Happy Thanksgiving Eve! May your turkey trot be super speedy, super fun or super both! May your feast be joyfully full of love and laughter. We Salty bloggers are feeling the holiday spirit and have joined together to deliver one of our famous holiday roundtable posts, where a bunch of us bloggers reflect on one topic. We’ll be taking tomorrow off to run our own turkey trots and to spend time with our families (NOT shopping, thank you very much)!
Last year we naturally reflected on what we were thankful for. Of course, we Salty bloggers are thankful for so much: our health that allows us to follow our running dreams; all the friendships we’ve made through running; porta-potties. This year, we decided to go a little beyond the tried and true thankfulness post. This year’s topic is instead acts of kindness for which we are forever grateful.
This Thanksgiving, we share moments when we were the recipients of extreme kindness from others. Please share yours in the comments!
I have made so many incredible friendships through running, but I don’t think it would have happened if not for the kindness of one of the first running friends I ever made. Early in my competitive running days, I trained exclusively alone. My husband and I would hit the park and he’d go one way and I’d go the other. I even went to races alone. Because I lived in a running bubble, I had many preconceived notions of people, mostly that anyone at a race was a competitive jerk (I think this was a case of the pot calling everyone else a kettle). This all changed after one fateful early spring race. I ran with a woman for almost the entire 5 mile race, only for her to pull away the last quarter mile. As I raced up the hill to the finish, she waited for me. Me – the lonely, cranky, overly-competitive newbie, who was probably at once berating myself for not going with her and hating her for leaving me in the dust. But yes, she waited for me and talked to me with genuine interest and ultimately became my first and one of my best running friends. I wouldn’t be the happy, social, (relatively) well-adjusted runner I am today without that simple act of kindness, and forever I am grateful. Thanks, Eva!
During my last marathon, while having an anxiety attack at mile 18, Melissa from Atlanta stopped in her tracks to ask me what was wrong. Not “are you okay?” to which the answer is always a Pavlovian “I’m fine,” but “What’s wrong?” That difference was key, because it made me see that she was genuinely interested in my well-being. And when I told her I was having trouble keeping on, she told me she would help me get there… and then she did it. It was amazing having her at my side, telling me when to walk and when to start running again, telling me to take water, telling me to eat a Gu… Without her I most certainly could not have finished as well as I did, if at all! Her kindness will never be forgotten!
I can’t pick out one specific kind gesture I recall from any particular run, but would like to thank each and every volunteer who has ever handed me a cup of water, supplied me with fuel, or gave a smile or high five when it was needed. Running volunteers are the ultimate in kindness to runners!
I’ll never forget how a complete stranger let me into her home at mile 25 of the Provo City Marathon this year. I was dying quickly and found that I needed a pit stop – urgently! I looked around and there was not a race-sponsored aid station in miles. I ran up to a house where the residents were sitting outside, watching the race and breathlessly asked if I could use their facilities. They must have been runners themselves because they recognized my desperation and let me in! Crisis averted, I finished the race strong. Running means we meet amazing people every day, despite adverse circumstances.
When I was training for last fall’s Monumental Marathon, I came down with some kind of stomach bug two days before my second 20 miler. I first thought I could tough it out, but then decided to rest and recoup. This was a stressful choice for me, because I was worried that pushing my run back to Sunday meant I’d be doing it solo. However, luckily enough, massive amounts of rain meant that other people rescheduled their runs, as well, and a new running friend who I didn’t know well at the time also had 20 on her agenda. Score! I met her early the next morning to see if I could make it through the 20. Naturally, we started talking about upcoming races, and when I asked what fall marathon she was running, she said she wasn’t – she had one planned, but her schedule changed and it was no longer feasible. But, she went on to say, she was still training with her running buddy doing Marine Corps; the buddy had run 20 miles the day prior in the rain. “So… if she ran yesterday, and you’re not running a marathon, why are you running 20 miles today?” I asked. She simply replied, “You needed someone to run with you.” I was so touched that someone who I barely knew would do that for me. I’m thankful for the kindness and selflessness of people like that runner, who is now one of my regular Saturday morning crew.
