why i race
posted: November 19, 2009
Meet Jon, a guest blogger from our Walnut Creek store who loves to sweat, run and inspire others!
I ran the San Jose Rock n Roll Half Marathon recently. I’ll discuss my performance later in the post, but I had to get some thoughts out of my head and onto the screen (pen and paper in the past, right?).
Every time I go to an event, or race…if you prefer to call it that, I am touched, moved and inspired. This starts the day before the race: race packet pick up day!
the day before
You can feel the energy of anticipation from tens, hundreds or thousands of people, whether it is their first race or their 100th.
As I stroll up to the packet pickup table, I can’t help but move with a sense of confidence. I can’t help but smile as the volunteer hands this seasoned volunteer his race number. This is it: all of the work you put in to the days, weeks and months before, culminating in just a few hours. I thank the volunteers for their time (required!) because these people make the races we love so much fun.
I walk the expo floor, searching for the coolest new athletic gear, like most endurance geeks do. I rarely find anything I haven’t seen before, but alas, I did get something and put another item on my wish list! I bought a Power Balance band, this little wristband that is supposed to help with your electrical field and balance. The expo conjures up memories and emotions of races past and as I leave I call my best friend, reminiscing about our first half marathon four years ago.
Race day is here! This is it: graduation day. You put in the work and this is the easy part (most of the time). The energy reaches its climax when the starter’s pistol sounds. Off we go! The fun is trying to harness your excitement in the first mile, to remember your pace!
For this race, I ran in a faster group and couldn’t help but feel more alone despite the other 9,000+ runners. The silence of fast runners was draining! The best part about running in slower pace groups is the eavesdropping on neighboring conversations and engaging in your own friendly banter.
I run with a purpose. I’m out to do my best each and every time I tie my shoes. I also run for fun. I smile and thank all the volunteers, I high-five the kids and cheerleaders lining the street. Their energy and support carry me in every race. It is so cool that random people are cheering you on as if you were Michael Jordan on the court! As the miles add up, so do the thoughts running through my mind. I am no longer running on the initial anxiety, but more so on pure guts and personal pride. I have a goal and I will attain that goal or be damned trying. At mile 12, it is almost over, I’m almost there and my body is begging me to walk…but I won’t. I feel the nervous energy of the racers around me, each running for the best finishing time of their life. I turn on the juice, and start to pick people off. “Go Jonny Go! Hold that pace! You are an animal!” I finish and feel accomplished, I’ve more than reached my goal, I kicked its ass.
Wait! I’m not done yet! I haven’t told you why I just put my mind and body through the spin cycle.
1) I did it to inspire. I not only run for myself, but I run for those who can’t as well as those who won’t. I run with the hope that my athletic pursuits will inspire others to make the most of their wonderful bodies. The abilities we each have are amazing and a gift. Why not use them? I think I inspire others with the desire and will to push beyond what we THINK is possible. Why be mediocre when you can be great?! No one can tell you when you are great or not, that is something only you will know. It is easy to answer with one question…Did you do your best? If you said anything other than an ecstatic YES!, then you weren’t great, and only you know it. Give it your all, and see what mental and physical rewards you will reap…I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.
2) I race to be inspired. On the walk to my car, I look at the faces of the people still running, two hours after I had finished. I can’t help but cheer and clap them on. Most of them don’t look like “athletes” but they are and not because anyone said they were, but because they are doing it. At times I have to take a deep breath. Everyone has a story for why they are out there. Is it to raise awareness for a cause? For someone who couldn’t be there that day? To challenge themselves? For the free stuff? My eyes fill with saline (just a little)…as I couldn’t be more inspired by these people. I’m inspired that people are living…and choosing such a fun way to live.
So folks, keep moving, keep grooving and keep inspiring me to be great. I promise to do the same.
I guess you could say I race because it makes me smile, and we could all use a good smile. Why do you race?
Want great insight on listening to your body and resting between runs? Check out Janice’s blog: /run-hard-rest-harder