My hands were killing me from relentlessly clapping but I felt awful if I stopped clapping. Every runner deserves a clap. I hate when I run a race and volunteers just stare at me. Say something! Motivate me!
Next time I’m gonna stick my hand out and get high-fives. I always liked volunteers that demanded a high-five as you were pushing through a course.
I know how wonderful it feels to hear cheers, especially the ones that really strike a chord with your body and make you get a rush of adrenaline, perk-up with a smile and bring it on home. So rather than just shout the standard “Come on runners! Go runners! ” I switched my chants to a series of phrases that I would personally love to hear:
You guys look awesome! You guys look great!
Finish is just around the bend!
Push it just a little more into the Finish!
Deep breath and you’re home!
It wasn’t until the 10+ min a mile pacers started coming in that I really felt a rush of energy and excitement with cheering. These folks needed the cheers. You saw their faces light up when you said that the finish was just around the bend. And that’s when I started shouting, “SMILE OVER THE FINISH!” The effect that phrase had on runners was just amazing to watch. One guy was barely at a jog and when I said “Hey, you did it! Smile over the finish!” he smiled, waved his hands like a champ and practically sprinted to the end.
I ran my first race in March 2011. It was a 15k Colon Cancer Challenge in Central Park. Not really sure why I decided to become a NYRR member and do races. I just felt the need to give myself goals to better myself. It was a bitter cold day, below 25 degrees, and pretty windy. I didn’t care. I was so excited and captivated by the entire experience of running a race; from picking up my bib the day before at the 89th Street NYRR office, waiting around early in the morning with a DJ blasting music, lining up in the corrals, jumping around to warm-up, singing the national anthem, hearing the start gun, the slow herding to the start line then a skip, trot, jog and swoosh a run – that I smiled the entire time. I smiled at pedestrians, volunteers, other runners. I could not wipe the smile off my face. The only thing that was aching on me after I finished the race was my face from all the smiling.
My cousin, who is a runner, told me very wise words for my first race. She said, “Don’t forget to smile across the finish line.” That phrase says it all to me about the kind of attitude I have as a runner and how I plan to be when I cross the finish line of my first marathon in 2012!