May 12th – “Run!”
When I was in grade 6 I took part in my first cross country race. It was a 2km run through the hills and valleys of Centennial Park in Etobicoke. 112 runners crossed the finished line, including me, who crossed the line in 107th place. You would think such an experience would have convinced me to ditch my runners before they had barely been broken in, but it was the opposite. I loved it! I loved the adrenaline rush sparked by the starter’s pistol, the cheers of the crowd along the route, and the addictive feeling of accomplishment in crossing the line at the end. I was hooked, and it began a lifetime passion for running.
Since then I have run, and I have run a lot. I have run 5km “fun runs”, 10 km Road Races, and completed the Ottawa marathon 5 times. I have run for cancer, for Altzheimer’s disease, for Parkinson’s, and even ran up the 1,776 stairs of the CN Tower in support of the World Wildlife Federation. I have run races in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes.
I have run in blizzards, and rainstorms. I have run in heat so hot every breath was a struggle, and air so cold I could feel it freezing in my lungs. I have been bitten by dogs twice, dive-bombed by birds, had coffee cups thrown at me from passing cars, and faced the cruel taunts of gangs of passing teens, “Run, Forrest, Run”.
I have twisted ankles, scraped knees, and endured countless sunburns. And yes, when you run a marathon, your nipples can bleed. I have spent hundreds of dollars on shoes, and drank thousands of bottles of water.
Why? Because I LOVE it. I LOVE the challenge. I LOVE the adrenaline burst. I LOVE the feeling of accomplishment. I LOVE to push myself. I LOVE how it makes me feel!!
Today, at the age of 49, I did something I have never done before. I ran in a trail race. It was 5kms along a narrow trail through the forests just outside of Barrie. It was a different kind of challenge. There were roots to avoid, rocks to circumvent, and downed trees to jump over. It required a lot of focus. You couldn’t take your eyes of the trail for a moment, for fear of falling, which some did. I finished, and crossing the line feels the same whether it’s a five km run through the woods, or a 42km run through the streets of Ottawa, it feels amazing.
The Apostle Paul in scripture relates life to a running a race. He wrote, “run the race that is set before you with perseverance, keeping your eyes on the goal.”
Living well, is like running well. Have the courage to try, the determination to succeed, the focus to get around the rocks and roots waiting to trip you up, and the strength of character to get up and keep going when you stumble. It doesn’t matter if you come in 1st or 107th, the fact is, you did it. YOU ran YOUR race. Be proud.
“Even when you have gone as far as you can, and everything hurts, and you are staring at the specter of self-doubt, you can find a bit more strength deep inside you, if you look closely enough.”
— Hal Higdon