Monday, October 21, 2013

A run of inspiration.

Well it's been a while since I've written here on Barbers Without Borders.  In the past five months since last writing about yerba mate, I returned to the States from the stinky, noisy, chaotic confines of Buenos Aires.  Planning only to stay for the summer time in Denver, I found myself so enamored with Colorado all over again that I decided to stay and make a life for myself in my hometown, winter and all.  Who knows how long it will last, but I'm grateful to be somewhere so beautiful, peaceful, and welcoming to me.

I've been thinking about writing, a lot, knowing that it needs to be a part of my life on a very regular basis.  Just because I'm not traveling, does not mean that I don't have like fifty topics for blog posts swimming around in my brain.  I actually have a list of them started and will get around to all of them, especially since the weather is cooling and I must remain indoors in order to survive.  Yesterday morning was the perfect event to inspire me to sit down and begin writing again.

I woke up at about 11:45am(barely the morning, I know), after staying up too late watching my guilty pleasure on Hulu with my brother and finishing a pint of Ben and Jerry's.  I had wanted to get up earlier, but there was no chance of that.  I was wanting to get up so that I could walk a mere two blocks away and watch for a friend running the marathon that was happening on this chilly autumn morning.  The route passed very close to my apartment and the finish line wasn't much further either.  So when I finally did get up, I immediately put on shoes and a jacket over my pajamas, used the loo, and headed out the door in hopes of still being able to catch some of the race.  Little did I know I was in for a very emotional experience.

As I reached the intersection of 10th and Logan, I saw plenty of people running by, an officer directing traffic in the gaps between runners and one woman standing on the corner cheering and cheering and cheering.  I stood opposite of her and watched the runners go by.  "You can do it!  You're almost there!  Seven blocks to go!  It's downhill!", she repeated over and over while clapping to encourage and support the weary runners as they neared the end.  This intersection is less than a mile from where the finish was and I soon found myself overwhelmed at the energy and emotion from the entire scene as I imagined what each and every runner must be feeling so close to completing, in my opinion, an enormous task of running 26.2 miles.

"Holy crap", I thought to myself, "These people have had this huge goal for who knows how many months.  They have trained and suffered and pushed themselves in order to be able to do this, and now here I am, watching the culmination of all that hard work and I'm in my pajamas."  Admittedly, I was choked up as I became inspired and touched at the will and abilities of the human body, mind and spirit to push and push.  I saw many women which I thought was fantastic; people of all ages, sizes, some running full force, some limping, some walking, but each and every one having the same experience of endurance.

I decided I wanted to go to the finish line so I could see what was going on there and feel the special energy of the completion.  I made my way along the route, just a few blocks to the finish.  There was small groups of people gathered more and more frequently each block closer that I got.  Many people had signs, patiently waiting to see their loved one pass by.  I continued to feel very emotional, that lump-in-my-throat feeling was with me the entire time, and I was loving every minute of this special event.  At one point, very near the 26 mile marker, I passed two men sitting on a small hillside adjacent to an apartment building.  I jokingly said to them, "Sort of makes you feel like a lazy bum, huh?" to which they replied, "Oh, we just ran the half marathon."  Oops, my bad.  We had a chuckle over it and I looked at their medals as I mentioned that clearly I was the only lazy one out on this gray morning.

I made my way to the finish line at Civic Center Park and it was a full on party.  Bands playing, people gathering and cheering, music on loud speakers, but most importantly, runners crossing the finish line.  If I thought the emotion of the interior of the race was powerful, I was not prepared for the finish line!  There were runners sprinting towards the finish, no small feat after running for five hours.  I saw lots of couples cross the finish line together, holding hands and cheering.  I saw a few runners limp across the line only to be immediately attended to by medics and wheeled away in wheel chairs.  And I saw more than one runner burst into uncontrollable sobbing as they completed the race, and achieve a tremendous goal.  Families waited to hug and congratulate, and plenty of kisses were had. There was a small group of volunteers waiting just past the finish line rewarding the runners with their medals of completion, criers, couples and gimps alike.

I stayed at the park and enjoyed the energy for about thirty minutes.  I happened to see my friend cross the finish line and I hugged and congratulated him then went about my way.  I left the park and followed the race route back to my house.  A few blocks in, I saw what was the most inspiring moment of the entire experience for me.  At about the 26 mile marker, I saw an older gentleman running and simultaneously pushing a large stroller with an older disabled child in it.  The tears flowed as my heart was touched by the incredible amount of love involved in such a feat.  Running more than twenty-six miles pushing a child who may not have been able to walk, but no doubt was able to feel the energy and love of the entire event, and unknowingly contributing greatly to it.  I could not stop smiling the entire way home.

My heart was so touched and I am so inspired by everything I saw and felt during the race.  I had no idea it would be such an emotional experience to watch people run.  However, it was much more than running I witnessed yesterday.  I was watching dedication and commitment, support from strangers and loved ones, determination and endurance through pain, traffic waiting patiently, achievement of goals, the light of the human spirit and a deep love of life.  All of it on a cold, cloudy day in the brisk autumn of Denver.  

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