Small Town, Big Heart

“I think small towns are the closest to heaven you can get on earth.” -Diana Palmer

I can tell I’m going through race withdrawal. There comes a time when just doing the daily run isn’t enough. You wake up, get dressed, go outside and run. Then you come home again. There is little interaction with the outside world. There isn’t any award ceremony. There aren’t any photos taken. There are no cheers or encouraging words spoken. There is just the run.

I’m not saying that is a bad thing. Some days it is all I need. But sometimes, there is just something about that race…

Friday night was the night preceding a 4-miler that I didn’t know if I’d be able to run or not. I had lead legs. And, I did a P90X Legs and Back workout that morning. Not smart. But I figured it was just a 4-miler. And I needed to do that workout. I’ve been skipping it over for weeks. Besides, last week’s 4-miler was called because of the rain. That was a bummer.

So, I awoke in plenty of time to get out there. The weather was more than pleasing, and I was feeling rather spry.

“I think I’ll go and have a good run.” I said to myself.

I said goodbye to my husband who had no idea where I was going. It took an extra minute to remind him that I did have a run this morning.

I had to get on the Interstate to get to this run…and I must say…there is something about getting on an empty Interstate early on a Saturday morning that just smells of a run. I’m alone…I have my coffee and my P90X Protein Bar. I have my bag of goodies and my directions to the race. I have my phone, earbuds, and I’m dressed and ready to go. The sky is clear, the air is cool…and the drive is silent. Ahhhhh! It is like heaven!

Empty Interstate

Empty Interstate

I realized how much I miss this…this moment. I know it sounds weird. But if you do this I think that you understand it.

I got to the race with plenty of time to spare and it is a good thing. I was almost certain that I registered for it, but when I got to the packet pickup, they couldn’t find my name. The woman there was nice enough to set me up for the run and said she’d look online to see if they could find the registration as I ran. She didn’t want me to miss my run. It is like she understood that I just wanted to run.

I came across a friend there that I don’t get to see very often. She had just started running herself, and is working on a couch to 10k program. She had two friends there running with her. One was running her very first race! I reminisced with her about my first race, which was a 4-miler as well. In fact, I was going to run that one again for the 4th time, but it was the race that was rained out last week. Gosh, have I really been running for 4 years?

It was great to chat and hang with women and other mothers who were looking forward to running. It was fun to look around and see all the people, all shapes and sizes, all ages, both genders, excited to run their race. There was laughter, tech talk, and a guy on the loudspeaker calling the shots. There was a 1-mile run, a kids fun run, massages and booths. It’s electric. It’s exciting. It’s soothing. It’s fun. It’s heaven!

There weren’t that many running the 4-miler. I’d say about 150 or so. It was a nice crowd and a nice circuit on a path that ran through the backyards of a new neighborhood. You had to duck for low hanging branches! And you had to maneuver up and down sidewalk edges. There were even water stops at every mile! And there were a few spectators…not many…but those who were there cheered and clapped. I ran with all I had that morning to run with. Surprisingly, I passed more people than passed me. I passed cross-country kids! I passed 30-something guys. I passed women my age. I just kept running with what I had.

It was a small crowd. A small race in a small town. People are friendly in small town races. They cheer you on as you pass them. They pat you on the back when you cross the finish line. They get it.

At the FInish Line

At the FInish Line

There were bagels and fruit and granola bars at the finish line. There was plenty of food for everyone. The results were posted as we crossed the finish line. And the race director told me she was so sorry she couldn’t find me in the database.

“That is OK,” I told her, and went back to my car to get her $20 for the race fee.
“I’d have paid it twice, anyway.”

New found runner friends crossing the finish line!

New found runner friends crossing the finish line!

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I may not have PR’d. It may not have been my best run ever…but the event makes it all worthwhile. The people, the race, the town…the experience. I won my age group and got my dorky medal. And there was someone there to snap my photo. And I met some new running friends. And I got my exercise in for the day. Who could ask for a better Saturday morning?

Me and my medal

Me and my medal

Do you prefer small town runs or the really large racing events?

5 Responses to Small Town, Big Heart

  1. Patti Smith says:

    From the 4 I’ve run, I can tell you that I like the smaller races better…for the very reasons you mentioned above. You are going to inevitably end up seeing someone you know. And, it’s just plain fun to run with a bunch of other people who love it and get just as excited about it as you do 🙂 In small runs, my 9 year old is free to roam around with the other kids, sit on top of cars and yell for all the moms! That in itself is worth paying a race fee twice 🙂

  2. Gene says:

    I like smaller, low key events as opposed to large races. I stick mainly to ultra trail races, so the field is usually pretty small and everyone knows each other!

  3. I agree, and particularly for summer races small town races are great.

  4. Thanks for being such a huge inspiration, Theresa! It was fun seeing you at the race this weekend!! 🙂

  5. Congratulations! Sounds like it was a great race. I too, LOVE small town races. I ran a very small half marathon last weekend and could not believe the LOUD, enthusiastic cheering at the finish. It was what you’d expect for the winners, but I was pretty far back. Very cool.

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