I hit a wall during my first big race at about Mile 18. I could feel myself start to flag, dreading the next eight miles, gritting my teeth and saying a little prayer to the running gods.
And then, up ahead, I spotted what I first thought was a mirage — my friend Erick standing on the side of the race course, holding a sign that said, simply, “Run, Zusel, Run.” Normally, I would have chided him for being cheesy, but in that moment, that sign was my salvation. I’m not going to pretend that all of a sudden I felt like I was flying and the pain left my legs, but seeing him there gave me the little extra push I needed at that exact moment. My gratitude can’t be overstated.
It’s often said that running is mostly mental, and I think my sudden burst of energy during that race speaks to that. There’s something amazing about seeing someone you love — heck, even a stranger — on the sidelines, holding a sign painted with some motivational message or funny saying or your name, cheering you on.
Some of my favorite race moments have come not from fellow runners, but from watching the excitement of the spectators. Little kids cheering their parents on are especially cool to see. This blogger notes some of her favorite signs from various races; variations on “Run like Kenyans,” seem to be the most popular.
Do you have a favorite sign or effort from a spectator from the Peachtree Road Race or another race? Do spectators keep you motivated, or do you find them distracting? Do you have people cheering you on this year?