The gift of running in the darkness

Way back when Glory was part of the rowing club here in Augusta, she and I ran a road race in downtown Augusta. While we were there, I had someone stop me that remembered me
from junior college almost thirty years ago.
He remembered my name AND recognized my face.
I was a little blown away.
I recognized him, but couldn’t come up with his name. It was neat to see him, he reminded of his name and we caught up a bit.  That was around four years ago.

Last summer, we were both out running again.  We passed each other at a corner of my very own block and then did a simultaneous about-face. I asked if he lived close-by. “No … I’m about six miles from home,” was his response. Wow. I don’t even like to DRIVE six miles … much less RUN that far. I’m a 1-2 mile kind of girl … well … I WAS.

More recently, we ran into each other in a store and spent a little while talking. Running came up, naturally. I believe I was the one to ask if he would ever like some company while running. Little did I know what a sacrifice it was for him to allow me to tag along. None-the-less, he let me join him the next week.

I kiddingly tell people now
that it might be nice
if  Walt had been in some kind of  trouble with the law …
THEN he would be able to use our running together
as time towards COMMUNITY SERVICE. 
I’m here to tell you, when he runs with me … his time is pure charity work.

I had NO IDEA that the man runs a seven and a half-minute mile …
for LONG DISTANCES ….
….. L.O.N.G ……. like six …. seven …. eight and more miles ……
without a problem.

Oh my. He’s so humble. He didn’t even tell me. *shakes head and blushes*

Walt runs early in the morning several days a week before he leaves for work. Once a week, he allows me to completely stifle his run tag along. We meet around 4:45 am at the park where I stretch my stiff ligaments and he does push-ups for personal entertainment. By 5:00, we’re moving. We usually cover around four or five miles. He tells me I’m getting slower … but he still graciously allows me to join him.  Maybe I’m slowing because I’m upping my mileage weekly. Maybe it’s because the temps and humidity have gone up as the summer settled in. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older! I don’t know. But, he hangs in and let’s me tag along … once a week … week after week.

Because of his encouragement and my success in the Warrior Dash, I’m going to TRY to run a half marathon.  I’m a little bit dumbfounded by this decision. It’s so uncharacteristic of me. Like I said before, I don’t even like to DRIVE six miles … much less run it … much less run thirteen! But, I’m training for it and well on my way to my goal. I have gone as far as ten miles in one morning! *scratches head* I just can’t get over the fact that I’m thinking, writing or doing these things! My goal is to comfortably run fourteen miles by mid-October so I’ll be ready for Savannah for the Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon on November 3rd. If I take it slow, keep stretching well and keep my feet inside really good shoes, I pray I’ll be able to run without injury and finish.

Let me add here that my “running” is really more like a fast walk. And … even as I move … I actually slow down to a “normal” walk speed to rest. I might run a 11:30 mile WHEN I’m running. I’m not fast at all.
BUT,
Walt doesn’t poke fun at me, try to get me to go faster or give me a hard time.
Rather, Walt reminds me that most people can’t run a whole mile.
Shoot! Many people can’t even run around the block!  So, at least I’m off the couch and moving, right?
In all of our runs, I have never felt belittled or looked down upon by him. He is always encouraging.
It’s pretty amazing.

I don’t know how much longer we’ll run together. He’s running longer and longer distances as he’s training for a full marathon. I’m going to be doing well to make half of that. But, I’m moving with a goal in mind … knowing there is a good possibility of reaching my goal
because I have a coach, mentor and cheerleader. His positive influence has encouraged me to do more than I ever thought was possible.

For this, I am thankful.

And so, I add to my One Thousand Gifts list:

459. Running without injury
460. Running while I watch the sun rise
461. Running with the temps are still in the 80’s
462. Running through sprinklers
463. Running with a  friend who runs MUCH faster than me,
but allows me to run with him anyway
464.  Running with someone who puts himself between me and traffic
465.  Running with someone who encourages me all along the way
466. Street lights and flashlights
467. Smooth sidewalks
468. A dependable bunny sighting most mornings
469. Excellent running shoes
470. Healthy knees and body
471. Quick and quiet afternoon naps, when needed
472. Rich conversation while exercising
473. Park benches for stretching
474. My Ipod with GPS to track my distance and speed
475. Running tunes that keep me going
476. My RunKeeper app
477. Protein bars for energy
478. A favorite pink water bottle filled with H20 for hydration

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3 thoughts on “The gift of running in the darkness

  1. Karen,
    You are such an encouragement to me. I started running (ha!) last year, and once I was able to make it 3 miles, I did a 3 mile walk/run and chalked it up to success. I haven’t run one time since then. My son-in-law is training for that half-marathon in Savannah, and I so wish I could join him. But when he’s up early in the morning running, I’m too lazy to get out of bed. 4:45……WOW. You are amazing!!!!!

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  2. Katrina! You did a 3 miler? Good for you! I understand the “do it and quit” mentality. For some of us, reaching the goal is enough. I just try to keep setting new goals so that I always have something physically to strive for. I know that I don’t want to quit exercising so I have had to figure out a way to keep myself reaching for strength. Maybe you could find a goal to set for yourself for spring? That’ll keep you moving through the winter so you’ll feel better and be stronger.

    Will you come to Savannah to watch your son-in-law run? If so, let me know. I’d love to hug your neck and see your ever-gorgeous smile.

    Thanks for reading, Katrina! I’m glad I’m an encouragement. If I have a passion, it is to encourage others. 😀

    {{{hug}}}

    -|<@ren

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