Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful for my cheering section

Kara and I before the race
By Megan Brooks

We hovered near the starting line of the Fort Worth YMCA Turkey Trot 10K at around 7:45 this Thanksgiving morning. My sister-in-law Kara and I looked silly as we bounced up and down, hoping to get warmer, our toes freezing in our thin Vibram Five Finger shoes. It was 44-ish degrees, but felt like 34 degrees, with 20 mph winds and ominous clouds sputtering out light raindrops. Wasn’t it just 80 degrees yesterday or did I dream that? We were ready to get these 6.2 miles over with and enjoy our pumpkin pie, we decided.

We weren’t suffering alone. My loyal spectators, husband Brian and stepson Brendan, wished us good luck and headed to the sideline to see us off – shivering, but smiling for my sake.

Video of the start of the race:

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I never needed a cheering section while running races when I was single.

Ever the independent gal, I’d always drive to the events by myself and run them solo much to the bewilderment of my girlfriends. Isn’t it much better to rope someone else into suffering through these things with you? Or at least convince someone to cheer for you during the final stretch, nearing the finish line? I never thought so.

I much preferred going it alone, actually. And gee it’s nice to see smiling, cheering faces of folks you know when you’re finished – but ask them to wait around for an hour or so while you run? Totally unnecessary, I thought.

Nowadays, my husband Brian and stepson Brendan tag along as my unsolicited entourage, snapping photos and offering encouragement. Are you sure you want to come? I don't mind going alone, I often say, feeling guilty for dragging them out of warm beds early on a weekend morning only to fight traffic, maneuver through crowds, and wait around for an hour or so while I run. It feels sort of selfish. My husband always brushes this off, giving me a don't-be-silly look, like it's a given they'll be there for support. I always feel terrible anyway. It’s cold, it’s boring, and we’re subjected to seeing enough fit-looking exercise enthusiasts in spandex to make us feel sufficiently bad about ourselves.

Brendan at my half marathon
The point when guilty turns to grateful is during the final stretch. This is when the finish line is in sight, and I’m half flooded with relief that it’s almost over but half filled with panic that I haven’t left myself enough energy to sprint to the finish. I’m usually pushing with all I’ve got, moving on fumes and adrenaline, digging and digging for what I need to finish strong.

It’s during the final stretch that I spot them – happy, silly grins, Brendan pointing and yelling at me, Brian looking as proud as if I’d just won the Nobel Prize. They genuinely look glad to be there. And that’s when I stop digging and find just what I need to finish strong right there on the sidelines.

Of course, kids and husbands have a way of adding things to your life that you never knew you needed. Little does the single gal realize this.

Today I have a mountain of things to be thankful for. To name a few: legs that carry me 6.2 miles, sister-in-law running partners to bounce up and down in the cold with, and, of course, loyal cheering sections. I couldn’t make it through without them!

Megan Brooks is a Stepmom and a Sr. Public Relations Specialist for Texas Health Resources.

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