Unexpected Inspiration

Yesterday 45,000 inspiring men and women packed the streets of Chicago for the the 35th annual Chicago marathon. When we planned to walk a block or two from our house to cheer a few of them on, I had no idea what a buzz the experience would provide.

Mile 25

There was something incredibly special about watching the race from the 25th mile.

We were priviledged to see the runners at a moment when they were digging deep. They cramped, they ached, they ignored their screaming muscles, and they kept going. They pushed through and they kept moving forward. Encouraged by friends, family and strangers cheering from the sidelines the marathoners kept running toward the finish line.

We stood on the sidewalk for several hours clapping, screaming, cheering and standing in awe. I wasn't prepared for how the whole experience would effect me. I was filled with pride over and over again for 1,000s of runners that I didn't even know. 

Early in the day I watched as a young woman stopped briefly, feeling sick to her stomach. She was running as part of the American Cancer Society's DetermiNation team so she had an extra bib on her back that said, "I'm running for Uncle John." In her moment of weakness another runner was passing by and patted her on the back. He said, "Think about John. Do it for John." After hearing those words she stood up straight and kept running. Tears filled my eyes. I was deeply moved.

There was such an energy and excitement along the race route. You could feel the buzz. In fact, I was so amped as my rock star friend Cait ran by that I started jumping up and down. I cheered so loud and so enthusiastically that I forgot to take a picture of her - even though my camera was around my neck and my phone was in my hand!

It was an honor to stand with the crowds along Chicago's streets all morning. I felt proud to be part of the supporting cast. What a privilege to cheer on the strong men and women that ran into those chilly winds, ignored the pain and the cramps, and put those 26.2 miles of asphalt behind them to cross the finish line.

Bravo, marathoners, bravo.

If you're a runner, does a cheering crowd make a difference?
If you're not, have you ever cheered from the sidelines?