Inspiration Finds Me

Everyone needs a little pick-me-up. Everyday of the year. If you can’t find inspiration, it will sometimes find you. My year has been spent languishing in the doldrums. I was downright angry and bitter with what work took away from what I’ve enjoyed, and it didn’t seem fair.

While I don’t have anything to prove in my running – those days were over when I proved my father wrong in completing the Penang Bridge Half Marathon umpteen years ago – I do want to continue challenging myself. Can I extend myself a little longer, a little faster? That’s the unfinished business end of my running. And it’s always good to have the spectre of unfinished business hanging over your shoulder because it keeps you going during the lean times. For me anyway. I’m that type who needs challenges to keep me going. The day I no longer have the fire in me will be the day I’ll find it hard to stay the course.

It’s difficult not to be stirred watching the 40th running of the New York City Marathon late last night. The sight of the elites, some floating efficiently, some not but all super fast, always thrills. What ramped up the excitement factor were the familiar sights of the race route and the cheers of the spectators. The long stretch of Brooklyn’s 4th Avenue where I was cheered on, the nonchalant Hasidic Jews crossing the road in Williamsburg (the men’s lead pack nearly ran into one!), the climb up the Pulaski Bridge at the halfway mark and exiting the Queensborough Bridge into the roar of the 1st Avenue. The painful slog up the 1st Avenue and into The Bronx. And the finish.

Then there were the performance of the “seniors” who rolled back the years – Meb who made 2009 his year, the annual trademark crazy surge by Ramaala up the 1st Avenue in response to the screams of the crowd, the number of mothers (4 apparently! Champ Derartu Tulu is a 37 year old mother of two) in the women’s lead pack of 5. They all debunked the myth that you get slower with age. Plus the celebrities and VIPs, Ed Norton (3:48.01), Anthony Edwards (4:08.20 missing his sub-4 target), Alanis Morissette (4:28.45, hopefully with less angst than apparent in her songs!) and George Hirsch, 75, former publisher of the RW magazine (an amazing 4:06.14 finishing alongside longtime friends and fellow running luminaries Amby Burfoot and Bill Rodgers).

The cap it all off, I checked out the typically inspiring New York Times feature called Marathon Voices and the NY Times’ photo coverage of the event begs to be checked out. Splendid photos and amazing stories. ER’s Anthony Edwards who was joined by Tegla Loroupe in yesterday’s race, Team Hoyt, Major Phil Packer were interviewed in Marathon Voices. But the best stories of all are told by normal and unassuming everyday people like you and I, everyone as uplifting as the one before. If all those don’t get you out of the door, I don’t what will.

Anyway, here’s what I learn from the feature. All good advice to share.

  1. Running must be fun.
  2. Running need not be just a time away from routine, make it an exploration.
  3. You need not be an athlete before you start becoming a runner.
  4. Everyone who crosses the finish line are as happy as the winner.
  5. Be great at what you’re good at.
  6. Take one day at a time.
  7. Inspiration is everywhere.
  8. It’s never too late and one is never too old to start.
  9. Our health is our responsibility, we owe it to ourselves to take our health seriously.

Some reports to watch out for from fellow runners, friends, blogger – Marci | Frank | Alex Gonzalez (sub 4 PR!) | Dogpound (who didn’t run but volunteered).

All these make me feel like I haven’t fought hard enough to regain the lost and important part of me. That will all change.