Falmouth Road Race...So Good! So Good! So Good!

Submitted by Nancy

"Good times never seemed so good."
      singer along racecourse singing Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond.

"So Good! So Good! So Good!"
      runners echo

This year is different. Last year, our first time running the Falmouth Road Race, I was anxious, feeling like I didn't fit in and nervous that I would not be able to complete the 7-mile course before the street sweepers came along. This year I do not bring my anxiety or nervousness. Just my joy.

The race has everything going for it, both the stuff the organizers have control over and even the stuff they don't. The weather is perfect. The sun is out, and there is a cool breeze coming off the ocean. We arrive at the designated bus pick-up location and immediately are ushered onto a school bus by a drill sergeant announcing that he needs two good runners to fill the last two seats on our bus.

Once in Woods Hole, we sit on a bench in the sun and talk until it is time for a last minute port-a-potty break before the race starts. Then we get in line with over 10,000 other enthusiastic joggers and elite runners! Pat and I are back in the enthusiastic jogger section. We are literally heels-to-toes packed onto Main Street. Good thing I tightened my shoelaces before I get in line because there is no room to bend over!

The runner's bibs have our names on them, so I know everyone's name standing next to me. I am having a blast talking with the people around me, calling them by name, as if I have known them all my life. Everyone is pumped, happy, ready to run.

And we are finally off. We walk in the beginning, then slowly begin to jog, and after a few minutes we can actually run. But we are in the midst of lots of other runners. We try and keep our pace, keep track of each other and keep away from the faster runners who are blowing by us on either side.

We run up a short incline, crest a hill and see the scene that I remember last year blew me away. We can see maybe half a mile of road in front of us as it swings around Nobska lighthouse. The road is packed with runners as far as I can see, a ribbon of bobbing colors, alive and throbbing with energy. It fills me with excitement. I let out a huge Whooo Hoooo! Pat looks at me, smiling and says, "I love that we can do this!" I love it too.

Here is the BEST part. All along the course the streets are lined with people, every space taken, both sides of the street, packed with spectators. Thousands of people giving us a standing ovation. People holding signs cheering family and friends on, people ringing bells and children holding out their hands hoping for high fives, homeowners spraying runners with water to cool them off, music blaring from home speakers and car radios, and even people singing. I hear a man yell, "Good job!" another yells, "You can do it! Keep it up!" and a woman on the right yells, "Looking good girls!" and people are clapping everywhere.

They are cheering for me. At first I just run by them, hearing the noise. Then, gradually, I let the cheering in. I say to myself, Nancy, they are cheering for you. And I can feel a smile spread across my face as the realization hits me. Yes, they are cheering for me. I start to look at the spectators, their smiles, their eyes. If I catch someone's eye, I say "thank you."

We come around a bend and we are right next to the ocean. There is a man with a guitar, singing into a microphone, "Good times never felt so good," and the runners all echo, "so good, so good, so good!" My smile is as big as it gets. Everyone is clapping to the music, singing along, swaying to the beat. This race is so cool!

I see a little girl in her father's embrace. He is holding out her arm and hand towards the runners. I run over and give her a high five and as I run past them, I can heat the father say, "YEAH!" to his daughter.

Before we know it we are running along Scranton Avenue, mile five of the race. I know this is where my husband, Don, and my daughter, Kelly, and her husband, Justin, will be. And then I see them! YEAH!!! I just can't hold in my enthusiasm for my home team cheerleaders. It is great to have my family there.

Wow…how can anyone not love every moment of this race? And how can anyone not succeed with all this support? I do not even think about taking a rest and walking. I don't want to let the fans down. The crowd carries me to the finish line. Their enthusiasm and support are like springs in my running shoes and pure oxygen in my lungs. They make it easy!

Crossing the finish line, I am immediately sorry the race is over. I am glad to stop running, but wish the cheering could continue forever. I start thinking about that. What would it be like if everybody in the world were on the sidelines of my life journey, cheering me on like this?

Hey, wait a minute, I think, what would my life be like if I could be my own cheerleader? I pause and hold the thought and wait for the rest of me to catch up to my heart. What if I rang bells, shouted encouragement, clapped and gave myself high fives along my own journey? What if I held up my own sign that says, "You can do it Nancy! You go GIRL!"? What if I knew in my heart that I was doing the best I could always and I celebrated that every day? I love to cheer for others, but can I do it for myself? Can I carry myself through life on a path of encouragement and support that makes the journey feel effortless, exciting and full of fun?

I have never LOVED running until now. At this moment, walking with Pat back to meet Don, Kelly and Justin, I feel so good. And I don't have to wait until the Falmouth Road Race next year to feel the euphoria of being cheered on by the crowds. I can cheer for myself. I can carry the enthusiasm and encouragement of the Falmouth Road Race spectators within me. I can hit my memory re-play button inside my heart and hear the cheers, clapping and bells ringing…for me. I can hear Neil Diamond croon..."Good times never seemed so good..." inside of me and enthusiastically join in. So good! So good! So good!