An Honor Bestowed

The following is the body of an article posted in Runner’s World+ in October 2019.

I HOPE TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS WITH MY RUN JOURNEY

I became a serious ‘runner’ about 10 years ago, after I developed chronic, debilitating back and hip pain in my early 40s. Intuitively I knew I needed to move, but initially even walking much was painful. Eventually, I asked my husband to purchase a treadmill for my use at home, and thereafter I spent some quality time on it for many months. Slowly but surely, I was able to go from walking to jogging. Once I felt strong enough, I ventured outdoors to run in my neighborhood. Did I mention I live in the high desert? At 4500-feet elevation! Heavy breathing was a constant while running in my hill country. It used to demoralize me. But I stuck with my runs because my back and hips were no longer hurting. It would take years of running in my community before I felt like I was making any gains. But eventually, I did get stronger. I ran my first race (10K) six years ago because a friend asked me to help her train for a half marathon. Our training for that distance has led to running many races over the past five years. And because I do most of my running in my community, I have been able to encourage and train others in my town who want or need to become more active. This is especially fulfilling to me; running has not only enriched and improved my life, but it has become a vehicle by which I may encourage others to begin their run journeys too.

WHY I JOINED RW+

I joined RW+ to have access to every good thing RW offers. I simply could not imagine losing access to regular online articles and features; additionally, having the paper magazine means I can share RW with those whom I train; especially those new to running who have not yet enjoyed reading RW.

RUNNING HAS TAUGHT ME THAT MY BODY IS STRONG

Running makes me feel strong and younger than my years. And it makes me feel accomplished; especially when I have a race on my calendar and a training plan that beckons me to stay on course with the hard workouts. I am naturally lazy and afraid of over-committing myself (physically), so running has taught me that my body is strong…most of the time it is stronger than I believe it to be.

What motivates me to run? Keeping ahead of my own aging! That’s what motivates me. When I make gains in my running strength and stamina, I am loathe to go backward. Some reversals in fitness are out of our control (accidents, illness, etc), so the fact that fitness is a dynamic moving target keeps me moving, and running as much as I can. And I love feeling younger and stronger than I was in my 20s, 30s and 40s. Plus, running gives me an opportunity to have ‘me time’, and unlike other indulgences, running is not a guilty pleasure, but rather a place of happy sanctuary from daily stress. Of course, there are negative motivators too, like how I feel when I don’t run (lack of energy, weight gain, aches/pains). So on most days I am pretty motivated to move my feet happily outdoors or on the treadmill.

I NEED TO RUN IN THE MORNING

My work schedule is full of training appointments and group classes I teach. Most days if I don’t run first thing in the morning, I won’t have time or energy to run in the evening. Sometimes I will run twice a day (two easy, short runs) to fit around a full day of appointments. The weekends are used for easy and or long runs if I’m training for a race.

I RUN IN MY COMMUNITY

I run a variety of routes in my home town during the week, mostly on the streets leaving straight away from my home. I live in the high desert, so the terrain provides excellent hill and altitude (4500-feet elevation) training. Depending on my energy level and current training plan, I’ll pick a route to match my mood and available time. And because my community is rural desert, there is an endless array of trails to run on too. But mostly, during the week, I just like being in my community, running through the neighborhoods and enjoying the natural beauty and serenity running provides me. When I need an extra boost of running encouragement, I’ll drive into town (30 minutes south and 2000-feet lower in elevation) to run on the city’s urban multi-use trails. This really is an ego pump…running fast (relative to home) on the urban paths with so many other happy runners is quite energizing.

FAVORITE GEAR

The one item I almost always wear for all my 3+ mile runs is my running hydration pack by Nathan. This pack is designed gender specific and boasts a 2-liter bladder which accommodates my hydration needs when running in the dry southwest. My pack carries everything I need (phone, nutrition, first aid, keys, etc) without the uncomfortable bounce of a waist belt or fanny pack. Of course I ALWAYS wear my Garmin Fenix 5s GPS watch with my heart rate strap monitor to keep myself honest on easy run days and to feel like a hero when I run on the urban pathways.

