Keep Going

I love to run, especially marathons.  The training is grueling and time consuming yet the feeling of crossing the finish line is amazing.   The cheering crowds give you energy to run faster, even when your body runs out of energy.  For those of you who aren’t runners or have never been to a marathon, you have to experience it to really understand.

The two bombings at the Boston Marathon killed three and injured hundreds. The bombs exploded near the finish line as runners were waiting  for their moment of training and hard work to pay off.  After hearing the news, my first thought was about the runners that were hurt and the horror that they felt.  This is a tragedy for anyone to experience in any situation, but to experience that as you are close to a marathon finish line is something that I can’t imagine.

I’m thinking about the spectators who were killed or severely injured.  They were selflessly cheering on their friends, family and strangers. Watching the recreation runners (or walkers) finish a marathon is not like a big sporting event with star athletes.  Getting to a marathon involves road blocks, traffic jams, big crowds.  With the masses of people, it’s hard to find who you are looking for and to get where you need to go.  The reason spectators go is to support someone else.

I’ve run the Baltimore Running Festival several times and it’s really touching that people come out of their houses to cheer on the runners, and not just the fastest runners.  They are cheering on the regular people.  They could be doing other things that day but they chose to come out holding up signs, singing and giving out treats to people that they don’t even know.  This helps make the marathon a great overall experience, and not just a physical challenge.  There were so many people who I didn’t know looking at me and saying supportive words like you can do it!

During the Marine Corps Marathon, I just kept thinking about friends that I saw along the way, which kept me going.  On the other hand, there are parts of the race a few miles from the finish where there are hardly any spectators.  Running at those points is more difficult because you feel alone.  There are fewer runners around, some limping, and you are getting tired. It’s depressing in those moments, because you’ve come so far. When I get past those points, the cheering crowds lift me back up, and I start to speed up.  When you cross the finish line and the masses of people are there, cheering, there are no words for how uplifted you become.

A few years ago I ran the last 13 miles of the Marine Corps marathon with a friend for his first marathon.  He was running for charity and wanted the extra support to get through the hardest miles.  While I waited and looked for him at mile 13, I started cheering for the other runners that were coming by.  They saw my race bib so they knew that I was a runner too (Many of them thought that I had already finished and came back to cheer. No I’m not that fast!).  I was in a place where there weren’t many spectators, and so many people  thanked me as they ran by for being there to cheer for them. It was overwhelming to feel that much appreciation from so many people.  Their gratitude  for my support shows just how important it is for runners to have people on the side-lines cheering for them.

At the Baltimore Marathon last year, I stayed until the end, cheering for the people who were coming in within an hour of the cut-off time.  The crowds thin out at that time.  Finishing 26.2 miles at any pace is an accomplishment, and they deserved the support. I wondered what their stories were and what motivated them to be there.

When I first heard about the bombings, I felt apprehensive to run a marathon again, especially  in Boston, which was one of my goals.  I missed the qualifying time a few years ago by 3 minutes.  In the days since, I’ve actually felt the opposite, that I don’t want this to deter me or anyone else from the marathon experience.  The marathon experience is inspiring.  You see people in wheel chairs, the blind (lead by guides) and older people crossing the finish line.  And there are so many people running or walking for charity or for the benefit someone else.  In my first marathon, I  remember a man running past me whose shirt proclaimed this is his 100th marathon!  He was probably in his mid-70s (and yes, he ran right past me!).  I thought how great marathon running is, that it keeps people motivated and in shape in their 70s and beyond.  This is inspiring for the other runners and the spectators.

In the pictures at the scene of the Boston bombings, there is a man who has fallen when the bomb went off because of the strong force around him.  I found out that he was 78-years-old.  Just being 78 and completing a marathon is inspiring , not to mention that he ran a 9:18 per mile pace!   He kept going.  Thank God he was ok.

Marathons are not just about the runners, they are about the spectators and all of the people who support the runners. To all of the volunteers and spectators who are out there supporting the runners and walkers in marathons: We appreciate you!  We may be too tired to tell you that at the time but we do. You give energy to the race.  Marathons just wouldn’t be the same without you.  Please keep cheering, keep supporting, keep going.


