This morning we had a Heels and Hills 5K chip-timed race in Irving for $5. For no advertising except word of mouth, and on a Sunday no less, we had 78 runners and walkers come out. I get so giddy on mornings where I race direct. Seeing everyone so excited and happy before the race. I love to cheer people in as they finish. And it's great to see the smile and happiness of the finishers, well, most of them anyway.
I can not tell you the difference in facial expression and reaction between the top 20 finishers and the bottom 20 finishers - worlds apart! I was so sad to see the top finishers unhappy with the heat and their times and so intense in their facial expression. I know they are "real" runners, hardcore, out for the win, running their hearts out in the heat. But the focus of these low-cost events is on having fun while staying active. I'd love to have them slow down a little and have the same experience crossing the finish line that the last 20 finishers had. There's nothing like cheering on people as they cross that act like they aren't happy to be there. And I know they enjoyed the event overall but where was the fun?
The last 20 finishers celebrated with me as they crossed. They pumped fists in the air. They had broad smiles plastered across their faces. They cheered on the person behind them coming into the finish next, even if they didn't know the person. They had little mini-competitions in the last 100 feet to the finish line - a hard kick of two people side by side faux-fighting it out for the top finisher of their own little mini-race. At the end of the day, these are the people who had the most fun, got the most out of the morning's experience, and were the happiest.
And this second group, these are my people. I'll never be fast enough to be part of the first group I described, but even if I could be that fast, I don't think my personality would fit anyway. I'm the dork at each half marathon that's "just happy to be there". I celebrate each race finished and love to see others doing that.
That second group of people made my day and thank you to them for helping me remember after I got up at 4:30 am why I'm here.