Whether you're participating in the challenge or bringing the cheers and high-pitched screeches to the scene, everyone's a part of the journey.
I never in my life thought that I would be immersed into a world of running, endless supplies of GU packets and aquaphor. However, I have found myself locked in and ready to go, but not for the reasons you may obviously think.
See, I'm not a runner, nor have I ever been. The whole 'Runners World', which everyone always talked about, sounded so foreign to me. I was only able to understand it once I was thrown into the scene at a speed which felt like my boyfriend's seven minute per mile pace. I now refer to my mother, brother and boyfriend as the "Awesome Threesome".
They've formed this nomadic trio in which they venture over many different states to run half marathons and marathons. They've become this team, each running at their own pace, but all with the same gratifying end result. I guess you could say that I've become familiar with this whole running lifestyle, in the sense that I know what to expect at each race and could navigate any expo on my own. I've become a cheerleader, the support on the sidelines and the big smile, with a raspy voice, at the finish line.
For the past couple of years, I've cheered them on in Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Newport, Huntington Beach, San Diego, the LA Marathon and most recently my boyfriend during the New York Marathon. I love witnessing their endless feats of athletic triumphs and seeing the effort in which they exert.
Everyone runs for a different purpose, which I believe is the beauty of this sport. My mom found running as therapy, a way to take time for herself and do something she never thought she could. She found that challenging herself brought on more self-esteem than she knew she had. My brother started running because he loved the end result of crossing the finish line and hanging a beautiful medal around his neck. My boyfriend runs because he loves the challenge and is a natural competitor at heart. The energy of the people feeds his desire to run faster and constantly beat his time and pursue a higher level of fitness.
Running is a sport that everyone can do at their own pace, at their own time and on their own terms. It's you against yourself. I feel lucky that I get to experience the atmosphere and be a part of the journey with my family.
There isn't a race I won't miss with my Nikon in one hand and a loaded purse of pretzels, bananas and coconut water in the other. You can't help but be proud of all the runners who are accomplishing something so powerful and quite rigorous. It's not easy to run 13 miles, nor is it easy running five, 10 or a full marathon of 26.2, but it takes the effort, mental strength and desire to conquer a challenge within yourself.
My purpose is to be the one that my family is waiting to see, to cheer them on and greet with a smile and an array of snapshots on my camera. Maybe one day I'll cross the finish line, but for now I'm content with being the encouraging force. I'll take what I deserve.
Cheer your family on at their next race.
Alana Michelle Brager is a fitness and fashion enthusiast who shares her healthy and fashion forward fitness tips on her blog, ?A Fashionably Fit Lifestyle? (http://fashionablyfitlifestyle.tumblr.com). She currently lives in Los Angeles, California and writes for the websites MyDailyFind.com and Life2PointOh.com