Last weekend, I attended the New York City Marathon for the first time, as a spectator and fan of an online friend. Reading that there were to be 40,000 runners and an expected 2 million people watching, I wasn’t sure what to expect, except to say that I anticipated a very intense day. I met up with a friend in the city and we headed to First Ave and 85th Street, which was mile 17 for the runners and a spot where we hoped to meet our mutual friend for the first time.
From the moment we arrived, the enthusiastic roar of the crowd along the sidelines invigorated me and I soon became aware that I was part of something much more than a race. It seemed as if everyone was there to cheer on someone and it didn’t matter how fast they ran or where they were in the lineup, the fact that they were running at all was enough for them to attract the tremendous support of their family, friends and even additional onlookers. They were there to run their own races and I felt that this was a common thread weaving it’s way through us all and uniting us. I felt that we were all inspired by the runners that we knew and didn’t know, and at the same time, the runners gained motivation and energy from the fans. I couldn’t help but feel that the endless amount of strength and positive energy present galvanized us all. The intensity that I was anticipating was an uplifting intensity; a divine elevation, a feeling that I will never forget and I am so thankful for such a memorable experience.
We met our friend at mile 17 for a very exciting moment. He was on fire and there was no stopping him crossing the finish line. We and many other friends had been following his training progress and offering support online for several months. What was so special about this marathon for him was that it represented what he considered a transcendent goal – one that accomplished so much more than completing a 26.2 mile run. It was about eating healthier, losing weight, becoming more fit and the idea of focusing on something significant and the entire experience brought all of these things into his life and then some. Through no intention of his own, he developed a following online and with the people closer to home and he inspired everyone to make positive changes. And minutes after completing the run, he was already thinking about his next challenge and how to keep the momentum going. It was all about what he had accomplished and how to use that as the starting point for his next goal. You can see him and some of the day here in the two following videos:
The lesson for us all is continuous self-improvement. Not competing with someone else, but with ourselves by running our own races. We should set out to reach a goal that we define by identifying what our passions are and on what we want to spend our time and energy. We determine what is best for us and develop the steps necessary to achieve our goals. If we approach them in this way, then we will always come out ahead.