Hello Spark Friends!!!! Thank you for not leaving me! I am sorry I have not been around. I could spill out a million excuses, but the truth is I gave up on myself for a while... but now I'm back and I want to share with you why.
So I've been working for a PR firm here in Columbus, and one of their biggest events is the Columbus Marathon which was this past weekend. The week leading up to it we were both (her PR firm is herself, and now me) working extra hours, cramming in all that last minute stuff. It meant less cooking, more take out, no exercise, and little sleep. In all a bad combination. But then... it was race day.
My day started at 5 am, setting up the press room with coffee and bagels. Then it was off to the start line where my job was to babysit Ronald McDonald. Yes, as in a man dressed up as the character walking around to pump people up, take pictures and then get him back to the stage in time for the race countdown. Then I got to go up on stage and watch all these amazing athletes run off. It was crazy to see 15,000 people of all athletic abilities to run off into the sunrise with hopes of finishing a half or full marathon. Some with hopes of qualifying for Boston, others with hopes of just finishing period (like my Sister in Law who did amazing in the half by the way!).
At 8 am the racers were on the course and I had to head up to mile 22.5 (out of 26.2 for the full marathon)to take pictures for the facebook & twitter pages. It was a neighborhood area that was quiet when I got there, but soon started to fill up... and this is where I was truly inspired.
First seeing the handcyclists. These are people who may have lost the ability to walk, some in prostetics, but still determined to keep active and come whizzing around the corner! Wow. That's just great.
Then comes the serious athletes, those who are running 26.2 miles in under 3 hours... a feat I really can't relate to. See for me running never really appealed to me, and not just because I'm out of shape, but because I am a social person and like to talk to people... which if you are a serious runner you can't REALLY do.
But then it was the 4 hour group (about a 9 minute mile) which were people who won't qualify for Boston, they are just running to beat their own record, qualify for their own reasons. These are the people I can relate to. They are not overly trained athletes, they are those who just want to accomplish a goal.
I saw two women holding hands as one of them was clearly ready to give up, and her friend was going to make sure that didn't happen. That was touching. There were those wearing shirts stating "My FIRST Marathon" and I wonder if they were always in shape. Were they once like me and worked their way into shape and then decided the ultimate challenge was a marathon?
There were also the "fans"... kids with signs saying "GO MOMMY" and friends cheering on their loved ones... and some people, complete strangers... but knew that the encouraging words could make the difference between finishing and giving up. I made sure I was always clapping and cheering!
I think my favorite moment came when my friend Anietra, who had been training for a few months for this marathon came running down, after snapping a picture I yelled her name to cheer her on. She came over and gave me a very sweaty hug and told me she didn't know if she could finish. I knew she could, I just knew she needed the motivation. I knew I couldn't let her stop... so I offered to run 2 1/2 blocks with her to where the course turned. I know it's not much, but sadly I was out of breath with just that. When we got to the turn she continued on and finished. I'm not sure if those few blocks made a difference, but I was so excited to see her finish.
At the end of the day I came home and crashed HARD on the couch. But when I downloaded my pictures and saw them all together I knew I had to do something. If these people can fight through pain and sweat and know that at the end they are going to reach their goal... so can I.