The good folks at #writeandrun31 offer daily writing prompts. I haven’t used any yet, not because I’m opposed to them, but because what I’ve been writing about so far is simply my attempts at getting outside and doing my miles. But yesterday’s prompt was intriguing. The question was what is the best compliment you’ve heard on a race course? Oh my, there are so many! And I’m going to conflate “compliments” with “feel good” moments here. It’s hard to narrow down a very long list of inspirational moments during runs and races. But here are five, in no particular order.
I Almost Always See a Cardinal.
This is important because I consider it some sort of weird other-worldly signal from my dad, who died in 2008. I started running shortly thereafter. World’s biggest Cardinal (baseball) fan that he was, I almost always see a cardinal when I’m out on a long run – or even a shorter one. I must say that I don’t see them when running in the dark or near dark, but the moment I begin to struggle, a red bird flies across my path. Almost guaranteed. In fact, there are times now when I think, OK, I’m starting to feel like crap, where’s my cardinal? 🙂 Granted, there are LOTS of cardinals around here, but I do like to think some of them are sending me little signals of a still present connection.
Run if You Can, Walk if You Must, But Finish for Boston.
This was a sign at about mile 19 in the 2013 Illinois Marathon, about two weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings. It was still raw, we were apprehensive, and I don’t think you can be a runner and not be impacted by the events of that day. So this sign gave me pause, and the strength to get through the last 7 miles of that race and get a PR too! This sign is tied for first place in the Best Race Signs game with a sign I saw in the NYC Marathon that said “Whiskey has missed you, too.” Ha. People are just great.
Let’s Go Boston!
Another Boston reference? Yep. This was the same race – the 2013 Illinois Marathon. I wore a Boston Red Sox baseball hat (my dad, I assume, was doing the proverbial “rolling over in his grave” at that little stunt… :-)) in honor of the city I love and as a small tribute to the marathoners and fans who were impacted by the bombings days before. This Illinois race is one that has a lot of crowd/fan support, so at one point, instead of yelling my name (“let’s go, Krista!”) in support and for encouragement, I heard a “let’s go, Boston!” Someone in the crowd was referencing my hat. I thought that was so damned cool, and I picked up my step.
You Are One Tough Sonofabitch
This may not seem very nice! But it was necessary. And it is correct. I am one tough sonofabitch, especially when it comes to pushing through during a particularly difficult point in a race. Sometimes I just need some prompting, and this time it came, as it often does, from Carl, my running partner, with about 8 miles to go in the 2014 New York City Marathon. Those were 8 damned hard miles. But with his help, and to what may seem to some as harsh words, I toughed it out, sonofabitch style, and I have that glorious finisher’s medal to prove it.
There’s a Party at the End of this Race, and We Got to Get There!
I’m pretty confident that this happened during one of the Memphis (St. Jude’s) half marathons. It was toward the end, maybe mile 10 or 11. I was around a bunch of people who just seemed to be struggling a bit. One woman was openly weeping, obviously struggling a bit more than others at that moment. But there was this guy. This guy was having the best time, letting his bigger-than-life personality carry him to the finish line. He shared that personality with us when we needed it most, saying loudly, so everyone around us could hear: “C’mon now! There’s a PARTY at the end of this race… and we got to GET there!” We laughed, and agreed, and carried on.