Running is a perfect metaphor for living. Everyone who runs has different goals. Everyone who runs has a different form. Running is hard. Running is different every time you run.
I started my running life because of cancer. I had always been a fit and active woman, but never a runner. My mother planted several 'truisms' into my soul that turned out not to be true. One was that I was clumsy, not athletic, and certainly had no business trying. SO, until cancer found me, I simply worked out.
When I was midway through my first course of chemotherapy, I needed something to help me feel better, not only physically. I needed to conquer something, to add something to my life that would make me feel as if I was doing something new. What did I have to lose? I had CANCER and I realized that I no longer needed anyone's permission to live my life. So, I started running. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't fast. It wasn't for anyone but me . . . . and I loved it. I ran before my chemo treatments and long after they ended. I have been running for almost 10 years and can't imagine my life without it.
After chemo ended, I ran 5 days a week, and every day, at some point in my run, I would cry. Often I didn't know why I was crying or what caused the tears. I learned that all the physical and emotional pain of cancer made me cry. I allowed myself to be really sad, to be really afraid, to be incredibly happy, and to feel whatever feeling was present. While cancer was in my body and the medical community assisted my healing with a full scale assault, my emotions became somewhat frozen. They needed to be frozen. The enormity of fighting for your life can swallow you whole, and tends to do just that. Running unfroze me.
As I ran alone, a neighbor asked if I would run with her some days. I immediately said, "Yes!" and then heard my mother's voice again. "How can you run with her. She's good. You aren't. You will just embarrass yourself and horrify your friend." I ran with her anyway and I learned that my mother's voice wasn't right. I could further than my friend, but not faster. Neither of us cared two hoots about that. We just ran . . . and talked . . . . and a friendship formed that is one of the best of my life. When she went to Guatemala for a year to teach I wondered how I would cope.
Two days before she left, another neighbor asked if I would run with him. We began running the day the plane left for Guatemala. We run . . . .we talk . . . . and another friendship has blossomed. His daughter runs with us sometimes, and his wife has now begun running with us.
Several months ago, we began running with a group of men from a homeless shelter. The organization, A Mile In My Shoes, has given us another set of friends. We know that the residents we run with are very important to all of us, as are the volunteers. Tomorrow night, we hope to begin the process of adding another shelter to our list of running friends.
Running has helped me heal. Running has given me friends and relationships I never would have had without it. Running has opened my heart in very special ways. I never run alone . . . even when I run by myself, and for that, I am forever humbled and grateful.