Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Running Refuge

I just finished reading an article in my most recent Runners World on a woman who found solace in running after losing a dear family member. She described the pain she felt while running through her grief, and the joy that she found in embracing that physical pain. When we feel anything, we know we are still alive. This article brought back a lot of emotions for me and even caused a few tears to roll down my cheeks. You see the night of my wife's grandfather's death I ran. I did not have a grandfather growing up and Grandpa Bob had become the grandpa I always wanted. I had always found refuge in my running and cannot count the number of times that I have been overcome by one emotion or another while logging some miles. Tears, laughter, anger, and confusion all have joined me along my running journey.

That dark, cool, wet night in August I was exhausted both mentally and physically. I thought I didn't have another tear in my body to shed. Vacation was awaiting me with the rising of the sun, but that night I had to run. I had to get out and move. I had to enter into the solace of a run where the movement of my body can bring some resemblance of focus. Silence surrounded me as I moved quietly along the lake. Crunch, skid...crunch, skid...crunch, skid went each of my footfalls on the gravel that lined the old highway. As I turned the corner and headed for the library I felt like I could have just kept running. I could have ran through the night and into my vacation. Grandpa Bob and I were together along that dimly lit street talking about the garden, fishing, hunting, the times we have spent together, the battle that just took his physical life. My breathing was relaxed and an afterthought as I was focused on something more important. The heartrate monitor was left at home with a sleeping wife and two sleeping children. This was not about training for Chicago, meeting my weekly mileage or staying in a target heart rate zone. This was about him. This was about us. This was about how much I was going to miss him. Although I wanted to extend my run as far as my legs would take me; I knew that I had to end it. I could not live in this run, but could hold firmly to future meetings along the road. People, memories, emotions await you along your runs. Although you can never predict where they may join you along the way, I can guarantee that they are out there. Running is about more than simply burning calories or achieving goals. It is about life, love, passion, and solace. We live to run because we run to live.

I would love to hear a story that you might have about a walk, run, bike ride, or just a stroll in which you were able to tap into some deep seeded emotions. The burning in our lungs and the ache of our legs assure us that we are alive and must recognize the blessing that is on this day. Run on!

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