26.2 lessons I learned while watching people run 26.2 miles

Yes, in fact, you can’t take me anywhere without me getting all philosophical and reflective on you. I find lessons in almost everything. At a concert? Yup, there’s a lot to be learned. Surfing? Oh my god I can go on forever about that. Cooking, eating, walking, shopping, the list can go on and on. I take a simple, every day, or fun activity and turn it into something profound.  So of course while watching the Boston Marathon there were many many lessons to be learned (26.2 to be exact).

Here they are:

  1. Going to watch an event alone can be totally fun.

I learned this one from my friend Beth Cormack. I remember reading her blog post about     going to see Pope Francis in DC by herself  and it so resonated with me. At first I did feel really lame going to watch the Boston Marathon by myself, afterall, in Beth’s case DC wasn’t her hometown, It wasn’t the town she grew up and went to college in, so it made more sense for her not to have anyone to go see the Pope with (at least this was the BS story I told myself that almost stopped me from going to watch the marathon). I did text a bunch of friends a few days before the marathon to see what they were doing but either they were working (lame), drinking (something I felt too old to be doing), or had plans with other friends. I then realized how freeing it was to decide to do what I want when I wanted. I didn’t have to worry about what time I was going to meet up with other friends or where we were going to watch the race. I got to choose (now I see why introverts love to be alone or do things on their own, it can be a lot easier and sometimes a lot more fun). And once I got to the race at a time I decided upon, and stood wherever I wanted, I had a lot of fun and of course learned a lot of things, hence the birth of this post. The people around me were super nice and we were all there for the same reason, to cheer on the amazing people running 26.2 miles, they didn’t care if I was there alone or with friends, they didn’t judge me or think I was weird, so what was I so afraid of when I was deciding whether or not I should go watch the race? Doing something I had never done before, I guess.

2. Realizing you have a choice to decide what your priorities are and where you choose to spend your time is extremely important and powerful.

Like I said in lesson #1, many of my friends were working on Marathon Monday and they were pretty bummed out about it. I remember last year working at the hospital and being tortured by the fact that I wasn’t at the marathon (I did live stream it from my work computer and then I left early to go watch the end of it, sh, don’t tell my boss), but it wasn’t the same. I did some reflecting while being at the race early this morning and I realized that between last year’s marathon and this year’s I had made the conscious decision that spending my time the way I wanted to, doing the things I wanted to, was a priority for me and that I was going to create a life that revolved around that. You are not meant to miss out on the things you want to experience most in life, and if your job is stopping you from doing certain things, I suggest you take a look at your situation and see how you can improve it.

3. Gratitude for my body, for what it can do, for my health, and for all of my limbs.

This is one of many people who ran/rolled 26.2 miles today with a prosthetic limb or disability. Watching these incredible warriors always lights me up with complete inspiration and respect for their dedication, their mindset and their resilience. After experiencing this today I had to express deep gratitude for my health and for having all of my senses and my limbs. The people who decide to run marathons when they are paralyzed, or blind, or have a prosthetic limb, never ever cease to amaze me. Like sh*t, I’m over here complaining because I have acne and my butt doesn’t fit in my shorts and these people are RUNNING MARATHONS. Definitely one way for me to check myself, express gratitude for the healthy and amazing body I am living in and understand what incredible gifts I have.

3. Attending events and being around people is part of my self care.

As much as I do love some quiet time and being alone, being at the marathon today and cheering all of the runners on, showed me that this is a way to fill my self care cup up. I absolutely love motivating and helping others and I believe I did that while being at the race, screaming for people I didn’t even know and will probably never see again. I felt so “full” and happy during and after the marathon and I knew this was something I deserve to do on a regular basis.

3.1 I can’t count

I have two #3s and I’m keeping them both because I’m attached and committed to both of them LOL

4. Being an empath isn’t only for sad or negative situations and emotions.

There was so much love and camaraderie at the marathon today and I could feel it in my body and soul, even though it wasn’t directed towards me. Watching the families and friends scream for their loved ones, who then ran over and hugged and kissed them, was so heart-warming. The excitement and love the families exuded was contagious and made me and everyone around them smile and join in on the cheering. It was so refreshing seeing the pride and enthusiasm that came from both the runners and their people on the other side of the barrier. Usually I tend to notice my empathy in negative and depressing situation but it definitely feels a lot better to experience it on the other side of the spectrum, with positive emotions such as love, joy, pride, excitement and kindness.

5. Although we live in a very individualistic society, community and camaraderie still exist.

These 2 women, who I assume are strangers with the woman in the middle because they have different bib colors, carry this woman across the finish line, giving up their race time and their own finish. This was amazing to watch. There were many other instances where I saw runners patting another runner on the back who was walking, and giving them words of encouragement to keep going and continue on. To see that people still cared about one another, that they put any sort of competition and pride to the side because they were all working towards the same goal, finishing 26.2 miles, was extremely refreshing and hopeful to experience.

