“I wasn’t expecting that,” I mutter to myself with my head bowed. My body approaches the trail where the snow is so close it can be touched. A hill. Again. I dig in and run slowly to the top. I am in a zone of transition, speaking harshly to myself and then being thankful, reviewing my limits and where I am on my journey in life. As a group, we are running the course for the upcoming race the following weekend. We are spread out on the trail, training for our own achievements. My legs have carried me without complaint to the halfway mark but my head was telling me to quit. I am mentally tired, weary from lack of sleep. I need this run.
Hill after hill, barely a smooth flat path to rest, we trudge ahead. Except for one other runner in front of me, I am alone with my thoughts. I concentrate on my footsteps, placing my feet in the snow where others have gone. It’s safer there. My lungs heave in and I stop to take a sip of water, a deep breath, and focus.
The back of my ankle is aching, my feet are sliding back in the snow and the sides of my calves are pulling, but my legs are sailing smoothly ahead. My thighs grumble up the next hill where I run slowly and then walk. The top is near and I hear the dreaded voice, “Just quit,” and tears begin to form. I shake off the negativity and from deep within me, I feel the positive energy begin to flow and I whisper, “Keep moving forward,” and instantly my body feels lighter and I follow the orange flags along the side of the path focusing on the footprints in front of me feeling the beauty of hope and faith.
My thoughts gravitate to what “running for two” means to me. I’m humbled, here, now in the moment feeling the strain on my body and I retreat in my mind to my list of gratefulness. The words come to me easily now, encouraging, affirming, and energizing the path ahead. When I “run for two”, I am running for you. My thankful bank is limitless with names and places, dreams and aspirations. My focus is pure, positive and on the simplicity of love and life.
We hop over a fallen log and slowly approach the lake and look across to the other side. “Are we supposed to cross this,” she asks? “I guess so, that’s where the footprints lead,” I say, “We just have to trust.” We jump down the side of the trail and start running in the fresh snow on the frozen lake.
A year ago, I was cheering for those that ran these races and now I am making my way to the finish line. I “train” now. I have race goals, not for time, not for speed, but to finish with you. Each run is different. Each run is beautiful. I love them all. I wouldn’t have known this when I started. It was hard then. Running has changed who I am, how I define myself; it has given me life. I started running for me. Now I run for you.
I look back in awe at the accomplishments you and I have achieved and it is absolutely inspiring, uplifting and energizing. You fill me and I know I am never alone.
We quietly run across the fresh snow on the frozen lake and I watch her slow her pace to match mine and we run alongside each other, together, to the proposed finish line. I smile warmly on the inside, knowing we are all winners filled with the love of life and our love of running.
When I “run for two”, I run with you.