This Sunday I headed over to the North Shore to watch the triathletes and adventure racers on the very last leg of their journeys. Originally I intended to get up early so that I could watch the swimmers, but after a late night of dancing I was not able to rally myself until about 9:30. After starting over on foot, coffee in hand, I decided it was taking too long and I hopped on the bike sacrificing caffeine consumption for speed.
I parked my bike at PNC park, not wanting to interfere with the runners and continued on foot. As I walked I passed several athletes on the last leg of their journey. Some looked strong, and others had the look of determination mingled with fatigue that I know quite well. I smiled at one women and she waved, and I remembered how much something as simple as a smile and an encouraging word can help. I always appreciate the fans at a race, but until my marathon I did not know how vital they can be to getting you through and keeping spirits up. People on the sidelines remind us, as we much ourselves to the max that they are there to support and hold us up -- celebrating the beauty in human endurance, strength and spirit.
I plopped myself on the hill and watched folks come in to the finish. I talked to a man who completed the triathlon, his third, and he inspired me to take one on. I am not so sure that I will conquer Pittsburgh, as swimming in the Allegheny river leaves a bit to be desired -- but in the next year or two I want to take on this challenge. Fortified with a good deal of training and a touch of smile power to get me through.