One of the joys of running for me has been that I’m now part of a vast community. It was something I was nervous about. Running communities and weight loss tend to be hand-in-hand. If you look in running magazines, you rarely see fat people running. However, when you go to a race, you see all body types and all levels. I’ve found that my fears were generally unfounded. I’m sure there are concern trolls and fat police in the running community, but they’re so much the minority that it doesn’t matter. What I’ve run into far more than hate is support and trust.
Last weekend, I did the Lincoln Park Run for the Zoo. This particular run starts the 5K first and then starts the 10K about a half hour later. I start at the back of the 5K group, with the walkers, so, for a race as large as this one, it takes me at least a couple of minutes just to cross the start line. On top of that, for some reason, they ended up starting the 5K a bit later than planned. And, I do my warm-up walk as part of the 5K, so I spend the first 5 minutes after crossing the start line doing a medium-paced walk. All of this combined meant that as I was just getting past mile 1, the front pack of 10K folks had caught up to me. Worse yet, it was in a narrow section of the course. I squeezed to the right as best as I could without screwing up my own pace, and it was actually kind of neat to watch the people passing me. These were people doing 5 minute miles, so they’re faster than DH by a good bit and certainly much faster than me. There were many 10K folks, too, so as I went into the zoo, I was still getting passed by 10K’ers.
My pace for this run was 30/1:30, meaning 30 seconds of running and 1:30 of walking. Unfortunately, it had ended up that the day was quite hot, and my run times kept being timed with uphill sections of the course. Not fun! I was going along and keeping my pace, though, while listening to tunes. Just as I was passing the flamingoes, a guy kind of stopped, kept pace with me, and gestured at me. I thought I dropped something, so I pulled my earbuds out. The guy said, “You’re doing awesome. Keep it up,” and he held out his hand for a “high five” (Okay, “low five” for him, but high for me!). Then he resumed his pace. Finish lines are normally the tearjerker moment for me, but my eyes welled up right then, too. I know how important pacing is for runners, so the fact that this guy went out of his way to stop and encourage me in that situation meant so much to me.
I’ve seen runners stop during a marathon to help someone who was stumbling. DH was having trouble in the super-heat on his first marathon, and a person who overheard him calling me and saying he was having trouble walked with him and made sure he was okay. When I’ve been last to the finish, people still cheer, and when it’s over, it really doesn’t matter what place you were in, people are happy and proud of you.
On the DISboards, there’s a forum for folks who are running the Disney events, and they have a saying there: LTF > DNF > DNS (Last To Finish is greater than Did Not Finish is greater than Did Not Start). On other forums, it’s considered rude to ask what a person’s time was unless they volunteer it. That you’re there is the important part. To me, what it comes down to is that runners have the shared sense that we’re all running just as fast as we can, and that’s okay.