Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pain is a privilege

My competitive juices were flowing Saturday as I watched my friends from my running group go through the motions before the 5K I was about to run.
The hard warm up, the light stretching, the jumping around, the last-second adjustments to their shoelaces, the nervous pacing, the quiet moments alone, all of it designed to make them run faster, to push our body beyond what the mind tells us is possible and block out the evil thoughts of slowing down or even walking.
I'd been through it several times this year, and though part of me was glad I wasn't going to join them and run really hard today, part of me was jealous.
But running fast and hard today would make no sense. I was going to push Jayden in a stroller, and he's approaching 40 pounds. I was there so Kate could be there, as she was walking the course with the twins and a pregnant friend. And I was going to do a long run of at least nine more miles after the race.
Finally, this race was for one of Kate's students. She came down with brain cancer more than a year ago. I did two stories on her. Everyone thought she was gone in March, but then she groped through that dark period and seems to be getting better every day. She still slurs her words, but she's all there and is slowly regaining the use of her limbs. Next year, they even think she might be able to walk the race herself. I know that's what she wants. She just wants to walk again and be a normal high school student.
As I started my long run on my own, I knew I'd be in some pain by the end. Long runs are designed to be tough, and I wound up going 14 for the day, including the race. And the race? I finished in 26 minutes, which is not a time I'll record in my logs, but it wasn't bad with a stroller. I had a good time.
The point, in this race, wasn't to run hard.
The point is that I can.

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