Last summer, I was part of a marathon clinic group at the Running Room in Halifax. What I love about running clinics is that you get to meet so many different people and draw on each other's experiences and backgrounds to inspire each other. And by the end of the clinic, you usually get to know each other really well.
So last fall, after most of the group had run their races, we got together at a local restaurant to share some of each other's experiences and race stories. I had yet to run my race - Legs for Literacy in Moncton - but I showed up to hear how the others had fared (many of them had run the PEI Marathon) and learn from their experiences.
We took turns going around the table, each individual sharing their stories. Most of the women in my pace group had had a fantastic race, and accomplished, or even bested, their race time of four hours. Wendy had even qualified for Boston. And while I sat there fascinated by all their stories, my stomach was also tied up in knots, because I still had yet to run my race.
And then there was Greg's story, which I still carry with me to this day. He shared how he had made a point of thinking of all the people who had helped and inspired him through the several weeks and months of training, all of whom had played a part in helping to get him to the start line on the day of the race -- from his wife and family, to friends, colleagues and even members of the pace group he ran with.
He had then scribbled those names onto slips of paper, and put them in his pocket on race day. Then, when he reached a certain kilometre marker, he had started pulling them out, one at a time, thinking of the person and sending out a silent message of thanks to that individual. And then he left the slips of paper on the ground and kept running.
I love that story - it's such a good reminder of the roles that our friends and family and other support networks play in getting us to the start (and finish) lines on race day. And while I don't necessarily scribble people's names on slips of paper (there's just so much jammed into my water belt and pockets on race day, I don't think I could fit anything else in), I do make a point now of remembering of all of the people without whom I wouldn't have made it to the race course - from my husband (aka, "coach"), to my parents, my running group and friends. When my legs get tired and the kilometres seem endless, I send out a silent little message of thanks to them. And somehow, thinking of all the people who believe in me helps make my legs feel lighter and my determination stronger.
So if you're looking for inspiration as you prepare for your big fall race, take out a piece of paper and scribble down the names of all of the people who helped you get there. You'll be amazed at just how long that list is, and how strong your support network is.