A couple of summers ago, I was at home visiting my parents and I had an 8 miler in store. I decided to take the old route that I always ran growing up, back through some winding neighborhood roads. It was probably about 100 degrees that day (not exaggerating), and I had made it to about mile 6, but was feeling pretty dehydrated and crappy. All of a sudden, a car came creeping up beside me. At first, I though, oh crap! Better start running faster, there’s some creep following me now! Then, I hear, “Hey, Ginkgo!” It happened to be a family that I used to babysit for when I was in high school. The mom was a runner too, and must have known I looked a little fatigued; as they slowly passed, she handed me an ICE COLD water bottle and said to keep it! I couldn’t believe the timing. Kind and amazing.
After this year’s Paul Short Run was canceled because of the heat, our coach still had us tempo the course before they shut it down. For awhile I worked alongside my team, but I was having calf problems. I was actually going to wear my black compression socks during a 90-degree day – they hurt. We stopped to get water around the 4K mark, and the girls on my team I had been working with dropped out. I almost collapsed on the course, but kept running, and a girl from another school who looked just as bad as I did came up to me and asked if we wanted to tempo the rest of it together. With someone on my side, everything felt better. We gabbed and gabbed, and before I knew it, we were 400 meters away from the finish. We kicked it in together. It was amazing that someone I had never met before was willing to pick me up and give me the courage to keep going — it shows how compassionate we are.
At the beginning of June, my boyfriend, Patrick, had to do his “two weeks a year” obligation (AT or Annual Training) as an Army reservist. He’s a non-runner and admittedly hates running and always groans at the thought of sitting around at an ultra all day. He got lucky with his AT landing right before my first 100 mile race and he missed all of the craziness. Well, AT ended the day before Mohican and he was seven hours away in Maryland. Instead of staying the night there and driving home the next day, he drove back to Ohio and met me at the hotel in the middle of the night and woke up with me at 3:30 the next morning to see me start the race. And he spent the next 27 hours crewing for me and meeting me at the aid stations when he didn’t have to. It meant to much to me to have him there for me and along he way and especially there to hug me at the finish line.
Perhaps you already know that I ran this year’s Boston Marathon. The plan was for Allie (Saffron) and I to run it together. Of course she is a lot faster than me, but she had paced me to the BQ that got me there, laughing and chatting all the way, so we decided to use a similar race strategy in Boston. We got separated around mile 8, thanks to some “GI issues” on her part. I was still in the company of a few other teammates, but when it became evident that Allie was gone for good my inner dialogue starting majorly freaking out, and despite my best efforts I couldn’t seem to calm it down or distract it. After all, my whole race strategy was “Have as much fun with Allie as possible.” I was mentally and emotionally spent, and had long since thrown my time goal out the window and begun to suffer by the time we arrived at the dreaded Newton hills. Everyone had promised me that these hills would feel like nothing compared to the terrain I did all of my long runs on, but in that moment they might as well have been the Himalayas. I most likely would have walked them, and would possibly still be stuck there today without my friends/ teammates Nancy and Guy who graciously slowed their roll on their quest to get Nancy a sub-3:25 marathon kindly talked and in some instances literally pushed me through each and every hill all the way through the 35K mat. This was definitely at the expense of faster finishing times for them, but as I blubbered thanks and profuse apologies for my miserable existence they just smiled and casually remarked that the could never leave a single gal alone on Heartbreak Hill. Kind, and just a little cheeky. My kind of people. I’m not sure if I would have made it through without them and I should probably send them fruit basket for saving me from literal heartbreak that day on Heartbreak Hill.
And if that wasn’t enough kindness for one Boston Marathon, just as I was willing myself not to walk it in at mile 24.5, who should pull up beside but the one and only Allie Bigelow, who had gotten ahead of me, stopped to wait for me, and then somehow fallen 11 MINUTES BEHIND ME and still caught me with a mile and a half to spare. I think it is safe to say that there are only a choice few people out there who are capable of doing such a thing, and even fewer people who would actually do it, but she did and we crossed the finish line together just like we had planned.
We all know what happened shortly after we crossed the finish line that day in Boston. I absolutely cannot fathom how much more upsetting and scary my personal experience would have been had Allie and I been separated, not knowing the other’s whereabouts and without cell phones when it happened. So this Thanksgiving and every Thanksgiving I am thankful for fast, fabulous running friends who would (and have) put there own new PRs and race performances aside just to make sure I’m ok.
And my post is the longest as usual. Shocking, right? [editor’s note: no, not shocking. Not shocking at all! But we love Wasabi anyway :)]
So tell us about a moment of kindness that you’ll never forget!