May 312014


Dear perfect stranger,

I’m sorry I was so rude today.

You stood by the side of the road, cheering for me, and I just glanced at you, and passed right by. I meant to thank you, but as you may have noticed, I was quite busy trying to refill my lungs with oxygen at as rapid a rate as possible. That preoccupation meant that I was unable to reply to your friendly gesture, but I didn’t mean to seem as if I didn’t notice.

We don’t know each other, but for those fleeting seconds, you were one of the most important people in the world, to me. You see, it was at that very moment that I was having a hard time going on. I had pushed too hard up that hill over there, and my legs were begging for mercy. My pace had slowed, and I was starting to feel bad about and for myself.

But just then, I looked up and saw you. You had a sign with something funny on it that I wish I could remember, and you singled me out for encouragement. And you know what? It worked. It snapped me out of my mental slide, reinvigorated my legs, and put a smile back on my face where there had been a grimace just seconds ago.

I don’t know who you are or where you came from. You might be a fellow athlete, sidelined with an injury, or else taking the rare weekend off. You might be a family member of another racer, there to cheer for them, but happy to spread the love to the rest of us. Or maybe you’re simply a race fan, who loves to come out and watch others struggle and compete.

Whoever you are, thank you. You were exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it, and I won’t forget you.

See you at the races.


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