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11 Responses

  1. Mary

    Mary April 23, 2013 at 5:43 pm | | Reply

    I was not a runner when I started working with Stephanie as a personal training client 2 1/2 years ago. I was physically unable to run, but soon after working with Stephanie, she encouraged me to find a 5K to run. I did, and I was hooked! After reading her thoughts on the unfortunate events at the Boston Marathon, I was inspired to register for a 1/2 marathon. I was able to find one to run on my Birthday (you’ll have to guess what significant one I’ll be celebrating!!)!! I fell in love with running and really enjoy all the benefits it’s brought to my health and fitness routine.

    1. Sam

      Sam June 25, 2013 at 3:43 pm | | Reply

      Your going to do great Mar! You have come back SO strong from your injury! I can’t wait to here about your half!!!!

  2. Theresa

    Theresa May 1, 2013 at 5:40 pm | | Reply

    In your write-up, you mention that you felt initially apprehensive to run a marathon again after hearing about the bombings.

    I had the exact opposite reaction. Upon hearing about them, my resolve to complete a marathon became stronger than it’s ever been and, one day, whether it’s by qualifying through speed or charity fundraising, I WILL run Boston.

    Running’s our sport. It belongs to the athletes and the spectators. It belongs to the person lacing up their sneakers for the first time with a goal of making it to the end of the street and back. It belongs to the ultra finisher. It belongs to the kid on the side of the course with the sign that says “Run, Mommy, Run!”. It belongs to the volunteer passing out Dixie cups of Gatorade.

    It does not belong to those responsible for this terror.

    It can’t be taken away.

  3. Sam

    Sam June 25, 2013 at 3:47 pm | | Reply

    I have to say, I am not a runner- but I am starting to become one! Since joining bootcamp I have done 3 5K’s and one 4+ miler and I am currently signed up for a relay team in the Baltimore running Festival! I am overjoyed at hearing all the great stories from the running festival! This will be my longest race ever, so I am indeed a bit nervous but I am so excited, because running truly is a special community. Through boot camp and races I have learned that runners are truly a special breed- they look out for one another, they cheer each other one, they lend a helping hand, there is no other community I have found that is like that one. Some are slow some are fast, but it doesn’t matter- they cheer each other on no matter what the differences are. The 4 miler was for Erica who was injured in the bombing and it was so great to run with her and the thoughts of Boston on my mind- we can’t live in fear- we all must join together and keep supporting each other like we always have! I am so excited for the running festival!!!!

    1. Pam

      Pam June 25, 2013 at 5:16 pm | | Reply

      I’m a bit nervous as well but I know we can do this!

  4. Pam

    Pam June 25, 2013 at 5:25 pm | | Reply

    I did not join The Boot Camp Girl to become a runner or to run in any races but after several months of being around students who were challenging themselves to achieve more I wanted to challenge myself to a 5K. I have always admired people who could and did run. Now I’m one of those people. When you are in a race you really appreciate the crowd. They offer their unconditional support – something we all benefit from.

  5. Kathy Lynn

    Kathy Lynn June 26, 2013 at 2:42 am | | Reply

    Love all of their cheering and support. It really makes you feel great about yourself!

  6. Nicole Stagmer

    Nicole Stagmer June 26, 2013 at 3:13 am | | Reply

    I agree, the people that come out to support us runners really boosts my energy level while running. I want to do good for them. There is truth to the term “runners high”…it’s an amazing feeling!!

  7. Margie

    Margie June 27, 2013 at 1:55 am | | Reply

    It’s a good feeling to be able to get up and go. And go on.

  8. Debbie Mazzullo

    Debbie Mazzullo June 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm | | Reply

    My first day of boot camp I decided to sign up in spite of the fact that I would have to run a mile at each class. It didn’t take long to drop that feeling. Several months later I realized that I was glad we were running every day and I really wanted to get better. With the wonderful encouragement from my boot camp friends, I signed up for my first 5K and I loved it. The energy at the race was unbelievable and crossing the finish line felt like a great accomplishment.

  9. Teresa Butler

    Teresa Butler September 30, 2013 at 11:56 pm | | Reply

    I have not been able to run yet, but I look forward towards that day.
    I have to be patient with my current ability and accept where I am now. I would love to participate in next year’s Baltimore Run? In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy walking.

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