Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hero of the Hour

Without a question today's all-time great superstar in my book and on my blog is BayCityWalker, hitherto referred to as Steve. Today Steve plugged in his first of two 20-milers in preparation for our shared goal of the Portland Marathon on October 1. Walking 20 miles is frankly a big fat hairy deal for anyone but when you're talkin' about walkin' that distance with a little thing like...oh, severe asthma, then your accomplishment is truly remarkable! This moves someone out of the "Good for you!" zone into the "You are freaking amazing and I admire the heck out of you!" solar system. Kudos my man, kudos!

I've read an article here or there and seen a blog or two that reflect a negative attitude a small portion of runners have toward walkers participating in their events, but lucky you, you stumbled onto my blog and so now you have the honor of reading my opinion on the matter and it goes something like this; if someone crawls on their hands and knees across the finish line or if they only go half the distance but they gave it their best and they've worked hard to do it, then slap a medal on them and call them a champion. It's about doing what you can do, giving your heart to it, and going all the way and for that matter, who is anyone to say that someone's best isn't good enough?

That's my opinion, and here's my experience, based on my vast and illustrious walking career, all nine months and one half-marathon of it. I've found that runners who resent walkers are more the exception than the rule.

After 12 country miles I finally turned onto the curbed main road to pound out the last 1.10 miles that led to the town square and the finish line. Unprepared for the brutal heat, dehydrated and cranky as a napless toddler at Disneyland my brisk little pace had melted into a wimpy little shuffle. With all the runners, joggers, and racewalkers having crossed the finish line long before, the only spectators remaining to cheer were the hearty, faithful few waiting for a friend or loved one at the end of the pack and yes, there they wife Dana and two friends, Melody and Steve.

And the runners.

Those who had already finished the race were now heading back on the sidewalk in the opposite direction toward their cars or hotels, finishing medals gleaming around their necks, and as they passed this weary pathetic walker, reading my name on my personalized racing bib, they would call out individually or in groups, "Keep going Anita, you're almost there." "Way to go, the finish is just ahead Anita." "You've done it, congratulations Anita!" I tell you the truth, I get teary even now telling you. I would have been satisfied feeling like a kid sister tagging along with her older sibling among all the other participants but the genuine support they showered on me in those last yards made me feel like I belonged. Like I was one of them.

And so far I've experienced that same sense of camaraderie among bloggers, whether walkers or runners. We're all doing something we love, we're pushing ourselves to reach our goals and along the way we're cheering each other on. A chunky phatgirl trying to reach a crazy goal before 50 slaps her upside the head. A guy with severe asthma and the determination of a mule. A mom who was clearly not born to run but who runs anyway and on occasion wears her clothes inside out. A man who juggles while he runs in races because apparenty just running isn't quite enough. I love how different we are. I love how much the same we are.


Steve said...

Anita, Thanks for the Ego Boost ( not that I need a Bigger head)
You crack me up! And you continue to amaze me with writing skills. I especially like the part about your opinion of some runners.

You've overcome a few obstacles yourself.

jeanne said...

awwww...thanks for saying I only occasionally wear them inside's not like an everyday thing!

you are so right about runners and walkers. I am a very slow runner and will probably always be, but I get nothing but support and encouragement from the faster folks. It's all about pushing ourselves to do our best, whatever that may be.
amen, sistah!