Run, Walk, Run

Dear Friends,

At our annual southeast Unitarian Universalist ministers fall workshop and retreat in Highlands, North Carolina a few weeks ago, one of my colleagues approached me after lunch, said I looked like a runner, and asked me if it were true.

“Well, I used to run,” I responded. “I haven’t for several months now . . . can’t find the time.”

Not taking no for an answer, she responded, “I have an extra pair of running shoes with me – Size 8. Will those fit?” My affirmative response was the yes that was needed to open the door to my willingness – not only to join her for a run on a mountain trail later that afternoon, but to reboot my dormant running routine back in Atlanta (thank you, Sally Beth!).

Starting to run again after many months of nothing means starting slow. Right now, I’m running just two miles in my neighborhood . . . with one big hill at the beginning that I can’t quite run all the way to the top of just yet. So, I’ll walk for a minute when I think I’ve given it my all, and then pick up the pace again. American Olympian and running coach Jeff Galloway would say that I’m utilizing his run/walk/run method to manage my fatigue and reduce my chance of injury. All I know is that this “easy does it” approach is rebuilding my confidence and helping me get back into a sport and spiritual practice that I love.

And then, this past Saturday, I fell. Not a minor stumble, but a dramatic splat. Tripping over a broken piece of sidewalk concrete, I was airborne for a few split seconds. After exclaiming “Blank!” (you can fill in the missing word), I came crashing down on my right side and hands. I’m still pretty sore and my knee has a pepperoni-pizza look.

I’ve fallen several times before when running. I was even hit by a large commercial truck once while training for the Peachtree Road Race, which put me in the hospital for a few weeks and on crutches for the rest of that summer. So, I can’t say that I didn’t expect that I’d have another accident sooner or later. I just didn’t think it would be sooner.

Surprisingly, my fall has made me even more determined to keep going. I’m not sure where the extra incentive is coming from. Perhaps my ego wants to prove that I still have a bit of athleticism in me. Perhaps I’m afraid of losing my newfound momentum. Or, perhaps I don’t want to get a preview of my own aging process and the big and little ways that my body will let me down as time goes on.

Galloway wrote, “Being an athlete is a state of mind which is not bound by age, performance, or place in the running pack.” My translation: it’s how I understand who I am that matters most. And, I still think of myself as a runner (even when I’m not running).

So, run, walk, run I go – out my back door and down the street with the uneven sidewalks. Because it’s high time to claim and catch up to myself.