Today I have my very first guest-blogger. She is none other than my lovely wife, Jess. I hesitate to let you read further only because she is a much better writer than I am.
[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]
All right, so you can pick your jaws up off the floor now. Seriously, it’s impolite to stare.
I know how implausible it is to find me here. Me – of “I only run when being chased” fame. Me – who once announced to the world that I was going to run a half-marathon, got three weeks into
Dante’s third ring of Hell training, decided for the millionth time that I DESPISED running, then spent the next six months trying to hide from anyone that had been within earshot when I’d made the declaration. Me – who would sooner chew glass than run, no less spend my time reading a blog about running (Sorry, honey, you know I love you, right?).
And yet, here I am. And I have a story to tell. And it’s about running. I know, what are the odds?
In another lifetime, when I was
thinner and taller er, um, younger and richer oh, Hell, let’s just go with just out of college, I lived in Manhattan. Long before Luau and I met, and a good many years before I would become a running widow, I would periodically head over to the finish line of the New York City Marathon. Friends and I would go to share in the revelry of the day. We’d whoop it up and cheer in the runners as they ran along Central Park South. We made it our personal mission to help push them over the last hump as they neared the finish line in the park.
I loved being there and I always found that the energy and inspiration lingered long after I’d walked away.
One year, after cheering in God knows how many runners, I headed over to the West Side for dinner with a friend. We tucked into a window seat at a favorite restaurant and ordered a bottle of wine. We talked about everything under the sun. We chatted and laughed and watched the people go by. We ordered slowly and ate even more slowly. Why not? We were living in the days of nowhere to be. It was long after nine o’clock when we finally paid the check.
I headed out into the night, amazed at how dark it was. I walked across town, making my through the park and back down to Central Park South. I was changed by what I saw along the way.
A lone runner was making his way along the same path that had been lined with bodies hours earlier. Where there had been rows of fans five and six deep. there was now nothing but a few stray barricades still waiting to be collected. There was no fanfare now – no one screaming or urging him on – no one there waiting to hand him a banana or a mylar blanket. There was no one to put a medal around his neck, offer him a massage or even give him a handshake. There was nothing at all but him and the place where the finish line had been. It was nearly ten o’clock at night.
I stood in the dark watching him with tears streaming down my face.
One at a time, he pulled his forearm crutches around his body. At awkward angles, they kept time with his feet until he finally stopped to raise them above his head.
I felt like a voyeur. I didn’t say a word. I didn’t move. I just stood back in awe of the human will.
Finishing that race was for no one but him.
Running is intensely personal. Whether you’re obsessed with running a qualifying time for a marathon (ahem), looking to beat a personal record (ahem again), or just hoping to make it in before the course closes, unless you’re an elite runner, it’s for no one but you. Running for a cause or running against the clock; running two miles or running twenty six miles, if you’re really going to do it, it’s got to be for YOU.
If you’re running New York this weekend, I wish you luck and I wish you strength.
And while you’re there, if you start to falter, keep your feet moving toward the park. Because there, you might just find the spirit of the man who finished HIS race long after the spectators had gone home.
Jess can be found at Diary of a Mom where she writes about our life, our beautiful daughters – nine and-a-half year-old Katie and seven and-a-half year-old, Brooke, and our up and down journey with autism.
She also runs the Diary of a Mom Facebook page, a warm and supportive community of parents, friends, adults on the autism spectrum and some random people in her life who cared enough to hit ‘Like’ and probably now wonder what they got themselves into.