Monday, February 25, 2013

The kindness of strangers

The inaugural Women's Half
Marathon in San Diego (2/24/13).
A gorgeous, scenic course, and a
nicely organized event. I give
it a thumbs (and fingers) up!
Yesterday I competed in my first race since having come back from a couple of injuries last summer. I've had my fair share of minor overuse injuries over a quarter century of running that have required me to cut back or take a short break, but I've never been a particularly injury-prone runner, and a three-month break due to a real injury that left me genuinely unable to run was tough on me. When I started back up in the fall, I ran one slow mile, and it took nearly a week for my damaged calf muscle to feel ready for another try. I was pretty psyched out after years of running marathons to find that I needed to foam roll and ice after one stinkin' mile. But I kept at it, and did a lot of reading on the blogs of some beginner runners during those first few difficult months. I love to read the writing of seasoned runners, but reading about the joy of a new runner building their mileage from the ground up, and observing the ways that running is changing their lives is something I find infinitely inspiring. Notably, during this time my brother-in-law who lives across the country from me was becoming a certifiable running junkie in his own right, and so messaging with him about his newfound passion (and then getting to share my first-ever run with him over the holidays!) was another huge source of inspiration.

When a colleague organized a group to sign up for yesterday's half-marathon a couple of months ago, I knew I wasn't yet ready to train hard, but thought it would be a good opportunity to build my mileage back up in a focused way, and re-build the foundation to train for a summer marathon. So even though I didn't know her (she had organized the group through a local list-serv, and happened to be someone I'd never met), I joined in and started running on the weekends with some new running buddies. I found new trails I'd never run, got to know a couple of amazing women, and became reacquainted with the joy of the long run. The time on the clock yesterday was a long way off of any kind of a personal record - but it felt like a huge victory, and provided me confidence I need as I head into "spring training" for Grandma's Marathon in June. It also provided me the most outrageous finisher's medal I have ever seen:

Literally, the size of my face.
These past seven months have been a great lesson of the value of seeking and receiving the inspiration of others. Complete strangers blogging about the trials and tribulations of learning to run, connecting with a loved one thousands of miles away through the shared experience of our aching toes, and remembering that a new running partner always has something to teach. I thank every one of them, strangers and friends alike, who kept me moving in the right direction.

4 comments:

  1. I can't get over that medal! I think Flavor-Flav would love that!

    Nice work on your first race in awhile. I'm sure it was fun to run a race surrounded by so many women.

    Now, onto marathon training! Hopefully we get to do a long run together at some point. :)

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    1. I know, I was thinking of getting that medal set on a bike chain. ;-) Thanks, it was a really nice race - my only complaint is that I didn't see any local benefiting charities, which I think is really important. But it was beautifully done, and I've never run with all women before, and really loved that!

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  2. Congrats! And yes...unexpected people come out of the woodwork to inspire you, me, all of us. I love it.

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    1. Thank you! The running blogosphere was a profound source of support to me, long before I started writing in it. Thanks for sharing your journey, too!

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