Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Man with the Flag

This morning I ran the Chicago Spring Half Marathon. The weather was a complete 180 from last year - warm and sunny.

Jen and I met Sara and a few others at the Universal Sole tent before heading over to the start line.

My runs have been slow and labored lately. Going into this race, I didn't have high hopes for a PR. In fact, I had given up on the thought weeks ago. Note to self, PR's can't happen if you keep doubting.

As Jen and I started, the 2:10 pace team came along side us. We decided to try to keep with them, at least the first few miles. Walking through the aid stations gave me a chance to catch my breath, then continued on. All along, I kept my eye on the flag.

As Jen and I had headed to the start line, we saw a man, a participant in the race, carrying a large flag. I remember reading a post on Facebook about a man running with a large flag at either another race or out on a trail in the burbs. I wondered if this was the same guy.

The flag was a good distance ahead of us. We saw it heading back before we hit the turn around point. It was right around then that Jen pulled ahead and I tried to maintain, staying just in front of the 2:10 group.

The second half was particularly challenging. I've not been training the way I was this time last year. Overall, I'm slower. But yet there I was, attempting to stay within a few minutes of my personal best time for this distance. So I pushed on.

Between mile 11 and 12, I came up to the man with the flag. I wondered if he was having a tough second half too. Though i imagined the sheer wind resistance from carrying such a large flag must be fierce. I thought of the symbolism of him carrying a flag on Armed Forces weekend. I thought of my brother.

As I passed him, I gave him a thumbs up and said "I love it." He smiled and replied "I love it too." I immediately got goosebumps. For a moment I thought I was going to tear up. But that moment provided newfound inspiration that carried me to the end.

Thank you, man that carried the flag today.

Thank you, all of you that serve(d) in our Armed Forces.

Thank you, Dan.

No comments: