10/2/13

Support . . .

Well - we're just 11 days away from the Prairie Fire Marathon and my GoRun Wichita Start2Finish training program feels sorta' anti-climatic (in their defense, they want us resting/saving energy/preventing possible injury by running fewer miles now so we can run longer, faster, harder, better on race day). I'm wrestling with a variety of final preparations (including trying to get faster and trying to mentally prepare for running with as many as 700 volunteers and thousands of fans lining the race course) but something else I am struggling with is how to handle people who are offering support.

What does that mean? Simply put . . . I have never been good at being appreciative or receiving kindness. My mother could tell you plenty of stories about how I've broken her heart and I have a still sorta' wife who can tell you how hard it has been to love me from time to time. NOW - if you combine that general hesitation with the fact that, with running, I'm doing something WAY out of my depth/comfort and trying to do something that I am capable of (I WILL finish) but not very good at (I'll finish, even with my expected run, after many, many FULL marathon runners) and then combine that with the notion that none of this training and challenge - despite all the social media deluge for the last four months - has been about attention or approval or appreciation or credit from others . . . and I just don't feel "good" about being cheered on.

Now - I get it. I'm an outlier and a fluke. I read a blog post early in my training from a woman who was actually OUTRAGED by the notion that people cheered more (in volume and spirit) for the slower runners than they did for her and her faster counterparts. She didn't seem to get that the reason we cheer for underdogs is because they are more like us - they are the "if 'they' can do it - I can probably do it" of the world. They also, as a slow runner, SEEM to be the ones most in need of encouragement. We wobble and we slow down and speed up. We sweat and can't breathe. We have erratic body movements. We don't look like the better runners. We look like we need the help. I'm sorry to anyone who will essentially sprint by me on 10/13 if I "steal" any of your thunder/applause.

What is the point of all this? To everyone who has been asking and kindly offering - no - I do not WANT you to come out and line the race course to encourage me or cheer me on. I don't think it will help me and, candidly, the notion of people lurking along the course who may be (impatiently) waiting for me makes me feel even more anxious. IF you want to support the race (there are over 700 volunteers needed - help) or if you want to come out and cheer on the thousands of other runners who will really appreciate it - DO IT! Please, please, please do it. The more Wichita turns out to support Wichita's marathon the more people will enjoy running it and the more it will grow.

If you want to come out for me . . . do something else. KNOW that it is appreciated but my own child won't be waiting for me at the finish line and she is, hands down, the most important person in my life and world and would probably be inspiration enough - if I didn't feel weird about wasting her Sunday morning while I was out huffing and puffing.

I very much appreciate that everyone has been so supportive and encouraging. I can honestly say (with all cheese implied) that you have helped me stay focused, dedicated, and moving. I want to be the person who will smile broadly and flash you a "peace" sign or maybe high five you or hug you in thanks for your presence. I would love to think that people caring enough about me to come out early on a Sunday morning and just hang out on the streets of Wichita would give me peace and strength. I can only hope that I'll someday be a person who can take a compliment, accept a gesture of support, or have a moment of genuine vulnerability that is met with kindness but NONE of those things will happen on Sunday, October 13th. I can and will only disappoint you.

Support the race. Cheer the runners. Encourage the process. But please don't make the morning about me or my efforts. I am not gracious enough to really appreciate it.