There is a lot I could tell you about what happens once the horn blows to beckon runners onward.  I could tell you about a mass of people herding under the “start” banner, the slight pushing as people run ahead or find their own groove on the road.  I could tell you about the Nike Plus app voice in my headphones informing me of my stats.  The urge to rush ahead of your pace because you’re trying to keep up with everyone else (most race mistakes happen in the 1st two minutes).  About the people who catch your eye & you look out for them the rest of the race, playing a catch-me-if-you-can running game.  I could tell you about how the first mile pace put me in line with my ultimate race goal & was still on track with mile 2 under my belt or the hill that started a mile ago had to be run into the finish line.  The way ground changed from pavement to grass, sprinting down the last stretch and across the finish line.

I could tell you how bummed I was the mile 3 hill took out my stretch goal time and how I vowed to run hills until I loved them.  (Great prep for San Francisco.)  Could tell you that according to the Nike Plus app, I didn’t make my second goal by 18 seconds – minus whatever fumbling I did at the start & end of the race to record the run.  (I did accomplish that goal according to the official race time …big sigh of relief and a few fist pumps!)

I could tell you all of that.

But what I really got out of the Sound to Narrows finish line happened after my race was run (I have always booked it back to my car & headed home after crossing the finish line).  Waiting for my friend buttahcup, I got to see the other 5k runners finish their race.  Saw the 5k walkers stroll in.  And then got to see something I would never have the chance to see because I was running.  I got to see those hardcore runners who ran the 12k race turn the final corner, step onto the grass & sprint to the finish.  The look on their faces a mix of relief and happiness, some with pain just trying to push those last few steps.  Watching their strides lengthen, the muscles pulsing, tapping into their energy reserve until they crossed the finish line.  The first person to cross the 12k finish line finished in just over 39 minutes – he ran a 5:35 minute mile average during the race – up some nasty hills.  (I am totally obsessed with the miles/minute.)

People were cheering, clapping, taking pictures.  I must confess i was totally overwhelmed and in awe (there may or may not have been a few tears).  I don’t know if I would have seen this if I hadn’t started running.  And everyone should experience this!  Even if you don’t want to run.  The cheering got louder as the first woman sprinted past us, older men (75+), young kids, the three friends that held each others hands high above their heads as they crossed the finish line together.

Mostly, I had the chance to witness someone achieve their goals.  It makes you want to get out there, meet your goals head on & cross them off your list.  Whether they are running related or not.  If there was any doubt before Saturday about my course, it has vanished.  In its place is a renewed sense of focus & determination.