As I mentioned in yesterday’s post1, today was the Toronto Waterfront Marathon – a marathon that I had signed up to run a few months ago. The very same marathon that I didn’t train for sufficiently and hence had to DNS2 this weekend. And as I mentioned yesterday, I was quite bummed about all of this. I really should have put in the effort to run it.
Should’ve. Would’ve. Could’ve.
The point is I didn’t run today but I did get up to see my friend Mark off. Watching him go through the morning marathon ritual, heading down with him to the starting gates, feeling the electricity in the air, the nervous energy, the smiling faces; it all could have been a huge reminder of my big fail. Instead it was nothing short of awe-inspiring. It reminded me why I love running. The sense of community. The sense of pride. The challenge. The struggles. The success and overwhelming sense of satisfaction at conquering something amazing.
As the horn sounded for the first wave of the marathon I watched the runners pass by. The training, the effort, the hard work was all behind them; what lay before them were forty-two point two kilometres of highs and lows that would ultimately lead them to the finish line and the sweet taste of victory. I watched as Mark ran by, looking strong, smiling as he started his long road to his third marathon. I knew what he must have been feeling. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched him go.
I wandered about for a bit; grabbed a coffee and some breakfast, and basked in the overwhelming sense of inspiration I’d just been given. I thought about my upcoming Goofy race. I thought about the work that needed to be done between now and then. I thought about how I am going to crush it. No more excuses. No more slacking. My thoughts were on repeat: Suck it up Gillis.
I watched the runners at various points throughout the race before making my way to the finish line. I saw runners of all shapes and sizes; from the scrawny and gaunt to the muscle-bound and sometimes overweight, the young, the old, the differently abled. It was impossible not to feel inspired. It was impossible not to smile and cheer them on.
I saw a man collapse with 200 metres to go in the half marathon. He was immediately surrounded by paramedics who watched as he vomited several times. He shook it off like it was nothing, got back up and kept running.
Later I witnessed another man collapse in the very same spot. He was running the full marathon and in much worse condition. I watched as another man helped him up and walk him across the finish line.
I was privileged to see an 81-year-old man finish the full marathon in 3 hours 33 minutes. I was humbled watching the wheelchair marathoners push through the final hill of the race to thunderous applause. I was moved when I saw a man run the final few hundred metres with his two sons. And I was almost brought to tears when I saw another man cross the line and begin crying what I assume were tears of joy, of accomplishment, of doing something that seemed beyond what anyone should be capable of doing.
I watched as person after person finished the half or full marathon, completing whatever journey they had set out for themselves. I watched their smiles grow. I witnessed their joy. And it was awesome.
Today was incredible and I am inspired.
I Am Inspired.
1 And by mentioned I clearly mean whinged.
2 Did Not Start. Insert sad face here.
- Boo. Just Boo. (consumedbywanderlust.wordpress.com)
- The Difference Between Running and Racing a Marathon (saltyrunning.com)
- You: Chicago Marathon 2012: Runners to Watch for at the Finish Line (bleacherreport.com)
- Avoiding an Injury When Training for a Marathon (massageenvy.com)
- Rainy weather doesn’t stop determined marathon runners (cbc.ca)
- This Is What Happens When Life Happens. (consumedbywanderlust.wordpress.com)
- Elderly runners steal Toronto marathon spotlight (cbc.ca)
- The Gravity Of Travel (consumedbywanderlust.wordpress.com)