6. People watching can be the best form of entertainment and inspiration and it’s free!

Every time I was about to make the decision to leave the race, I would see another extremely entertaining and inspiring person and decide to stay longer. A person dressed as an angry bird, someone with a tutu, another person with a balloon animal on their head, a dude running while juggling, were just a few of the entertaining ones. I also got to see a guy wearing a free hugs t-shirt and giving people air hugs while running and a girl running with a believe in yourself banner.

7. Watching a marathon can be almost as tiring (well probably not, but I kind of did feel like that) as running one.

A few hours into watching the marathon I caught myself complaining (to myself of course because I was alone). I was tired, I was hungry, and I was thirsty. My legs hurt from standing, my throat hurt from screaming and my hands hurt from clapping. And then I had to take a second to check myself. I looked right in front of me and saw people who were almost done running 26.2 miles, who were dehydrated, who’s legs were cramping and who were completely exhausted  and I’m standing there thinking about how crappy I feel. HA. That was the last time I thought those thoughts while watching the race.

8. Having the same running shoes as the guy who came in 2nd in the men’s elite division as well as many of the other marathon runners, is pretty cool.

          

Peep the guy’s shoes on the right. Those are the men’s version of the amazing Nike shoes I just got for my birthday and that I’m training for my half marathon in. You could say my confidence level and running ability just went up a few points for sure.

9. Doing anything with a smile on your face makes it so much more enjoyable for you as well as the people around you.

Watching the runners who were wearing a huge smile on their faces was incredibly refreshing and heart-warming. I was standing at mile 26, so to see people still smiling after running 26 miles was amazing. It also put a smile on my face and instantly made me feel better. So then I got to thinking, what if I just smiled while doing things I didn’t want to do? Would it make me feel better? I think at first it will probably make me feel ridiculous and silly but feeling ridiculous beats feeling unhappy any day so I’ll choose smiling while washing dishes, cleaning, doing laundry and running and see how it makes me feel.

10. Cheering random strangers on is exhilarating and creates as much energy in yourself as you are giving to the other person.

If you know me personally, you know I only have 2 volumes, loud and louder. Being able to be my “louder” self at the marathon gave me so much energy. It was exhilarating and exciting to yell a stranger’s name that they had written on their arm or their shirt because they wanted you to cheer them on.

11. Drinking beer while finishing up a marathon is possible.

Yes, I did see a guy opening up a can of PBR while heading in to mile 26. It was pretty foamy as I’m sure he was running with it for a bit before opening it, but he definitely took the whole, “I run to drink beer at the end” thing to the next level. I wish I snagged a photo for proof, but just believe me on this one.

12. There is no discrimination when it comes to running a marathon.

I saw runners of all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds, and abilities completing the marathon. People from all over the country and all over the world traveled to Boston in order to take part in this race. The diversity was incredible to witness. There were runners as young as 18 (a 7 year old even jumped in and finished the race with his dad) and as old as 85. Some had never run a marathon before and others had run hundreds. It didn’t matter. They were all there for the same reason, to complete 26.2 miles.

13. Fear does not stop Boston.

It’s been a few years since the Marathon Bombings in 2013 ( I actually can’t believe it’s been 4 years already) and there is no fear in sight. Only strength, courage, honor and dedication. Yes, security is heightened, as it should be, but the crowds were still huge, the people were still positive, and everyone was excited to be there.

14. Momentum can create a huge shift.

When the crowd would start getting a little bit louder than normal, cheering extra hard for someone, everyone else would start cheering even louder as well, and the increase in excitement and sound would go up dramatically. Goes to show how a few people who get really passionate and excited can affect an entire crowded area to really ramp it up.

15. Having no personal bubble is extremely helpful.

When there are so many people is such a small area, all trying to get to the front and see the same thing, being okay with having people be super close to you, is a plus. I had so many people brushing up against me, or hitting me with their bodies/bags but I totally didn’t let it bother me. Being in a crowded event, like the marathon, or a concert, or anything of that nature, having your personal space invaded is  something you need to expect. As long as people aren’t doing it intentionally or maliciously, you can’t let it bother you because then it ruins your experience.

16. Kids get away with so much and they don’t care what you think of them.

There was a little boy behind me trying to see who shimmied his way to the front (which was totally cool as I wanted him to be able to see). He then proceeded to touch the woman’s hand and wrist next to me who was holding a camera, as she was trying to take pictures. I’m not sure what he was trying to do but he was speaking to her in a different language and it was kind of funny to just watch their interaction. There was another little boy, who stood next to me at a different point during the race who was probably around 3 years old. All he did was complain about how tired he was and how he didn’t want to be there (obviously he didn’t get my point in lesson #7). His dad was running the marathon and he was mad at him for not winning. LOL. Literally, kids don’t give a sh*t about what they are saying or doing, who they are saying or doing it to, and whether or not it’s going to hurt someone else’s feelings.

17. Not having anyone I was waiting for to meet up with after the race felt kind of freeing and kind of lonely at the same time.

