This is a picture I took at the Shamrock 4-miler, a St. Patrick’s Day theme race my son and I ran in Abingdon, Virginia, last night, March 15, 2013.
Now, granted, after every race I do, I seem to think that it was my favorite race. And this was no exception. But I have a feeling that this one may remain my favorite for a while. And I’ve decided to list the top 10 reasons why.
*** 10. The St. Patrick’s Day theme.
This was the first race I’d ever been a part of that had a theme. And themes are awesome. The atmosphere was completely different…everyone was in such happy spirits and seemed to be just a tad friendlier and a little more chatty than in other races. I’ll definitely be searching for theme races in the future.
*** 9. The cowbell.
Oh yes. There was a cowbell. About a half a mile in, there was a random guy standing on the side of the road with a cowbell. And, of course, the guy who was running beside me yelled, “Hey – we’re gonna need more cowbell!” as we passed. Teehee. That made me laugh all the way up the hill we had to climb right after we passed the cowbell man. I needed that.
*** 8. A pooping dog.
Yes, you read that right. A pooping dog made the top 10 list. And here’s why. One of the runners decided to run in the race with her dog. Around the 1.5 mile mark, nature called. She was standing, embarrassed, on the side of the road letting him do his business while other runners passed. Eventually, runners started high-fiving her as they passed. That was pretty awesome. Lots of laughter came from that. And laughter during a race is always awesome. So, thank you pooping dog for your contribution to my list.
*** 6. Being passed (yes, passed) by a man running the race while pushing his TWO kids in a stroller.
While going up a hill. Yes, I know. How did that make the list of reasons why this was my favorite race? Well, just because. People are awesome. That’s all.
*** 5. Remembering to thank the people at the water stations.
I always forget to do that. Always. This time, I remembered. There were three separate water stations and I remembered at every single station. I finally forgot my own misery during a race and just remembered that there are awesome volunteers sitting out there for long periods of time just making sure that we have the best race we can. And how cool are they? They deserve more than a simple “thank you,” but that was all I had to give at the moment. I hope hearing me say it made them feel as good as it made me feel to remember to say it.
*** 4. My time.
My MapMyRun tracking device told me that I ran 4.08 miles in just over 40 minutes. That’s less than a 10-minute pace. Best I’ve ever done. Heck yeah, baby! For this fairly new runner, that was something to be proud of.
*** 3. My kids’ dad.
Whoa. I know, right? How the heck did my ex-husband make this list? I think you’ll soon understand. Kevin (that’s his name) has Becker muscular dystrophy. He is lucky to still be walking because the prognosis long ago was that he would have been in a wheelchair before he was 30. (He’s 38.) As I was leaving for the race after picking up my son, Kevin said something that stuck with me. He said, “You guys do good. I’d run it with you if I could.” All I could think of after he said that, was this quote I saw once:
“I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can’t run, what they’d give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them. I know they would do the same for me.”
That quote went through my mind many times during this race. And now I have a feeling it will go through my mind in many more races to come.
*** 2. Memories
I had run a 5k race on this course once before. It was last year. I was afraid that running it again would actually make me feel sad because the person I ran it with wasn’t with me this time. But you know what? It didn’t make me sad at all.
The course was filled with memories at every turn. At one point, I remembered how we both felt when we saw this dreaded hill looming ahead and realized just as we got to it that the course veered to the left and we didn’t have to actually run up it. When I saw the hill this time, I just smiled. Yep, no sadness. Just a smile.
I remembered how we stayed at each other’s pace and he refused to leave me during the brief time that I had to stop to walk, when I know he could have gone on ahead easily. When I got to the place that I had to stop and walk that time and the memory filled my mind – again, I smiled. (And went faster.)
There were many more memories throughout the race. And many more smiles that accompanied them. And that made me realize something. I think something has healed. And that’s a beautiful thing.
That’s my son. Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve ran a race together. But this is the first time that he finished the race well ahead of me (as usual) and instead of waiting at the finish line, he turned around and came back on the course to find me. I finished the race with my son by my side cheering me on.
So there. The list is complete.
So, see? How could this not have been my favorite race?
Oh, wait. One more notable mention.
Another reason this was my favorite race? I wrote this whole blog in my head while I was running it. Combining two of my passions is a beautiful thing.
So blessed to be a runner.
“Methinks that the moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow.”
– Henry David Thoreau