Because I’m such a rebel, this is a little Throwback Friday for you.
I really hate those shirts that say “Running Sucks.” So much so that I have a shirt with the opposite message: “Not Running Sucks.” Sure, there will be times when running feels like it sucks (e.g. when you’ve hit the wall), but even if that moment sucks, in no way does running overall suck. Running keeps us honest, shows us what we’re made of, teaches commitment, brings us joy, helps us stay healthy…I could go on and on. We all probably need a reminder sometimes of why running is awesome. With that in mind, I submit to you this memory from 2013.
2013 was the year I ran approximately 400,000 races. Or 40. Whichever. It was also the year of the bombing that shook the Boston Marathon, and with it, the rest of America. I wanted to do something to show my unwavering support for my sport and my country. Of course (of course!) I had a race the weekend after the attack, so I decided to carry a flag over the entire 10k distance. I plucked my parents’ flag from their porch for a brief test run around the neighborhood. Keeping the chilly pole aloft was a challenge, but the encouraging honks I got from passing cars was enough to keep me going. I had proof of concept. Mission: Run with the Flag was a go.
On race day at the Pike’s Peek 10k (yes, that’s the spelling), I was joined by my friend Kim who had agreed to sacrifice her time to hang with me in case I needed help with the flag. Unsurprisingly, Kim is the same good soul who crewed for me at the JFK 50 Mile Race. I saw several other flags among the field of runners — I wasn’t the only one who had been inspired to show America and the running community’s strong spirit as it grieved. Fellow runners on the course commented about how good it was to see Old Glory, and offered their support. Fueled by adrenaline, the energy of the crowd, and cups of water snagged by the dutiful Kim, I finished the race without ever walking or letting go of the flag in a respectable 58:59. We even managed to zip down the final hill at a 6:30 pace! I’d thought that my arms would be destroyed after carrying the flag for so long, but I banged out 15 full-extension chin-ups to hustle a guy for a T-shirt at the finish festival.
If your motivation to run is flagging (pun very much intended) — find it again! Running definitely doesn’t suck. It’s amazing what you can do when ignited by genuine passion.
Also, for those of you cool enough to have recognized my Chive shirt (one of several I own; I’m a dedicated Chivette), KCCO!