I suck at math. This is not atypical of creative types who flourish in the right-brain arena. I have my writing, and I think I’m pretty good at it. I can accept the left-brain-lackthereof. But then, there are people like my sister, Jill, who can do it all. She was a math major at a top university, graduated summa cum laude and has a very successful finance/banking career. And then she has to go and be an amazing writer and athlete on top of it all. And she’s beautiful. I swear I didn’t develop a complex growing up. Not. At. All.
Jill (left) and me at the Greenville Zoo a couple of years back.
But I long ago accepted that she and I both have our strengths and weaknesses (does she know all the words to Blues Traveler’s song “Hook”? Wait, she might. Damnit.), which makes it easy to be so proud of her when she writes something like this. Her running group asked her to contribute a blog post to their website about finding her inner runner. Oh yeah, she runs marathons, too. Bitch.
Since I have absolutely nothing to contribute to the running world and she did it in such a moving way, I felt compelled to share. Oh and for those of you like me who literally can’t run to save their lives, “PR” stands for “Personal Record,” not “Public Relations.” I think my inner runner is curled up on my inner sofa watching Grey’s Anatomy and eating nachos:
I sat in my car in the lot at CMC on Kings capturing a few more minutes of warmth before stripping off my sweatshirt and heading toward the start of the Hopebuilders 5K. In those few minutes, I took a moment to reflect and offer up a pre-race prayer. This was a ritual I had done countless times before races in high school, but have only recently come back to. The juxtaposition of it all is what hit me so hard sitting in my Jeep.
It was at that very hospital not more than five years earlier I sat in a room as the doctors and nurses came in to deliver the news. You know it is not a good sign when the first thing they do is hand you a box of Kleenex. When I was discharged and wheeled out to the car a week later, I had regained my ability to walk, but life certainly looked different to me. Even the sky seemed to have a different tint, like I was looking at the world through a lens.
That began a year where every day was punctuated with anxiety. Would this be the day I had another attack? And would I recover this time? What would happen to my family, my children? But life marched on and suddenly I was not so acutely conscious on a daily basis. To the point where reminders now consist of doctors’ appointments and near quarterly infusions.
Sitting in my car, it seemed nothing short of God’s grace and the strength it inspired that brought me from a time where I was exiting this lot via a wheelchair to this morning where I was limbering up to run a 5K – inarguably in the best shape of my adult life.
As I neared the last tenth of a mile, the timer indicated it would be near impossible to break the personal goal I had set for myself. Sure enough, I finished off by just 10 seconds. Undoubtedly, I left 10 seconds somewhere out there on the course. However, instead of racking my mind to determine where in the 3.1 miles I had let that go, I chose to focus on the fact that this was a PR for my post high school/collegiate career and more than a two-minute improvement over my time on the same course last year.
What happened between then and now? FiA. It has been nearly two years since I showed up at my first workout. While I do not deny the relative success I enjoyed as a runner as part of the Ballard cross country and track teams, the joy in running had long since faded for me. On my first Tuesday run – now affectionately known as the Diva Run – I was unsure whether I would make it five miles and was certainly not tied to any goal pace. Over the past couple of years, I have watched my mileage increase, my times drop, and even have my first marathon under my belt.
However, given all these tangible accomplishments, I am most grateful for the love of running that has been re-awakened. And this I owe to the friendships and the inspiration that comes from being part of FiA. It is so much more than being a member of a workout group. It is transformative – physically, mentally, spiritually.
For me, running had become a source of frustration – a reminder of what I used to be, but would never be again. Instead of joy, each step had become painful. My relationship with FiA inspired a running epiphany – the beauty of being part of a running community and letting the sheer joy of it carry you each step of the way. It is the “attitude of gratitude” that I now strive to always hold at the top of my conscious. It may not be my best day. Perhaps, I am sick, or deprived of sleep, or over-stressed. But when the alarm goes off in the wee hours of the morning, I get out of bed because I am so grateful for the opportunity. Grateful for my body that allows me to log in the miles, grateful for the women who are there to greet me and listen and share.
This epiphany is much bigger than running. It is more pervasive than that. It is a collective gratitude that applies to all facets of my work, my family, my relationships – including that with myself. I recognize that this is a journey and I am certainly not implying that I have everything figured out. But in re-discovering my inner-runner, I am getting re-acquainted with myself and the type of person that I want to be. For this, I am indebted to the beautiful friendships I have found in FiA.