Last Sunday my sister ran the Chicago marathon, and after my parents and I saw my sister twice and cheered her on, hugged her and encouraged her, we moved to mile 12.5 to try to see her again. At that part of the marathon, near the Chicago River, there was quite a bit of people along the route, but it was mostly quiet when we arrived there. As we scanned the runners for my sister, I joined in with one lady who was saying encouraging words to the runners. Then I saw one older guy just putting out his hand to high five the runners, and so I put out my hand too.
“You can do it!!”
I just put out my hand and high fived people who wanted one. It surprised me how several exhausted-looking runners ran out of their way to let me high-five their hand and say, “Good job! You’re almost half way there!!” I got to see how several people encouraging the runners could change the atmosphere of that part of the race course. My sister had already passed that point, but it was great to encourage those runners right then.
I made some little signs especially for my sister that read “Go, Ruth, Go!” and “We love you, Ruth!”
Around mile nineteen, in a Hispanic neighborhood of Chicago where there was bouncy Latin music playing, the runners seemed more hopeful, but many runners still wanted high-fives as they ran past. I did that until I saw my sister, then I got out into the road and ran with my sister for a 1/2 mile so that I could talk with her and encourage her (and see what it is like!). A couple girls cheered my sister on as we ran past.
At the end of the marathon, a stranger reached out to me so that I could get into the zone just before finish line, so I went up there and encouraged the runners at the end of the race. One guy could only walk, but he was only 100 meters from the finish line, and a lady next to me and I cheered him on. I was so busy cheering on others, I missed seeing my sister pass me, but I did hear them say her name over the loud speaker. My sister is a marathon runner!
It’s fun to encourage complete strangers. Try it sometime.