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.


  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. :)

    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!

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

    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!