Friday, July 19, 2013

Paying it Forward (while being torched at Torchlight)

I ran the Torchlight 5k earlier this week in downtown Minneapolis. This event wasn't about me trying to blast through a fast paced race, it was about paying it forward. I love running, have for more than three decades now. And I love sharing that passion with others, whether it's during a morning training run with experienced runners, or it's chatting during a brown bag lunch Q & A session with co-workers. The latter, which took place a couple of months ago, gave me an opportunity to invite more folks into our world, encourage them to stick with it, and to aim for an event together. I hope that I was able to convey my enthusiasm and sense of personal satisfaction to them, as well as to answer their many questions about training, injuries, gear, and how to do their first-ever race. (Quick note: not all of them were first-timers exactly, but racing wasn't a habit for any as of yet)

In the weeks that followed, we all planned to run the Torchlight as Team MIA. Unfortunately, it was a steamy, hot, humid night - I was a bit worried about my teammates, but tried to share some common wisdom during the day (hydrate, slow down, etc.). It was really hot out there, and I know that I backed off any ideas of "racing" and just tried to run a steady tempo pace (even then I was fading a bit during the last mile). Luckily, everyone on the team made it through the event and finished smiling (and sweating)!. Results, although the website with the results seems to be offline intermittently. I enthusiastically high-fived them all, feeling proud of them, but also soaking up their own sense of accomplishment. I've run nearly 750 races in my career, and I suppose it would be easy to take them for granted now ... but sharing the experience with runners who are relatively new to the whole concept can re-invigorate you, help you remember what it was like the first time you entered a race and finished it. Very cool. Here we are, on our feet and sharing the feeling.

George Sheehan said, "The difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank." While that may be an oversimplification, what I like about the quote is that it sets an achievable goal and shows the world that our sport is welcoming to anyone who is interested. We're all in this together guys, even though we all face our own internal demons that threaten to hold us back, make us give up, and glue us to the couch. We battle those demons alone, ultimately, but during the battle it's sure nice to know that we've got allies all around us.

Keep up the good running all, and remember to welcome everyone, always.

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