Six years ago, sitting on a balcony in Mexico with my best friend and a copy of Endurance Magazine, I was talked into registering for the City of Oaks Marathon.
“We can so do this,” she said.
Keep in mind, I’d NEVER run a race. She’d done a few, but not anything longer than a 10K.
“I will if you will,” I said.
So we signed up. And then I started a PhD program and she resumed life with her husband and five children (whom she’d had for just over a year at that point). Needless to say, our lives blew apart and so did our training. So we made another pact. Let’s change our registration to the HALF MARATHON. Brilliant. No problem.
My longest long run between August and the beginning of November that year was 8 miles.
On a treadmill.
Yeah. I know. I can hear you laughing from here.
No really. Pick yourself up off the floor. It’s unbecoming at this point.
As you might imagine, that race sucked. But I finished it. And the feeling I had coming across that finish line…I rode that high for a good three days.
And the day I crossed that finish line, I knew I’d do it again. With a more than a little more training.
And I have. Over and over. Seven half-marathons, one full, a couple of 10 milers, several 10Ks, and…finally…a few 5Ks.
I became a runner.
Even though running and I are frenemies.
So I was excited today to register once again for the City of Oaks 13.1. And even convince a potential new running (or at least racing) buddy to join me.
I mean, really excited. Because, y’all, I’ve been doing Insanity this summer. And NOTHING has made me miss running more than that.
In spite of the fact that I’m not the world’s greatest runner. Certainly not the fastest. Usually I’m the most self-conscious when it comes to running with other people–even my best running friends.
Maybe it’s because, when all else fails, I run with heart. Because it’s the activity that helps me stay healthy…mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s the thing that contributed to the machine beeping at how low my resting heart rate was when I went in for my most recent physical. And what contributed to my blood pressure being only marginally higher.
It’s the thing that sometimes helps me to appreciate my body and all the many things it can do.
And I was reminded of that even more acutely this afternoon as I sat in a hospital room, visiting a man and his family–none of whom I’d seen in years. But they have always been so special to me. He is working to become strong enough to have surgery to install a heart pump. Without that…or a brand new heart altogether…he won’t be with us for much longer. As I watched the ways in which his wife, daughter, granddaughter, son-in-law and neighbors take care of him and pour love into him, I was reminded of just how powerful it is to work from the heart. Whatever the work.
I know how powerful the heart can be–and how devastating it can be when the heart no longer functions. And maybe it’s another reason I keep running. Because at the end of the day, I can still run and move my body in so many beautiful ways…ways in which other people cannot. And sometimes, I run for them.