Standing on the sidelines has never been easy for me.
Whether it's attending a play for which I could have auditioned, a race I could have run, or a night of karaoke where I swear I have no desire to sing, at some point, I'm going to think about how I'd much rather be participating than watching. It doesn't mean I don't like being a spectator. I just would generally like to be more involved.
This morning, I decided to head down and watch the Livestrong Austin Marathon, since I wouldn't be running. I had thought about doing my Sunday four before I went over, but doing the math, I realized that I would have no chance of seeing the first runners if I had to finish four miles first. Instead, I loaded up a bag with dog supplies (food, water, treats, etc.), wrapped a couple leashes around my waist, and put the pups in the car. Against my better judgement, I was taking them with me.
We parked at a friend's house and walked the remaining mile to a point on the course shortly before the 6-mile mark. I found a spot away from the crowds, as the pups were incredibly excited by everything happening around them. From our perch, we cheered on runners, celebrating the start of the long downhill portion of the course.
I missed the first few runners, but was in position well before the 3-hour pace group ran by. I stayed around until after the 5-hour runners passed and the dogs made it clear they would no longer behave. During that time, one thing really jumped out at me: regardless of the pace they were running, most of the runners appeared, to me, to be going about the same speed. They weren't of course, but the one thing that determines how a runner looks is his or her level of effort. Almost everyone seemed to be floating and running with ease. It was actually quite beautiful to watch.
Now, I was watching very early in the race (relatively), so I can imagine that the look of ease dissipated somewhat down the road, but it was really quite wonderful to watch a race for once. I would have liked to see the finish, but such is the life of a man with dogs. Filled with all the race we could hold, we headed back to the car and home.
The dogs were very active the whole way home, so I decided we would try another 10-legged race, and the three of us would do the four miles I hadn't done earlier. They were less enthused this time. Eventually, I had one on either side a step or two behind me, our own little flying V, and the pups decided to help me with some resistance training. Overall, we were only a minute slower than our last run, and given the two miles we'd already walked that morning, I couldn't complain.
As our reverse sled dog team neared home, I thought back to the race we'd just watched. While I enjoyed cheering others on, the main effect the whole thing had was to refocus me on my own upcoming races. I realized, towing two reluctant pets, that at the moment, there was really nowhere else I would rather have been. For months, I've been seeking that joy of running that everyone talks about, and I've finally found it. I didn't have to race to enjoy today. I simply had to run.
Though I admit, it would have been nice to have someone cheering me on.
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