Monday, December 17, 2012

Confessions of a Nighttime Runner

Yesterday (Sunday) I woke up feeling energized and grateful. Grateful for a day to stay home with my kids (a rarity because of working two jobs), and I had made plans to go on a long run to support Stacey at Stacey Runs and Eats on Facebook who was doing a 50K and running in memory of the lives lost in Connecticut on Friday. I planned my day around my kids and my long run and was excited at the prospect of going out running with no predetermined time or mileage. And then, everything that could happen in a day happened: leaking roof at my house, leaking pipes in my kitchen, and car breaking down. As the day wore on and I made trip after trip to the local home improvement store, I began to get concerned that this run would never happen. Multiple times as I stood in line at the home improvement store, I kept looking at my watch and telling myself that even if it got dark and no matter how late it got, I would still go run. As the afternoon wore into the evening and it got later and later, my mood did not improve I am ashamed to say. It was finally 9PM when I finally strapped on my head lamp and started out on my run and I was not in a good place. I was tired and cranky. I was in a bad mood because the day had not gone as I had planned. And so I began this run slightly annoyed with the day and the amount of money I had had to shell out for the house and car repairs. And so began my thoughts... It wasn't until I reached about mile 2 that I acknowledged that I had let the events of the day dictate how I would react and that the whole point of the run was to honor and celebrate the lives that were lost in Connecticut on Friday. Feelings of guilt seeped in as I realized that I here I was, complaining about my problems when there were parents who would never hug their children again. Never again be able to tell them they loved them. Never see them smile again. Never watch them grow up.

 Somehow, as each mile wore on and I stopped focusing on my own problems and instead began to pray for people that I didn’t even know, my worries seemed to lift and my anger at my own situation began to dissipate. As I remembered each child, parent and teacher in that tragedy, the gravity of my own situation seemed to dim in comparison to what the family of the victims were dealing with. With each prayer came gratitude for being able to run, hug my children, smile, teach my students, and even live in a house with a leaky roof that was costing me money I didn’t have. Yes, it is possible to be thankful for a leaky roof.

As I ran each mile, my thankfulness increased. They weren’t the best miles, but they were GOOD miles.  Necessary miles. Thoughtful miles. Angry miles. Repentant miles. Grateful miles. Pretty much in that order.  Running through the dark streets of my neighborhood instead of the trail I had originally planned on running earlier that day, I saw the houses lit up with Christmas lights and Christmas trees shining through the windows with brightly colored ornaments and it made me grateful to be able to run even if it was at night. Lately I have had to do a lot more night running which has never been one of my favorite things to do, especially in the winter and doing so has moved me out of my comfort zone. Being out there on the streets with just my headlamp and a couple of streetlights made me grateful that I was even able to run at all. I made peace with a lot of things last night, including running at night and in the cold. Sometimes we need to be moved out of our own comfort zone where everything feels safe and comfortable as this propels us towards new horizons that we may never have known otherwise. On those horizons we often encounter parts of ourselves that we may never even knew existed. Running will do that to you if you stick with it long enough.

Peace my running friends. Tomorrow is a brand new day, one in which you get to choose how you live it. I pray you too seek out new horizons as you move beyond your comfort zone and find the peace you seek.


Stacey Runs and Eats said...

You are so awesome for getting out there and running not only for those kids but also for yourself with a day like that. I don't know if I could have done the same.
Thank you!!!

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