the nyc marathon was magic

My son Jack and I were at mile 25 of the NYC marathon last weekend waiting for our friend Liz to cross the finish line.

We were early, and spent an hour cheering, shouting out every name we could find on each shirt that passed.

“Let’s go Carlos!”

“You got this, Sarah!”

And so on.

It’s the magic of the marathon. The energy of the runners transferring back and forth with the people on the sidelines. It’s palpable.

Jack and I got cold and, realizing we had 30 minutes to kill, found a nearby playground. We reminisced about the good ol’ days when he was a toddler on the slide and a little boy on the swings. Now, my young tween found a rock wall to climb, and I cherished the seconds of my time with him.

When it was getting close to Liz’s finish according to the app, we hoofed it back up the hill and found another spot to stand at, around mile 25… only to realize we had missed her by 30 seconds!

Should we run the last mile and find her? Part of me felt like stomping my feet in the stupidity of missing her, not keeping better track of time, not being more aware, etc.

Instead, the two of us laughed at the irony of it all, sent my friend a congratulatory text, and kept on cheering for a few hundred more runners.

I love to cheer at races. Observing the different ways people run, the way they smile or grimace, the way they are taking on one of the most insane challenges a human can attempt…the inner strength in every set of eyes is pure inspiration.

I love the idea of sending positive energy from the sidelines to the people who might need it, especially at the very end.

But while I love to cheer, I love even more to run. I have vivid memories of every twist and turn of that same NYC marathon, running aside my good friend Katharina who preferred not to talk while we ran, but indulged me because she knew I needed the distraction.

I also have great memories of the Boston Marathon, as a cheerer for 4 years as a Boston College student, and then as a runner for 4 years as the guide to my friend Dan Berlin, who is blind.

My last Boston Marathon was the year before Covid and I guided another friend who is blind, a woman named Elizabeth.

I remember talking to Elizabeth during the long road to downtown Boston (remember I like to talk!) and nearly 1/3 of her commentary was about gratitude.

Not a moment of the experience was lost on this person who once had sight, but then lost it.

Running your own race doesn’t have to be a marathon. Walking a 5k has the same kind of magic. The motivation to train, the crowds to cheer, the feeling of goodness when your foot crosses that finish line no matter what your time.

Or use that strength to help someone else, as a guide or even as an emotional support. Running is HARD and all the self-doubt you have inside finds its way to the surface, usually at 1am the night before. Maybe you can help someone get through it – as a guide, or as a friend.

Or maybe get out there and cheer. At a local race or, if you can, at a marathon.

I promise you, the positive energy you give and receive will fill you up to the brim. It’s the human condition at its best – cheering for people you’ve never met, lifting up another soul who needs it, finding the words to comfort a person in the 3-5 seconds they pass you by…

It’s love-in-action.

So sign up to walk or run that race…any race. Or guide someone who needs it. Or get on those sidelines and share a bit of your positivity and humanity.

The world needs more of you.

With fierce love,

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