Friday, August 07, 2009

The person I want to be

A few weeks ago I was at the starting line of a 5K. The leader encouraged all the "fast" people to be up closer to the front and to have the walkers at the back. So there I am, standing in the middle-ish of the pack waiting for the countdown to begin the 5K. And that's when I hear her.

She is standing behind me, saying loudly to her pal: GAH! I can't believe we're this far back in the pack! I mean, we totally deserve to be up there. Just look at those people. We're obviously faster than them! I mean they have KIDS up there for Chrissakes. GAH!

Her pal: I know. This is so stupid.

So I turned around to look and what I found were basically two women who looked like Skeletor. They were very thin and I'm sure that they probably WERE faster than all of the people in front of us. So I said "Here. Feel free to get in front of me. I'm sure you are faster."

They sighed, didn't say thank you and pushed in front of me.

I found myself wondering if they REALLY think that no one could hear them? Did they care? I mean, did they really think that them throwing a hissy fit at a 5K for charity was appropriate? I guess so. For the next five minutes I saw them basically push their way to the front of the pack. From the looks on people's faces, it seemed that they offended quite a few people.

Now this 5K had kind of a weird route where you actually had to run kind of a lap and a half around the park (the route kind of looked like a paperclip). They encouraged all of the people to, as you came to the end of your first lap, get on the left side of the path so that the faster runners could pass by. I wasn't sure how fast these runners were, but the last thing I wanted was to have some skinny chick slam into the back of me because I wasn't enough to the left. So I ran on the left side of the whole course...just in case. I guess I felt a bit intimidated.

This race had a rule - one that I've seen in every other set of directions for 5Ks - NO HEADPHONES (as I found out, no one else pays attention to this rule). So I ran, with my Nike+ feature on my iPhone, to no music. Having no music to listen to means you have some time to think. I won't bore you with all of the things that I was thinking about, but I will say that there were many moments where I promised myself to not be like those ladies (and I use the term loosely) at the front of the pack. No matter how good or fast I think I am at something, I need to have some humility. Some grace. Some decency. Some consideration for others.

By the way, it was around this time that I realized that I was getting my ass kicked by SPEED WALKERS with the median age of 93. Seriously. Those people are FAST! It occurred to me again that you can't judge someone by how they look. Well, sort of. I mean, the speed walkers DO look funny when they're speed walking. :)

So fast forward to the end of the race. I'm about a 10th of a mile from finishing and one guy, who had clearly already finished the race, was walking back towards us shouting to all of the runners. As I got closer, I could make out the words that he was saying:

"Way to go! You're almost there! Don't stop now! Keep up the pace! You're doing great! The finish line is just up the way - you've only got a 10th to go! Keep going!"

I got chills.

I picked up my pace.

Had I been able to talk between my huffing and puffing, I would've told him how much it meant to me that he, who had already put in his effort and finished, thought to encourage others. It would've been easy for him to have a celebratory banana at the finish line, to high five his friends, and pat themselves on the back for their undoubtedly fast time. He could've mocked us or thought to himself about how superior he was. But he didn't.

He was thoughtful. Compassionate. Enouraging. Motivating.

THAT is the person I want to be.

4 comments:

turleybenson said...

I love this. Amen, friend.

Ginger said...

Hey. You are that person to me..

She-Fit said...

WOW! What a great story. I want to be that kind of person too. But honestly, at the beginning of the story when you allowed those girls to go in front of you said a lot about your character. You could have make a rude comment back to them or forced them to slow down, but you didn't. You have a very sweet heart

monica said...

The pure fact that you think about being that person puts you in the fabulous category!! Just sayin ...