Everyone around me kept coming and going, I was the only one who stayed in that spot the entire time. Loved ones, friends and family members would run by and the people around me who were cheering them on would go leave the spot I was standing in to go to the finish line to meet up with them. I did have a few friends running but I wasn’t meeting up with them after the race so I still stood there, cheering on strangers, and waiting for other people I knew to run by me. It was nice to be able to stay there and continue cheering everyone else on, truly caring about the people I didn’t even know and wanting to motivate them to keep going but it also made me feel a bit lonely and left out when the people around me kept leaving and I had no reason to go.

18. Watching people do an incredible thing such as run 26.2 miles, motivates me to want to do the same.

Every year while watching the marathon I say I want to run one, I get so motivated by watching thousands of others do it and I know I could accomplish it. But then a few days go by and I forget about my desire to run a marathon. The motivation fades because I’m not in the environment of watching one and I go about my usual habits and routines. I know this happens not only with wanting to run a marathon, but with so many other things I want to do, experience and accomplish. It’s a fabulous realization and now I know I have to constantly motivate myself to do different things by watching videos, looking at pictures, visualizing, and getting myself in that environment more often than just once a year if I want to hold on to my desires and accomplish them.

19. Being prepared is not overrated.

I knew I was going to be watching the marathon for the majority of the day but I did not bring any water or snacks. BAD IDEA. This did not help the feeling of tiredness and hunger I was battling for hours  and definitely did not improve my experience.

20. Patience helps.

Being in an extremely busy and crowded area, you are to expect lines, chaos, and for things to take longer than they normally would or longer than they should. Patience helps with all of this. Not being in a rush and understanding the circumstances goes a long way in allowing you to enjoy yourself and the entire experience.

21. When you are looking really hard for something (or someone) it’s much more difficult to find.

This happened multiple times to me and the people around me. When we kept checking our phones to track our loved ones, and friends, the people we were waiting for to see, when we were looking super hard in the crowds to find them, they would run right past us and we would never know it. But when we just trusted that we would see them, that they would be coming soon, and that we would find them easily, they would appear right there, in clear sight, with no stress and we would get a great photo of them. This can totally be applied to relationships, jobs, life in general. The more we stress out about something, the harder it is going to be to get because that stress and worry is actually a lack of belief that we can do it.

22. Making signs and cheering on the marathon runners can be a great advertising and marketing campaign.

I know the picture is kind of blurry but these 2 signs say, “Whine now, Wine later” and “Run like Millennials run from commitment.” LOL. These are amazing. They have the names of 2 restaurants in Southie, Capo and Lincoln, on them and is such a fun and unique way to advertise. I’d love to have those girls jobs, “yeah, we get paid to go watch the Boston Marathon while holding up signs for the restaurants we work in.” A pretty fabulous idea.

23. Layers are your friend.

This kind of could have gone under lesson #19, “Being prepared is not overrated” but I’m really digging for lessons to complete this list so this one is going on it’s own. A more practical and less philosophical one as well, but it still counts. I unfortunately did not wear layers when going to the marathon and that was a silly mistake (I should have known better knowing the unpredictable Boston weather).  The sun would come and go, sometimes I was in shade, sometimes I was catching a tan, but most of the time I was cold. It was pretty windy as well and I definitely regretted my decision to just wear capris and a tank top.

24. And so are comfortable shoes.

See lesson #23 as to why this one is also on it’s own. I fortunately did get this one right and wore sneakers. Thank god because there was so much walking and standing involved, nobody as time and energy to worry about their feet hurting and being uncomfortable.

25. Not wearing headphones while running makes you faster.

Okay so I totally just made this one up but I’m sticking with it. For the first time I noticed the obvious fact that the elite runners don’t run with headphones or listen to music at all. I don’t know what the exact reason is behind this but they obviously must have a reason. I’m a hypocrite and totally contradict myself on this one because I always run with headphones and music blasting in my ears and I definitely find that it motivates me and makes me fun faster but if these amazing people can run at such ridiculously fast paces for such a long time, they have some serious internal motivation and mental power. I don’t think I’m there yet.

26. Making the hard choice to do something you’ve never done before, something out of your comfort zone, is extremely rewarding.

If I hadn’t gone to watch the marathon, I wouldn’t have learned all of these amazing lessons I’m sharing here with you all. I would have missed out on an epic experience due to fear and negative thoughts. It may seem like something that’s totally fun and of course would have been an easy choice to go attend but sometimes, for some people, it’s not.

.2 Writing a list of 26.2 things I learned at the marathon was clever yet extremely ambitious. I got halfway through and I was like uh…can I be done now? 

2 thoughts on “26.2 lessons I learned while watching people run 26.2 miles

  1. Bobby says:

    Great job with your post. I actually almost felt like I was there watching. I loved your goal for the 26.2 not an easy task I’m sure. Keep up the momentum and continuing on with som MASSIVE ACTION.

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