Several times over I've invited my friends to begin or advance their running. Feeling the strength of my legs and the rush of accomplishment are something I beg to share. Wherever I travel, the world looks infinitely more simple when explored from one of the oldest form of travel. Even the busy grandeur of New York City becomes quiet. It reverts to a time when buildings were beautiful instead of efficient. This love, this experience is what drives me to share the art of running with friends and family. There are fewer pleasures than watching a friend who abhors running (or sweating of any kind) slowly become strong. Soon they make the half-skip from strong to hungry.
Running is an ever inclusive sport. It is no longer just for the twiggy legs and taut abs. It's everyone who understands that our will is forever stronger than our body.
There's a code between runners, they will encourage each other and stop to aid a fellow runner. But more than any other sport, runners are the highest donators (and higher than any nonreligious group). Logging miles isn't the only reason our hearts our larger than our nonrunning peers. We give beyond our capacity in every mile, and every charity.
Twelve of my friends assembled a Ragnar team, a 200+ mile relay that must be completed in 36 hours. We trained, we laughed and then one day we cried. One of our own lost her oldest daughter. Together we rallied around her and changed the direction of our team. We no longer trained to represent our friendship, we now devoured miles for the memory of an angel.
Her daughter was unable to walk or talk in this life, prompting our team to adopt the mantra "Don't Rest. Run, Scream, Jump and Have Fun." She was a princess in her own right, loving tiaras and pink zebra stripes. On the two month anniversary of her daughter's death, my friend stood at the starting line. She was strong despite the tears and uncertainty. This was her daughter's race and yet, like so many times since her daughter's birth, she was once again the legs of her child.
The moment she crossed the start line, I realized my arrogant mistake. I had not included my friend in my favorite sport. She had included me in her pain, the raw loss of a child. A privilege I am wholly unworthy of.
Our team of thirteen was determined, we believed we would carry our friend to the finish line. Little did we know that our friend's love of her daughter would carry with us for much longer than the 36 hours.
We are runners. We are mothers. But more than anything we are women. I know I've included more pictures in this post than I normally do. Please, I want you to look at each woman, see their strength. See their determination. The level of compassion they hold is inspiring - they have taught me, encouraged me.