Even after half a dozen marathons and half marathons, the 10K... this 10K has a special place in my heart.
I don't remember the year, but I remember the night. It was lifetimes ago. Before cancer and the mental hospital and getting fired and my marriage coming apart. It was a summer evening and life was full of possibilities and I was making a list. It was like the list Gatsby's dad shows to Tom at the end of the novel. I still remember some of the items. "Practice cursive writing." "Get out of debt." "Take Martha to Ireland." And the last one was something special, something impossible, for no one's benefit but mine: "Run the Bluegrass 10,000."
I wasn't a runner at the time. I wasn't doing anything physical at all, if I remember. But something - I would say it was God's inspiration - prompted me to stick that item on the end of my list of life goals. Looking back, I'm convinced it was divine inspiration, because that thought planted the seed that sprouted when I was lying on my sick bed, looking for a reason to hang on to life. "I have to live. I haven't run that race, yet." And so the dreams began and the running soon followed.
|2011 Bluegrass 10,000|
I remember feeling amazement as I crossed the finish line. It all sort of hit me at once... the miracle I had gone through. Since my diagnosis, I had four members of my family and friends still fighting cancer for their lives. Soon, they would all be gone, but three lived to see me finish that race. They were all proud of me. They still are, I hope.
|2012: A familiar uniform makes|
it's Lexington debut.
|2013: You must admit,|
I'm taking better pictures...
There wasn't a lot of traffic on Broadway as I began the 2 mile jog toward town. I took it slow, working out the kinks. Taking stock. Feet? Feeling good. Ankles and calves? Strong and relaxed. Coach Carrie had seen to that. Quads? A little twinge just above the right knee. Just early morning bugs to work out, I hope. Go easy up to the crest of the hill and see how it feels on the flat. There, that's better. Hips? No sweat. Tuesday's ache must have been from the stride change on the treadmill. I haven't run inside since the weather turned to spring and shortening up for the 'mill probably caused that little tweak. My posture is strong. Arms feel light and powerful. Chest high. Head back. Eyes up. Yeah, I'm ready for this.
Police officers and volunteers were setting up barricades as I came into town. We exchanged cheerful "Good Mornings" and I thanked them for coming out on their holiday. I turned the corner toward the starting line and was struck, as I always am, but the beauty of the gathering tribes of runners. Gorgeous, toned bodies. Wide bottoms and rolling bellies. Golden tans. Pale, aged skin. Pre-teens and grand masters all jogged loosely back and forth along Main Street. We were all early and it was fixing to dump rain on us and there was no place on earth we would rather be.
|2013: Strider Nation reporting for duty|
John's Striders is a running group affiliated with John's Run/Walk shop here in Lexington. John's is mecca for running in our town, and the Striders were created to help new runners find their way into the sport. They are an amazingly joyful group of people. Runners with decades of experience willingly share their wisdom and encouragement with newbies. There has never been a time I've run with them that I didn't come away inspired and a smarter runner. I'm proud to be one of them.
|2013: In the Zone on the way to a new PR|
I jogged/walked home in the rain, alone. I usually like to meet friends for brunch or coffee after this race, but it's kind of a special year for me. I'm learning a lot about being alone these days. I expected to be a little sad about not having anyone to hug or share my post-race euphoria with, but I wasn't sad at all. I felt... dare I say it... proud. Grateful to God for giving me a chance to run. Grateful to all the people I've known and lost this year and the inspiration they will always give me. Grateful for the friends who are sticking with me, and the new friends I haven't met yet.
And yes, dammit. I'm proud that I made the choice to accept all those gifts and turn them into a loving celebration of life. I may never break any records other than my own PRs, and I may never win anything other than participant shirts and finisher's medals, but crossing that finish line, you feel like a champion. And in a way, I guess we all are.
Everybody in a race has a thousand reasons not to be there. Excuses. Rationalizations. Justifications. Anxieties. Nobody with any sense puts on skimpy clothes on a rainy morning and runs 6 miles in a race they can't win. And in spite of all that, we run. We run together. We run alone. We run. And by running, we celebrate who we are... who we can become... and we testify to the power of will and faith. We all succeed because we choose to run and we believe that no matter how crazy it looks to the rest of the world, it is worth it.
When people see us running by the side of the road, they see all kinds of things. Fanatics. Neurotics. Traffic hazards. But once in a while, I hope they see the miracle. In a world full of death and discouragement, we are alive and running. We are not stronger. We simply choose to run. We choose to live. I hope that now and then, when people see a runner, they realize that they too can choose life. There are miracles waiting for each of us.