This morning I awoke to that very familiar sound to us Northwesterners...Rain. Though part of me just wanted to roll over and pull the comforter over my head, I knew I had to get up. I had a running date scheduled a little later in the morning so it was time to get the coffee going and spend a little time on the front porch in the Word. As I sat there, my phone blinged and I had a message from one of my running partners..."Raining :)."
I responded, "I know...wet run this morning!" You see, if you are going to be a runner in this part of the country, you just have to know that you will get wet...many mornings during the fall, the winter, and spring. I have to admit I actually find it rather refreshing...wet, yes, but refreshing none the less.
I realized this morning as I ran that I have been running fairly regularly for about 20 years. Crazy how time flies when you are having fun! Yes...I did say fun! Though I did a little running during college years for exercise, I let it slide until some friends encouraged my husband and me to run with them 20 years ago. Yep, hubby did actually do some running for a while...miracles do happen! Our friends Greg and Teresa, mapped out a 1 mile, then 2 mile, then 3 and 4 mile routes along the back roads of Lake Stevens where we used to live. Other friends joined us and we all ran in some "races" like the St Patty's Day Run, Beat The Bridge, and Jingle Bell Run in Seattle. Even though our friends were in much better shape, they ran alongside us...just encouraging us to keep going.
Our speeds were never record breaking. I believe I PR'd the year I turned 40 running an 8 minute mile in one race...I know, I know...records were shattered! Ha! Hubby eventually gave it up but I kept going, sometimes running with a friend after dropping the boys off at school, sometimes running by myself. The back roads did not always feel particularly safe running alone, so when my younger son started Middle School, I began to run from the town of Lake Stevens along one of the roads beside the lake. One day I ran into two other women running and they invited me to join them. One of them, Becky, and I discovered we had some mutual friends and sons in the same class in high school. Not long later, her running friend moved away and we met up again on the road. Realizing that we ran the same routes at the same time, we began to run together. Long story short, we've been running together now for about 14 years now and I can truly say that running with a friend makes all the difference. A couple of years ago, one of her friends, Vickie, joined us so we are often a threesome these days.
Just in case you are wondering, "Why would anyone want to run?", I will share why I run. I run for exercise, I run because it's cheap (all you need is a good pair of shoes and some running clothes...and a hat!), I run because it is a natural mood boost, I run because I feel better the rest of the day, I run because it gets me outside, enjoying God's beautiful creation, I run because we talk the whole time so the run is over before you know it, I run because you can do this form of exercise anywhere. I have run in many beautiful places on vacations...back roads in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Arizona, Texas, California, Oregon, North Carolina, Florida, Hawaii, several places in the Caribbean, and even the Circus Maximus in Rome. There is a camaraderie among runners so even running alone, you get that little head nod from another runner and it keeps you going.
Sometimes we do a run/walk these days...when we feel a little winded or some body part is injured or hurting a bit. We are not trying to improve our speed any longer. Even my 8 minute mile is a distant memory. The longest race I have ever run is a half marathon and I feel no need to train for a marathon. If we run a race of any length, we are quite pleased to simply finish it. Once in a while, one of us actually wins one in our age bracket...a benefit of middle age! We are happy just to be out there...running.
One of my favorite movies of all time is Chariots of Fire, the story of Eric Liddell, a runner in the 1924 Olympics. A classic line from the film is when Eric Liddell tells his sister, "God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure." Though I have never been fast, I do feel His pleasure when I run. I feel thankful for a body that breathes and legs that move...a gift. I know that my running is not a thing of beauty to behold...but I experience the beauty of nature all around me...even in the rain.
How about you? What is your favorite form of exercise? I'll close with that infamous theme song from Chariots of Fire by Vangelis. Maybe I'll see you on the road...