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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Precious Days

I lost a person that I truly considered my friend this past week. She was in her early 60s and had been combating health issues for quite some time. Her heart and kidneys just could not take it any more. She died at home and was found by her daughter, her husband and their two small children. The oldest, a girl less than four years old commented: “Is Nana with Jesus now?” Her mother responded in the affirmative.

As I got up to run today, my mind went back to the passing of this dear lady. Although she was not able to run, she did live an active life—as active as you can lead when health is declining. She enjoyed her family, especially her two grandchildren. At the funeral, my friend who conducted the service commented in many different ways how much family meant to Sheryl. She had recorded her most memorable moments in a book for that purpose and passed it on to her only child, Heather. What a treasure that book has surely become. While it relates memories of early days at home, I am sure it also affirms her love for her family she now leaves behind.

We never know when this day will be our last. Death is not a respecter of persons. While the young seldom think about it—very little anyway—death will come to each of us. That makes each day worth so much. You never know when the last hug, or laugh, or sacred memory will occur. Take time to live life to the fullest, loving family, making memories and taking advantage of the day.

That is one reason I run: because it may be the last time I can get out and feel the ground racing under my feet as I tread on this earth. While it is easy to think I have many more runs in the future, I honestly do not know. And neither do you. When you feel like you would rather just stay in and not experience the exhilaration of the early morning, or the dawning of a new day, or the beautiful setting of the sun, remind yourself, “This could be the last run I take.” I ran this morning because I could. Lord willing, I will run many more mornings because I can. May I never forget what a privilege it is to move.

I will miss Sheryl and my thoughts and prayers go out to Heather and the family. But each run I take will be dedicated in a small way to her memory. She could not run here on earth, but I know she is running now. Take advantage of these precious days.

Thanks for sharing some of the road with me,
The 20-Minute Runner

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Best Choice

When I finally got home yesterday, I was bushed. My legs ached; my head ached. My whole body ached. The results of too little sleep, too much caffeine and a schedule that has more packed into it than a 5-pound bag holding 6 pounds of potatoes.

My schedule did not allow for much early this morning either. You see, I am typically a morning runner. But with an early morning obligation—and I mean early—I had to weigh whether I would run after the obligation was met this morning, or whether I would run last night with the aching legs, head—you get the picture. Or perhaps I would take option three: not run at all.

So last evening, after greeting the family, dropping my backpack on the floor and sitting down in front of the 6:00 news, I made the announcement: “Hey guys, I think I’m going running.” There, I had said it and could not back down, any more than I can back down when I say that I am going to take someone to the hospital or go and help a friend in crisis. Saying the words put the first part of the run in motion. I had mentally tricked myself before myself had time to block, or even punt. As runners, we tend to be folks who keep our word. We also tend to be folks who know that once the run begins in earnest, the aches and pains will probably be forgotten. Those discomforts are excuses for not running; they are not reasons.

As I neared the halfway point in my run, I realized I had overshot my turn-around time by about five minutes. My mind has a way of drifting when I run. You may be that way too. My 70-minute excursion would now be 80 minutes. But you know, it did not matter. I was feeling good and actually thought I might go 90, but decided against it.

Cruising along at the 70 minute mark, I thought about why I was even entertaining the idea of not running to begin with. I mean, what could be better than knowing I had overcome the potential obstacles and made the announcement that had set it all in motion? I was faced with two basic choices: run—regardless of when, or not run. I had made the best choice.

Life is about choices. We face them every day. Some are fairly benign, such as whether you want mustard and ketchup on your hotdog. Others have a greater impact: like whether you will work late to get kudos from your boss or go home and spend quality time with your family. Those choices are harder to make. They require conscious effort. It is easy to not do the best thing when it is uncomfortable, or you are tired or emotionally spent.

But as I reflect back on my run last night, it hit me that I make the choice to run every day, just like I make the choice to leave work when the day is over to spend that quality time with my spouse. When everything involved is considered, there are very few things that stand up to the scrutiny of discomfort. Many times, the discomfort that the effort brings produces sweet fruit. The exertion seems like no exertion at all.

When I determine that the effort trumps the discomfort, I have made the best choice. It is at those times that I fly. Sometimes, you have to look at the overall picture and do what might not be comfortable. But in the end, the uneasiness is usually forgotten when you make the best choice you can.

What choices are you facing today? In the scheme of life, deciding whether to go for that run seems almost irrelevant. However, when I decide to go for a run, I am reinforcing the habit of making the best choice I can—in every situation.

Thanks for sharing some of the road with me,
The 20-Minute Runner

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Running Blog begins

Thanks for stopping by. I ran quite a bit when I was younger, actually almost 30 years ago. 5ks, 10ks, and even a 10 miler. Like so many of us, I got away from it, but now am back on board. I began running again last August and have worked up to between 210 and 270 minutes per week. I want to begin sharing the experience and interacting with others who are either new to running or are interested in finding out more about how to start.

Click on this post's title for a link to my training update page. I hope to update this blog regularly. Let me know if you are following the progress. I have some exciting things in store--more on that soon.

Again, it's good to have you on board. I hope your running is going well.

Thanks for sharing some of the road with me,
The 20-Minute Runner

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When sending email, please include your first name, city/state or country. Your email may be shared on a podcast. Also, feel free to send me a short mp3 or wav audio file. I might play it during a podcast. Your comments are always welcome.