Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Unlikely Runner

Let me just start by saying I am NOT a runner.  I never have been; and I used to say with certainty, I never would be.  Don't get me wrong.  I believe in exercise for the mind, body, and spirit.  I enjoy taking time for a good workout a few days a week, but I have spent most of my life avoiding running like the plague.  Why?  The number one reason is that I am, for sure, just not good at it.  It does not come easy to me.  And because I am not good at it, I don't like doing it.  Even though I am a small person, running makes me feel like a five ton elephant sucking wind through a cocktail straw.  Not fun.

Then, I got to thinking.  People do it all the time.  And those who run, love it.  What's the draw?  I have to admit that it does sound good.  It must be nice to get outside, enjoy some peace and quiet, maybe a little music, take in some scenery, get the endorphins going, and release some stress.  Ahh, if only it went like that for me.  Usually, that's as far as I let my mind go.

Recently, though, I was inspired by an important person in my life.  At 70, this person was still motivated to run like the wind, miles at a time.  And yes, I said 70 and miles with an "s."  He would still be running his regualar three miles to this day, but he has to take a break for right now because he has a bigger, more important marathon to win.  Cancer.  Cancer that makes breathing a form of exercise. 

So while this person I admire is fighting with all his heart to win this marathon, I am running.  And everytime I start sucking air, I think of him.  Stay tuned to see how it goes...  He has inspired me to run.

Well, I first began writing this post in May of this year.  My first run was on May 4th.  I recorded it, and every run since, on the "Map My Run" app on my iPhone.  I have no idea how far I went that first day, because even though I thought I was being all professional and runnerish, I didn't enable the GPS on my phone.  I do know, without a doubt, it was horrible, and I didn't go very far in my 25 minutes of complete and total ungraceful overexertion.  I hated it.  I sucked air five seconds in and couldn't even make it a half a mile without stumbling to a walk.  I was in way over my head and thought about quitting the entire time. I have never felt so out of shape in my life, despite the fact that I worked out regularly 3-4 days a week.  You know what kept me from quitting?  My 71 year old uncle.  I was running for him because I knew if he could, he would gladly out run me any day of the week.  I also know, he was a smart man; so if he loved running, there must be something to it.

Now, it's seven months later.  A lot has happened since May and that excruciating first attempt at running.   In October, my uncle won his marathon and is now enjoying victory laps in Heaven, cancer free.  My cousins would probably say he's tearing up the dance floor too.  I am still running despite my initial dislike and avoidance.  I can now say that I love to run, and I enjoy the stress relief that comes with it.  It clears my head and rejuvenates my soul.  I need to run these days.  Running is a metaphor for life from so many facets.  Sometimes you find yourself doing things you never thought you could do.  Those hard and exhausting things, whatever they are for us personally, help us grow.  With determination, faith, patience, and an open heart, those things we once avoided, feared, thought we couldn't do- they eventually strengthen us and turn in to blessings full of purpose.

My uncle Ralph sure had a good thing going.  His life was full of examples we could follow to
make us better people, far too many to put in a blog.  He inspired me and so many others way beyond his strength as a runner.  He lives on in spirit and the legacy of the family and friends he loves so much.  Sending love and hugs to you, Uncle Ralph!

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