Philly Half-Marathon: Grabbed my OTQ and Some Nice Tears.

I have never cried before a race in my life. I wish I could say I have never cried before in my life because that seems tough, but I definitely have cried before. Not like A TON, like I don’t just cry all the time, but yeah, I’ve cried. Anyways, the main takeaway is I’ve never cried before a race in my life. Specifically on the starting line before I took off to chase down some imaginary number.

 

The few tears were brought on by a culmination of things. A minute or two before the gun went off, a beautiful calm overtook me. I was in a great place. The usual pre-race nerves hadn’t been an issue during the entire race build up; Sarah got up at 5am to get coffee with me and take my mind off any self-manufactured significance I had previously placed on this one day; and my parents travelled to see the race. I was surrounded by a healthy contingent of the most supportive people in my life—I had nothing to worry about.

 

I spotted my dad frantically scanning the elite corral for me. For a split second I held my tongue and didn’t let out a shout to alert him of my whereabouts. It was telling to watch him as he looked for me. I could see his darting eyes; I could see how much he wanted this for me.

 

“DAD!”

 

“STEPHEN!”

 

COMMENCE TEARS.

 

I don’t know exactly why, but perhaps it was something about the nirvana state I was experiencing and then the fatherly exuberance just made me break down a bit. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world. Surrounded by so much love, so much support. Hearing my dad shout my name brought back memories to all the throngs of games and races my parents had been to over the past few decades. During soccer games and track races growing up, the voices of my parents always shrilled at the most recognizable pitch—like a siren.

 

When I heard my dad shout before the gun went off, I felt like there was no one else on the course or in the crowd. The tens of thousands of people around us vanished for a few seconds and it was just a son, a father and 13.1 miles of opportunity.

 

Over the next hour and four minutes, my months and months of tremendously tiring training paid off. I crossed the line well under my goal of 65 minutes. The last 10 seconds of the race I ran fist pumping down the street. I have never felt as accomplished as I had during those moments. Running is the realest thing we know.

 

Side note: getting wrapped up in an American flag post race was probably the “realest” thing I’ve experienced. As in the way a rapper would use “real”.

 

Not giving a flying f-word about protocol, Sarah burst through the barricades and found me. More the docile type, my parents were waiting outside the barricades. Walking over to their outstretched arms, it was clear they had been crying. Telling me how proud they were of me with choked up sobs pretty much put me over the edge. I have never cried after a race. Until then.

 

Rarely do you get anything from running. Putting in the work is one thing, but getting a satisfying result is never promised. Last weekend, I felt like I finally got my deserving outcome. Making the most important people in my life feel proud, excited, and exulted was the greatest gift.

 

This was just another day, though. A better day than most, but it will not stand as the crown jewel in my running career. It has motivated to be even greedier with my ambitions and to believe in myself like never before.

 

It also taught me that crying feels really, really good sometimes.

Stephen Kersh