The running scene in Baton Rouge is alive and well, I can attest to that firsthand. Standing at the starting line this morning were a group of energetic, enthusiastic athletes. There were also somefamiliar faces, a runner who had run with me yesterday, and another who had run with me the past two days. We also had our youngest runners today, two twelve year olds. One was planning on running eight miles before school, the other had his sites on completing the entire marathon!
We started off in the relatively cool morning air. The course is a loop around the LSU Lakes and the water is within site nearly the entire distance, so it was really pretty. As the day wore on, temperatures began creeping upward. There was a refreshing breeze coming off the water every once in a while, but there were also plenty of pockets of heat and humidity with little airflow. This, however, was a group of survivors, dedicated to giving it their all. And that they did.
Because the course was a loop without major traffic concerns, the group got fairly spread out. Some ran faster, some ran more conservatively, and some just toughed it out as best they could. However they got the job done, I was awed and inspired by their effort. We had a number of first time marathoners cross the line, and all were smiling big-time! The repeat runner finished strong, despite some nagging knee issues, and the three-timer finished looking solid and composed, despite getting less than three hours of sleep last night (the drive from Texas was brutal).
The finishers sat around in the shade at the finish line, cheering in the other runners. And it was one loud cheer when out of the distance appeared the twelve year old marathoner. He had made it, and he ran right through the finish line and kept on going!
Running a marathon is challenging enough, but to layer on top of that such heat and humidity makes the accomplishment all the more grand. The runners today displayed a resilience that is admirable, and they were supportive and considerate, even as the going got tough. My deepest gratitude goes out to each and every one of them, not just for getting me through it, but for inspiring me every step of the way.
Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.
From the long road to Alabama,