No one is born a runner. That is something you become. My first step on the path of the runner began when I didn’t make the high school basketball team. I was told that track had to take everyone (unlike basketball) and that was true.
Lacking any discernible talent for the prestige events, I became a distance runner: the half mile, mile and two mile. That is right-I’m old enough that I actually raced in miles and not meters. My running career in high school was average, marked only by my willingness to run through terrible pain. I had, it seemed, found my talent.
My college running career started out fairly mediocre. But in early May, 1985 something happened that changed me. It was nothing major-I went running that day and decided that I would never miss another day. Ever.
Thus, I found another talent.
My running improved dramatically. I went All Conference twice in cross country and placed well in track. I won road races and piled up the trophies and prizes. I continued to run through grad school, when I got married and when I got divorced.
Then I paid the price-I was grinding myself down, trying to fight against an unbeatable pair of foes: biology and time. Last year I decided to take one day a week off. Thus, I found a third talent.
My running began to improve again and I felt better. I was lucky enough to get registered for this year’s Beach to Beacon 10K, one of the top races in the world. Then I had a ladder go out from under me and my quadriceps tendon was torn apart.
For a few days I kept thinking that I would still be able to make the race. I thought that even as I was being wheeled towards the operating room. But, the reality is that I won’t be running again for 9-12 months. I knew that I had lost the Beacon. At my lowest moment, I felt that perhaps I had lost another beacon as well-that which has always lead me onward. But, even in the darkness and pain, it remains as it always has. I just have to remember to look towards it, rather than into the dark. Thus, I remembered a talent I almost had lost.
No, this beacon is not God or Jesus. Sorry, this story does not have any religious epiphany to it. I do not feel any closer to God because of my injury, nor do I feel any greater distance (although it would have been nice if one of them had caught the ladder). God, as always, only helps those who help themselves…which might mean that He does not help us at all. That said, if any Saint or Angel is tossing out some divine healing this week, well, you know where I am.
When I knew I had lost the Beacon, I sent an email to the race directors telling them that I had been injured and wanted to give my spot to another runner. Registration for the race caps at about 6,000 and this was reached in less than two hours. So, I knew many runners would want that slot. The race directors agreed and although I will not be running the race this year, someone else will. I will not envy that person, for envy is not in my nature. Sarcasm, yes. Envy, no.
I would like to be there running, but I have another path to follow now. Where it leads to, I cannot be certain. I just know that it is a different path than I had hoped for and one that I will hobble down for a while, rather than run. But someday I shall run again.