If I were going to pick a theme for this blog entry, I’d go with Thankful.
First off, I’m so thankful for the wonderful front desk/security friends in my building. We’ve all agreed to run the LA Marathon together in 2013 – assuming Joel does. He wants to quit smoking, and everyone has rallied around the idea that if he does in fact quit smoking, and trains for the race, we’ll all run it.
So, I have these great people who I get to come home to every night. Leading up to the Montecito race, I was trying to convince anyone I knew (or didn’t know, even) to take a mini-road-trip with me. I hate driving. I love spending time with people. I hate the hassle of renting a car – having to leave before the public transportation that gets me to the car rental place closes. Sure enough, Joel offered to take me to the half marathon! This was excellent news. I was so happy to get a super full night’s sleep, without having to trek to the airport in the middle of the night to rent a car. He got off work at 4am, and we rode on up to Montecito.
Yet another thing to be thankful of – besides a great building staffed by great people, and a ride to a race given by one of those great people – was the fact that the staff at Run Montecito-Summerland gave me a free race entry! They were sweet, and said they were happy to support my goal of doing 52 half marathons in 52 weeks. Race entries definitely add up, so a free one was super helpful.
Then, there was my surprise thankful moment that came out of nowhere. I picked up my packet in the morning. The people at the race were incredibly organized. Everything was already in a bag altogether – bib, pins, timing chip – everything you needed in one place instead of grabbing the bib, then rifling through the other container for the right chip, then grabbing fasteners out of a box, and getting safety pins from another box. I thought that was a brilliant idea (though it was not my big, thankful moment).
The person at the race said, “The timing chip goes on your wrist, not your shoe. There’s a bracelet in there.” Okay, simple enough.
I put the wristband on, and it immediately transported me to the old world I used to live in – the one where I had a plastic wristband put on all the time. I wore so many wristbands throughout my time in the hospital. And it was so weird to be immediately transported back. It was just a wristband. How could it mean so much? But something about putting it on overwhelmed me a bit.
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the time I was in the hospital. It might seem like I do, because I continue to tell you more of the story every Wednesday, and because it will be a part of my life until the day I stop paying medical bills, and the day I fit into my old jeans, etc. And those days (and more days) aren’t coming for a while.
But really, I don’t spend that much time focused on it in my day-to-day life, because I’m back to living. I have other things to worry about now. But in that one moment, the memories came flooding back. And I took a second to really think about how crazy lucky I am to be able to run.
I have the ability to run. I’m not fast. I’m not competing to win. But I get to fly! I get to experience making new friends with fun, interesting runners at various races. I get to experience time with music and my thoughts in smaller races. I get to experience the joy of crossing finish lines and getting faster. I get to do something that brings me so much joy.
And it’s pretty commonplace in my life now. I run almost every weekend. Sometimes during the week, I’ll jump on a treadmill and not think much of it. But it is such a gift. It is a gift every single time.
Having a heart condition doesn’t make me or running in general any more special than it already was. It’s always been special, it always will be special. I feel very lucky to have found it and to experience it often. I have complete freedom. If I wanted to lace up my sneaks and go 100 miles, I’d have the freedom to do it. And I think that’s pretty amazing.
(And this is where I’ll pick up tomorrow.)