All of these runs have been races. As the slowest kid on the school playground, I knew these races would never be for a winning place. Speed is not my gift, perseverance is.
Yet, they have all been races in the truest sense of the word. Races against myself. Races that tested the limits of my muscles, heart, and lungs. Some races resulted in personal records, others in disappointment. But, they have all been times when I put my training on the line and pushed my limits.
Today was different. Today I ran in the Albuquerque Half Marathon—not to see if I could break my time from last year—but to share the journey with a co-worker and her 81 year old dad.
Yes, that is right, 81 years old.
After his retirement, Jack began running at age 68. He started with speed walking, progressed to running, and in the last decade has completed several half marathons and a full marathon.
On this beautiful Albuquerque morning, in which the air was crisp and the wind was light, Jack led the pace with Mary and I following close behind. He led us through the first mile at a 10:32 pace. After that, he paced us at 11:00 minute miles. Jack led us through most of the race, taking periodic walk breaks in which he would turn around, look back at us, smile, and say “Oh, there you are.”
All of this was a new experience for me. Music did not echo in my head with a pounding beat, I was not straining to achieve a record time, I rarely even looked at my watch. Our finishing time was immaterial. The organizers of Monday’s Boston Marathon will not be calling. Yet, I learned so much.
I learned that miles pass much faster when they are run slowly with friends.
I learned that strength and character develop with age.
I learned that life is not about getting to the finish line as quickly as possible, but true joy comes in sharing the journey with great people.
Today those great people were my running mates, Jack and Mary; they were Scott and Tracy who watched the boys so I could have this experience; and, my greatest strength is always my wife Jennifer, who understands the hours I spend training for days like this. Thanks to all who have made my life so rich.