My teammates and I got together to run the Boston Marathon course this weekend.
At various points during our run, one of my teammates would drop back and run with me: slowing their pace to match mine.
This act always makes me smile for a few reasons.
I am content to run alone, at the back of the pack. I run at my pace -- some days are faster than others, but at least I can run -- at whatever speed I can muster.
My teammates -- and generally other runners as well -- don't have to bother dropping back to check on me. But they always do. It's a small gesture that always means a lot to me.
Out on that crowded course this weekend, small acts of random kindness were everywhere, and it reminded me (yet again) that this sport of running is not all about the speed you can sustain for X miles: It is about community.
I was the first to get to the lobby of the hotel where our group meets when a woman introduced herself to me and asked if could please let our group leader know that she was heading out on the course. "I'm the slowest of the group," she told me. I told her my 11 min/mile to 13/mile pace for these long runs and she replied back with "I'm still slower than you."
I smiled and said "you're out there, and you get it done, that's all that matters." She smiled, pulled on her gloves, and headed to grind out her miles.
A few miles into my teams' run, I saw the woman's face coming toward me, headed back to the hotel.
I smiled and we high-fived.
To me, that woman was just ONE of the many rock stars on the course with me Saturday.
There was the skinny beanpole man in a bright yellow running tech shirt practically sprinting by me on a hill who took the time to say "nice job, this hill sucks."
There was the man hand-pouring cups of Gatorade for total strangers and offering Swedish Fish for snacks.
There were the folks from Dana-Farber who let us grab water from the water stop meant for their runners.
But that high-five from that first woman -- who thought she was slower than everyone else -- and who beamed with a giant smile when she saw me coming toward her, that's one of those moments that reminds me: This is why I run.