I have post-thrombotic syndrome, which basically means that my veins don't work properly any more. In effect, it means that at approx mile 2 of any race, I'm going to need to walk for about 5 mins while my damn leg stops hurting so much and will let me start running again. It makes me feel like I'm going to throw up, it's horrendously painful, and there's no way I can run through it.
Anyway, tedious introduction bit over.
There were two points during the race that made me think:
At mile 2 (while walking) a race marshal told me to 'cmon, smile!'.
At mile 3 (back happily running again, but one of the slowest ones...), a spectator told me 'keep going, you can do it'.
These were both well-meaning comments, I really do get that. They were trying to be encouraging. And I did smile and thank them in both cases. And I really did appreciate the fact that they did bother to make the comment, many don't.
This is going to sound ungrateful, but I think it's worth saying.
Maybe, just maybe, I hurt. Maybe, I'm suffering. Maybe the very last thing I want to do is smile. Maybe all I want to do is sit at the side of the road and have a good old cry.
And maybe I can't do it. I appreciate the sentiment, really I do. But maybe I just can't. Physically, or perhaps mentally, maybe it's just not going to happen today.
I'm not trying to suggest that people stop shouting encouragement, quite the opposite - I wish more would. But please, please think what you're saying before you yell. A simple 'well done' or 'nearly there' work a treat, just give us a clap and a whoop if you like? I particularly liked the kids that high-fived us on the way past them, much appreciated too.
But just take a minute, think about what you're saying, and appreciate that people have 'stuff' going on that you don't know about. Maybe they can't do it. And maybe they're not having much fun out there. Thanks so much for trying to be encouraging, please keep doing this, but just take a moment to think it through first...