The beauty at the back of the pack

It’s Tuesday, and I’m still recovering from the weekend.

It was my first official week on the job, which happened to include working all weekend and running a half marathon (sidenote: I think I found my spirit animal in this gig — these people work super hard and still have fun).

The week also included a trip back to Boston, which meant trying to squeeze in time with all of the people I love there.

That meant explaining to Littleman just how far 13.1 miles is (in terms he can understand — “it would be like running to the corner store from our house 36 times, buddy!”), and drinking a strong cup of black coffee with my parents, as well as seeing my extended family known as my run crew.

It’s that last one that always surprises me.

How is it that simply going for a run with these people always feels like home?

How is it that assembling with a bunch of people I know on a starting line can bring me so much joy?

Sunday’s race included running with my “marathon man” as I call him, my Boston training partner-in-crime, David. He’s faster than I am (always will be) but we made a pact to run together the whole race.

I’m 99 percent positive it was his slowest half-marathon ever, and yet, it was one of my fastest.

And yet, one of the reasons I love running with him is because he knows running isn’t about just going out and crushing my pace — sure I want to be faster and stronger — but he sees my reasons for running as just as important as setting a PR.

He knows I see beauty in the back of the pack.

If you’ve ever been in the back of the pack, maybe you know what I’m talking about.

There’s beauty in those moments when you look around you and see people truly struggling, gritting their teeth up a tough hill, dousing themselves in water, and then seeing sheer joy come over them once they’ve reached the top of their climb.

We chatted with fellow runners the whole race, and high-fived every child along the course, we thanked the police officers and EMTs and people manning the water stops. We talked about how different the course looked since we ran it for Boston.

We took in the joy and beauty at the back of the pack; a place I frequently find myself… and yet each time I am there I see something different that reminds me why I love this sport so much.

I often wonder what the view at the front of the pack is like. Who knows, maybe I’ll be strong enough to know one day. Until then, I’ll keep enjoying the collective toil from where I run.

Because to me, it’s one of the best places I know.

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