The Small Finish Lines

My last race was in 2015. I’ve run pretty consistently since then, but in 2015 I was dealing with what I didn’t know was a vestibular disorder. It made running hard.

I was too worried to try a race. I knew my time would be slow. I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to finish 3.1 miles with a dizzy head.

It’s been a long road back, and a few weekends ago, I ran my first 5K in about 20 months.

It was freaking hot.

Me running a very hot 5K.

Me running a very hot 5K.

I live in Texas and it doesn’t start cooling down until December and then it promptly gets warm again. We don’t really get a winter and if we’re lucky sometimes we get a “cold front” of about 70 degrees in October.

People break out their jackets in that weather.

But no stray cold front blew in that day. It was something like 80 degrees that Saturday morning.

The race was a fun community event, and we were all struggling in the late October heat. More than once I ran alongside someone who would say some variation of: “It’s freaking hot out here today.”

Curse words were sometimes used.

I finished the race in one of my slowest 5K times, but I finished it.

We give big finishes a lot of cheer— finishing a marathon or a first half or hitting a major PR. We get medals and T-shirts for big finishes.

But what if we celebrated the small finish lines too?

Like that Monday morning run you didn’t want to do but did anyway.

Like that grueling training cycle.

Like that weekend long run.

Like that little community 5K.

There was a Texas half marathon and 10K this past weekend that was cancelled because of lightning. (Y’all, I told you Texas weather was weird). From hearing from friends, the race organizers handled it well and still handed out swag to those who had signed up. As I was reading posts about the cancelled race, a woman wrote that she had trained for her first race ever and was disappointed that she couldn’t earn that finish.

At home, she logged her own 10K, and when she headed home, her husband and kids created a makeshift finish line for mom, posting it on a ladder for her.

On it were encouragements from her kids dotted with stickers and colors.

It wasn’t the race she planned. She didn’t get the screaming spectators or the big time clock.

But she got her finish. And that’s worth celebrating.