I like to think I am strong-willed, determined, and fitness driven on most days. However, the days where I attend a marathon to watch participants cross the finish line I feel like the biggest sloth in the world.
Yesterday morning, Paige and I drove to downtown Missoula and strolled over to the Higgins Street bridge where we watched as participants in the 2013 Missoula Marathon crossed the finish line, completing a task that many of us will never accomplish in our lives. For me, the first half of the battle is not even about getting physically in shape to do such an exercise, it is first wrapping my mind around the insanity of embarking on a race that is 26.5 miles long.
I envy marathon runners because they are in such excellent physical and mental shape. If I had to pick a group of athletes to go into battle with me I would make sure that after I picked some of the toughest wrestlers around I would choose a couple marathon athletes. A couple times yesterday the P.A. announcer at the finish line would announce to individuals completing the race that “You are now a marathon finisher.” I heard him say those words and I thought about how cool it would be if I ever got to have that distinction next to my name.
Under the beautiful sunny morning skies of Montana, Paige and I stood at the finish line and just soaked in one of Missoula’s premiere events. Runners from all over the country come to Missoula for the marathon (in 2009 it was named the best marathon in the nation) and in return the community really comes out to support them. I paid close attention to the reactions of people once they finished. Some, just like complete pros, finished through the line, stopped their watches, and casually walked through the staging area. Some cried. Some immediately looked for their friends and family who were waiting for them on the other side of the fence. Some grimaced in obvious anguish. All had the look of a champion.
I had a couple connections for this marathon. Our Associate Athletic Director, Greg Sundberg, was participating in the half marathon portion of the event to raise funds for a local charity (Jadyn Fred Foundation). I made a small contribution to the cause and received a sweet orange Team Sundberg t-shirt that I proudly sported on Sunday.
Additionally, my friend Shaun Rainey was participating in his first ever marathon. He pretty much started training for the race from scratch and came out a complete winner on Sunday when he finished in a little under four and a half hours. I got to see him cross the finish line and then subsequently give a television interview about two seconds later. Congrats to both Greg and Shaun.
I needed that reality check on Sunday to tell me that no matter how well I think I might be doing in the gym there are people out there doing much harder and much more remarkable physical tasks than me. I need to challenge myself a little more and get better. Thanks Missoula for the inspiration! Don’t Blink.