Running Happenstance–or Destiny?

Sheila (looking impossibly cute!) and me mid-run, trying to outdo the leaves with our vivid colors.

Not to get all woo-woo on you, but I sometimes feel like there's a greater force at work that determines when and where I run. I just can't believe everything that happens on runs is coincidence, whether it's finding money in the road, getting a string of walk signals at intersections, or running into a friend. Over the holiday weekend, this grand-scheme-of-things feeling struck twice.

Friday was a cold, wet day here in Portland. With 12 miles under my [Amphipod] belt on Thanksgiving, I was feeling unmotivated and aimless. Seven-year-old Daphne had asked to join  me for part of my run, and that turned into a whine-filled fiasco. After depositing Daphne back home, I stood in our driveway, fiddling with my iPod and feeling lackluster. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a runner approaching; when I looked up, we realized we knew each other. It was Anne, a mother runner from the boot camp class I take. I asked Anne if I could tag along, and off we trotted. She set the pace and the route; I just had to stick by her side and chat. I forgot to restart my Garmin so pace and time lost all meaning. Anne was running by feel alone--saying she was going to turn around when the mood struck. Sounded perfect to me, so I co-opted her strategy. After about 25 minutes, I turned south toward home and Anne continued west for a few more miles.

While I like Anne a bunch and know she lives about a half-mile from me, we'd never run together before, but a jaunt with her was precisely what I needed that day: an ambling, chat-filled excursion.

Saturday was a rest day, and Sunday's run only needed to be 4 or 5 miles since I'd already run long during the week. But Mother Nature had served up another dry day (a rarity in November in the PacNW) and, after three days with the kiddos, I needed a longer break. I set out with the intention of running 10 miles--up and over Rocky Butte, an extinct volcano cinder cone that offers up a challenging climb. Less than a half-mile into my run, serendipity struck again: The very first runner I saw on my route turned out to be Sheila, my training partner for the 2010 Portland Marathon. In emails the night before we'd agreed to run together on December 9, but immediate gratification was even better. Sheila was about six miles into her run, so I switched directions and once more followed another mother runner's lead.

We zigged and zagged throughout my neighborhood, then headed north and east. Conversation flowed easily, despite the fact that our pace kept inadvertently picking up to near marathon race pace (old habits die hard when you fall in step with a running partner, I guess!). My Garmin clicked over to 9.0 miles just as I returned to our driveway, a smile on my face. Whatever had lead me to have two random runs with friends, I was thankful for it.

What has destiny or coincidence served up for you on recent runs, mother runner? 


14 responses to “Running Happenstance–or Destiny?

  1. My favorite recent run was a slightly chilly 7 miler looping around Lake Junaluska in the western North Carolina mountains. My in laws live 5 minutes away. The scenery is breathtaking. I always feel spiritually renewed after a run there.

  2. The girls I started running with 7 years ago have exceeded my speed, so they go out for their long runs and the fast pace and we all meet at Starbucks afterwards on Saturdays. One day I decided I would walk to Starbucks and get a ride home. I had my ipod on and this person came up behind me & said, “Rachelle, I thought that was you.” It was a girl that I had swam with when she was training for a triathlon this past summer. She said I’ll slow down to run with you. I said okay and she ran me to Starbucks. It was enlightening and motivated me to pick up on my running again. Love running women!!!

  3. I see it as a blessing, good luck and deeply entrenched friendship radar that has 4 ‘bars’ showing when you most need it…what a happy surprise…

  4. Went out for drinks with a friend Saturday night and she was asking me about my race plans for 2013. I told her I think I really want (NEED!!) to do a marathon. SHe asked which one and I told her MCM in DC, she said she had never heard of it, so I gave her a 30 second summary of the race. Then I hear a voice next to me say “Excuse me but I overheard you and I ran the Marine Corps marathon twice” and then he starts telling me all the details of why it would be a great first marathon. Pretty cool happenstance 🙂

  5. I would love to run into someone I know while runnning! Unfortunately I can’t even find a running buddy 🙁 However, last Sunday I planned to run 7miles, which happens to be the exact distance to the library we frequent, so I planned to have my hubby take the kids to the library then I would meet him there and we would all come home together. Halfway into my run the path I was on was completely flooded! I live in Portland too so you know how much rain we had last week! There was no way to get around the little lake that had formed on my path,it was so deep it acutally had current! I never carry a phone with me (though I think now I might start) so I had no way to get a hold of my husband to let him know I couldn’t make it. Long story short I decided I still needed to try to make it to the library as planned so I ended up taking an alternate route which tacked on another 2 miles to my run and because I was afraid my husband would get worried and come looking for me when I wasn’t there at the estimated time I ran it faster than normal! And now I am so glad I ran 9 miles instead of 7!

      1. It was part of the Rock Creek trail, the part that goes under Hwy 26, hence the additional two miles because I had to go around to get to the other side of the freeway. I was running from Bethany to the Hillsboro library 🙂

  6. Not too long ago, I was on a mid-week morning ‘sorta-long’ training run and thinking of cutting it short because I was hungry and cranky and hadn’t stashed any nutrition on my belt. Then I spied a farm stand setting up at little table at the end of a park road I was about to pass. I had just $1.25 on me – enough for two crisp fall apples. I was able to fuel up and finish my mileage!

  7. Not sure if it qualifies as destiny or coincidence, but on Sunday I was deetermined to run *my loop*. It’s a 9 mile loop that I’ve used when training for my 1/2’s and I’ve always said that I was going to keep running in after them. However, I usually take more than a few days off, and do good to keep up with short runs. Sat. I was determined to run it, but procrastinated due to weather..cold, cloudy, and windy with blowing snow. After getting dressed it took me 45 min. to get out of the door. By mile 1 I was already thinking of cutting it short. Close to 1.5 miles, I was ready to make it a 3 miler when there was a break in the clouds and the sun was shinning bright, so I kept going. At 3 miles I was thinking about turning and making it a 3 miler, but looked at my watch and realized that even with a walk up a hill to adjust my belt, I was on target with my fastest 5K. Around mile 4.5 as I was thinking about turning around to avoid the big hill at the end, I had a snowflake land on my cheek, and hung out there for awhile before melting. For some reason it made me smile and keep going. Mile 5.5-6 the wind got behind me and was blowing snow past me, and I smiled as I chased snowflakes. At mile 7ish I made the turn for the big hill, and ran past my old church. I could see my recently deceased preacher standing at the door with a smile.
    I don’t know if was coincodence or devine intervention that kept giving me reasons to keep going,but I don’t think I’ve ever had a more peaceful and satisfying run.

  8. What lovely serendipity! SBS, I like your purple hat, and have one on my wishlist. I recognized well the situation of “Seven-year-old Daphne had asked to join me for part of my run, and that turned into a whine-filled fiasco.” (I keep trying to convince my own daughter that whining saps the energy out of everyone within earshot, that one gets strength and new vim by taking the run or walk piece by piece, but no go.) Hurray for running happenstance/destiny!

    I was glad to see a friend recently when I ran by her house as she was getting out of her car. I would have loved to have run with her, but we chatted for a few minutes, and went on our separate ways.

  9. Run into my running buddy about 1/2 mile into a run. I had decided to take a different route for no reason at all. My usual route would not have crossed her path. I needed her that day so it was just awesome!

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