There’s a saying “you never know who you are inspiring.”
This quote sums up my first 5k race, The Rooster Day Run in May 2012. I was a bundle of nerves. I had been running for a few months, but I really had no idea of how to prepare. When that start gun went off, I took off like a shot — rookie mistake. Adrenaline got the best of me, and about halfway through the race I was feeling the effects of the speedy take-off. I kept huffing along, but my mind was screaming about my side cramp, leg pains, lack of air and just a simple “I can’t” kept rattling around in my head.
But I had two amazing things happen to me when I needed them the most. First, there was a man holding a young child waiting for someone they knew to run by. I was struggling, and I’m sure it was written all over my face. This total stranger said “Good job, you got this girl.” It was something I needed to hear because the monologue in my head was so negative at that moment. His brief comment was a reminder, “I can do this.”
I kept on running. I then saw this guy –
Yes, he stands out because of his long beard; it’s probably a big reason I noticed him. This wooly man was a bigger guy that was struggling. He was really pushing just to finish. I changed my thoughts to: “if he can do it, so can I. Dig deep like him and finish this race.”
I crossed that finish line and was hooked. Apparently, so was my bearded inspiration. I continually saw him at races (he still stands out). He was someone that had a positive effect on me, without even speaking to me, and you always remember those people.
I eventually learned his name without talking to him. We often ran at the same pace, and person after person cheered him on: “Go Scott! Way to go Scott!” I picked up that he was a part of a super supportive running group.
My bearded pacer was quite popular. This year I set the goal to meet at least one new person at every race. The only exception to my goal was races that I do with my daughter because my focus is on her. I was at the PostOak Challenge this past February doing the doubler. Low and behold, on day one I found myself right behind Scott. Instead of just running with him silently just listening to my music, I ran up and abruptly said, “Your name is Scott right?”
“Umm, yeah” he said (not really making eye contact with me.. stranger danger LOL).
I had to explain that I wasn’t a whack-a-doo, and told him the story of how he helped me finish and how we actually “run together” at races. But he looked so different from the first time I saw him.
“How much weight have you lost?” I asked.
“I am down 85 pounds,” he said.
During those final three miles, I told him that I had lost over 100 pounds on my incredible journey. I discovered that the Rooster Day Run was his first race as well. Pretty amazing.
We talked about running and how much it changed our lives. We talked about diet, exercise and getting healthy. We talked and finished the race together once again – but this time, as friends.
The race world is pretty awesome. We wave and chat at races now. He continues to inspire people to run with his running groups, and I know they appreciate it. I know I did.
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