Encourage to be encouraged…

     Sometimes things can be so simple to do or say, but so easy to overlook. I’ll be honest with you, my training prior to the Kona 10 Mile Run was getting downright boring for me. Ok, “open book”; my diet was to say the least not the best. With my family still in Michigan, I was fighting some personal stress, and that evil snack monster executed a full-on personal attack.
     I came into race day in pretty good cardio condition. My strength and endurance was not too bad. I was still running and cycling, but that extra baggage I had was weighing on me, mentally. The day prior to race I actually settled in my mind for a good run and not a race. Yes, I hung my head and was about to succumb to mediocrity, which was a really hard on me. This was the first time since I started to run races that I was not able to meet my pre-race goal, “Yay”, a new life experience (sarcasm).
     On race day there always seems to be a different feel. The energy of the runners, the music and the overall race atmosphere always gives me a boost. Weather conditions were good and my wife was race ready and looking to tear it up. I was feeling her energy. Alright, I did complete all of my training miles, and even a little more. So I’m asking myself, “So what’s it going to be “snack man”? You wanna go fast? Go big or go home wishing that you went big. Suck it up and quit being a baby.” Don’t you just love the circus music that plays in my head…LOL!
     Ok, yup, typical race strategy for me. You know the story already, and I was hitting it pretty hard. I even passed my mark about 4 miles into the race, so what was I going to do now? Who was I going to chase? That’s when I noticed something strange; it felt like I was being chased? Was another runner using me as a mark? And not only another runner, it was a girl. I’m sure she was saying in her head, “no way is this old dude going to beat me”. After about a 1/2 mile of jockeying for the lead position with her, (and wow she could run) there was that look, that look that says “I’m chasing you and I will catch you and I will defeat you”, in a friendly way of course…
     I was actually running a pretty good race. My mile times were better than expected, especially now that I was the mark. As the race went on, the lead position between us changed a few times. I was better up hills and she would pick it up on the downhill. This when on and on…till about mile 9! I figured that if I let her lead and push her, she’d burn herself out. That’s exactly what happened. As I was passing her around the last quarter mile, she had slowed and had the look of defeat. I felt bad. I was running a great race and I needed her push to help me bring it home fast.
     After a few paces ahead of her, I slowed down and I said to her “You’re doing great and we’re almost there. You ran too hard to give up running hard now.” Suddenly, with big smile, she said “you’re right”. It was gotime…Full-on run mode engaged! As we were in battle mode again, we came upon a guy who was struggling to stay ahead of us. I said, “let’s make it a foot race to the finish and nobody passes us, OK, all in!” Together, the 3 of us sprinted that stretch to the finish!
     After I crossed that finish line it felt great knowing that I gave it my all. I grabbed a bottle of water and got my medal; “Yeah!” I really didn’t think about the two people that I finished the race with or what had happened during the race, it just felt great knowing that I gave it my all. When I turned around to go back to watch Jen finish, there was the girl standing in front of me. She said, “Thank you, I was trying to beat my PR and I wouldn’t have done it if wasn’t for you.” The guy who also closed out the finish with us came up to me and said, “Thank you, I was struggling at the end and I needed that extra push.” And off we all went; me with an amazing, tingling warm feeling in my heart… We should all encourage more to be encouraged ourselves. It’s very powerful! Thank you all for reading my stories because you all really do encourage me. 10 Mile 1:27:31, Peace!

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