Near the end of March I turned my ankle.
Over the last three weeks in Nashville my running recovered. I traveled more than 70 miles across the city and I loved it. The Music City revived my running soul. Nashville, on your streets I found myself in the midst of unexpected marathons, inside stadiums, running behind people in wheelchairs, and I found myself amongst wealth, heart, poverty, architecture, nature, and music. So long, and thanks for all the miles.
Here are some pics from the journey. You can see the rest on my instagram page, https://instagram.com/grennifer/
Yesterday morning I ran passed the Athletes House running store in Nashville. I actually stopped at this store before checking in at the hotel two weeks ago. I needed some long socks to wear under my ankle brace and found myself in the oldest running store in Nashville. Without trying, yesterday I found myself in the same place. On the outside of the store was a bulletin board advertising local races. The Achilles 5 miler got my attention, since it was a unique distance and because I have had Achilles issues.
Over the last several years my running journey has been detoured by injuries. Turning ankles and falling off a bicycle have limited me. However, the Achilles 5 miler reminded me that there are people who have overcome much more than I. This run benefited and included the participation of children and adults with varying levels of ability. At the start line, groups of blind people walked arm-in-arm with sighted guides. Wheelchairs and pushchairs climbed the hills on the five mile course. Amazing athletes ran, walked, struggled, and overcame together.
However, the benefit of the race was not only in the accomplishment of the task and raising money for differently abled persons. Every participant was invited to select the card of a child to run and pray for. I ran for “Team Jonathan” a nine year old boy who is blind—the same age as Nathan. Also, in addition to a traditional race bib number, we were also given a bib with the word “HOPE” on it and asked to write what we hoped for. I wrote the words “imago Dei”—in my hope that all people would learn to see each other as equally created in God’s image. In Renaissance art God is portrayed as masculine and strong, but I wonder how we see the image of God reflected in the person without sight or limbs?
For me, today was a special gift. Not only did I have the chance to meet some amazing people, but I ran a race much greater than I expected. Six weeks ago I turned my foot underneath me in the first run after the 5K. I didn’t run for almost a month and then came back with a brace. Today, I would have been happy to average 12 minute miles as my ankle is still not 100 percent. However, despite running almost 50 miles in the last two weeks, my body still gave me more than I expected. I ran the second mile in under nine minutes. While my ankle let it be known that I needed to back off from the pace some, I still finished five miles in 47:05–much more than I hoped for. I crossed the finish line with the joy of Flavor Flav singing “31 Flavors” in my ears, watching the embrace of people who overcame great obstacles, and being a part of a community of people who made the journey together.
“One day, when the glory comes, it will be ours.” -Glory, John Legend and Common
About a month ago something in my running clicked. I don’t know what it was, but I felt stronger, faster, smoother. I attribute this to an overall sense of wellness. As an example of one factor of wellness, when we arrived in Ohio I had gained several pounds in the midst of travel and holidays. On race morning, I stood on the scale and hit the mark of my goal weight. When I walked out the door this morning, the weather felt perfect.
Everything was falling in place to break the elusive 25 minute 5K mark. I have run about a half dozen 5Ks where I finished in 25 minutes and some change, but have never been able to cross the barrier. Two years ago I was on pace to break the mark, but the run finished a quarter mile short of a full 5K.
The perfect weather at our house turned cold and windy when Noah, Nathan, and I got out of the car at the Columbus Audubon park. However, we were greeted by the warmth of our friends and favorite barista. The cold dissipated on the hills of the course, but pushing against the wind on the banks of the Scioto River was more challenging.
“Got a man of the people, says keep hope alive, Got fuel to burn, got roads to drive.” -Rockin’ in the Free World, Neil Young
Throughout the course I maintained a pace of eight minutes a mile. I could see by the water tower and mileage on the Garmin that we should be coming to the finish line. However, the guides on the course pointed us away from the finish line. I gave them a quizzical look, put my hands up asking if this was right, and was pointed to another out-and-back stretch. I shrugged and climbed another hill, but quickly saw the tenths of a mile click away and knew this was more than a 5K. The course ended up being 3.5 miles long instead of 3.1. Another opportunity to finish a 5K in less than 25 minutes thwarted.
“What counts is that the rhymes, Designed to fill your mind, Now that you’ve realized the prides arrived, We got to pump the stuff to make us tough.” Fight the Power, Public Enemy
Nonetheless, it was a great morning. I finished in 14th place out of 164 runners. I maintained a PR pace through a scenic nature preserve. I watched our sons cross their own finish lines (Nathan finished 62nd, beating half the adults). The morning was spent with my friends Erin, Will, and Darlene have made me feel at home in a new place. I listened to music that spoke of a call to freedom as we raised money to end human trafficking. Glory!