Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Things I am thankful for (running edition)

I am thankful for a good pair of running shoes. The kind you keep wearing even though you know they’re busted. The kind that you take off before you wade through a stream. And socks - that new woolish material that they seem to be making everything out of these days.

I am thankful for PR, DNF, GOTR, DNS, LSD, XT and BQ*. These wonky acronyms enable strangers to interact like they’ve known each other for years and give people something to talk about in the nervous, early morning moments of a race.

*personal record, did not finish, Girls on the Run, did not start, long slow distance, cross training, Boston qualifier.

I am thankful for post-run food and drinks. Somehow it’s ok to have a cheeseburger and a couple of beers before even getting home from a race (at least I think it is), and I am thankful for that. I am even thankful for unripe bananas, stale bagels and ridiculously strong gatorade at the end of the race. It’s all part of the experience.

I am thankful for races. Small, large, long, shorter races, each one brings a new experience and is the result of a ton of behind-the-scenes work by a lot of people. For the volunteers who have offered encouragement, support, and sometimes, legitimate medical help, enabling us to finish races, thanks. And for our family members who have staked out locations at 11:00 PM or 5:00 AM, dropped us off, picked us up, done our laundry, and braved rainstorms just to see us for a minute or two, thanks, and see you at the next race!

I am thankful for running’s ability to be bigger than what it is. For the organizations that have made differences in the communities I live and work. And for the participants who have taken a risk by doing something that they may not be comfortable doing, because someone, at some point made a connection with them.

I am thankful for a good playlist that pulls you through a run. Sometimes you want to hear Pitbull when you’re tired, or Adele when you’re not. Sure, it’s awful when you run out of batteries, or your phone crashes onto the street, but when the Rocky theme song comes on at just the right time, well, that’s pretty sweet.

I am thankful for the Tuesday afternoon running group at work. We started running before we even really knew each other, and now, not only are we friends, but we are much stronger runners.

I am thankful for pace groups. I have been on both sides of this one as a leader and as a participant. Thanks for the leaders who have helped myself and fellow runners reach their goals. And for those who have been a part of our group in Baltimore - I continue to be jealous every year of that feeling you have as you finish your first marathon. Not crossing the finish line, but the point in the race where you realize you will finish. Don’t forget that - you will only experience it once.

I am thankful for the fundraising aspect of running. I offer both thanks and apologies for anyone who donated to support BCAN or Livestrong over the past couple years in support of my dad's battle with cancer. If you politely declined, I am thankful for you too. Thanks for still being my friend after I pestered you.

I am thankful for Thanksgiving running traditions. My family has had Thanksgiving in different places recently, so it has been hard to establish one. Two years ago, I ran from my parents’ new house to my childhood house and back. It was bittersweet. Last year, we ran a 4 mile race in Florida, where we were celebrating the holiday. My dad and I ran together for the first time. He was the first runner I knew, and I vividly remember running with him once as a kid. I followed hundreds of feet behind, huffing and puffing. As a kid, I would routinely open the front door, and dad would be lying down on the front stoop, reading the paper and recovering from a run. It didn’t make sense at the time. Now it does. Later, when dad got sick I used running as an outlet. Anyway, at the end of race, the first 1,000 finishers got a free pie. We didn’t get a pie and we didn’t care. We went home, stuffed our faces, turned on the football game, and took a nap. After a couple rocky years, my Dad is up and running again. I am thankful for that.

(In the comments, write anything related to running that you are thankful for.)

1 comment:

  1. *I* am thankful to have an amazing and inspirational cousin like you... I also remember your dad coming back from runs when we were kids... And one thanksgiving I also ran from the house where you grew up, to the one where your parents live now (or maybe it was the other direction...) either way... Your whole branch of my family tree inspires me... And I'm thankful that I have family as awesome as you guys!