“Daddy, that was a happy day”, she said a few months after IM Nice. That remark took me by surprise, as our four-year old was going through a particularly grumpy phase.
“And why was that a happy day?”, I probed.
“Because of all the cheering and the fireworks.”
It dawned on me then that my kids rarely see people enthusiastically cheering on strangers, especially while those are engaged in an activity that is not particularly graceful – like running the last legs of a very tired marathon. “Rarely”? Make that “never”.
The Ironman finish line or turn around point on the run – practically the same place – is where the spectators conglomerate for good reason. The spirit of the place is electric, and gets more so as the day passes, reaching crescendo around midnight. My wife declared that if she ever does IM, she will want to finish at midnight, to experience that midnight atmosphere from the other side of the barricade. As usual, she may have the right idea here.
It feels good that random people will call out your name (or something resembling it, if you have an unusual one), cheering you on. It really does help. It lifts you up when you need it the most during that long day. You wander what would it be like if this spirit would not be limited to finish lines at long races? What if that was the norm in everyday life? Would it be any harder to approach things, to see others as we do on that finish line? What makes it happen there and not in other places? The sight of our tired great ape shuffle on asphalt? All the lycra?
If that is what it takes, guess what I am wearing to work tomorrow…