I ran my race with a friend today.
Actually, I am not telling the truth.
Many were with me along the way. Friends, and loved ones too.
Before I talk about my friend that prompted my opening line, I will share with you the others who are blessings in my life.
I ran with friends who claim I am an inspiration to them, but gosh if they only knew. I couldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for what they do. They hold up mirrors to reflect to me, a belief I “can do it” when I might feel uncertainty. Faith begets faith, inspiration begets inspiring; each of us a giver to the other, each of us fortunate to receive.
Because you already know they are integral to my every run I take, yes four-legged and winged friends guided my pace. The sand hill crane standing sturdy at mile two was the reminder “you have time, enjoy, and take care of you.” The pair of ducks were the whisper “flow with this trail as you flow with life”, and the butterflies were your kisses reminding me you are by my side. And of course, more than once you reminded me “DOG = GOD” and that both my guardians were with me though neither I could see; my dear Roo at “Angel Alley” and my dear Ginger near mile thirty. Not just one time each did I know both of you, my dear Roo and Ginger, were cheering for me; extra strong at these times did I feel our connectivity.
I ran with family, always my biggest fans. They always honor my mindset that only sees “can.” Ever encouraging, ever supportive, ever proud of what I achieve. I love to run, I love these “stretch” races, but neither of those elements do they use to define me. If I had only run a mile, they would have thought as wonderful as thirty-three. Claps, cheers, and a high five at mile seventeen; a text assuring me “I can” arriving with perfect timing. Unconditional love to support my dreams even if my dreams are different than what they aspire to; if it is what I want then how they can help pave the way is what they set out to do.
I ran with new friends for brief moments, strangers intersecting across my path at “just the right time”. Six people, no wait, seven, oh and then there was the person at mile twenty-nine. Affirmation that every person we meet is purposefully placed on the journeys we take. We may never know for each other the difference that we make. It may seem fleeting, it may seem that we “know”, or we may not even be aware; consciously or unconsciously left in the footsteps we make are interwoven threads everywhere.
I ran with another very dear friend who is fighting a disease. Speaking of inspiration, her journey the motivation for me. Knowing she doesn’t have the option of stopping, that as much as her body is fatigued she pushes forward and doesn’t give in was the nudge within me during those moments I questioned if my body was saying “call it quits”. Another special friend always says “you can’t go around, under, or over; you have to go through.” Forward to the finish was my only option to do. For my dear friend waging battle against the disease waging war, I was determined to make her journey matter that my body could do “more”.
Which leads me to, at long last, telling you about that certain friend that ran with me today. That additional one that was with me all along the way. She is someone I’ve known for a long while though it has only been the last few years that we’ve grown closer in our friendship we share. It’s fair to say we’ve started to become an inseparable pair. She is passionate about trail runs, fiercely determined or said another way, downright stubborn when she wants to be. Her soul knows that its greatest learning comes in the toughest times – for the struggles she has a certain relishing. Sometimes her mind tries to be her enemy, but her soul’s desires are stronger for the winning. She has been growing in her soul awareness, and her mind has started to align to her soul’s intent. But I am not sure her soul, her mind, and her body have – or had – fully unified yet. Her body has also been doing amazing things to support her soul’s unfolding. But I think she had kept her body somewhat separate from fully joining.
I watched my friend evolve during our run, more fully grasping the words her and I both believe. There is always more than what we initially see. I watched my friend find a new level of compassion and humility. My friend had lost the nutrients in her body earlier in the week; a battle with food-poisoning the enemy. Better by Friday, but probably weaker than she bargained for, beside me she took her place ready for the thirty-three and point five course. We promised each other to take it easy and having fun was what mattered most. We also wanted to reach the finish by the 3:00 p.m. deadline goal.
We started out running, my friend feeling good with each step. I would check on her and always her assured thumbs up “yes”. Inspired by runners using a run-walk routine, my friend asked if we could do the same her and me. Wrestling with the prideful part within that felt a little bit of failing that high bar I set for me, I nodded my head and adjusted my speed. Runners would go by us and I would think to myself “don’t judge my friend, for she is doing the best she can; if you only knew the week she had.” I was hoping my friend couldn’t feel my inward shame; I didn’t want her feeling she was to blame. It was not easy power-walking yet I knew it was the right thing to do. I was teeter-tottering willing the balance to come soon. Humiliation to give way to humility, judgment to compassion, love to self-love. My friend was comfortable in her own skin; I wanted to get to that same place of ‘enough’.
The miles continued as the clock reflected on-track to our goal. Yet we did not have cushion nor a margin of error – non-stop we must go. At one point, I looked at my friend and she was wearing a smile that seemed to come from her soul. I was curious at twenty-seven miles in what had taken hold. It wasn’t getting easier yet she seemed to be dancing gracefully. I could feel her light-hearted spirit beside me. She was relishing how alive her body felt, how she could see every cell so eager to please. Her body knew her soul’s yearning and it heard her mind’s gentle plea. Her body was feeling a part of the journey in ways it hadn’t felt before; no longer an object with the capability to do things but a part of her very core. Her heart that pulses oxygen was feeling the joy of her soul, and her mind was tapping the rhythm “go, go, go”. I saw within my friend this connectivity unlike anything I had every known before. Crossing this finish line this time was going to mean even more.
I will always treasure the tears that came to my friend’s eyes when she crossed that finish line. She had not been certain she would make it before the cut-off time. She was bargaining with herself to at least finish was still okay. But I knew deep down it would be hard for her to take. As we got closer to the end, she started to amaze me when she would take off and run. I am not certain from where those bursts of energy came from. Onward, mile three, mile two, less than one, and then there the end was in sight. People were saying she did it, a medal was getting put around her neck as she asked “I get one of those? I made it on time?!”
I ran my race with a very special friend today who taught me a great deal about myself
who I am
This friend I ran with is
And now I would like to ask each of you today. Who are the friends and family that journey along your way? I am certain you are equally blessed to have many a friend and loved one as the blessings in your life. What about the person inside? Do you treat that person the same as those you hold most dear? Or do you keep portions of that person from getting near? Do you love that person through the times they are not up to par? Or do you come down on them rather hard? It is easy to talk of living life holistically mind, body, and soul. How well do you live life complete and whole? My wish for you is that you find within you the friend you like to be. When you do, you will find no greater friend indeed.