I WANT TO BE A LIFE-LONG RUNNER

I would like to run another marathon in 2020 and finish within 4.5 to 5.0 hours. I ran my first marathon last year (Marine Corps Marathon) after contracting shingles two months before the race. The fact I finished the race at all was an amazing accomplishment given my health status on race day. I hope to run two more half marathons before attempting my second full marathon. But really my most important running goal is to be a life-long runner; and if I can run happy through the rest of my decades, then I will consider myself a fulfilled runner indeed!


Dora’s Baton

We each have life’s race to run; in relay with all our others;
How will we finish? How will we know?
If our race was run well, that others might grow?
That others might grow into grace, joy and confidence…
Will my life, your life, make the transfer clear?
Will it at all, as we live each day, a difference make?
Will the ideals we hold close, of faith, hope, joy, and love…
Will these things pass well? Relay secure?
Will these connections be made…
Into their hands? Upon their feet? Into their hearts?
Will their lives pick up our pace?
Will their lives improve? Be challenged?
Those lives with whom we run life’s race?

To be sure of one thing, of this I am certain,
A runner runs best when she runs to her calling.
So give this race your all, my all too; and may we reflect often on this;
This relay race of life needs team mates devoted one to the other.
And while we run, while you run and I run too,
One more thing we might think or consider;
The baton, our baton, our life really,
Is lived best when lived and raced for the sake of the others.

For each race, each relay, each exchange we make,
Is a part of the whole scheme, whatever the take.
Yet more oft than not, we forget to enjoy,
Until we are done!
Yes, more oft than not, we forget to enjoy
Our race, your race, my race too,
Until it is done, and we are over the line,
That race, lost or won, forever in time!

And it seems true too, with the passing and crossing over of a life,
Only the cheering, weeping and rejoicing heard behind the line,
Reminds us again, so that we and all others might finally know,
How well our race, your race, my race was run;
Each wild and precious race, how was it run?

How will we know then, you wonder? This, today, is what I presently think:
That when we hand the baton of life over,
When it is gladly received by another runner,
Then we will know a life, a race, a baton, had meaning;
The baton received well, is recieved for the running!
Then we will know, a race first run with misgivings or fear,
Has transformed its runner with its passing, though how, it is unclear;
Then we will know, and perhaps understand, perceive,
Our baton held so dearly, must pass on to be received.
The baton must pass, and so do we; before an exchange of runners may proceed.

So now a request I make, and I make without further adieu,
The time to receive a baton is at hand, it’s true;
Receive the baton willing; and run with it fast;
Passed on from Dora, then on to you and to me;
Passed on for our learning; it’s time we receive.
Receive her baton, of faith, of joy and love for the others;
Receive her baton, take flight, not cover!
Receive it for life and all of those living!
Receive it from Dora, and all that it’s giving:
Wings for soaring, feet for running, breath for breathing,
Our baton, her baton, yours and mine too;
Carry it forward, for the next runner,
Carry it forward in strength, please do!

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!  ~Hebrews 12:1-3 The Message (MSG)

In Memory of Dora C: For all those who knew and loved you…may they be encouraged to run their course, strong and true, following your good life as a pattern for their own. May they rejoice in the gift of knowing you and receive your baton with happiness to run their race…towards the Beloved One.

 


Let’s Run

It’s a blustery, winter weather kind of day today; and I’m glad for it. It’s December 2nd, and I’ve waited all summer long for this kind of day to give me an honest excuse for not going outside to run! So today I will honor the weather and this season. Today I will sit and stay…indoors…happily…with nowhere to run and nothing better to do than rest, read and rejuvenate. Funny thing is, while I sit, I am still thinking about running and of course…not running!

run clip art

So it seems appropriate that while I’ve been contemplating the benefits of my run life, and while resting my ever-ready-to-run legs, I should find refreshment for myself and my feet. What follows, is what has found me this morning…while I have been sitting. The quotes below, inspired by the run lives of others known and unknown to myself, will hopefully also inspire you, dear reader, to actively embrace your run life as a ‘moving-meditation’. May the thoughts which follow, give you reason, motivation, and inspiration to run the race of your life with heart and sole.

