Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Life is like a box of chocolates. And it's my job to polish off that box.

I love the movie "Forrest Gump." If I'm flipping channels and it's half over, I'll still settle in and watch the rest of it. I've been thinking a lot lately about a certain scene and if you'll allow me to get all profound and stuff ... I'd like to make a personal revelation.

Remember when he's running across the country? Eventually he's got a big old beard and there are hundreds of people following along (I love when he steps in the mud puddle and the "Have a Nice Day" t-shirt is born) and then, all of a sudden, he just stops. I don't remember the exact line but basically, he just stops in the middle of the highway, realizing that he's run all the miles he can or wants to and now ... he's ready to go home. He turns and slowly walks back the other way, scores of baffled followers parting like the Red Sea.

I don't have followers.

(Although seriously? How cool would that be if I am blasting through Central Park one day and some little kid points and yells: "Look! It's her!" and then all of a sudden, people start coming out of the bushes and roadways to jog after me adoringly. It could happen.)

But I have this thought, especially on Long Run days. It crosses my mind as I lace up my sneakers but it really permeates as I am getting closer to actually starting the run. I call it The Question:

Is this the day ... I just stop running?

You see, I am not what you would call a lifelong runner. I've spent years playing soccer. It was my childhood sport and I played well into my 20's in adult leagues. While I love every second I spend on the soccer field, I have never been a finesse player. I am neither fast nor, for that matter, coordinated. But I have a hell of a boot on me and although I lacked a certain amount of aggression, my sheer size would usually ensure that an opponent would rather back down than face me.

So it was a bit of a surprise to me when I started running a few years ago and kind of liked it. Then about a year ago, I started running longer distances ... and loved it. When I was on the soccer field, my dad used to tell me I ran like I had a piano on my back (nice, right?). I'm still not that fast and my body is pretty much the opposite of lithe. But I really enjoy distances and sometimes I imagine that scene in Forrest Gump when he is running past lighthouses in Maine or along the beach in Malibu. And then I have the thought, like I could literally stop mid-mile (to the curses of the runners behind me doing the loop in CP), throw up my hands as if to say, "Okay. I've done all I can," turn around and head back to my apartment.

But something nice happened tonight as our TNT team did a really intense hill workout on an 85 degree, 100% humidity evening (Seriously? No one sweats as much as I do. It's not human. Or right.) I was running with two of my buddies, Elkin and Barbara. Elkin is doing the New York Marathon, Barbara is doing the Hamptons Marathon. With me doing Nike, we're all doing different events at different times and someone posed the question of how long we would have each other to train with. Elkin and I found each other early on and pace each other well; Barbara joined us recently and has a great athleticism that pushes all three of us. I really look forward to seeing the two of them at the workouts and we all agreed that our runs are much more successful when we're all together.

So given all of that ... why would I stop mid-mile and give it all up? I've discovered this amazing group of people who I love to see every Tuesday and Saturday. Many of them probably have the same doubts and inner struggles as I do yet they come out and work really hard toward not only a personal achievement, but something as beneficent as raising money for cancer research. How could I not love these people instantly?

So tonight, I've decided that Forrest Gump moment has no place in my running career, for however long it lasts. In fact, if things go well in October, I could do another one of these. Who knows? You might even see me trekking through the Grand Canyon, groupies in tow behind me.

And that's all I have to say about that.

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