You know who you are. . . You're the people who put up with our running insanity. You're the people who are always there to drop us off and pick us up from races. You're the people who make it possible to do what we love to do--Run! This ode is for YOU!
Many of you seek worship at synagogue, mosque, church, or temple
But we runners put our faith in one who is more monumental
Most weary we approach the finish line in the distance
In a crumpled heap, we drop into your arms for assistance
You must be a saint to put up with all our insanity
Cater to our runner’s whims and athletic vanity
Rarely do you complain about our nine o’clock slumber
Nor in the morning as you help pin on our race number
You love us despite our quirks and complaints
Put up with unending pasta and dietary constraints
Our many sins are chafed nipples, black toenails, and snot rockets
Pursuing a passion that leaves us with creaky joints and sockets
Why you don’t get rid of us, we’ll never know
In our taper madness, with your wisdom you lie low
The laundry pile is stinky, sweaty, and muddy
Salt-stained singlets, compression socks a little bloody
Three pairs of running shoes always sit by the door
Running magazines piled waist-high on the floor
Family vacation built around yet another big race
Dragged along to the expo, you accept it with grace
We runners would be lost without you by our side
Your cheers and support always fill us with pride
Please accept my humble offer of a sweaty loving embrace
And did I mention my dear, next week I have another race
I have a faithful companion who has always been there for me—in times of joy, in times of pain, and in times of wavering doubt. It reminds me of a quote by the American writer Tahereh Mafi: “The moon is a loyal companion. It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”
I’ve struggled with a drug and alcohol addiction for most of my adult life, and that’s been manifest in mental health issues, primarily ignited by childhood trauma. I think it’s safe to say that I’m “cratered by imperfections”, but I wholeheartedly embrace each and every one of those imperfections, as they have been the catalysts that have shown me how resilient and thick-skinned I’ve become.
No matter where life takes me, running has never let me down. What I love most about running is that it only asks one thing of me—simply to show up. It makes no difference whether joy is coursing through my veins, or if sadness is sitting heavy in my heart—As soon as I lace up my running shoes, my faithful companion will travel that path with me. When I step out the door and empty my mind, it’s as though magic or alchemy happens. I typically head out by 4:30 each morning, so I gently trod through a sleepy metropolis bathed in the mysterious moonlight shadow.
With running, like any loving relationship, you get out of it what you put into it. It doesn’t really matter how far you run, or how fast you run. What matters most is that you nourish this relationship by acknowledging that, “running changes everything.” At times it will ask that you dig deeper than you ever thought possible, and at others, it will open your eyes to beauty that lies inside and around you.
To be honest, I’ve never figured out if I’m “running away from something” or “running towards something.” But what I am certain of is that I go to bed each night feeling grateful that my loyal companion has held my hand for yet another day.