I consider running to be my happy place. It’s where I go to work out frustrations, to quiet my over active mind and to recharge so that I can be a better mom, better wife, better manager and better person. Unfortunately, this happy place is sometimes occupied by a super raging bitch that really wants to punch spectators offering words of “encouragement”. I was reminded of this multiple times during the Disneyland Half.
Here are just a few of the things that turn my happy, calm runner into a total raging bitch. Fortunately, I have yet to yell or punch any of the misguided spectators…
• The “You’re Almost There” Spectator: Not only does this course post large mile markers and I am wearing a Garmin, but I have run enough half marathons to know exactly how much farther I have to run. Telling me as I am approaching the 7 mile marker that I am almost there is a lie. Perhaps you don’t know how long the race is, perhaps your math skills are a little lacking. My math skills on the other hand are just perfect and while 6.88 miles is more than half way done, it’s not “Almost There”. There better not be someone at mile 14 at my next marathon telling me I am almost there. Unless I can see the Finish Line, I am not almost there.
• The “Keeping Running” Spectator: I almost always do some version of Run-Walk-Run. It may be at a set minute interval. It may be every 1 or 2 miles or even each 5k. At some point on the course, I will be walking. When I am walking, the last thing I want to hear from a spectator in a comfy chair and a large overhead umbrella is to start running. Typically, it is at a point in the race where I would be more than happy to trade places with the helpful spectator. It’s my race and I will walk, skip or run if I want to.
• The “Push IT!” Spectator: The final stretch of the Disneyland half was filled with teenage cheerleaders cheering us on. I encountered them on one of my walk breaks and while I could have kept running– this race was being treated as a training run. It was time to walk, my body wanted to walk and so I walked. I didn’t need a bunch of cheerleaders telling me to Push It, to move faster, to finish strong. What I needed those girls to do was to STFU. Several other spectators tried to do the same thing as I approached the finish line. None of them made me happy.
There are probably other comments that also activate Bitch Mode, but those three definitely stood out.
There are also lots of spectators who really make my day. There are the wonderful signs that made me laugh and smile. Last year at mile 11 of the Disney Half, a man had a sign with a castle that asked if Disney was STILL the happiest place on Earth. During the Nike Women’s Half, a man had a sign that said Binders full of Runners. Another group positioned themselves near a loop back point. When runners passed on one side they had a sign that pointed to a friend that read “He’s Single”, as we looped back the sign read “He’s STILL Single.” These silly signs help keep the spirits up.
I enjoy seeing the friends and family of other runner friends. I loved seeing Jane’s mom more than once and getting to shout Hi Jane’s Mom and having her wave back.
And I love the words of encouragement that seem to actually be encouraging.
• You’ve got this.
• You look great!
• You’re doing awesome!
• An amazing medal is waiting for you around the bend.
• Great job!
The first batch of spectator comments are all demotivating; they tell me or whatever runner hears them that they aren’t doing good enough. It’s deflating to the ego to be criticized when I actually got off my couch and participatedin a race. There are times where I could do better. There are also times when it is the 45th mile I’ve logged that week and am tired, or I am recovering from a nagging injury, or I am sick and still logging my miles.
Every runner has good days and bad days. When you tell a runner to do better, you’re putting down all the work they’ve done to get to the point where you see them and you’re telling them that what they have isn’t enough. I don’t criticize- to your face- your spectating so don’t criticize my running.
When you tell a runner they look great or they have this or that they are doing awesome, whether they are running, walking or simply trying not to crawl, you’re acknowledging their hard work. It’s something that truly makes a difference.