Feel Good, Get Inspired, Cheer!

Start of the Harrisburg Marathon. Yes, those are my arms!

Start of the Harrisburg Marathon. Yes, those are my arms!

I remember the first time I watched a marathon in person. It was two weeks before my first marathon, and an extremely moving, exciting, inspirational, and somewhat scary experience. Standing near the “1/2 mile to go” mark, one witnesses humanity at its most raw, human state.

I had goosebumps as the wheelchair athletes and elites flew by, somehow making it look so easy to work so hard. I yelled words of encouragement as runners dug deep, some bowing their heads, as they pushed toward the finish. Some athletes stumbled, fell, or held onto the fence or NYPD officers as their legs cramped and buckled underneath them. Other athletes ran in costume, carrying their country’s flag, or wore pictures of family members on their backs, running in their memory.

There was also an indescribable energy coming from the crowd. It’s perhaps the one sporting event where everyone is cheering for everyone else to succeed. No one is cheering for a team to win or lose, we all want to see everyone do their best.

I remember how excited I became for my own marathon journey, but also how intimidated I was. My marathon goal was soon to become a reality, and here I was locking eyes with so many broken, pained, joyful, human people. I was going to be one of them, which was scary. How would I handle that raw, human moment? Would I be able to rise above it? The marathon gave me hope that I could.

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I wonder every year how many people decide after watching a big-city marathon to embark on the marathon journey themselves. How many people are so moved, so inspired, that they take on the marathon quest? I’m a believer that it’s a quest anyone can achieve – though it certainly should not be taken lightly.

The most special thing about the marathon, to me, is that once you cross that finish line for the first time, you are never the same person. A new confidence, a new view of yourself and what you can do – the marathon changes you. It is perhaps the best kind of change we can ask for. How many times do we say in life that we aren’t good enough, aren’t strong enough, aren’t capable enough, aren’t deserving enough….finishing a marathon is proof that you ARE enough of all those things.

Perhaps watching a marathon won’t make you want to run one yourself. And that’s totally fine. But I bet watching one will give you a skip to your step, and make even the most cynic person smile and perhaps have faith in humanity restored – even if only for one day.

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