because life has ups and downs…
I was a writer for RUNHAVEN website, which was a site designed for all types of runners that shared technical advice as well as personal runner stories. Because RunHaven is no longer an active site, there is not a way to access the content. You can still follow a page on Facebook that shares current articles for runners, though. This is the first piece I wrote for that website. Thought I’d give it a share since the race season is gearing up! Time to lace up your shoes!!
There’s a rabbi, a couple of construction workers, some doctors, two former drug addicts, a group of retirees, a mom with a stroller, some high school students, a business owner, an unemployed fast food cook, and a lady in a pink t-shirt with the symbol for breast cancer across the front. What do they have in common? No-it’s not a twist on that old joke. These mismatched people are kindred spirits. They are runners. You will find a similar gang of folks at the start line for any 5K in any area of the country. They will laugh nervously as they wait for the air horn to signal the start. “Have a good race,” they’ll say. “Good luck!” A few may exchange names or realize that they have a friend in common. The doctors may have had some of them on the operating table. The teenagers probably play on the local high school volleyball team or run track. That new mom might want to get her old body back. And, the woman in pink, she may be running for her sister who recently won her cancer battle. Right now, they are one.
As the race begins, they rush forward, some turn on music while others take in the sights and smells of the route. A few run next to a buddy and chat as they go. The bunch thins out to a string of runners weaving in and out based on speed and breaks for walking. There is heavy breathing. There is the slap of rubber on the pavement. There is encouragement. Volunteers along the road shout, “good job” as each and every runner passes. Smiling faces greet them with cups of water at the mile and a half mark. Redness creeps into their cheeks. Sweat streams down their faces and wets their shirts. Muscles begin to ache.
Then, they see it. That arch of balloons at the finish line. The blasting music and cheering crowd are waiting just for him…and her…and them. No slowing down now. That photographer will catch that runner’s gait as that blue mat gets closer. Hands in the air to cross! Each one bows their head to receive the medal, the tangible reward for finishing-not for finishing first, but for finishing. High fives from volunteers and other runners as the chip gets removed from the shoe. As each runner guzzles a bottle of water, the celebration continues. Those former drug addicts already want to sign up for another race. The unemployed cook learned about a job opportunity while talking to another runner on the course. They plan to meet up later. The baby is asleep in the stroller, despite all of the noise. The rabbi offers a sweaty blessing to the woman in pink and her sister. Yes, anybody is everybody when those running shoes are on. Runners are one.