The Roar of the Crowd is Everything

A woman wearing a medal.

After a few years for of steep climbs, I had planned for July 2023 to be about rest and restoration, finding ways to move my 51-year old body in a way that felt good. I moved my family to a cabin in Pennsylvania for the month, and planned to bike, walk, and maybe even run again. After the surgery and rehab that was needed over the last few years and months, I finally had the time and ability to move my body again.

I started with a 5K with my 9-year-old son over Memorial Day, just like I used to run with my dad when I was younger. It felt good for my body and my spirit, remembering who I had been and who I could be.

My other son was tall enough to ride my bike, and Andrew Fetty, who own’s Fetty’s Cycle Service suggested that instead of getting my son a new bike, I should get myself one and let him have the hand me down. EUREKA! The teacher arrives when the pupil is ready, and Andrew will have my cycle loyalty for the forseeable. Ain’t she a beaut?

And, naturally, Andrew was passing our water during our next 5K, a fundraiser for the Valor Clinic.

The next time I was in his shop, Andrew suggested I try a triathlon. “Not my thing, I hate swimming,” I said reflexively. So he suggested I do a duathlon instead. I went for it.

I had a blast. And not just because I won in my age bracket (though that was nice, I’ve never won a race like this). I’ve run a marathon and all those painful runs leading up to it, but never anything with a bike. It was gentle, it was fun.

As I watched the lead triathletes bike and run past me, I cheered them on. I wasn’t there to win it, I was there to enjoy it. That’s the whole journey-not-the-destination metaphor, played out live.

And, as with any great neighborhood run, families came out with lawn chairs and cowbells, home made signs, blankets and coffee. And they cheered. And if they didn’t cheer, I asked them to.

When I ran the NYC Marathon years ago, the best training advice I received was to tape my name onto my shirt, as big as possible. Two MILLION people come to watch, to lift you up on this day. You need the cheers, you need to hear your name.

It makes a difference. There’s an intimacy to biking down someone’s street, trying your best to push yourself uphill and having someone you don’t know say “You got this!”, “You can do it!”, or just a simple “YAY!”

Kids had tambourines, people clapped and shouted.

I love that shit. My heart grows and my skin tingles just thinking about the generosity of cheering, supporting, lifting up another person audibly because, well because you can. It’s one of those things that cost nothing, and it rewards the giver and the receiver. That’s support, that’s connection.

It’s no big thing and it’s everything.

Who can you cheer on today?


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