The steady sound of footsteps, labored breathing, and thick humidity envelops the air. Puddles are strewed over the streets; race spectators hold their umbrellas unyielding, and I'm praying that this pause of showers continues for 15.5 miles. With over 20,000 runners coming together for the Riverbank Run on Saturday, the crowd pushed slowly through the streets of Grand Rapids; all to pursue one goal...to finish the race.
The Riverbank Run is the largest 25k road race in country and if you haven't witnessed it before, it is truly a sight to see. The beauty of a race like this is how well the community of runners, spectators, and volunteers come together to pull off such a huge event. This year I wasn't in race mode, but rather running it just to get my miles in for my marathon training. As a competitive runner, I knew this would be a challenge for me not to race it. Turns out, I came away with a greater sense of accomplish than I would if I had been racing.
When you are in "race mode" the focus is on yourself and how well you can perform. Saturday morning I had no pressure to race, so I took in my surroundings and witnessed the beauty of this race. Kids patiently cheering us on as we pass by, hands out stretched, and hoping for a high five. I couldn't turn them down and seeing how happy they became instantly made the run go by even better. The amount of volunteers who helped keep us hydrated and running strong amazes me. The weather never seems to corroborate, yet the volunteers keep coming back every year to stand outside for a couple of hours. The racers around me supported each other, giving words of praise and encouragement to the weary. Once I crossed the finish line, the love kept coming...catching up with friends I haven't seen in ages and congratulating others on their finish.
|My handsome running buddy. :)|
As I ran back to my car soaked, cold, and extremely hungry, I reflected on how despite the pain and unpleasantness that comes with running, there is a overwhelming sense of happiness. Happiness to be involved in this running community, to have ran as well as I did, and to be done.
Just a quick shout out to my fellow Gazellians...thank you for your amazing support and congrats to everyone who ran! To those who haven't done the Riverbank Run before, I highly recommend trying it out next year.
Look for me...I'll be there. :)