This is Why I Run

So it should come as no surprise to you that I’m training for a half-marathon.

This morning, I was really working hard to convince myself to get out and run 8 miles. The weather was A. MAZING. and I knew that already and was excited about it. But I wasn’t excited about running my usual route. And it took me an hour to try to find another route before finally settling on heading out to one of my other favorite trails. It’s an out and back flat and basically in the woods.

Of course, I hit a couple several some walk breaks. And the fifth mile was the longest. But it was during that mile that I was walking a bit and heard a man’s voice from behind me saying, “Come on, girl. You’re doing great. Keep going.”

He was a complete stranger. And he never had to say a word. Most of the runners I passed or that passed me today said hello or just nodded and waved. And that’s typical. Usually it’s during an actual race that the strangers encourage you and you encourage them.

But that’s what I love about the running community. I mean, sure. You have your elites who are super competitive. But even those folks are encouraging of their competition. Hell, half of them even train together.

And then you have the rest of us. We train and we run and we fight to keep going for a medal or a shirt or a beer or to prove something to ourselves, to become better, to have a new goal, to do something different, to be with friends. And we all understand what that journey can be like or what it might mean. And we run not to beat people but to be with people.

When I’m running–at least in a race–it’s no surprise to hear words of encouragement. But it still makes a difference every time they come.

And so today I walked a few more seconds and then kept going with the run. There were a few more breaks, but I finished those 8 miles faster and stronger than last week.

Welcome to Holland…Or Sometimes You Need a New Perspective

I have no idea how I missed this all these years, but two people in as many days this week referred me to this little story.

It was written originally by Emily Perl Kingsley who was trying to explain what it is like to parent a child with a disability.

I think it applies to any kind of parenting situation that is different from any kind of experience you envisioned or for which you hoped. Then again, it can apply to any kind of situation in which you thought you were headed down one road and, for whatever region, it changes.

Here it is:

When you’re going to have a baby (or, I would add, becoming a parent in any way), it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip–to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?! I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills…and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is coming and going from Italy…and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away…because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But…if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things…about Holland.