The last time I watched a marathon was probably nearly ten years ago.  I was still in college and over that period of time, a few sorority sisters decided they would like to train and run one.  I remember those fall mornings, standing on Minnehaha Parkway, watching them run by.

Today Whitney was registered to run the marathon and even though I am honestly the worst race spectator ever (this probably also has to do with the fact that I don’t like running with other people) I bundled up with my coffee and a bag full of cowbells, snacks and water (for me) and headed down to Lake Bde Maka Ska (FKA Calhoun).

My relationship with running right now is fraught.  I am not doing it.  I haven’t run regularly in nearly a year now.  I still consider myself “a runner” and yet I am not running at all as a combination of choice and circumstance.  The time simply doesn’t exist if I want to enjoy time with my son, spend time with my husband, eat a hot meal at night, or rest.  All of these things are non-negotiables to me but I cannot stop thinking of the people who would sacrifice food and rest in a heartbeat to move their feet.  Sometimes I doubt myself and think If only I was stronger.  More efficient.  More organized with my time.   But in my heart I know that I am.  I am doing the best I can with Right Now.  I have committed to starting again when Critter either starts sleeping through the night regularly (and I can wake before him), or when he starts to take a regular nap of at least an hour at some point during the day.  Then we can begin again.  Just not yet.

As I approached the Basilica driving down the  I-94 exit, I rolled down my windows so I could listen to the bells ringing for the runners.  It was really too cold for that, but this is the only time of year that they ring the bells for Other People and it is the nicest sound.

When I pulled my car over and parked it on the street, I saw dozens of other cars filled with people bundled up, getting ready to go and watch also.  Door after door opened and out hopped a cavalcade of spectators.  Some with signs.  Some with coffees.  Some with phones that they were eyeing intently.  Some ran toward the lake, afraid that they would miss Their Person.  Others enjoyed the walk around one of our prettiest lakes.  There were people on bikes and people in wheelchairs.  Moms.  Dads.  Grandparents.  Friends.  Babies.  Kids.  All traveling in the same direction.

Who are you here to watch? I asked.  Friends.  Fiances.  Brother-in-laws.  All Our People.

The lakes are one of the noisiest places to run and to watch.  From a half mile away I could hear the whooping and the clacking of the cowbells.  And then I was whooping and ringing my cowbell too.  Because I arrived so early, I didn’t see Whitney for nearly 40 minutes.  Even shouting for strangers, I had the best fun. 


2 responses to “Watching.

  1. It’s funny, because I found your blog while I was training for the 2013 TC marathon. And even though I completed that race, I don’t consider myself “a runner” so I think it’s ok for you to still consider yourself “a runner” even if you’re not running regularly.

    Raising Critter is one of the most important things you will ever do. It is a-ok to make everything else secondary. Running will be there when you’re ready for it.

    • Pete this was such a kind thing that I needed to hear. We’re all runners. Sometimes we do run and sometimes we don’t. I think the point at which we became able to choose to run or not is when we became runners as well. Take care and see you out on the paths someday!

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