Thank You for a Great Year, Huntsville Running/Tri Community.

OR…

Why My Running Community Is Better Than Yours

Disclaimer: I actually have no idea if my running community is better than yours. I just am high on love for the running peeps in my city and I want to spotlight them and their awesomeness. If your peeps are this awesome, please tell me so that I can add your city to my list of cities to which we are allowed to relocate if need be.

All of my Finisher's Awards for 2013. It's been a good year.

All of my Finisher’s Awards for 2013. It’s been a good year.

It is no secret that I come to running as a giant dorky clumsy newbie. I have earned my athleticism as an adult and was born with no natural abilities to enhance that. I make no apologies for my lack of grace or speed. I am proud of who I am as a runner and for how far I’ve come, regardless of how I compare to others.

All of that said? I’m super-intimidated by the other runners in my community. Especially the fast ones. Like my husband. Now, I’m not intimidated by HIM because I wash his sweaty underwear, but all of his friends and the members of our local racing teams and the winners at the races? I’m TOTALLY intimidated by all of those people and I sometimes convince myself that they don’t really like people like me – COMPLETERS, not COMPETERS – being in their way.

But let me tell you – my 50K today shoved that in my face as a big ole fat lie of my own insecurities that has no truth in reality whatsoever.

This was my second year doing this 50K which consists of 10 laps at our local cross-country park for a total of 31 miles. The winner last year was there today, and after he lapped me 5 times last year, I learned quite easily what he sounded like coming up from behind me. The first time I heard him today I jumped off the trail to get out of his way and HE APOLOGIZED to me. He ended up setting the course record today but HE apologized to ME. Like his record-setting speedy self needed to apologize to me and my hobble. It was such a humble and polite (and terribly unnecessary) gesture that proved how kind even our fastest runners are.

And then there’s the group of elite/race team guys cutting up and cheering me on when we passed each other in opposite directions. And later some of them commented on how much of a “badass” I am. These fast guys who KILL my race times even on their bad days were calling ME A badass. And then there’s the elite girls, kicking ass and telling me, “You got this, girl…” as they run past me. They take the time out of their own prize-winning race to cheer ME on.

And it’s not just because they know me. One guy today introduced himself to me as he passed me and we spent the rest of the day cheering each other on. Then there were the girls I didn’t know close to me on the course, and after you do 10 loops you see those people around you many times, and by the time the day was over? We were cheering each other on.

Then there’s my friends. So many friends I’ve made in the few short years I’ve been running in this city. Friends that give me the boost I need exactly when I need it because they can tell by my face I’m not doing well. Friends that see I’m doing awesome and call me beastly. Friends that offer to help me with my mints and my ibuprofen because my hands are frozen.

Some of these people I met last week at a Christmas party for the first time, yet they cheered for me each time I made another loop today. Some I’ve known since my first half-marathon. Some are Donnie’s friends but they act like they’ve known me as long as they’ve known him. And then there are the dozens and dozens who I don’t know at all but who take the time out after the race to tell me I did great and to congratulate me. And then – THEN – we have this amazing athlete/photographer who donates his time and talents to our races to give us AMAZING photos to document our achievements.

And let’s not forget the Tri community here who blends with the running community seamlessly. They helped me into my first multi-sport season even though I was a basketcase who couldn’t swim or bike. They encouraged me and hugged me and taught me and cheered for me. There is no way I could have made it through Tri season without the supportive friends and strangers at every race.

Maybe runners are like this everywhere and every city has pockets of amazing people supporting each other on these monumental challenges. To be honest? I guess I kinda hope every city offers that, it would make me feel proud to be a runner.

But today I’m just overcome by the love and support in MY city. With MY running community. From the winner of the trophy to the last person to cross the finish line. We are surrounded by support and encouragement and I owe every accomplishment I achieve to these people in this city. They’ll never know how much the pats on the back give me strength and the “You go, girl!”s push me forward. I hope I do a little bit to return the favor with my “WOOOOO!”s every time I see a familiar face.

It’s the least I can do to pay back the supportive runners around me.

Thank you We Run Huntsville and your Facebook community. Thank you Fleet Feet and your training programs. Thank you Team Rocket Tri. Thank You Huntsville Track Club for providing so many excellent and well-supported races that I’ve become spoiled and am always disappointed when I run elsewhere. Thank you runners who show up at races and save the tiniest bit of your energy to share with others on the course in the form of smiles and cheers. I’m proud to be surrounded by you and I’m honored to be running with you. Maybe every city has a community like this because runners are inately awesome people. Regardless, today I love my running community here in Huntsville and I thank them for helping me set new PRs in 5 races this year with their training and their support.

Here’s to an even better 2014.