Sunday, May 15, 2016

Do You Remember Your First?

Today I cheered at a race with a very special focus. The Get Fit, Live Fit, Be Fit 5K was designed to inspire new 5K runners and walkers. Although the race was open to anyone, 5K "first-timers" got a special shirt, race bib with a personal touch, and a medal at the finish line.

Medals for the first-timers

We were encouraged to welcome the first-timers and help them feel comfortable. It was inspiring to talk to the runners before the race. The story that sticks in my mind the most from before the race was Martin's. He said a year ago he was in the hospital having heart surgery. And now he was running a 5K! 

One of the cool things PR Races did for this race was "inspiration boards". These boards were created in the Potomac River Running stores and office. I'm especially partial to the one below which was created in PR Reston. A lot of the Cherry Blossom Training Program participants wrote on it. And my son wrote that "MOM" inspires him (red capital letters on the right edge). He may have also drawn a zombie and a light saber...

What inspires you?

The first timers had special green shirts and blue bibs so we could easily find them. And they had hand-written inspirational notes on their bibs. Classy.

"You are amazing! Terrific job!"

After watching the runners and walkers start the race, I headed down the street and set up around mile 2-1/2. I kept the cowbell going with my left hand and gave high fives with my right. It was fun, and especially cool to see the people I had talked to before the race. After the last runner passed me, I headed back to the finish line. Seeing the expressions on first-timers faces when they saw the finish line in sight was priceless.

More cowbell!

I talked to a lot of the runners after the race. The story that stuck with me the most was Kimberly's. She told me she wasn't sure she could do this, because she is a "pack and a half a day" smoker. She did it, though. She did it with style and a giant, proud smile. She told me she was going to quit smoking and do this again. I hope she does. That is inspiration at its finest.