Thursday, November 8, 2012

Calling for reinforcements

Image credit: Sports Backers

Waiting in the corral, I feel the familiar flutters in my stomach. Feet shuffle all around me as runners shake out their legs and arms, take deep breaths, study their watches, test their iPods. People jump in place. (Why do they do that?)

There's nothing quite like the camaraderie of a distance race. Hundreds or thousands of people line up together. We have all come from different places, all prepared in different ways, but now that the race is here, we all share the same goal - to get across the finish line. There are lone runners, pairs of runners, big groups of runners. Someone in an Elmo costume. A girl in bright pink argyle knee socks. A daughter running in memory of her dad. Guys wearing fuel belts and headphones with Philippians 4:13 on their shirts. The inevitable people without shirts (no matter how cold it is that morning), their race numbers pinned to their shorts. No matter who we are or how we got here, we're all waiting, standing together at the start.  We will travel together across the miles, and we will all finish in the same place. At the end, most of us won't care who finished ahead of us or behind us as we grab our bottle of sports drink and bagel or banana, giddy with the elation of just having completed the distance, checking our watches and calculating mile splits, replaying the great moments of the race as well as the awful ones, already thinking about the next one we'll run.

I have a big race coming up in just a few days. I can't wait for the swarm of runners, to become part of that moving mass of humanity putting one foot in front of the other until we reach the goal. Community is created during the hours on the course. Even if I don't speak many words to the other runners (which I usually don't), we still share something important. We have dedicated ourselves to a common purpose.

I'm not a chatty person (maybe even less chatty as a runner than in my non-running life). I normally run alone, both during training and during races. There are notable exceptions: my sister (though it's a very rare treat), my excellent running friend (once a week or so), my husband (every now and then when we hire a babysitter). Once I ran with an old friend from elementary school at the end of a race when we were both hurting (an unexpected but awesome encounter). Usually, though, it's just me, and it can get lonely sometimes. On occasion, I've imagined Jesus running along beside me for miles, keeping me company. I think he'd be a barefoot runner, probably, and fairly quiet. Not chatty. Running buddies, even imaginary ones, are great for motivation. They don't even have to say anything, just keep me company on the way.

This is where you come in.

I'm about to run further than I have run since 2010, and I'm going to be by myself. I can rely on my legs and my training to get me part of the way to the finish line, but a big part of distance running is mental. Over the years, I've learned that it helps me to think of other people at each mile marker. Focusing on someone else (and how grateful I am for that person) is good for keeping me moving ahead.

If you're willing, I'd like you to be my running buddy for a mile of my race. You agree to think of me/pray for me/send me positive vibes and love next Sunday morning, and I will be doing the same for you while I run.

I am grateful for each person who reads this blog...you have been on this ride with me since I announced I was training for this race months ago, and you have helped keep me accountable. It is only fitting for me to take you along in some way on race day. With GU and sports beans in one pocket and all of you (figuratively, of course) in my other pocket and these people in my earbuds, how can I go wrong?

Leave me a comment here or on Facebook with what mile you'd like, from 1-13, if you want to help me out with this. Mile #2 is the only one that's not up for grabs, because I'm dedicating that one to Sierra Forder and her incredible running mother, Missy. If I get more than 13 of you, I'll break the miles into pieces (which might be a good idea, anyway).

(Note: to leave a comment, just click on the link that says "Comments" at the bottom of this post. That will open up a window for you to type your comment. You can comment as a guest if you want, but if you do that, please leave your name or something so that I can tell who you are!)

Thank you. There will be a race report at some point, so stay tuned.