Watching elite runners finish the LA Marathon, I was awed at how effortless their running looked after more than 26 miles. Once these very first runners completed the race, my husband and I waited for more marathoners because I had hoped to watch a close race to the finish – I had imagined that the runners would try to sprint and place at a higher rank. Instead, I saw competitors clapping and cheering each other on as they were passed.
Another aspect of the finish that surprised me was the variety of athletes completing the race simultaneously. Because of staggered start times, there were wheelchair competitors rolling in alongside the elite and even a man who had a prosthetic leg. This indirect competition also encouraged camaraderie toward the finish.
Running a marathon is not about the competition with others, it’s a personal challenge. People have different goals, and while for some it is about rankings, for most it’s simply about crossing the finish line (sometimes to support a cause). Still, others wish to finish within a specific time frame. While I knew people have varying goals, it nonetheless surprised me that many of the top athletes maintained their pace through the finish line instead of speeding up when it came into sight. Consistency was their key to getting through the first 25 miles, and they persisted on for the last mile as well.
I will also focus on maintaining good form throughout the triathlon I plan to compete in. Some people completing the LA Marathon had poor form, which made me think that perhaps they weren’t even nearing their potential for the race!
Once I had realized that we wouldn’t see a sprint to the finish between competitors, I gained further respect for these athletes. I thought about not only the grueling 26+ miles that they had to run during this race, but also all of the time and training they had done to compete at such a high level. Consistency at the finish line was just a sign of how committed they had to be throughout their race and the months of training they dedicated to achieve their LA Marathon goals. My goal for the triathlon I will compete in is to enjoy the course of the race and to be just as effortlessly strong at the finish line as the athletes I saw finishing the LA Marathon.