I woke up early on race day. Threw on my clothes.
I could feel the energy in the air as I approached the 10 mile marker over looking Lake Mendota.
Madison had extreme heat (upper 90s) in the forecast causing race officials to reduce the marathon to a half marathon for the health and safety of the runners. Despite this warning I have friends who got up at 4:15am to run the 1/2 marathon course twice before the extreme heat hit. Inspiring stuff!
In my bright yellow air-dry shirt, loud shorts, bike helmet and sunglasses I succumbed to every high school jock’s worst nightmare.
I became a male cheerleader.
Initially I found myself drawn to the race leaders, the first ones to pass, thinking about the months of preparation, training and how fit they were, admittedly wondering if I could keep up.
Clapping for five minutes at a time before taking breaks and alternating to (Arsenio Hall worthy) fist pumps, I shouted and chanted words of encouragement as runners passed by, most of them total strangers.
Many of the runners said nothing and just kept running. Totally fine. I know they heard me.
Others acknowledged the cheers with a head nod, a sincere thank you, a warm smile and/or even a bit of witty banter.
While I initially admired the people at the front of the pack most, I had an AHA moment realizing the runners with slower times were the ones really fighting. They were the ones facing physical and mental courage points who needed my positive energy and enthusiasm.
I doubled down on my cheering doing my best to see the names on the runner’s bibs as I began to personalize my cheering for the second half of runners – think about it – these people needed encouragement far more than the front runners knocking out 5 minute miles.
Nothing felt better than seeing a runner crack a smile, give a thumbs up or the most heart warming feeling was seeing a runner who approached with their head down walking with a defeated look on their face using the encouraging words to turn their walk into a slow jog and the defeated look on their face to a smile while throwing an acknowledging glance of approval and thanks my way.
Priceless moments people!!
Thank you to all the runners who came out this past weekend. Everyone of you inspired me from the winner to the ones bringing up the rear and admittedly the second half of runners probably inspired me more than the first.
If you have never been to a race before I would encourage you to check out a local marathon – even if you don’t know anyone running.
It’s an inspiring, healthy and positive environment to be a part of.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about running a marathon. I can assure you, whomever you are, you are younger and in better shape than someone who was out there on Sunday. If they can do it so can you.
Which gets me to thinking…..
If kind words can motivate people we don’t even know – what can they do for the important people in our lives? How can they improve our families? Our health and fitness? The health and fitness of a loved one? Our businesses? Our communities? The possibilities are endless.
People who are encouraged and believe in themselves will be more successful than those without the same encouragement. I don’t care who you are or what level of achievement you’ve attained, everyone can benefit from positive words of encouragement and support.
Who in your life needs more of your encouragement to get from where they are to where they want to be?
A kind word or smile takes only a moment to share but can be remembered for a lifetime by the recipient.
Until next week keep learning, stay positive and keep fit!