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November 1st I embarked on running a marathon for the first time. Prior to an endurance race, athletes typically taper or have a much lighter workout regimen to allow the body to rest and be at peak performance come race day. I fell ill on taper week and held off doing any workouts to ensure I would be 100% on race day. Well, I found out the hard way the phrase “taper to stay limber” has a lot of truth to it! I was stiff and my leg started cramped at mile 7 of 26.2 miles. I have never been so thankful for music in my life.

By mile 10 as runners started thinning out and I noticed some of the same faces over and over, I remembered wise words from a friend, Sherri Flynn, on the Santa Cruz half Ironman run course. She said it’s easier when you start focusing on other people instead of yourself. I started saying “You’re looking strong”, “Good job”, and “keep it up!” to the familiar faces and new ones. By the time the last turn around point at Friant and Willow came the anticipation of seeing the familiar, and a few new people as I passed them, kept me going. One specific girl I could see was struggling too and I needed to tell her “I’ll see you at the finish line” as an encouragement and a promise to myself to keep running.
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We did find each other in the finisher’s area and this is why I love the triathlon and running community. She wrote on her Facebook: “I never seen her in my life, nor knew her name. But this beautiful soul ran her marathon by passing me and saying the most encouraging words. “Go girlfriend, you are doing awesome, we got this!” Last I seen her she said “I’m waiting for you at the finish line.” I honestly wouldn’t have crossed without her. Thank you so much Janae Tala Dixon You are my bad ass running angel!”

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It’s amazing how quickly 16 miles go by when your focused on other people and bringing ear to ear smiles with just a few words. Even though this is an individual sport and your competing against yourself you’re not alone out there. You have a whole community of support going through the same physical and mental struggles all striving for the same goal. Sometimes this sport is about digging deep and pushing yourself beyond your limits but many times it is also about looking outside of yourself and lifting those around you up.

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