I’ve been told I overthink things.

And, that’s probably not too far off the mark.  I do tend to over-analyze some things. Okay, EVERYTHING.  But, I’ve given it a lot of thought and decided it’s probably a sign of intelligence.  I’ve got a lot riding on that conclusion.

This morning was the annual “Oklahoma City Marathon – A Run To Remember” and it proved extremely exhausting for me.  And probably for the runners too. 

I had a coveted front row seat at mile 18 – our driveway.  I did run the half marathon  years ago and, while it’s all a blur, I do recall being quite touched by all the people out on their lawns cheering on the runners, so I decided that would be my personal contribution to this year’s event.  

I set up my lawn chair, made myself a latte, grabbed a fur throw in case it was chilly and headed outside.  That’s when things got challenging.  

Nobody likes a “Woo-hoo Girl” or so I’ve been told by my kids, (they keep me current on the ever-changing slew of cultural do’s and don’ts) so as the first runner sprinted past, I wrestled internally with what to shout at him.  I admit I was stymied and caught a little off guard. I couldn’t find the right words, so I just clapped.  Vigorously.  

By the time the next runner approached, I had found my Inner Outside Voice:

Lookin Good!”

“Keep it Up!”

“You’ve Got This!”

If a lady runner approached, I customized my encouragement with a smidgen of feminism:

Go Sister!”

“Get it Girl!”

At one point, a couple ran by and I hollered, “You’re killin’ it Girl!” and then worried for a few minutes that her guy might’ve felt like I wasn’t there for him.  I mean, he too was “killin’ it,” I was just biased because she was a woman and probably had to make breakfast for their entire family before they left the house that morning.  Just sayin…But, I had to let it go, as another group was approaching and I was convinced they were in desperate need of my particular brand of positivity.  

I considered shouting, “You’re almost there!” but thought better of it, as they still had 8.2 miles left.  That’s more than I run these days and way more than the average human.  So, no.  

I also toyed with, “Think about everything you’ll get to eat today after the race!” But even I didn’t need my kids to tell me that sounded more than a little toxic.  So, I let that one go as well.  

As mentioned, I haven’t always sat in a lawn chair yelling at strangers on my street. 

I started running with my dad back in 1981 when his cardiologist told him he needed exercise.  He had suffered his first heart attack at age 33, right after he returned from Viet Nam.  I was petrified to lose him, so I became his running partner.  I would’ve done anything to keep him healthy and alive.  We ran 1.8 miles in a circle around our subdivision every morning before I went to school.  Believe it or not, that seemed like a marathon to me back then.  

My dad had another heart attack – the one that took him from us – 20 years later, in 2001.  By then, I was married and had 5 children.  It was horrific to lose my father, but it was somewhat bearable by then because I was so distracted by the large and chaotic life I had built for myself.  Still, the memory of all those morning runs was a comfort.

And I kept on running.

 I ran that half-marathon years ago in honor of my first running partner, who taught me resiliency in the face of all of life’s challenges.   Dad fully embraced that 1970s poster dictum, “KEEP ON TRUCKIN BABY!”  I’m sure on some level, my dad knew back then what I did not know.   Tests were coming my way.  In droves.  And I was going to have to plod on. 

So there I was, cradling my latte, witnessing this incredible feat of human endurance, remembering my Dad and our runs and how it all shaped me, while searching for the words to inspire people to plod on. 

…But, the last thing I wanted to do was aggravate the marathoners on mile 18.  I must confess, I’m always one click away from perturbed when I run even a mile or 2.  (I never have quite achieved that ever-elusive “runners high.”)  

What’s more, I kept thinking about how irritating I find it when people exhort, advise and beseech you to do something they’ve actually never done.   I was reminded how people would encourage me to “keep going” after Jimmy died.   Their well-intentioned words were somewhat akin to “Looking good!” “You got this!” “Go Girl – you’re killin’ it!”

True – I was hostile, depleted and exhausted, so I often felt like responding to the cheerleaders on the sidelines, “You don’t know….you’ve never been through this!”  Or even, “Why don’t you just shut up!”

So, in the end…I decided not to actually SAY anything to the runners.  I decided to merely clap.  I clapped until my palms were stinging.  But, every now and then, I did sprinkle in a “Woo!” followed by the ocasional “Hoo!”

Which I hope succinctly and adequately conveyed this message:

You’re doing something I’ve never done!  Something I can’t even imagine doing and dread the very thought of and I admire the hell out of you!  Period!”

I channeled my inner “Woo-Hoo Girl,” deciding she was less condescending than the self-proclaimed Armchair Therapist and her equally boorish outdoor cousin, the Lawn Chair Therapist.  

But, who knows?  I’m probably overthinking it.