They ran a race, we sat in the shade
My husband and I traveled the Rt 8 northwest-passage, to the seven mile long Litchfield Hills Road Race. We weren’t running, but we were going to to sit in the shade, eat cheese burgers, fries, and watch 2000 runners dash around town in 85 degree heat. Our youngest and her husband were participants.
Litchfield is a, “you-can’t-get-there-from-here,” town, an enclave of the rich, famous and influential, with a welcoming atmosphere somewhere between Meryl Streep and Agway.
The town center is quaint. We joined the throngs on the beautiful green and pitched ourselves right at the start line. The cannon went off, the race started, we suffered in the shade while enjoying the beautiful afternoon. While the race progressed, the most physically taxing thing this inferior did was stand in the sun for fifteen minutes while anticipating when my daughter and son-in-law would cross the finish line. I cheered and snapped pictures as they finished the race. It was hot, I was sunburned and exhausted. Watching other people deplete their energy by maxing out their physical prowess makes me feel like a failure; I napped in the car on the way home.
That afternoon reminded me of when I lived in an apartment on the Post Road near the starting line of the East Lyme marathon in the early 80’s. All our friends and family gathered at our tiny apartment prior to the start of the race. They had to arrive early in the morning because the roads were closed. We’d stand on the lawn and cheer the start. Then we’d have a huge brunch and bulk up on bacon, sausage, home-fries and eggs. Add to that, half the sweets from Flanders Bakery and you can imagine how difficult it was to waddle over to the finish line at East Lyme High School as the runners came in.
We made a celebration of the event for several years until we moved.
The first time I made it over to the high school to watch the runners finish I was inspired, not to run of course, that idea is laughable, but to commit to something which stretches my physical boundaries. (More than thirty years later I’m still looking for that commitment.)
The top runners with the best times were elite athletes to be respected because of what they put their bodies and minds through on a daily basis, as dedication to sport. But it was the other runners, the ones with actual running times which did not matter as much as just finishing the race did, which I was in awe of. The pudgier runners, older runners, weekend runners who looked like they rode a desk all week long, those were the ones I cheered, clapped and cried for. How do runners do it, how do they find the strength and tenacity to run so far and not give up? I would have dropped out or dropped dead. I can drive 26 miles, (not on a bike but in a car), as long I take a snack and stop to stretch my legs at the mall.
The Litchfield Hills Road race isn’t as long as East Lyme used to be. It isn’t as huge as the New York Marathon or as famous as Boston’s, but considering the number of runners from around the world, and the up and down aspects of the course, plus the heat, it might as well have been. My daughter and son-law-finished the race; their times were respectable. Will they run again next year? They say yes. Will I watch, eat burgers and take pictures, absolutely. But next year I’ll wear a hat. Standing in the sun for a quarter of an hour is tough, but I did it. Enough said.Carolynn’s latest exercise plan is to watch TV sitting up instead of lying down.