It was 8:00 am on a Sunday morning, and I was standing along the Tidal Basin with my dogs, my book, my iPod (listening to ABBA) and my backpack. I had been up since 6:30 am. Moreover, I wasn’t the only one. There was the older man standing in the sun. The dad with four kids under the age of 7 (ish) pushing a stroller. There was the middle-aged couple wiping down a bench so they could sit down. There were the random singletons, the more experienced ones with books or magazines.
We were Road Race Supporters. A weird community of family, friends and pets cheering on our loved ones in their quest to … run.
In my case, I was there to watch M wage his all-out war against getting old, also known as turning 40. Earlier in the Spring, I watched him in his (and my) first road race, the Run to Qualify (for the Marine Corps Marathon). It turned out to be oddly fun. I wandered around Quantico and figured out the best places to watch the runners. I said hi to people with dogs. I noted the experienced watchers with their books and blankets, one women settling into a doorway to rest and read. Interesting.
That’s how I ended up seeing the Monuments on the beautiful Fall morning of the Veterans’ Day 10K. I hadn’t planned to go. In fact, M had made the decision to run mid-week, so even he hadn’t planned to be there. He insisted he didn’t want me to go – the logistics of getting there were tough, he hadn’t trained, etc., etc.
Of course, I didn’t really want to go, but I did. When M first started training, a triathlete friend encouraged him, but warned us that it would mean a serious commitment from me, as well. After all, M would be training when I might want him around to do something else (like take out the trash?). I didn’t really see it as a problem. My philosophy was this: you choose how to spend your alone alone time (not free time, alone time). He can choose work, he can choose going out, or he can choose training. To quote George Thorogood, that don’t confront me.
Of course, when M crossed the finish in just under 45:00 minutes, I was thrilled, as were the dogs. I even listened to the mile-by-mile recounting of the race. I guess road races really do call for a pack commitment. Next time, I’ll remember my sunglasses but pack light gloves as well – it can get a little nippy in the morning …