A solemn walk

Tomorrow, I’ll be doing the Outer Banks Half Marathon in, well, the Outer Banks, NC, with a group of friends. This will be my second time doing this race and my 17th half marathon overall. (Whew!)

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Most of our gang after the OBX race in 2012

Generally I don’t make a habit of returning to races. I’ve only done so for certain reasons: to revisit the site of my first race or to help support other walkers. There are far too many races out there and new places to explore via their courses to want to repeat any.

But this weekend marks my second trip to the OBX race, and it’s in honor of a friend. About a year ago, I wrote about Lana, how her determination helped her tackle a race course and how she motivated so many people.

When our group gathered in NC in 2012 to do the race together the first time, North Carolina native Lana signed up too, doing the 8K. I spent some time with her on the course (the two routes merged at one point). I remember feeling happy to spot her ahead of me and know that I’d be able to cheer her on — and get energy from her as well.

After Lana died late last year, our group decided to return to the race this fall and participate in her honor. That purpose is definitely worth a repeat trip to a race, in my book. We’ll celebrate Lana and remember her with love.

In the past few weeks, though, our mission has grown. Among those planning to join us were our dear friends J and G. To our heartbreak, G has recently and suddenly been diagnosed with a very serious illness, preventing the couple from joining us while they fight this medical battle.

Like Lana, both J and G are incredible sources of inspiration; two people more full of life and light you would be hard-pressed to find. I walked alongside them for most of the course in 2012, in fact (and have shared other race course with them, too).

So we will fondly remember Lana as we walk those 13.1 miles on Sunday. And now, we will send healing wishes and love to G (and J) with each step along the way, emphasizing our good hopes for them in every footfall and our wishes that they’ll be striding alongside us again soon.

What’s your sign?

When you do a half marathon or full marathon, any motivation along the way is welcome. One form of motivation that I always look forward to is the signs held by spectators along the course.

Some are simple: “Go, Joelle!”

Others are inspirational: “You are a rock star!”

Then there are the funny ones — and they are the ones that give me the biggest boost. In fact, I vividly remember a sign I spotted in my very first race, back in 2005. A young woman held it high, and it read: “Hurry up, Rob — the game’s on at 1!”

Here are other memorable ones I’ve seen:

  • Look alive — there’s a funeral home in the next block!
  • Run like there’s a hot guy in front of you and a creepy one behind you
  • Worst parade ever
  • Pain is temporary. Race results are forever!
  • Run like you stole something
  • Run like [insert dreamy celebrity of choice] is waiting at the finish line
  • 13.1 miles — you’re only half crazy!
  • Your feet hurt because you’re kicking butt
  • Run, Forrest, Run!
  • This seemed like a good idea 3 months ago!

And here are two I spotted at a race in Atlantic City a few years ago:

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Share your favorite examples in the comments!

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