Now go forward in today and in today’s tomorrows. Go forward if you will and hold nothing of yourself in reserve! Live out loud, run out strong. Embrace your life in faithful answer to your calling…full of grace and strength and conviction!
Finish strong ~ Finish Well

run clip art

We were meant and designed to run long and hard. Training for that is not an imposition, not artificial, not unnatural. It is in the essence of our being.
Roger Robinson

Whatever you do, do it well; go at it hard; 100 percent. Tiger Holmes ~ 90 year old master’s swimming competitor

Running doesn’t get easier with age, but the payoffs grow greater.  Amby Burfoot – Run Forever

Growing old is one of the ways the soul nudges itself into attention to the spiritual aspect of life. The body’s changes teach us about fate, time, nature, mortality, and character. Aging forces us to decide what is important in life. Thomas Moore – Care of the Soul

In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say ‘I have finished.’ And there is a whole life’s worth of satisfaction in that. Author Unknown


ROAR

So this is grief and grieving? It is a strenuous process!!

Sometimes…like today…

I just need to do this one little thing ~ ROAR…

Yes, I roar; then, I run!

But this one thing I do,
When I run and roar…
I run towards…not away;
I run towards my life!
I roar for the fight of my life!

I have a life! ROAR!

I run towards life to embrace it;
To embrace it with
All my strength,
And hope,
And passion.

I RUN! I ROAR!

I am…
Better.


Why Do I Run?

Why do I run? I run because it makes me feel so fully alive…in my body and in my mind. It is a spiritual, mystical experience; it is not something I fully understand, this feeling, this need to move my legs and feet. Nor can I easily explain or define why running is so meaningful to me. But run I do, because it magically makes time slow down and with every breath I deeply breathe I exist and am firmly rooted in the presence of now.

And running gives me so many choices…I may propel myself forward in any given direction at any given speed or effort. I may run lightly as a leaf blown about on the morning’s gentle breeze. Flitting here and there…gliding, tumbling, or plodding…it doesn’t matter which way I go, up or down, my feet follow one after the other, traversing the hilly streets all around my little town…until they wish to run no more and then they walk me safely home again.

While running, we can use the body as another language in which to express our longing for God. Running artfully, our bodies become a beautiful liturgy of the physical. Running the Spiritual Path ~ Roger Joslin

I run to remember, to remind myself that I am alive; older with each passing day it’s true, but alive and awake enough to breathe deep so as to expel the staleness of the moments just past; I move toward each new moment with purpose; I chase it down with great anticipation for what will appear; for what will arrive and for what will depart. To run is to strive for all that I am and all that I may be.

Why do I run? Because I can; because I must; because I love to feel so fully, so painfully alive…in my body and in my mind. It is a spiritual, mystical experience.


A New Day to Hear…and Listen

Every day I wake is a gift from above; with it comes the promises of Him who made the sun to rise, and together with the brilliant rising sun He says…I AM here for you. Today my prayer is that I will not only hear His voice, but that I will also listen and learn. This morning I seem to hear Him say:

Walk with Me! But when you walk, keep your eyes open, your head up. Do not lose sight of Me. Seek after Me, Keep up with Me! Dawdle if you must, but dawdle with Me in view. Run if you must, but run with the joy of your inner child. I AM never far from you.


Racing or Running?

What is your intention? Your intention for the day makes all the difference to how you will rate the finish line at day’s end. Will you race through your day? Or will you run through it? By definition, a race is a competition or contest in which there will be a winner with many runners’ up. Likewise, a run indicates quick forward momentum, when for a short moment, both feet are off the ground.

So what is your intention for the day? Will you treat it like a race and gut out your day, heaving with great sighs of breathing and straining with an intensity and focus that tramples every obstacle in your path? Or will you instead lace up for your day with careful pacing of your energies and metered awareness of the passing moments so as to accomplish those chores and duties you encounter through the day.

Racing through your days can wear you down and leave you feeling defeated if you don’t finish the day ahead of your to-do list. However, if we can run through our days with attention to our pacing and purpose, then we may accomplish what is most needful for today and be satisfied with no more or no less.

Kara-Goucher


“If we had a drug that did what exercise did, it would be the biggest revolution ever and would be promoted all over the world and be hailed as the greatest achievement of humankind, when all you have to do is go out for a run or a walk.” Professor Greg Wells (University of Toronto)

Exercise