"I met my husband in the middle of a 10k race in 2004. I was new to the sport and on the day of the race, it was cold outside and I had trouble warming up properly. When the race pistol fired and I started running, I knew right away that my stride wasn't right but I didn't want to turn back.
Not long afterwards, my leg began to cramp. Stretching didn't help and a short distance later I felt crippled. My leg muscle seized into a tight, agonizing ball and I had to sit down. Just flexing my foot made pain shoot through my leg.
Other runners muttered encouragement as they sprinted past but no one stopped to help, until finally one man, a chubby fellow wearing a sweat-stained shirt, stopped. He told me he had cramped up in a race last year and was taught how to ease the pain. He offered to massage the muscle or teach me how to do it. Normally I wouldn't be comfortable with a stranger touching me, but under the circumstances I asked if he'd help me (while I gritted my teeth and tried to stay tough).
This stranger had a soothing touch and a calm and funny personality that helped to distract me from the pain in my leg. As the muscle finally loosened, I went from excruciating pain to embarassment, but his jokes helped to drive away the embarassment. We finished the race together with one of the slowest times.
Today, we are married. Dan has given up running races but I've gone on to challenge my fastest times. Knowing that he's waiting at the finish line always motivates me to never quit a race and to finish strong."
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