In May, I managed to haul myself across the finish line of a ten mile race. I placed around 41,886 out of 42,000 runners and walked the last three miles of the race, which took place on the surface of the sun. My chip time was far over the stated course limit, but a kindly volunteer still managed to hand me two ice-cold bottles of water, another shoved a bag of junk food in my hands, and a handsome member of the armed forces gave me a medal. Then I sat alone under a tree for half an hour before I came up with the mental and physical energy to figure out how to get myself home (I hadn’t come up with a plan for that because deep down, I kinda’ thought I’d never make it). Some weeks later, when I realized I wouldn’t run unless I had some specific and seemingly impossible goal to work towards, I signed up for a half marathon. I imagine when the November morning arrives, I’ll stake myself firmly in the back of the pack and hold on for dear life.
So, I don’t really understand how I find myself leading an effort to start a running club in my neighborhood. It’s really baffling. Like, monumentally confounding. Running clubs are led by people who own short shorts and who can make themselves go at least the pace of one of the slower mammals. I’m in turtle land. I take WALK breaks to recharge.
It makes no sense on paper, but I feel kinda’ called and mostly at peace with the idea that I don’t fit the common idea of a runner and people* might think I don’t have any business trying to fearlessly lead even the most ragtag group of runners.
Moses keeps coming to mind. “I am nobody,” he said to God. “How can I…?” Now, I’m not trying to equate starting a running club in my neighborhood with leading the Israelites out of slavery and into the promised land. But maybe, just maybe, this little venture will give someone the courage to go for their first run or the accountability to go for their second. Maybe seeing a group of neighbors get together will encourage someone lonely to come on out and meet a new friend. Maybe this most basic of exercises, something you can do without special equipment or a membership to an expensive gym, will strengthen the bridges already under construction. Or maybe it’ll just ensure that once or twice a week, I can’t come up with some lame excuse not to run.
In answer to Moses’ reluctance, God said, “I will be with you.” Talk about an awesome running buddy.
*people in my head, probably, not actual people.