|without a doubt, this was my favorite place to run...Crissy Field, San Francisco, CA|
Six years ago, I realized I would probably have to say goodbye to you. As someone who ran "eight days a week," I never thought I would have to....but not all runners feel that way. I realize now how many runners sense that one day their knees will buckle or their back will break, demanding a farewell to arms—or in this case legs and running.
I have to admit, you had me from hello. Just kidding—I couldn't resist. Maybe it's a good thing that only a certain generation of us know how bad, yet good anything from the movie "Jerry Maguire" is. But running, I loved you from the start. Even though you are demanding and sometimes cruel, you gave me freedom. You continued to challenge and humble me. You could be simultaneously relaxing and strenuous. I looked forward to my time with you and yet, after a given amount of time together, I knew when to walk...when to push stop on my watch...and when to say "I'll see you tomorrow."
|after my very favorite road race— the Spring Lake 5—with one of my favorite people|
I see God's grace at work in other people's lives far more often than I do in my own. I suppose that's not uncommon, but my relationship with you was one of the greatest graces. Grace is, after all, a gift. A free one. Running was no different. The fact that you cost nothing is one of the things I love about you. Chris McDougall the author of Born to Run verified this truth in helping people to understand that not even shoes are necessary!
I could spend as much or as little time as I wanted with you. I loved you for your accessibility: lace up my shoes and head out the door. I have run through great American cities and local trails. All 10 miles of Broad Street in Philadelphia, the National Mall in Washington DC, from one end of the Golden Gate Bridge to the other and back, Forest Park in St. Louis and the Kitty Hawk trail in Dallas, were places I got to know, revere and study because of you.
|Ran it in the blistering heat/humidity, the warm nights, the hard rain and snow. Our nation's capital|
Coaching cross country for 12 years gave me the chance to share you with young people. My philosophy was a simple one: to develop a life-long relationship with you. As a teacher and a coach, I know how elusive success can be. In those years of coaching, yes, we won league and sectional championships, but getting young women to love you too was and will always be my greatest achievement. Though I find a terrible irony in my own coaching philosophy—I can't run myself—were I to still coach cross country (and I could—it would just be very different) I wouldn't change a thing. That's success.
|with a special runner....who went on to run in college. #love|
I've nailed down the times I miss you and how I miss you
- the early morning run
- on a rainy day--just after the rain has subsided
- as a way to get to know American cities
- by the water
- the climb
- the runs I will never take...not where...but with who.
You shaped me in ways that are beyond my comprehension and I remain, even now, forever grateful. When people ask me if I still run, there's but the smallest chord of sadness but honestly, I can look them in the eye and say "it was a great ride." Those words and this entire reality remind me that though we are broken, we can remain whole. That's a sure sign of God's grace....a revelation from a great sport that spawned many minutes and miles.
|A spiritual place—the start line|
Crissy FieldDC National Mall