Reflections after LAM

By Steve Smith, Pasadena Pacer Founder and Team Doc

Today was the 21st year the Pacers Running Club ran the Los Angeles Marathon. I really don’t know how many of our runners participated, maybe 200, maybe less. I’m not sure how many Pacers came out to cheer for the runners out on the course but it was a lot, maybe as many as 200 of you.

Pasadena Pacers before the start of the 2017 Los Angeles Marathon
Pasadena Pacers before the start of the 2017 Los Angeles Marathon

Marathons are a metaphor for life. There’s a lot of preparation, but determination is required to conjure it into reality. There are hardships and barriers. There is a special obstacle every single runner has to overcome: it is unique to that runner, and if you have run a marathon, you know what I am talking about. There are little vignettes that happen along the way, people you meet, funny little observations about life’s adventures, cognitions about people, why they are the way they are, why they do what they do. You probably forgot your shoes one day or your socks, maybe the keys. It had an effect on your run that day, too.

The people in a running club are a bowl of colored marbles, some are pretty, some wobble, and some are odd. Steelies, we used to have steelies. Nobody wanted them, at least not until someone who had never seen one before got curious about them, then they were cool. Told you, marathon running is a metaphor for life. It’s about people. You need them. You could do it without them, but it wouldn’t be the same.

When marathon day finally comes, you look forward to meeting up with the fellows you have trained with. There is a sense of fellowship, team spirit. The staging area buzzing with conversation. You can feel the energy. The starting line is a victory in itself. They play the national anthem, then the gun goes off and the music starts. Your heart swells with emotion, you shuffle those first  steps with the crowd, cross the start line, then you are running a marathon. There’s nothing quite like it in the world.

I have wondered if the ancient warriors felt the way we do when we run marathons, just before a battle.

I have said this enough before, that it may have become cliché: “Life is lived in tiny moments.”

Just a few of our amazing volunteers at the 20 Mile Cheer Tent.
Just a few of our amazing volunteers at the 20 Mile Cheer Tent.

But those moments count; memories that make you who you are. The birth of your children, your first car, a kind comment made at just the right time, and when she said “I do” on your wedding day. It only takes a second to make a memory that lasts a lifetime. There were thousands of victories today, and a million memories being made. I could see it in their eyes, the way they held their faces, the looks of determination. Some feared they would not make it, worried they would make it to the finish line too late. There were sweaty hugs, even tears. Encouragement from a total stranger meant the world to a poor struggling soul who had almost nothing left in her then summoned unknown strength from a place she never knew existed. She trudged on with renewed hope, jaw set, eyes burning. The finish line for that person probably shattered every barrier to victory she ever had. I hope so.

It’s why I go to the cheer station every year. I want to see it happen: when a spectator cheers for a runner and a crack in their spirit opens up and hope comes pouring in. I am thrilled to see the response of the runner. I am heartened to see the look on the face of a cheering spectator who had forgotten how much their kind comments matter. The revitalization of that power, is evidence that we can we are capable of miracles. We can cause people to rise up, believe in their own greatness, and imbue within others the spirit of human fellowship. We could cause peace, we could put a stop to mean heartedness. We can heal mankind from sorrow. We can achieve something spectacular.

You know you can do it, you proved it today. Now let’s go out there next week and throw some lightning bolts!

Warmest Regards,

Steve Smith