RUNNING IS THE GREATEST METAPHOR FOR LIFE: YOU GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT. ----Oprah Winfrey
On February 16, I ran the Myrtle Beach Marathon with my friend, Gene. It is the second marathon I have done in my life, and the definitely the more fun of the two.
I have always attempted to stay in somewhat decent shape, but I am not what you would call a die-hard runner. I have a friend from work who is a die-hard runner. She competes in Iron Man distance triathalons in the spring and summer, in mountain bike races in the fall, and I think she wrestles polar bears with her bare hands in the winter. One of my college roommates was a die-hard runner. She also competed in Iron Mans. She traveled all over the country and even to Europe to compete. Once she came in second for her age group in England and as punishment for herself, she swam home. My friend, Adam, in Washington is a die-hard runner. At last count, I believe he has completed four hundred thousand marathons. I have completed two. I am not is the same category as these people.
However, I may be considered a regular runner. Or at least I think I will be, from here on out. I was always prettty sporatic when it came to running. I actually inwardly groaned when my friend, Gene, asked if I wanted to run this marathon with him. Its not that I didn't think I could do it; its just that it takes a long time to build yourself up to be ABLE to do it. It's a commitment. But Gene had already completed a marathon of sorts even before he started training: he had lost over 100 pounds and kept it off for 2 years plus. I guess if he could lose 100pounds and train for a marathon, I could train for a marathon without losing 100 pounds.
It turns out, training for a marathon was exactly what I needed at this point in my life. I had been feeling a bit lost in 2007. Where, exactly, my life was going was a big mystery to me. How, exactly, to deal with that, also a mystery. What I learned over the past few months is that you don't necessarily have to have a master plan for life, just a running schedule and lots of warm clothing. The rest will just fall into place.
On the day of the race, I learned a few things, as well. My original plan was to run side by side with Gene for the entirety of the race, and we would cross the finish line together. So we did. For a while. But even if you are on the same road as somebody else, we all have different ways of reaching the finish line. Some bolt ahead, some take it easy, some listen to music the whole way through, some talk, some prefer to stay silent. We all have our own preferred pace, as well. By around mile 16, it was pretty clear that my original plan had to change. Part of being friends with somebody is being able to read when they just can't stand another second of you. (I'm very good at reading that signal. I get it an awful lot. Go figure.) The last 10 miles Gene and I ran together in spirit. We crossed the finish line an hour apart, but together.
So now as I look ahead, I have only the plan for my next race. I know to stay open to signals that the plan needs to change. I also know that in friendship, and in life, the only certainty is that you need to keep running.