I enjoy every race that I do. They have all been good and I have been glad to have done them. Something stuck out to me this past race. I have noticed it before, but I thought about it more this time. That thing is the community in a race together. It is such a neat experience that you do not know these people, yet there is a sense that you are all in it together.
Before the race, people are stretching, walking, jogging, snacking, etc. As that happens, there are small conversations. "This is my first race." "Wow, great, hope it goes well." There is talk about the course. There is also a focus, concentration and seriousness in the air. There is a nervous energy, plus excitement all mixed together. There is more prepping; GPS watches coming to life, earbuds being put in, more stretching, walking, shaking out muscles to get ready.
The music gets louder. The announcer builds up to the start gun, and bang! We're off!
Runners take off. Usually, it there is a little wait to get past the start line, people walk up towards it and start the run. The crowd is thick. Runners weaving around each other. Then the line of runners starts to thin. I notice the people around me. Sometimes there are people to pass. Sometimes others pass you. The race continues. Up hills, down hills, past water stops. People are on the side of the course cheering. Police officers are directing the traffic to keep runners safe. The running continues. I check my GPS watch often, how is the pace? Several miles in, it's time for a snack. I had a Chocolate Honey Stinger pack, yum! More energy added, more miles to go. And then the finish line is in sight. In this race, I knew I was close to my record. When I saw the finish line, I ran as fast as I possibly could past it. I did it! PR by 15 seconds.
As I walked around, I was greeted by some of the runners that I had been running near. What a neat feeling! "Great race!" said one lady. She finished a little before me. We agreed that after about 10 miles, we were ready for the race to be over. The course was a hilly one. There was a guy who said that he had been pacing off of me for the first 10 miles. Wow, I thought. I don't know what happened after that, either he slowed down or I did. We stood around drinking water, eating oranges and waiting for results. There were several conversations about the course, the hills, the timing. What fun! There were physical therapists to stretch us out. Oh how I love those people at the end of a race!
Races are tiring. There are points when I wonder "what am I doing?" and "can I make it?" and "just keep going!". And yet when it is over, I don't really remember those parts. I remember the good parts. I remember that I finished. That the day was a good one. That the race was pretty, the volunteers were helpful, the course had people cheering. And I think about what race I can do next.