Every experience that we have is an opportunity to learn, and most times those experiences teach us much more than we would ever have imagined.
My good friend and running buddy, Kate wrote the blog below about running, friends and all that we have to run towards in life.
Thank you for this wonderful reminder, Kate!
I’m often asked why I run. Not only is the question unanswerable to me, I am also baffled by the frequent immediate follow-up: “I would only run if I was being chased, hahaha”.
Well, how do you know? Just as I can’t tell you why I run, how do you know that you…can’t?
I became a runner a few years ago simply because I’d met some super-cool women who were runners and I’d have done just about anything to hang out with them. You’ve probably seen these beautiful girls: bright packs of them, flying along the trail, talking and laughing and sweating. And at the end of their runs, they would hug; really HUG, in an I-see-see-you-for-who-you-are-and-love-you-for-it way. To me, they represented all that I wanted: strength and confidence and freedom, and community. Those beautiful girls looked like a net to me, and I needed to be caught in it.
Oh, did they ever catch me. And they helped me find my strength, and confidence, and freedom, and they gave me the community that fed my bravery, too.
In the spring of 2010, two things happened. I don’t know which came first, but I realized that my marriage was probably over, and I registered for my first marathon. Those long training runs gave me the quiet to pay attention to the internal life that I had ignored for so long, and as my legs grew stronger, so did my clarity. The miles I logged helped me shed my disappointment, and anger, and fear; I began to see myself again, and I saw that I loved me.
I ran the marathon alone. I declined friends’ kind offers of support, telling them that this was one race I had to do by myself. And it was hard, really, really hard. It was also lonely, and sometimes boring, and pretty darn cold, too. My legs hurt. My nose hurt. My heart hurt the worst. At mile 24, I began to think I could not do it, that I had come this far and would not be able to finish. And that’s when my angel appeared. All right, I knew she wasn’t really an angel – I wasn’t hallucinating THAT badly – she was a pacesetter, and her name was Dawn. She gave me a huge smile, and told me we were almost home. I started to cry, choked it back, and sped up. I needed to have her with me; I realized that, in some races, as with life, we do sometimes need to accept a little help.
As I crossed the finish line, the tears overwhelmed me. I couldn’t breathe, my face stung, and my throat was exploding. An elderly man wrapped the silver thermal blanket around my shoulders, and I collapsed on the curb. I don’t know how long I sat there, crying and gasping like a guppy, but eventually my breath came back. And I thought, “okay, this is as alone as you will ever be, and you just did the most difficult thing you could imagine. Feel this, because it’s real, and it’s now”. And I realized that I was perfectly fine. Better than fine: triumphant. And my heart beat loudly in my chest, and told me YES.
There’s a rumor among runners that the greatest challenge of the marathon is mental, not physical. I would agree, and for myself, it was also emotional. For me, it was about throwing myself in front of the huge Karmic bus and trusting that not only would the Universe catch me, but that I would catch myself. For me, it was about allowing myself the ugly sobs until they stopped by themselves, and then wrapping myself in my shiny silver blanket, and making my way home.
My marathon taught me this: there is nothing to run away from, and much to run toward.
by Kate Hayward, Arms Wide Open