Running with Heart

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.

Post 13.1 City of Oaks 07 2

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.

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Six Little Minutes

For long distance runners, the Boston Marathon is the stuff of legends, dreams, and running bucket lists. In some ways, it’s the Super Bowl of the running world…not because it’s a competition–though it is–but because of the excitement and camaraderie that unites everyone at the start line. It’s a race you have to work for…because the only way in is to qualify or raise money for charities. Period.

Last year, my best friend worked her butt off to qualify for Boston. For the first several months of the year, she ran a marathon a month to make it happen. Each time the race started, I held my breath a little and waited for texts from her husband or some other form of live update. I waited for her to cross the finish line and see if she made it in time. And each time, I started making plans in my head for being her support staff on race day in Boston this year.

She missed qualifying by six minutes.

When the story broke this afternoon, I couldn’t help but think of her and her efforts to qualify…to say nothing of the people I know who live in Boston, the people involved in any way in the race, and the city itself which I so desperately love. I sent my friend a text to say how thankful I was that she didn’t qualify last year for this year’s race. Her response was, “Me too! 6 little minutes!”

In a world where things change in a matter of seconds, I am thankful for the time that has been extended because of those six minutes. I am thankful for the beauty of the running world and the ways in which we all find hope and peace and clarity and excitement and enjoyment and camaraderie in the sport. I am thankful for the ways in which people have responded. And I am thankful to love and be loved by such incredible people…and that I get to hug some of them a little tighter tonight or the next time I see them. Because of six little minutes.

My New Friends

I made two new friends today. It was an unexpected meeting…not my usual crowd. But I think we’re going to have a good relationship. I hope so, at least. I’m hoping they’ll stay with me through thick and thin…come rain or shine…on the road and off…on bad days and good. Because on January 10, when I cross the finish line at the Disney Marathon, they’ll be with me. Still going strong.

New Friends