Back in ancient times when I was a young runner, I often had the opportunity to run with other athletes some of whom took their competitive running very seriously. While I enjoyed the competitive aspect of the runs, it was really the camaraderie that I enjoyed the most. Working out with other runners made the time fly by and often we would talk through issues of work, life and family. No matter how good you are, everyone has good days and bad and often the difference between the two is just having someone alongside helping you along.
Fast forward to the last decade or so and I run alone pretty much all the time. Work schedules made it hard to find a convenient time to schedule regular runs and moving separated me from the few close running friends I occasionally would catch for a weekend run. While I don’t mind running alone, especially when I’m trying to work through particularly gnarly problems or trying to come to grips with issues like grief, there is no question that 2+ hours in your own head can get pretty old (unless you are particularly narcissistic).
This weekend I had the pleasure of spending time with my sister and brother and their families. There’s nothing like family to remind you what is important in life (and to let you know when you are screwing up). But what I love most about my family is their willingness to give of themselves to help others.
I had a longish run scheduled for Sunday morning that I dreading. I’ve been nursing an injury for several months and as a result, every run starts with the question “how far will I get before the leg gives out”. Some days I make it, some days I don’t. Despite the distance I had planned, my sister, a triathlete, offered to keep me company on the run. We chatted non-stop over the entire run, catching up on family issues, reminiscing and just plain joking around. I had forgotten what it was like to have a running partner to help make the miles fly by and take your mind off injuries. There was nothing particularly memorable about the distance and certainly not the speed but this will go down as one of my most memorable runs; sharing some really special quality time with my sister who gave up her Sunday morning sleep to help her brother through a tough spot.
It reminded me why I’m running Boston again this year and why we started Help in the Nick of Time. It’s pretty amazing what small gestures can do to help someone when they really need a kind word, an offer to share their load, or just a sympathetic ear. And while this blog gives me an opportunity to moan about getting old and complain about the cold and injuries, what it really is all about is finding a way to inject a little bit of hope into the lives of others, just when they need it. We all need help now and then and today was a good reminder for me to remember to look for opportunities to Pay it Forward.
Till next time….