Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The 20th Mile

Just a few days ago, I started back to running again.  Tendonitis in my foot derailed me for these past eighteen months. It was not physical therapy that cured it.  But like so many things in life, healing just took time.

I am starting from scratch.  Back to kindergarten, as if I had never run before.  And oh, those first steps are harder than I remembered.  Yesterday, as I sweated my way on the path, something in my efforts felt very familiar.  I had gone just the equivalent of several blocks, but it was exactly what the 20th mile in a marathon feels like, pushed to the limit with another 6.2 miles to go to the finish line.  "I can't do this."   But as I have found my strategy with any difficult endeavor, take just one step more and then another.

That is all it takes: one step and then another.

When I started running about fifteen years ago, one of our daughters set my watch to beep every two minutes.  I would run two minutes and then walk two minutes.  I couldn't think about actually running for twenty minutes, but two?  I could do two minutes.  That was all I had to think about.  Just get through two minutes.  That piece was within my realm of possibility. I would slug through two minutes, catch my breath by walking two minutes, and then try to run a little bit more.  No need for speed.  No need to calculate distance.  Just go two minutes.

At that time, I was encouraged by the story of another woman who started to run.  Embarrassed by her attempts, she headed out to run when there was no one around.  And if a car happened to approach, she would stop and look as if she was admiring someone's garden or a field of wildflowers.  Slowly, she continued to run a little further, a little faster, a little longer distance, despite her trepidations.  That woman was Joanie Benoit Samuelson, who won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics, the first year the women's marathon was introduced.

Her story as a runner began by just getting out the door.

I no longer have the watch that beeps, indeed these days I am not even wearing a watch.  But I am taking it one step at a time and then another.  I don't have to go the whole route, but hey, I can make it to the next tree, or that light post, or another driveway or two, and then to the next bend in the road.  It may feel like a 20th mile, but it is still just one step followed by another.

And it may not be about running at all, but work, relationships, family, and life itself.

I don't know what "20th mile" impossible situation you are facing today, nor can I fully know what is coming down the pike in my day, but we can take one step into it, and then another.

Let's run, friend.

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