As I ran for several hours this past weekend at the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon, I realized I had a couple of things to say. First, I do not consider myself a runner. My life is lived in a general state of irony and so this truth may not seem obvious. I don't really care about that. I also have as big a hate on for corporations as is possible, and had already decided that I would hold my nose and do this hugely corporate half marathon because I love Seattle, Washington.
I have run at least 12 half marathons in the last two years, punctuated by the occasional 8k or 10k race; this was the first overtly corporate (Dodge being the lead sponsor). Yet, when I admitted to the City Hostel Seattle person who called a taxi for us at 5:00 race morning that "if I can do it, anyone can," I wasn't just talking about fitness. I don't have an attitude that's going to make anyone any money. I, my beautiful husband and 25,998 other runners got up that day hours before sunrise to get to the start on time. I wonder how many of the other runners had smoked for 30 years. The race is filled with stories and, as it turned out, the rock n roll people know how to tell them.
Two and a half hours later, my bloodied toes and blistered feet do their best to cross the finish with dignity. The race felt like a fiction in parts, with rising action, emotional attachments and several epiphanies. I openly wept for the young woman running in front of me because the back of her T-shirt said "1960-2010. I'm running for you, Mom." Broke my heart. I lost count of the ribbons and pictures and pins and buttons that appeared on the garments of many other runners. I have run with similar ribbons.
This race was different. For instance, I did not know until hours after the race that there is a runner's group of widows of fallen American soldiers: a tribute for these soldiers lined the route's right side, along Mile 7. Usually, this is the point in a race when I lose sense of my surroundings. Here, I could barely cast my eyes over to the many runners who tapped each of two dozen posters of these soldiers. I've never experienced anything like this while running.
My next race is the Acura Ten Miler in Toronto. It's unlikely that I'll call myself a runner there either.