Do anything but let it produce joy.
~ Walt Whitman
I’m going to the country – sunshine smile down on me.
~ Bruce Cockburn – from the song “Going to the Country”
October 11, 2015
In celebration of our tenth anniversary running (which began with the Washington Marine Corps Marathon in 2005) our group of running buddies decided to run the Prince Edward County Half Marathon. The County Marathon, as it is known, weaves its way through rural Prince Edward County along the lake, through farms and fields to end in the lovely town of Picton.
What can you say about a group of women and a few good men, in their fifties and sixties running/walking 21 kms? By all accounts we can be considered outrageous, bold, intrepid, and fun loving! And fun we certainly had. When our group comes together we always enjoy great food and wine; we laugh a lot; and have wonderful conversations. We were even able to connect on face time with one of our running buddies who was out of the country. How great is that!
The County Marathon is a qualifier for Boston, believe it or not. It is a small race – about 800 participants in total so the atmosphere lacks the electricity of Chicago or New York, but it has an intimacy about it and sense of hospitality extended to all who come to Prince Edward County. On race day we were blessed with fair weather. This was a godsend as the start of the half marathon is somewhere in the middle of the country and there is a significant wait until the race starts. Mercifully it did not rain.
Entering a race is an act of faith. You can never be completely sure what the outcome will be. Because there were relatively few participants running, our group was able to start out together. It was enormously helpful to run the first few kilometres with a partner. Eventually I ended up alone running at an easy pace, one foot in front of the other. The sky was a glorious blue and the sun on my face felt warm in the midst of a cool breeze. I felt present. Every course has its hills and in this race they are at the end (sigh) but we all got through. This race felt somewhat bittersweet as I have decided (with some encouragement from my physio) to cut back on the long runs to give my feet a break. And so I enjoyed every minute of this race – even though I was so glad to see that finish line!
How remarkable that our group of about 16 did this run and that we have run together for the last ten years. I can say unequivocally that running has changed my life. What keeps us together? What difference does it make? Here are my thoughts about running together:
I am present. And I am always moving forward. All I need to concern myself with is putting one foot in front of the other. Other issues lose their importance for a while. A poor run does not define me just as bumps in life do not define any of us – they simply pass.
We are strong! Our bodies are a marvel. Truly we should be in awe of what we can do. Running showed me I can do more than I ever imagined. You need to rely on your body to do its thing. When it cannot – the body always lets you know. Running demands I pay attention to my body.
We play. Life is not meant to be taken too seriously. My running buddies all have a strong sense of play!
We are part of a community. And I know my running buddies have my back. It is ironic because running is a solitary activity but it is the community of women (and a few good men) that keeps me coming back. They are my anchor. Without them I would not be running. And the support and fun times go far beyond running. My life is richer for the community of which I am a part. They help me squeeze every ounce of wonderful out of the day!
We are pioneers! My mother did not run, nor did her friends. I don’t think it ever occurred to her to do so and it would have seemed ludicrous. But my friends and I do. Other women I know may not run but they do other things that require courage and the ability to step out of one’s comfort zone. We are charting a new course with a sense of joy. May we be running ten years from now!