We are so lucky.
My dear running pal Jodi and I said this as we hugged each other good luck and went to our separate corrals for the start of last week's New York City Marathon.
I met Jodi 25 ((!) years ago in our local running club, and since that time we have traveled many miles (literally, figuratively) over many roads near and far, mostly around the local Great Swamp National Refuge, in New Jersey (prettier than it sounds), but also in marathons in Nashville, Bordeaux, France, and Cape Town, South Africa--how's that for a trio of far-flung destinations?
Thank you, legs.
A few weeks earlier, Jodi had completed the Hawaii Ironman, also known as the World Championship, which we all know is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. Jodi got in as one of 100 athletes in the Legacy Lottery, which means she had to complete 12 (!) Ironmans in other states, including two in the past two years. The cutoff for the Hawaii Ironman is 17 hours; Jodi got into the shape of her life over the spring/summer only to tear a hamstring a couple of months before race day. Dang! Still, she finished in 16:30-something.
Oh, by the way, Jodi is 63.
Thank you, lungs.
My dear running pal Susan, a k a Fast Teacher Friend, started the NYC marathon in an earlier wave than Jodi and me. About four weeks prior, Susan had run a 50K called Run with the Navajo, across Canyon de Chelly, in Arizona. Before the start, 200-ish lucky runners face the east to watch the sun rise over the canyon. In the paraphrased words of the website: "Runners experience the traditional values of Navajo distance running by running as a celebration of life, running as a form of prayer and running as a way to better ourselves."
Wow! I am so lucky to have such cool friends!
Canyon de Chelly had experienced an unusually wet fall. The out-and-back course crossed 33 ice-cold streams—yes, that adds up to 66 ice baths over the course of 35-ish miles. Yikes!
Thank you, feet.
Now I'm not going to suggest that life is all perfect crisp cool running weather and post-run espresso chip scones without weight gain. That positivity is Olympian Deena Kastor's job.
Not all of us can run. You might have plantar fasciitis or a bad back that limits your miles. Many of us are slowed by the stress of dealing with some health issue in our immediate families, from inexplicable chronic hives to terminal illness. Some of us face economic uncertainty in a changing job market while staring down impending college tuition. (Eeek!) Even as we recognize how lucky we are to keep a roof over our kids' heads and sneakers on their feet and Thanksgiving dinner on the table. Life happens to everyone.
This is why I am so grateful for the run: Because it suspends me from the daily noise, even if for just a half hour. Maybe it's a trick of forward motion, but somehow, even if I am ruminating on the mean thing that person said, when I run, I feel like I am moving through it.
Thank you, mind.
I get slower every year, but really truly that is okay. Because in the end, the only thing that really matters is that running just makes me feel better. And for that, I am grateful.
Presumably, if you've read this far, you know what I mean. We are so lucky to have this. Thank you, Dimity and Sarah, for letting me write here! Thank you, readers, for reading.