Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us

Deena Kastor

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wet, Soggy, Gummy Bears-A runner's Delight

This weekend I ran the Portland Marathon. It was not my favorite  and also my slowest, but there were some highlights that made it worthwhile. In the past it never rains on marathon day in Portland but that was not the case yesterday. It rained and rained and rained. You would think I would have the proper clothes to run in this kind of weather by now but I don't.  But I also don't mind the rain too much, the hard part is waiting at the starting line for thirty minutes until the race begins.  It was like taking a shower in the dark with 14,999 people standing next to you.

As morbid as it sounds, something that made us all laugh was the stretcher that the EMT's were trying to move through the crowd. There was no body on it but they had a bunch of gear strapped to it with some kind of draping over it that "looked" like a body.  Not what you want to see right before you are about to run 26.2 miles. Can you  imagine what a first-timer must have thought? 

So as you know, a runner needs some kind of fuel during an event such as a marathon. Our bodies are very much like cars and can only run so far on a tank of gas before having to fill it up again.  That's what GU  and other product like it is for. Another treat that is commonly handed out at races are gummy bears. There are several reasons for this. They are easily digested, they taste good, and they are small. I always eat them. This year, because of the rain, the gummy bears were soaked with rain and just kind of slid down my throat.  No chewing necessary.  And it didn't alter the taste at all-they were delicious!

You have to have a sense of humor during a marathon  and take in the experience for what it is. Because it is not always going to go as planned and you will have moments when you are struggling and wondering why you decided to do this in the first place. I do ask myself this question sometimes. Usually around mile 14 or 15. Why do I run marathons? They aren't particulary fun, especially in the last miles when your body is telling you to stop but your mind has to override every thought of stopping and giving up. I've seen video footage of people literally crawling to the finish line because they felt that the pain of giving up was worse than the physical pain they were feeling.

It was during this time for me when I thought about the many volunteers who were standing in the rain for hours with their arms stretched out, holding these tiny cups filled with wet, soggy gummy bears.  How many people do you know who would do that for a bunch of runners? And most of these volunteers were young teens.  They gave up their sunday, which as you know is a big deal for a teen, to stand in the rain yelling, "gummy bears!, gummy bears!" Maybe we inspire them to become runners someday- but more importantly, they inspire us to reach out to others and make things possible.



  1. I was out there with you, eating the soggy gummy bears. I must agree with you the volunteers were wonderful and for me, they were the best part of the day. Great blog.

  2. Thank you Valerie and congratulations. It was a tough day-I'm not even sure my shoes are dry yet.