When I was a child I would attempt to run fast, fast enough to not be tagged “it” in a game of tag after church. I never made it. I was always “it” and it never failed to seem I was “it” for the entire game. I usually only managed to tag someone else when they weren’t pay attention. I would often run fast enough though to pitch myself forward and nearly fall on my face. That was usually though when I was out alone, after dark and was scared for my life.
Not that my small town was scary or a hot bed of crime. But one hears things and we all know the “boogey man” only comes out when it’s dark.
I could also run that fast when it was cold, and I was desperate to get home. I would “turn on the jets just to get there fast enough. I think I’m fairly certain I never actually took a fall, but it is entirely possible.
Fast forward through the awkward teen years, the young adult years (equally awkward) the dating and marriage years, (years I thought weren’t awkward but have since realized I was only fooling myself and they were awkward too), child-bearing years, child raising years to my late 30s. A friend of mine was a runner, and she looked so free, and running looked so easy I wanted to try.
So in June of that year, I decided I was going to run. And run I did. My initial goal was to compete in a 5 mile race and be done. I competed in that race, but I wasn’t done. The running bug bit me, and bit me hard.
I kept running. Sometimes with my friend, sometimes not. We ran my first official race, a 5K. I ran the whole thing. (I did not run the full 5 mile race because of time and obligations.) My time was bad, but I was happy. That started Katie and I running together in races. Not really running fun runs, or training together but just running in races with each other. Shouting encouragement to each other. Complaining about the hills, the cold, the heat, the other better runners. Relishing in being done, and better than the last race.
We were training for the Bolder Boulder when I was injured. A stress fracture in my shin. Not shin splints, but a stress fracture. It kept me from running at all for 6 weeks, and then gingerly running a few times a week for months.
My climate is cold, at times bitterly cold and it’s just hard to run when it’s that cold. Being cold, and my running friend’s pregnancies and babies kept us from running like we wanted to.
Fast forward again. I recently read Fully Alive by Ken Davis and loved it. He shared his running plan and so a year ago I started again in earnest. Last summer Katie asked me to help her get back to running. Her babies were growing, and she could spend some time running without them. So we started.
And we ran. We ran up and down the avenues. We talked about life. We talked about being a Momma, a wife. We talked about our frustrations with the men in our lives. Never really delving deep, just little “inconsiderate” (according to us) things we could do without.
She told me she wanted to be “beautiful” by October. I meant to assure her she was already. Instead, I told her it was entirely possible. I should have said she was anyway.
On October 16, I ran a training run alone. She wasn’t able to run, she was too busy being beautiful and preparing for an out-of-town trip with other mommies of young children. I ran our route for the last time that day.
You see, that evening she was involved in a horrible crash about 6 hours east of me. One girl in the car with her lost her life. Katie very nearly did too.
The next day my family and I were able to go and be with her family. We heard stories about her dying twice in the night and each time she came back. We heard about the coma the hospital staff put her in and weaned her off. We heard she was still in a coma of her own making. Her body just needed time to heal.
We’ve stories about her progress. We’ve celebrated and wept with each little victory and set back.
I am still running, most days. I can’t yet bring myself to run the avenues. Some days running alone is just about more than I can bear. But I run.
I run, and I pray. I pray for Katie’s health, her healing. I pray for strength to run further, run harder than I ever have in my life.