Never under estimate the power of a 'High 5'



Fresh back from the 37th Gold Coast Marathon and more inspired than ever - to keep running, to keep testing my limits... and to keep giving and receiving high 5's.

Not everyone loves running as much as I do, I get that, but I wanted to share a little insight into what it's like to be on course - receiving high 5's and on the sidelines giving them. Last weekend I did a lot of both!

I ran the half marathon (21km), and was at a pretty high threshold the whole way, pushing the body through each kilometre, uncertain if I could sustain the pace, but just holding on as long as I could... Each time I saw a little kid on the sideline timidly holding out their hand offering a high 5, I made an effort to run over and give them one on my way past, absorbing some energy with it, and hoping to encourage them to keep holding that little hand out for the next person to detour their way.

I dug deep, and held onto my pace over the last few kilometres and managed to knock a minute off last years time, finishing with a PB of 1:37 ('personal best' in running lingo). Completely spent as I gave it every last ounce crossing the line, I recovered for a few metres and found a quiet spot against a fence in the finishing area and shed a few tears as I gave myself a little high 5, re-affirming my belief that 'anything is possible'.

Pumped with my achievement and my well earned medal around my neck, it was now time to give back some of those high 5's and cheer on the marathoners (42km) who were out on course with the sun now beaming down on them. Our Run Like Crazy base was set up at the 29km mark, often a real turning point in the marathon - it's when the head starts to listen to the pain of the body!

As the field deepened, so too did the look of desperation on peoples faces - many questioning why the hell they'd signed up for this! I was yelling out creative words of inspiration as they passed, offering "free high 5's", "magic high 5's". Some could only just muster one, others slammed my hand as if to say "oh yeah - I'm doing this - BANG!".

"You can do this... every step you're getting closer... you got this... you're out here doing it... keep going... hang in there... be proud..." I would yell on repeat.

My friends wondered where I found this energy from - it was easy, I knew I was making a difference as people heard the cheering when they saw our camp in their sights. If I gave them just one more kilojoule of energy, right when they needed it - it was worth it. People went from walking to running, from running to running faster - one lady even upped her pace to a sprint! (a short lived one - but a sprint never the less!) Some said as I high 5'ed them: "you're just what I needed right now".

We had a few packets of jelly beans, and they were so popular we reduced the rations to one jelly bean per runner.  I was handing out one baby jelly bean to people - and the look of gratitude on their faces was as if I was handing them $1 million. I think that reflects the hurt and depths of despair a marathon can bring.

One girl I ran with for a bit was overcome with emotion, she was from the Can-Too crew, and couldn't believe how emotional her 1st marathon was. I was holding back tears running with her. An inspirational couple were running with their daughter Gemma - pushing her along in a specially built chair. Another guy came past with no arms.  The marathon attracts so many people from all walks of life, all shapes and sizes - and they are taking on something a very small percentage of the population even come close to considering...

We stayed until the very end, until the last competitor came past our base, she was being followed by the race organisers who had picked up others who wouldn't make the cut-off time, she was going to get to the 30km then concede defeat. It wasn't the day she'd reach the 42km mark, but she embraced my last high 5 and smiled with an element of pride and contentment.

Whether you're racing and offered one, or on the sidelines with the ability to give one - in running, and in life...



(Originally published - 9th July, 2015)