I had the most inspiring day today. I was inspired by both by my own children and by a slew of amateur athletes.
This morning my kids participated in the Junior Carlsbad Race. If you are a long-time reader of my blog, you might remember that my children did this race last year. I had signed them up when my daughter, A, had only been walking for 6 weeks (she didn't walk until age 3 1/2); by the time race day came, she had only been walking for about 10 weeks total! She did the 50-yard toddler trot, making me so proud. My son, D, who was then 5 years old, did the 1/2 mile run.
Today, a year later, their distances increased. D moved up to the 1 mile run, and A did the 1/4 mile. D's group was first. I stood with A on the sidelines (my husband, J, ran with D; or, should I say, ran behind him!) When I saw D streak past me to the finish line I was shocked---he was doing about a 10 minute mile (in comparison, his slow mother does over an 11 minute mile!). The look of sheer determination and concentration on his face was priceless; he saw the finish line ahead of him and he was sprinting to the finish. I couldn't have been more proud. Tears of joy may have been shed. D is not a sports kid (we have tried soccer, t-ball and basketball) but he does love to run. He must take after his mama!
Soon after, it was A's group's time. Again, I stood on the sidelines, with D this time, and watched all the four year-olds run by. I knew that A would be the last kid; she still doesn't know how to run. Sure enough, behind all the other kids, I saw A & J ambling along. She made it the whole 1/4 mile without help, and was proud to receive her medal, just as her big brother did.
Besides being wowed by my own children, I was inspired by all the other kids! I heard there were 3000 kids there total (from age 12 down to babies doing the diaper dash). The sight of all these kids running made me so happy. I hope that most of them continue to run into adulthood.
After the race, I separated from the family (we had taken both cars). They went home, and I went to cheer on a friend at the California Ironman 70.3. This half Ironman consisted of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run. My friend, T, is the one who got me into triathon in the first place (I had always been just a runner until last summer) and I really wanted to support him. I also hoped to see some other people I have gotten to know on dailymile and twitter, but unfortunately I never saw them. Luckily, though, I saw T twice. It was great to be there to cheer him on.
Seeing all the other competitors was incredible too. Everyone, to a man (and woman!) was giving their all, digging deep and pushing through the pain. I was situated by about 100 yards from the finish line, which also served as the turn-around point for the double-looped half-marathon. So some people that I saw had to turn around and do the course again, and others were nearing the end of the last part of their run and were almost done. Some people were smiling, some people looked miserable, but they ALL looked proud. I felt extremely motivated just watching.
Best of all, I saw several challenged athletes competing. I saw a few people with prosthetic legs running. The announcer said that one woman, who was running by with one real leg and one prosthetic leg, had gotten her leg blown off by stepping on a landmine in Iraq. One man that stood out to me had no arms; one arm was missing from the shoulder, and the other arm was missing from the elbow. I was wondering how he swam and biked! But he did it...and not just a little swim or bike ride, but as part of a grueling 70.3 miles. I was deeply touched, and realized that if these athletes, who had overcome challenges such as missing a limb or limbs, could do a half Ironman, then I myself could do anything I really put my mind to and trained for.
All in all, it was a very motivating day for me. Tomorrow, when I am running my scheduled 8 miles and start to feel tired, I will think of these everyday athletes: the children in the kids race, the challenged athletes, and the thousands of men and women who trained all year for this event, and I will push through my own pain and fears.