I have a hard time slowing down. If I could share the number one piece of advice or critique I am given across everything I do it is to slow down. As is typical in my life, I have found a place in which I can do just that, slow down, which defies logic.
I have not been an active runner since I lost my job in 2011. It has been a painful reminder of what I gave up in those chaotic years of my life. I ran with my high school runners and when I was no longer coaching them and actually not supposed to be around them, I was thrust into a world of solitude. Running alone can be wonderful, but not when you are lonely.
In comes Pam.
Pam came to CrossFit in 2018 as part of a 6-week challenge class. A distance runner to the core she was at first overwhelmed by the intensity of CrossFit and the weight lifting. She stuck with it though and has become one of our most consistent female members. As we are the same age we tend to partner up when in class together. As a CrossFit coach I know how to scale her workouts so as to bring about success both in the gym and on the roads.
Ok, so what does this have to do with me and running?
Pam was signed up to run a half marathon. She had been sick, and had a nagging injury. She was not sure she should run. She wanted to and did not want to at the same time. On a whim I said “I’ll run with you!” As soon as the words came out, I wasn’t sure about my proclamation. She decided to do it virtually so we would be running by ourselves. I ate lots of carbs the night before. I drank lots of water. I went to bed early.
When I woke up, I was surprisingly calm. I ate a typical breakfast. I drank my protein and beet juice shake. I took all of my supplements. I put on a heavy pad. (Running makes me pee.) Pam arrived and we drove to Hopkinton to Gould Hill Orchard. We used the porta-potties. Me once, her twice. We took the requisite selfie.
We started to run.
For the next nine miles we ran, we walked, we peed at every available porta-potty. We took selfies. In those moments she was ahead of me I soaked in the sights, sounds and smells. As my legs propelled me, my lungs fueled me and my mind was at ease. It was a time hop twenty years back, to a time when life made a lot more sense and a long solitary run was a highlight of my week.
I began to cry.
I was between five and six miles. I was going under the powerlines on Hopkinton Road about to bear left onto Currier Road. I was awash in memories, some running related, some childhood related, some Molly and Gracie related. All heartfelt, all necessary, many tabled or boxed up for years. As the tears flowed, I felt an incredible release.
OK Universe! I get it!
I was slow enough that Pam could not pressure herself to run too fast and further injure herself. She would trot back to me to make sure I was ok. I would push her to just keep running. When we were together, we talked and laughed. Made fun of ourselves, complained about being old, compared aches and pains. It was fabulous. In the nine miles I actually traversed on foot we had a blast!
I had Kenny pick me up on Auburn Street. Pam was cruising now and I was in pretty intense discomfort. When I got into the car Jack said “Mama” and then fell asleep. I got seltzer and apples and drove along the course to cheer on Pam. She looked every bit as tired as I felt, but never once waivered.
God, I love distance runners!
We have rehashed and regaled our run together several times this past week. She wrote a beautiful post on Facebook about our run. It meant as much to her as it did to me. For her it was comradery, a fellow runner reaching out to offer support. For me it was a leap of faith. She believed in me enough to include me on something that was very important to her.
Thank you, Pam. It was awesome!