Battling the mile 22s

A few weeks ago, I trotted out to the Twin Cities Marathon to cheer on some friends. If you’ve ever run a marathon, then I salute you. Seriously, you’re crazy, you’re determined, you’re a marathoner! If you’ve never watched people run a marathon, then you must add it to your bucket list, because it is just plain awesome watching ordinary people do extraordinary things.

Kristin Denae Shaun
My friends at mile 8…looking good!

The Twin Cities Marathon is described as the most beautiful urban marathon in America. It begins downtown Minneapolis, winds its ways around a handful of Minneapolis’ large urban lakes, stretches along the beautiful tree-lined mighty Mississippi, follows historic Summit Avenue — filled with stately mansions, beautiful college campuses and churches — and ends just past the magnificent St. Paul cathedral at the state capitol. I jumped in to cheer at miles 8, 17 and 22. Before I even saw anyone I knew, I had tears in my eyes. People cheering on complete strangersrunnerwithcross, urging them to keep going. Hugs and cries of joy when people would see someone they knew. Signs, cowbells, high fives. I saw runners of all shapes and sizes, with one goal in mind: the finish line. Now, I think running a marathon is crazy enough, but there are some who take it to another level. I saw a runner with a large wooden cross on his back, someone in a gorilla costume flanked by two women wearing banana outfits, several carrying American flags. One guy was running his 100th marathon, according to his sign-carrying friend who was running next to him. His name was David. At mile 22, I saw people that you could just tell had hit their wall. Others were still running with a smile. I cheered for them all. That’s what life is all about, right? We all need cheerleaders, people who are there for us during our hardest days and our best days. And in the in-between days — days that feel like we’re stuck at mile 17 or 22 — we need cheerleaders there too.

Mile 17...

Mile 17…

Cheering on runners around mile 21.

Cheering on runners around mile 21.

My crazy friends Shaun, Denae and Kristin, who run with smiles on their faces!

See those crazy girls with smiles on their faces? Those are my friends Shaun, Denae and Kristen, who were the most fun to cheer for!


This got me thinking about what propels us every day. There’s a book called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. My husband and I read it many years ago. The gist is that every person has a primary “love language,” or way they feel most loved, whether it’s quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service or gifts. My primary love language happens to be words of affirmation. This doesn’t mean I need a pat on the back or someone to tell me I’m awesome every minute, but it does mean that a genuine word or compliment meets a need in my soul that none of the other love languages do. I highly recommend reading the book (there’s also a kids’ version, as well), but if you want to discover your love language, you can take an online assessment here. As a words of affirmation gal, hearing complete strangers genuinely encourage and lift up others, as in the case of the marathon, just filled my soul.

encouragerBut, let’s be honest. Despite my 605 friends on Facebook, life can feel pretty lonely sometimes. Everyone is busy. We’re doing the daily grind. Working from home, I can go days without actually talking to someone other than my family with whom I live. And for this “extra” of extroverts, time alone is not what I crave. Social media is meant for us to feel more connected, but sometimes, we realize just how much we’re missing out on.

I don’t know what your day holds today. Maybe you will be on the run in your car, maybe you’re waiting on the results of a medical test, maybe you’re shuffling your littles to practice, maybe your stressed, maybe you’re happy, maybe you’re lonely. I want to tell you something. You are worthy, you are loved, you matter. Yes, you can do it! Seriously, life is hard, and you are doing your best. Way to go!

TC marathon cheering aheadOur life is like a marathon, where we partake of the journey set before us, taking one step at a time, enduring the highs and lows, and {hopefully} looking around at, and enjoying, the sights along the way. Sometimes we’ll meet strangers and sometimes we’ll encounter friends, but in the midst of the course called life, there’s just something about hearing the words, “Way to go!” or “You’re doing awesome!” to lift our spirits. So this week, I’m challenging myself, and you, my dear readers, to choose someone new each day to cheer for. Send them a note, text, email, card, or heck, call them! While Facebook might show us those grand finish line moments, what we don’t often see are those of us battling the mile 22s. Will you take my challenge and be someone’s cheerleader today? It may just be the thing they need to get through a rough one, a best one or one of their in-betweens, too.

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