Fact: I get really emotional at the start line of a race.
Looking around at people of all ages, sizes and backgrounds, coming together to run one unified course and do so to (usually) support a good cause is a mesmerizing display. In my opinion, it’s the utmost proactive statement of community and dedication to well-being.
For whatever reason you began running, whether it’s to get in shape for summer, prevent disease or just prove to yourself that you can, most people, myself included, began running with relatively self-centered motives.
Leave it to race day to put you back in place and remove the focus from yourself. When you’re standing in a crowd of thousands of people at a start line, all ready to run the exact same course as you, it registers that, while this whole time you’ve been acting and thinking for yourself – reaching for PRs and scheduling “you time” to train on a regular basis – every other person out there is striving to achieve the exact same goal as you: make it across the finish line.
As you’re waiting for the race to start, everyone’s adrenaline and energy intertwines and magnifies, and the energy becomes infectious. Massive speakers blast pump-up music, large groups in matching outfits cheer and whoop and onlookers congregate to cheer you on as you run down the streets, holding hand-written signs with encouraging words.
You look around and see the variation in the group. Young and old run side by side. Runners for decades prepare to race down the same course as someone running her first race ever. Couples, families, solo runners and packs of friends have all came here, ready to accomplish the same thing as you.
At this moment, you realize that you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. You’re a tiny moving cog in this massive world. You realize that while you’ve always seen your efforts, your training struggles, your victories – both in and outside of your running routine – as more important than anything else, there are countless others struggling with, reaching for and achieving the exact same things you are.
Seeing streams of people who have decided to push themselves, train for weeks, begin to transform their entire state of health or, at the very least, show up really early on a weekend morning, is a moving and powerful display of human strength and capability that I hope everyone can experience at least once during their life. Seeing so many people come together, all with varying motives, but all with the shared end goal of crossing the same finish line, is phenomenal to think about.
Yes, the actual race can be exhausting and painful, both mentally and physically. You may curse the day you decided to sign up for it and, with every atom in your body, want to stop halfway through, give up and call a cab.
But whether you dash across the finish line with a 5 minute mile or practically slither your body over it, you’ve made it, along with everyone else and participated in something larger than yourself.