A few weeks ago, I saw signs posted on the main roads outside my subdivision, which said:
THE OLATHE MARATHON RUNS HERE
A normal person (by which I suppose I mean, “non-runner”) might have thought, “a marathon? Those weirdos” or “Ugh, traffic is going to SUCK.” A normal RUNNER would probably have thought, “Awesome! I’m going to go cheer for my fellow crazies as they run by.”
I think, “I need to make some signs. Lots and lots of signs.”
It didn’t occur to me that this was an abnormal response, until my loving husband was at the hardware store looking for wooden stakes to affix my signs to (because I had learned that stapling them to telephone poles, my first plan, was actually illegal and once I figured that out I couldn’t stop worrying about it) and called me to ask how many stakes I needed.
“Yeah, eight. Is that weird?”
“You made eight signs for a race, and you don’t even know anyone running?”
“Yes. Is that weird?”
“Ok, I’ll be home with your lumber in 15 minutes.”
You notice how he avoided answering the “are you weird?” question? Smart man. The thing is, when I ran a marathon, I remember getting super, extremely bored. 26 miles? That’s a long ways, folks. And there are miles and miles that can be pretty isolated. Aside from the volunteers directing traffic or helping at aid stations, it might just be you and fellow runners. In a smaller marathon with fewer participants, it could wind up just being you and your thoughts. In each marathon I’ve attempted, I really appreciated the spectators who made their way FAR into the course to offer encouragement. The folks at mile 15 in the Louisville Marathon, handing out orange slices and trying to match your bib number to the printout of registrants so they could cheer, “Go, Megan!” instead of “Go, #1782!” The soldiers at the army base in Virginia Beach. The guy dressed up as a banana and doing jumping jacks. The Elvis impersonators. All of these people and more provided the blessing of getting me out of my own head, where I was stuck on repeat:
“Still ___ miles to go. Oh man oh my oh no what have I gotten myself into? THERE ARE STILL ___ MILES TO GO!”
I don’t have any costumes or sweet dance moves (or a keg of beer, another motivational strategy I’ve seen spectators employ), but there was one thing I knew I could do — make some motivational signs, and position them along the hills on both sides of my neighborhood.
This idea came before the Boston Marathon, but I didn’t end up buying poster board until after that race. Therefore, the first sign to make was a given:
I didn’t have a set number of signs that I planned to make, but before I knew it 1 sign had become 4:
And then, just as quickly, 4 had become 8:
In case anyone is looking for motivational running sign ideas and DOESN’T want to resort to sexual innuendo (“runners do it longer,” “runners have nice butts,” etc.), allow me to help you in your search. The signs I came up with:
- Run 4 Boston
- Running is fun!
- Keep Calm and Run On
- Run, [your name here], run!
- Smile! The finish line just got closer!
- You look great…smell is a whole other story.
- It’s NOT all downhill from here…but you can do it!
- 26.2: Courage to Start, Will to Finish
I realized once I ran out of poster board that I had skipped the most obvious sign choice: they call this the “marathon through the land of Oz,” and here I hadn’t made a yellow brick road behind the words, “There’s no place like the finish line.” Opportunity missed. Gah.
I’ll need to remember that next year.
Speaking of the “land of Oz,” check out this fun pic of Dorothy and her pals with a silo in the background.
There were lots of folks who got the “land of Oz marathon” memo. I saw many Dorothys (some male), several witches, misc. other characters, and a very impressive flying monkey costume. The best thing about the folks above is that their ensemble also included a Tin Man…but he was leaving the group behind. A chronic one-stepper? They never planned to stay together? Just feeling good that day? I imagined a lot of scenarios.
The marathon was a lot of fun to watch. If you ever want to feel like a superhero for getting out of bed in the morning and clapping, GO WATCH A ROAD RACE. I think half of the participants thanked me for the support. You guys could be conserving breath and energy for the miles ahead, and you’re thanking ME? I had put my Twitter name on the signs so that people could check my feed after the race for pictures, and one person sent me a tweet DURING THE RACE to thank me for making the signs. Really. Runners are just awesome.
Here are a few more pics of some awesome runners: