One thing I can never get used to is the pure enjoyment and emotion of being part of a race of the marathon or half-marathon magnitude.
My words here cannot do the feeling that accompanies these events justice.
First off, I am not all about pace and PRs and competition. I think that sometimes I may come across that way - but honestly I am the last person who is competitive as I am still a very slow runner, but I am a happy slow runner, and that is what counts! I am all about fun. If it isn't fun, why do it?
So, setting PRs and improving on a solid base come with time and are all icing on the cake - the real thing I get excited about is being a part of this whole thing. It is all about the experience.
When I toe the start line I do not think about pace or time or strategy. Of course I have goals for the race, and of course I get nervous for the unknown miles that will unfold ahead of me, but as I look around with people bouncing on their toes and warming their hands - I think about all the first time marathoners and half-marathoners that are surronding me. Awesome. I think about how exciting it must be to be doing this for the first time. I remember that anticipation. I think about the months of preperation for each and every person out there. That is amazing to me. These 13.1 - 26.2 miles are the culmination of months of dedication and sweat and fundraising and mental preparation.
Some of the greatest things that I take away from the race, any race, is not just the numbers on the clock as I cross a mat but rather the people I meet, the funny things I see, the raw emotion of being a part of something so much bigger than I.
For someone who has never done a marathon or a half marathon or even a 5K - there is something a little emotional about being in a field of people. The race is an equalizer. Rich, poor, thin, fat, bitter, happy, honoree, memorializer, fundraiser, marathon maniac, running newbie - every person will take in the same sights, smell the same smells, feel the same breeze or lack thereof... for those minutes, or hours, we are all on the same course. We all will start the same run. It is the events that unfold in those miles that makes the experience unique for each of us.
I ahve learned that the details are not what define the experience, it is the experience that defines the details.
Every race of this magnitude leaves me with a renewed excitement about running. This reminds me that there is a bigger picture, and I am happy being a paint stroke.