Sunday, December 30, 2012

What 2012 taught me about running...and runners.

Well I guess its that time of year when everyone starts waxing poetic about 2012, and how it was amazing/horrible, a blessing/curse.  I get it.  There is something about the new year that makes everyone take inventory of the previous year and chart their progress and count their blessings.  Some people will celebrate 2012 and its achievements, and some will celebrate its passing.  I am doing a little bit of both.

I can honestly say that 2012 was the most emotionally painful year of my life.  I learned a little more about loss (I was already pretty well versed in it, losing 3 people who I loved in the last 2 years, including both of my parents.  I watched two of the three die slowly from horrible diseases, and lost my dad in the blink of an eye.).  I learned about betrayal.  Yeah, my toes had been stepped on in the past, but this is the first time I had to have a knife surgically removed from my back.  Luckily, I have the right friends for that job.

But, throughout all of the tumult, I realized something.  When I felt like I no longer had the strength to stand on my own, I looked down and saw that it was all of my running buddies holding me up.  It was the relationships forged over miles of shared suffering that formed the concrete beneath my feet.  I have always been a pretty resilient person, but I was knocked backwards a couple of times this year.  It was the constant contact from my running friends that pulled me back.

Don't get me wrong - I am not the type of person to ever spend much time lamenting my station in life.  I am always very aware that there are people out there who have it so much worse than I do.  But, this is the first time that I needed the support of others - and boy did I get it.  From the surprise cups of coffee delivered to me, to the calls, lunch invites, flowers, messages, hugs.....these people just don't give up!!  :)

So, here is the riddle...Does running make people into these strong, positive, tenacious, kind hearted individuals or is it that strong, positive, tenacious, kind-hearted individuals tend to take up running?  Does running merely confirm who they are, or does it strengthen these qualities and allow them to fully develop when surrounded by others of their sort?

Is it that we spend so much time in our own heads that maybe we are able to see the world a little more clearly?  Maybe the little things aren't so important because we spend the time needed to work through the big things.  I have my clearest realizations about the direction of my life on solo long runs.  I never go out the door thinking, "I am going to solve this problem today".  I just hit the road with no agenda except for covering the miles, and things sort themselves out.  I come to peace with so many situations this way.  Sometimes it is by realizing an action that I need to take to change a situation, and sometimes is is by realizing that I need to change something about me or I need to accept the situation as it is.  I have always had a strong faith, and I see running as a prayer/meditation time.

So, here I am kicking the dirt from 2012 off of my shoes and looking optimistically towards 2013.  From 2012 I bring friendships strengthened through trial, and a strong sense of being loved and belonging.  There is an analogy that the Church gives us to help apply Christ's suffering to our own life.  It is called the Paschal Mystery.  In its simplest form, it is telling us that we have to live through our Good Friday if we are to get to our Easter Sunday.  This will play itself out in our lives many times, some times more powerfully than others. I have lived through my Good Friday, and I am eagerly anticipating my Easter Sunday.  I know there are hurdles to overcome, but I'm not worried about that.  I have the most amazing people in my life.  That is all I need.

Happy 2013 Everybody!!


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