While most people were rightfully cheering Lelisa Desisa and Caroline Rotich for their Boston Marathon victories on Monday, I was thinking about the runner in a shiny, dark purple track suit with a matching fanny pack who yelled “YOU GO GET IT!” during the previous day’s Sun Run.
With the BMO half marathon two weekends away, I did a long run on Saturday in order to spectate Canada’s largest 10K race on Sunday. With iced Americano in my hand and occasional guilt in my stomach, I stood on the corner of Oak and 6th as the swells of Sun Runners rolled by: intense-looking leaders with beautiful, tight form; loose packs of triathletes in their tri shorts and distinctive short steps; corporate teams with their sweat-soaked, white cotton t-shirts; a couple moving together like locked branches floating through a rough river current; teenagers walking in dejection after rocketing from the race start; steady pacers devoutly staying inside their zone 2; random sprinters frogging from the empty centers of the running swirls; a guy dressed as a bacon strip.
One runner stopped in front of me and unclipped his phone from the holder on his leather belt looped around his pleated Bermuda shorts. He slowly positioned his smiling face against the background of the running blob, clicked a selfie, slid the phone back into its holder, inhaled, and resumed his run.
Less Gear, More Speed?
I wondered if the amount of gear worn during a Sun Run was inversely related to speed. Less gear, more speed? I’ve been there. I avoid photos from my first year of triathlons, 5Ks, 10Ks, and half-marathons. The gear comforted me, but now the stuff makes me hot. With more years of training and racing, with events disappointing with their times, nutrition intake, or heart rates, I learn that my speed comes from my body’s fitness, not compression socks. Those things condition me and help my training, but it is all me on race day.
“YOU GO GET IT!”
Then came the loud runner, standing out with her purple track suit, head down, arms pumping. Another racer came to her side. I think the two knew each other since the faster woman tapped the track suit lady’s elbow. She looked up from the ground through her glasses, coiffed hair eroding onto her forehead, and yelled above whatever music or podcast playing on her ipod “YOU GO GET IT!”
Her loud words burst the steady rumble of rubber shoes skimming across 6th Avenue.
Spectators turned their heads to discover the screamer; some grabbed their phones ready to either call the police or make a video.
Runners looked around to do see if one of the pack had gone down, like a gazelle in those nature documentaries.
But no…No stopping to hug, no high-five from the track suit runner, just a moment of one runner breaking from her zone to acknowledge another.
She stayed with me on Marathon Monday. Her head-turning declaration was a fitting encouragement for the nearby runners whose gaping mouths could barely voice “water.” To me, it was encouragement to swim near the surface of this training and racing ocean – just deep enough that I can break surface, take a breath, congratulate a friend for their effort when they pass by.