OK, so I may not look like an elite athlete. But I don’t look like someone who has never been for a run before either. Or so I thought.
Last Saturday, the day before the Gold Coast Marathon, Kellie and I were in an unnamed athletic clothing store, in our matching pink Night Strider jackets, looking at new running gear. The salesgirl asked Kellie, who is one strong and fit looking woman, ‘Are you running the half tomorrow?’ Surprised, she responded that no, she was actually doing the full. By now, the sales girl looked completely baffled. (Is it really that much of a stretch of the imagination, that we would be capable of running that far?)
Then, the girl looked at us both and said ‘Oh… Is this your first?’ Kellie and I were a little dumbfounded at first and just looked at each other, wondering who was going to respond to this underestimation of our ability. Between the two of us, we have run 16 marthons. AND an ironman triathlon.
The moral of the story is, don’t underestimate what someone might be capable of. I like to ask people something like, ‘Have you done this race before?’ instead of, ‘is this your first?’ You really can’t tell what somebody is capable of just by looking at them. I am reminded of this everytime I toe the line of a marathon, and look around me at all the other people I am about to share the journey with. Elite athletes, yes, you would expect to see them there. Young and old (and the old often outnumber the young), sometimes a little overweight that I wonder how they survived the training to get there. I bet they get underestimated all the time. At the Gold Coast Marathon, I saw wheelchair athletes, a man with one leg, a lady with one arm, and a man with cerebral palsy, all running in the same event as elite athletes. What other sport gives you that opportunity?
So don’t be surprised that I can run a marathon, I’m not superhuman. But feel free to be inspired, because you can do it too. YOU might not get there first, but you are capable of getting to the finish line. It’s the ‘normal’ people, not the elites, that make you realize that. And they are there, at every marathon. They may walk a little, or a lot, but they achieve something great. Don’t underestimate them.
One of the reasons I love the marathon is, it is a great reminder that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things, everyday.