I don’t see you, I may feel disappointment, but I know you are there, tracking me, waiting for me to have my moment at the finish line. And I’ll get to see you at the end to share in that moment – because in truth? I think that moment needs to be shared. Who better to invite to the celebration than the person who had arguably the worst job of the day (definitely one of the most boring jobs) in sitting around for a few seconds of watching me run (which depending on where in the race you saw me, may only be loosely described as running).

So you know what, drink all the coffee you want. Have a donut, too, if that makes you happy. And please keep waving. Your time and support mean the world to me; knowing you are out there is the biggest boost I could ask for. I am truly grateful to have you as my personal cheer squad. I might be able to do it without you there, but I definitely wouldn’t want to.

Many thanks to all those personal cheerleaders who have come out to share in my races. I know I could do it without your support, but I really don’t want to. Thank you.

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