Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Falling (back) in Love with Running

If you want to fall (back) in love with running, volunteer with an organization such as Girls on the Run. I have fortunate enough to be a part of this amazing program and was able help two very special girls complete their 5ks and shatter goals.  I ran with Abby, adorable, admirable, awesome Abby, as she pushed herself to beat her time from last year's 5k and to run the whole thing. Abby, who always raised her hand high and gave a heartfelt, insightful and genuine answer, couldn't believe she had run for 10 whole minutes straight!
"I didn't stop yet!" Then, she couldn't believe she ran 20 whole minutes straight! Then she couldn't believe she ran 30 whole minutes straight! When we realized that we might not beat her time goal, the girl dug deep inside herself and found bursts of speed. She finished strong and with a huge smile. That is all we ask. I loved running with her. 

I got to run with Sophie and her mom as they participated in the ETS Firecracker 5k. Sophie is excitement personified. She is honest, talkative, innocent and just a joy to be around. She saw me across the parking lot and instantly was smiles and hugs. I cannot get enough of this girl. I found Sophie, her mom, and her friend around the first mile and decided to hang with them. Sophie gave it her all in the final .1 of the race and finished with a bright red face, sweaty smile and simply beaming pride. That is all we ask. Be proud of yourself. Try your best. Have fun. Be yourself. 

I've crossed many finish lines and have a rack of medals hanging on my bedroom wall. Sometimes, I take it  for granted. These girls reminded me of the sheer joy of crossing a finish line, of beating a new record, of pushing yourself to do things you didn't think were possible. These girls set goals, worked towards them, and pushed hard to achieve them. There were no excuses. We ignored heat, hills, and heavy breathing to get to that finish line. That accomplishment of  their goal, the look on their faces, the oversized t-shirts, the crocked numbers, all brought that enthusiasm, that feeling back to me. I can't wait to race race again.

If you want to fall (back) in love with running, run with someone you love. I love my boyfriend for many many reasons. And sometimes for no reason at all. On Sunday, we set out for a simple walk on the lovely towpath. I took my Garmin watch because it's one of the coolest gadgets ever--next to maybe God's remote as he calls it. I gave him the watch at the halfway point. Apparently, that was all it took. He became obsessed with the pace and time readings. "We've walked one-tenth of a mile!," "Quick! It's dropping to 15 minutes!" I laughed and kept up. I had to stop and readjust my shoes and told him to go ahead. I ran to catch up and when I got to my rightful place on his right side, he started to run! I think my heart just about burst with pride, joy, amazement, surprise and um...he's kind of fast. 

When we started dating one of his first impressions of me was, "this girl needs something more than running." Imagine how I felt to see him running. He had a really impressive pace for a good amount of time. We stopped and walked and then he pointed to a landmark and said, 'we're going to run to there." Yes, sir! 

Just like finish lines and free t-shirts, I take for granted the those first steps. I remember those steps but I forget them too. It's an incredible thing to watch a loved one take those steps, to lace up those sneakers and to set out to do something that is uncomfortable, new, challenging and unknown. I didn't push him to do it. I didn't say, "I"m a runner and so you have to be too." I would love to help, coach, assist, teach, and run along with him if he chooses to run again. I would never force it because just seeing him try and acknowledge my hobby meant more than a marathon to me. 

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