all the feelings

The NYC Half was last weekend which makes me feel like spring is officially within sight. Running season is here. I wrote about this when I wrote about the NYC Marathon and the East Hampton Half, but I love watching races. My eyes well up every time.

exploding dog
this is from a cartoonist i’ve loved since college “Exploding Dog”

For me, it’s basically two things. First, the sense of community/friendship. When a runner grabs the hand of a friend and they pass the finish line holding hands, I think my heart might burst. When someone spots a familiar face cheering in the crowd? That’s right. A person stood around in the cold just waiting for you to run by so they could tell you how great you are and how proud they feel. What is better than that? No one stands next to my desk at work screaming WAY TO GO, HABER. And I imagine no one does it at yours either. Races are special.

The second thing that gets me all happy and excitable at races is the rare and real chance to watch someone achieve a goal. I know it’s cheesy, but seeing someone try so hard and then DO THE THING makes my insides melt. Where else can you do that? A graduation may be one strong example. Those destroy me too. I once attended a GED graduation and cried the whole time. I didn’t know a single person graduating, I was there for work. They played “World’s Greatest” by R. Kelly and then I really LOST IT.

Other than that, when can you watch someone meet a goal? It’s like dance recitals for grown ups.  I can cheer for you, in your freaking face while you achieve your goal.

Isn’t that why all of us non-athletes get so into working out anyway? Where else can you totally control how hard you work and what your accomplishment looks like?  It’s why all of us desk jockeys run marathons, compete at crossfit and do ironmans (I think). We don’t need to push that hard to be fit and healthy, but isn’t it super freaking cool that we can?

near the NYC Half finish line
near the NYC Half finish line. if you squint you can see Matthew in the yellow shirt. we’re just two heel strikers trying to make it in this wild world

But this year, the nice weather has had another impact on me. It’s making me a little bummed because even though we are nearing shorts weather, I still can’t run. I know eventually my ankle will heal and I’ll go back to running, hiking, jumping and spinning. I even think wearing orthotics and resting has helped. (Please don’t let saying it be a jinx!) But if I am going to be honest in the raw, un-pretty way honesty can sometimes be: I’m jealous. I’m jealous of people who can run right now. I don’t feel that all of the time, not at all. But if I am baring it all, sometimes I do.

Warm weather means the park is crowded and I wish I could be out there too. But I’m containing myself. I am not standing on the Park Drive throwing rocks at runners’ ankles anytime soon. You are all safe. And anyway, isn’t private, internal torment the way to go? Also, my aim is terrible.

Most of the time, or enough of the time, I have perspective. I know that shit happens. Its just a sprained ankle. It’s fixable. I’m not a professional athlete.  I am not benched from life. But I do feel out of control. There is nothing I can do to make my ankle heal faster. All I can do is work on my mind state. And I am working on it. OKAY?

Either way, I plan on cheering no matter what. Cheering at races is one of the easiest ways to experience some of the best of humanity.  The happiness of watching a race outshines the rest of it. Also, please let me know if anyone you know is graduating anytime soon and you can bring a plus one.

I like graduations, too.


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