Sole Running: Tales from the Trails: Running Emotions
by Bob Nicol
It took me until Monday night of this week to remember one of the biggest reasons why I love to run. No, it’s not for the accolades or the medals that I receive when I cross that finish line, for that matter it is not for the physical benefits of health either, though those are pretty sweet too. For me it is that emotional high or release that I get when I see someone I helped who thought they could never achieve their goals accomplish them, or to help with a good cause. That sweet feeling of knowing I helped out in some small way, either by moral support and encouragement during the run, raising awareness to a good cause or charity, or by assisting in a new runner’s training prior to their big race. This puts a smile on my face and more times than not brings a tear to my eye every time, yes I am an emotional guy and damn proud of it.
Is it because I am more in touch with my emotions since my bare feet are constantly in contact with the ground…..that I cannot tell you but I do know this, I would not change a thing.
On Monday night, I was honored and privileged to deliver the key note speech as the guest speaker at the Manitoba Runner’s Association Hall of Fame Inductee Gala. This was not something I was taking lightly as two of the inductees are good friends of mine and major inspirations in not only running but also in my life as a whole. My presentation revolved around the Manitoba running community and some of the events that this province has to offer as well as some of the great things I have been so privileged to be involved with. I had nothing really prepared other than some picture slides that I was going to utilize for topics and just see where it went from there.
I had a packed room of over ninety people to keep entertained for 35 to 45 minutes, no pressure right. As soon as I put up the first slide, I entered this place that I just cannot describe with words; it was just me talking about what I love to do. Stories just started spilling out, the emotions, and the passion of the events came back to me and I know it was very apparent to all those in the room that I was talking from the heart, because it was very apparent to me. I started with this, “I know I will probably never win a race, unless I am the only entry, but that is not why I enjoy what I do.” I love to encourage and show people that if I can do it, they can too. You are limited only by yourself, if you dream big enough you can reach the stars….but only if you truly want it…that is the trick.
At one point when I started to talk about my Charity Run, The Grizzly Ultra Barefoot Challenge last year and the events surrounding it, the emotions overcame me and I broke down with tears coming down my face…..and I didn’t care. Yes, the tough barefoot runner who runs over gravel, rock, glass, fire, snow, ice, cacti and apparently can run on water at will too was shedding tears and didn’t care who saw it. A good friend of mine, actually the race director for the event that my charity supported, jumped in with an assist to help and gave me the moment I needed to compose myself to carry on. I swear there was some tears in the audience as well, emotion creates and encourages emotion, which brings us all closer together as one.
The emotions almost overcame me once again, when I described my involvement as a pace bunny at one of the half marathons that I ran last year. This was by far the most incredible experience I have ever had and will so do it again. I had such a blast running and leading a group to their goal times, I must have been doing something right as my group continued to grow throughout the race until the very end. I still remember the tear it brought to my eye watching MY group of runners cross the finish line with their arms reaching for the sky; in fact six of those runners finished their first half marathon. Absolutely magical and a memory I will cherish always.
Another great memory was when I ran the Bismarck Marathon in 2011, I went down on a whim to run the half marathon but decided I would run the marathon instead, in fact I signed up the night before the race. The first half of the race, which was two loops, I focused a little more on hooting and hollering with the volunteers, in fact I think I had my picture taken with every single volunteer along the course, I was the first barefoot runner ever to run this event and apparently I was a bit of a novelty. The second loop, it was all about the runners. I played Duck, Duck, Goose with a bunch of runners who were struggling but giving it their all. I used my favorite line….”You are not going to let a barefoot runner beat you now are you?” You would be surprised how much this motivates people. Once again the emotions rang true as I helped a relay runner cross the finish line with her longest run ever to the ecstasy of her teammates. Sweetness the sounds of those cheers and the smile on her face, I will remember always.
So take it from this barefoot runner, running with emotion is a good thing and nothing to be ashamed of, in my opinion let it all out…..the tears or screams of joy as you cross that finish line or the fist pump and leap of celebration as you pass that distance goal. Make sure you encourage and take the time to help those fellow runners in need; because one day that fellow runner may be you…..and wouldn’t you like to hear those words of encouragement……I can tell you I would.
Bob is a barefoot runner from Canada who has been lucky enough to discover the passion of running. From running 5 km around his neighborhood with his faithful husky Hazel to running 100 mile Ultra-marathons over nasty terrain, Bob runs with a smile and an encouraging spirit. You can also follow his ramblings at Canadian Running Magazine Online (http://runningmagazine.ca/blogs/bare-my-soles/ ) and his personal blog, http://winnipegbarefootrunners.blogspot.ca/.
Run Strong, Run Hard, Run Happy and Run Free……………….