[2 days. Last run. I’ll see your Kestrel summit and raise you a Crestline traverse and Red Cliffs descent. 6.7 miles. BOOM.] September 12, 2015
I’m going to tell you a story. One about serendipity. That and letting go and opening up to what the world offers you.
I had been planning my long run for a while so I would be rested and ready. I needed to feel triumphant going into surgery and I needed to feel like I gave it my all. I wanted to be physically exhausted so I would welcome the rest.
It was a Saturday morning so I didn’t have to run too early. I plodded my usual course without much enthusiasm but knowing I would feel good in the end. As I started up Kestrel, I saw an older man ahead of me, his white hair sticking out every which way from his visor strap. He, too, was plodding slowly up the hill. I started to gain on him slightly but didn’t have it in me to pass him on the uphill. I was conscious of personal space but with my music cranked (of course) I didn’t know how much noise I was making. He obviously heard me (sans earbuds) because he glanced over his shoulder. As the trail flattened a bit, I ran by, apologized, and told him I didn’t have it in me to pass earlier.
I thought that was that until he came up next to me a few minutes later. This time I pulled my earbuds to hear him ask me where I was going. I explained my route and he asked if I’d like company. To tell you the truth, music is my company and I prefer to go it alone, but he was so nice and I didn’t want to offend so I reluctantly said Sure.
First it was just small talk but I wondered how I was going to keep it up. Think. Talk. Breathe. Think. Talk. Breathe. Old insecurities started creeping up and I worried that I couldn’t continue and now there was the pressure of letting someone down and feeling stupid. I had lost my musical motivation and I was paying too much attention to every step. What if I just needed to stop and I couldn’t?! I was feeling trapped. These are the fears I had when I first started running. It’s irrational but it started to take over. I should’ve just said No!
With all of these anxieties bubbling up I pulled out my excuse. I admitted to the man what I was really doing – how I was running right into the operating room. I admitted I was trying to outrun cancer but it was with me. I was carrying it everywhere and I wanted to be rid of it. Then I told him about a friend who had gone through this exact thing last year. She had finished treatments (really long, hard treatments) and ran Robie Creek (tagline: The toughest race in the Northwest!) a few months later. When I called her with my diagnosis just one short month before I made her promise she would run it again with me. A race I never thought I would have the guts to run before was now my lifeline.
Well, wouldn’t you know what this man said. He said My friends and I organize Robie Creek. I have run it for over 30 years – the entire time it’s been in existence. I am the one who answers the emails. So email me if you want a spot. I’ll save one for you.
(Huh??? THE Race for Robie Creek? The race that sells out every year within minutes?? People sell bibs on craigslist! People ask friends and friends of friends if anyone knows anyone with a spot they might not use!! One and the same.)
Needless to say the ice was broken and Brian and I talked easily the rest of the way as we finished the 6.7 mile route step for step right next to each other. He dropped me off at my house because we realized we live on the same street. (That’s Boise for ya.) I friended him on Facebook soon after I told Will the whole story.
I haven’t seen Brian since that day but he has checked on me every step of the way.
If I had stuck to my routine (which I so often do) and held on to my insecurities, I would’ve said No, thanks. I prefer to run by myself. See ya! I would’ve gone it alone with little anxiety, but I wouldn’t have made a new friend. A friend who has brought me numerous smiles through encouraging messages and offers of kindness over the last 5 months. A friend who has made my world that much bigger than it was before.
#operationgetitout #letsburnthismotherfuckerdown #tilthecasketdrops #20gr8
*As a side note, there is NO WAY I would be ready for Robie Creek this spring. I am going to be kind to myself in my recovery. But there’s always next year!