Monday, September 23, 2013

Running Angels

On Sunday September 22, I ran a half-marathon in Jersey City as part of my training--The Newport Liberty Half Marathon.  It was my third half, and my time was great in comparison to my previous half-marathons. It was a beautiful, dry day, with clear blue skies and wonderful views of the Statue of Liberty and the new Freedom Tower.  We ran part of the race through Jersey City, where police officers held back traffic and the light rail for runners to cross, and then through Liberty State Park. I didn't take any lengthy breaks, just a few stops to stretch and refill my water bottle.  

But despite the perfect weather and the gorgeous views, it was a tough run for me.  For some reason, I thought that since I'd been doing longer distances, that a half would be a breeze.  I wasn't nervous at all, didn't have a problem sleeping and I didn't worry about it at all.  How naive of me to think it was going to be easy!  

Photos courtesy of Jessica Barton! 

Look at me, all casual (second from left)!  Easy!  Right?  Ha! 

I think I started out a little faster than I should have, and got really tired in the middle of the race.   We were running on brick walkways for much of the race, and I started I feeling some achiness in my hip and down my leg.  We also had to kind of do a couple of switchbacks in the route where you would to double back and be running past people going in the opposite direction which was somewhat disconcerting.  A few times you could see the route spooling out in front of you and runners streaming ahead of you for a mile or more.
 Lady Liberty and the runners! I am out there somewhere!

So after a while these things started to play havoc with my mind.  Negative thoughts kept popping up. "Oh, when will this be over? Why am I having such a hard time with this?  I hope I'm not hurting my hip!  Look at all those runners going faster than I!  How am I going to run the NYC Marathon if I can't even run a half marathon? I still have to run all that way?"

Freedom Tower--such a cool view!  Note the brick walkways.

It was a very long half-marathon.  I was struggling, wishing for it to be over.  

And then I saw three people running just ahead of me.  Three people I now am thinking of as my running angels. 

The first two people were a pair--a blind runner, and his running guide from Achilles International, an organization that enables people with disabilities to participate in athletic events.  The two of them were linked together by a stretchy band that each held in his hand.  The third was a woman who was in her early 70s at least.  Her face and legs were creased with age, but she was strong and had an effortless stride with hands held low at her sides.

I can't say that my brain and body suddenly felt awesome or that I didn't have a negative thought for the rest of the race.  But when I saw these three, I was inspired and rejuvenated  at a time that I really needed some help.  

The blind man ran the half despite his lack of sight, and put his trust in his guide to bring him safely to the end.

The Achilles Guide was running the race not just for himself, but for someone else, who couldn't run it without him. 

The woman was running a half marathon in her early 70s, at an age when many start to decline in health and fitness.

Seeing these three people really helped me get through my last few miles.  I didn't know who any of them are, and I will never see them again. But I think I will remember them for a long time.   I was lucky to have had them as my running angels that day.  

Who or what inspires you when you are having a tough run?  Do you get your inspiration from inside or outside?  Is there anyone that you remember who said something or did something for you that helped you get through training or a race?  


  1. "The woman was running a half marathon in her early 70s, at an age when many start to decline in health and fitness" -- lucky her! For me that age was 32 ... GOOD LUCK, NANSTER! -- Vinnie

    1. Ha! I only hope I am still able to run at that woman's age! She looked great.