Thursday, October 22, 2009

More than running

Today was my first run since the 1/2. I had planned to go out with my friend (let's call her "J") early this morning, but started having second thoughts when I looked at the forecast right before bed. There was a 70% chance of rain and it was going to be cool. Still, I set my alarm and hoped for the best. I woke up around 5:30, looked outside and saw it was just a light rain. For an easy, recovery run, I didn't see the point in getting wet and feeling uncomfortable. I sent J a text that we could just run tomorrow. After a few minutes and no response, I figured she probably didn't get it. I got myself ready and headed out the door.

I got to our meeting spot and didn't see J. For a minute, I was worried I didn't wait long enough to see her response to my text. But then, she came running up. She had responded to my text, but I had already left my house. I thought it was funny that both of us really didn't want to run today, but also didn't want to risk one of us showing up while the other was still sleeping. As soon as we cleared up all of our miscommunication, I suggested we run tomorrow and go back home. J said "we're already out here so we might as well run." It was a little uncomfortable at first, but within a few minutes I was warmed up and the rain wasn't bothering me anymore. It was very light (especially compared to the hurricane-like conditions at Lewis and Clark in 2008).

I say all of this not to bore you with these mundane details, but to show how having a running buddy can be so motivating, especially when it's not an ideal day for running outside. And, to share what happened during our run.

J is recovering from an injury that sidelined her for over a month. During that time, she had stopped running to let her injury fully heal. This was her first run back! We chose a flat 1/2 mile loop in our neighborhood and I expected we would run 3-4 easy miles.

As usual, J and I got to talking right away. At first, we just talked about the weather and I shared my Lewis and Clark "Hurricane Ike" experience. Then, somehow the conversation shifted and we started talking about songs we like and their deeper meanings. This led us to talk about life and death, grief and anger. Before I knew it, it was starting to get light and I figured we should end our run. I checked my Garmin and it showed we had run over 5 miles! That 1/2 mile loop had never felt that easy and added up to so many miles that quickly. Usually when I run it, I'm doing some sort of speed work and I'm completely focused on my pace and starting and stopping points. Not this time!

J reminded me about another side of running that I love - the unexpected. So many times, I'm following a schedule and trying to hit a certain pace that I get so focused just on running. Today, I was able to forget all about pace, my stride, and breathing, and just enjoyed running and talking with my friend. I was also reminded that there's so much more to life than my running goals. Of course, I know that, but I have a tendency to get so focused that I forget to enjoy the other aspects of my life.

Running is such a great metaphor for my life, but I have to remember not to let it define my life. I have been so incredibly blessed and have so much to be thankful for. If I couldn't run, I would be sad, but I believe God would provide other outlets for me. Through running, I have met the most wonderful, inspiring people - true friends I believe I will have for a lifetime. I have had amazing opportunities and seen so many different places. I'm grateful that God continues to bless me in this area and pray He will for years to come.

As I have said before, I'm not naturally a person who likes to run by herself. But, when I do, it is an amazing opportunity to meet up with my Creator. I like to use my solo runs to talk and pray to God. The great thing about running is the repetition. After a while, I get into such a groove that my mind will become clear. These are the times I can finally "hear" God's answers to my prayers and figure out the direction or action He wants me to take, especially if I'm having a difficult time making a decision. If you've never prayed during a run, I highly suggest you try it. It's an incredible experience!

Thanks J, for a wonderful run and conversation this morning. You're a wonderful woman and friend!

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