So I ran for 31 years relatively injury free. This included three not-so-great marathons in Buffalo, Toronto and Ottawa. I finished them all my best time being 3:56 and some change. I’ve never been able to let go of this wonderful hobby, if you will. In 2011 I gave it up due to atrial fibrillation and a move that took us farther from the morning meeting place of the 6AM Runners.
With the recent coronavirus threat, I decided it was time to try to get in a little better shape … to increase my lung capacity should I contract the virus. Really.
One of the most difficult things has been to start slow and regain some ground without hurting myself. Right now my mind, which is my greatest ally in an endurance sport like marathoning, is my greatest enemy. Simply put I think I should be able to just pick up where I left off. So contenting myself with a little 2 km. waddle each morning, is a test. Can I humble myself to get back to the basics as though I never ran before? I am running embarrassingly slow so I choose a stretch of road on a less traveled part of the island. It is a 2 km out-and-back run. The first goal is to get to a 7 minute km. After a month or so, I am seeing the target and it should be within striking distance before too long unless my patience fails me.
This morning I was on my way back and all of a sudden my iPhone erupted with two cheers. One said “Go! Go! Go!” and the other was the soud of a crowd cheering. It is a feature on the app that notifies frieinds when you are exercising and allows them to follow your course on a map and send you “cheers” for encouragement. It is the first time that I have ever actually heard the cheers.
These cheers came from a friend, a former 6AM Runner who now lives in Northern Maine. All the way from Caribou, he had eyes on me and with the touch of a button, sent me those cheers. Was it ever meaningful … a deep connection like that, spanning the miles and reminding me that someone else cares. So many times we think we are alone and unnoticed. Perhaps this is true occasionally but more often that not, we are in the thoughts and prayers of friends who have been a part of our journey. Those people with whom we have shared the ups and downs of life are zoned in to our lives and experiences. Social media allows for them to stay aware and connected and provides opportuity at just the right time to send something our way that brings us hope and resiliience or some other needed gracious gift.
So thanks Joel … I know that your recent struggle is talking you to a beautiful place. It is restoring the beautiful fun-loving person that I first remember when we met so long ago. I’m cheering for you right now.