My first 5K was the NIKE Run Hit Wonder in Portland. I was not (am not) a runner but I joined the NIKE running club in the heat of a Portland summer to prep for this race. I didn’t have the right running shoes and my feet burned with each step but I ran from NIKETown on 6th and Taylor down to the Waterfront and back again. A running coach was at the corner, clapping and cheering. I looked up to see I was almost at the finish. And that was just for the training run.
I drove to various locations for each training run and pushed myself to do what I’d never done: run a 5K. On race day I parked in a garage, hustled to the start line and took off with a sea of other Smurf blue shirts, bobbing and bouncing through downtown. My friend Lily stopped at each stage and listened to the “One Hit Wonder” bands play, but I ran past them, focused on the goal. Get to the finish.
That was more than 20 years ago. What I remember was the feeling of elation when I heard my name, GIIIIIIVEEEENS!!!! As I ran down Broadway headed for the finish line, the real one this time.
What greater feeling is there than when someone is cheering you on? When they stand on the sidelines of your race and clap for you, yell for you, and call your name? They have some idea of what you did just to get there, and their shouts of elation, praise, and support are the energy you need to keep picking them up and putting them down.
As I look up the hill and see 2023 at the corner, I’m listening for those voices that are cheering me on, telling me to keep running. I still need to hear them, to know that someone sees me, recognizes my uphill journey, and is choosing to give of their energy cache to fill mine.