Anyone will tell you that running is a pretty solitary sport. There’s a fantastic essay about it titled “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.” The solo aspect is, admittedly, one of my favorite parts.
But nothing we do is in a vacuum, and in (I think) the nature of this month of giving thanks, November’s Runners Tell All prompt is to show some love for your “#1 Running Fan.”
First, I have to get mad props to my parents. For getting me into the sport in the first place and then for spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on my beloved Brooks shoes. They drove all over the Bay Area to watch my meets. They stood for hours on golf courses, in parks, in ugly parking lots waiting for a 20-second glimpse of me running by (as my mom says, cross-country is not a spectator sport). They drove packs of my teammates to meets and home from practices. They drove the whole family to Fresno the weekend after Thanksgiving the year we made State. They volunteered to be head track coaches my senior year when, a month before the season, we didn’t have a head coach and thus wouldn’t have a team. (My dad then continued to coach pole vault for about 5 more years.)
And if they thought they were done when I graduated? Hah! They continued to drive me to road races, like the Wharf to Wharf. They came to watch my first half marathon in Vegas and my first marathon in SLO (luckily for them, I pick fun cities for my big races).
I learned how important that sideline support was in that marathon — the night before, we studied the course map and I pointed out “okay, you can see me here at the 20-mile mark and then you should be able to cut down Broad to Madonna to the finish. I should be passing that point at [whatever time], and if I’m not there by [later time] just go to the finish.” In the race, when I realized I was going sooooo much slower than I’d hoped/anticipated, I started to freak out a little that they wouldn’t be there at 20 miles and oh my God I won’t be able to finish if I don’t see them what am I gonna do everything hurts I wanna die ahhhhhh so I texted my dad to say “I’m at mile 19 don’t go to the finish yet.” And seeing them (and my husband) really made such a huge difference.
Finally and best of all, it took a few years, but both my parents started running too — sometimes even with me! My dad had run a little, off and on, when I younger, but started running more regularly when I was in college. And a few years ago, my mom even started running. We’ve run the Tahoe 10K a few times together, the Wharf to Wharf, and the Santa Anita Derby 5K (that was a whole family affair and it was awesome). Who ever would’ve thought that running would bring family together? (cheese alert, sorry)
Then (hah, you thought I was done?), let’s give it up for my husband. He puts up with me day-to-day now, supporting my every decision to run or not run, listening to me whine about not wanting to run on a particular day or go on and on and on about the ups and downs of my training (if you think I’m verbose here, you should hear me in real life). He wakes up at ungodly hours to drive me to starting lines and then either waits around or drives to a finish line to meet me. He deals with my piles of stinky laundry and doesn’t bat an eye when I come home with another sports bra and pair of running shorts, or when I reason that $120 for a race isn’t *that* much money, really…
Also, he proposed to me the night I finished the SLO marathon, so that was pretty freaking cool.
Who’s your biggest running fan? Or are you a runner supporter? If so — you rock!
photo credit: Hans-Jörg Aleff // cc